Symantec CEO: 'Digital natives' will change how we do business

One trend emerging -- primarily thanks to digital natives -- is "BYOD," or bring your own device to work, blurring the lines between personal and business.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- The "digital native" generation is going to change how the world does business, according to Symantec CEO and president Enrique Salem.

Speaking at the 2012 RSA Conference on Tuesday morning, Salem described digital natives as people typically born in the 1990s who have never known a time before the Internet or smart mobile devices.

By the time they're 21, Salem cited that they'll have averaged 250,000 emails and 10,000 hours on a cell phone.

Now, they're starting to enter the workforce, and they're always collaborating, sharing and multi-tasking, or what Salem described as "continuous partial attention."

They're always mobile, but that doesn't mean they're always online, Salem acknowledged. Rather, they always have a mobile device on them to be connected wherever they are.

"We weren't born into this world. We grew into it," said Salem, dubbing older generations as "digital immigrants" with different perspective on mobile devices and connectivity, with more concerns about and less trust for the digital world.

"The digital immigrant came to work with the Internet at work," Salem added. "We brought it home, and eventually got connected. To digital natives, there's no distinction between the Internet at work and the Internet at home."

Thus, digital natives have less qualms over identity protection and security in the cloud.

One trend emerging -- primarily thanks to digital natives -- is "BYOD," or bring your own device to work, blurring the lines between personal and business.

"All the ways we do business will change," Salem asserted, arguing that more business will go into the cloud and it will be more mobile.

Thus, Salem offered three questions that all businesses -- regardless of industry -- need to address to handle these changes:

  • How do we manage online identities when our employees maintain dozens of them?
  • How do we protect information that tends to be shared so much more freely?
  • How do we keep tract of substantially higher volumes of data?

Salem acknowedged that there is one simple solution to all of this, which he referred to as a "lockdown," meaning no personal devices at work whatsover.

However, Salem argued that this approach slows down creativity and problem solving without resources and networks that employees can use to find answers.

Instead, Salem posited that the next-generation workplace will need to be wired for social and security because it will actually make employees more productive.

Salem continued that businesses need to look at authentication, authorization and auditing in a new way. Here are some of the tools that Salem offered:

  • Flexible identity management as close to single sign-on (SSO) as possible
  • A new notion of the old firewall (a "reverse firewall") to watch outbound flow of data
  • A cloud audit trail with full visibility to the flow of information, who's accessing what with which devices

Salem admitted that this won't be an easy task, and that the approach he outlined won't be enough.

"With this new generation comes new vulnerabilies," Salem remarked."

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff also touched on this subject briefly during the keynote, commenting on how the social enterprise is going forward with these concerns in mind.

"Our companies have to learn how to become new kinds of organizations with these new tools," said Benioff.

As for balancing social and security, Benioff argued that we actually need higher levels of transparency and trust to make these two things work together.

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