News Release

Air, Food, Water, Internet – Cisco Study Reveals Just How Important Internet and Networks Have Become as Fundamental Resources in Daily Life

Global Report Examines Focus on Next Generation of World's Workforce, Spotlights Impact on Future Demands and Behavior Involving Network and Information Access in Work Environments
Sep 21, 2011

SAN JOSE, Calif. – September 21, 2011 – Demonstrating the increasing role of the network in people's lives, an international workforce study announced today by Cisco revealed that one in three college students and young professionals considers the Internet to be as important as fundamental human resources like air, water, food and shelter. The 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report also found that more than half of the study's respondents say they could not live without the Internet and cite it as an "integral part of their lives" – in some cases more integral than cars, dating, and partying.

These and numerous other findings provide insight into the mindset, expectations, and behavior of the world's next generation of workers and how they will influence everything from business communications and mobile lifestyles to hiring, corporate security, and companies' abilities to compete.

The findings will be presented today by Cisco executives during a free Internet TV broadcast at


  • The second annual Cisco Connected World Technology Reportexamines the relationship between human behavior, the Internet, and networking's pervasiveness. It uses this relationship to provoke thoughts around how companies will remain competitive amid the influence of technology lifestyle trends. The global report, based on surveys of college students and professionals 30 years old and younger in 14 countries, provides insight intopresent-day challenges that companies face as they strive to balance current and future employee and business needs amid increasing mobility capabilities, security risks, and technologies that can deliver information more ubiquitously – from virtualized data centers and cloud computing to traditional wired and wireless networks.

Key Findings

Internet as One of Life's Fundamental Resources

  • Air, Water, Internet:One of every three college students and employees surveyed globally (33%) believes the Internet is a fundamental resource for the human race – as important as air, water, food and shelter. About half (49% of college students and 47% of employees) believe it is "pretty close" to that level of importance. Combined, four of every five college students and young employees believe the Internet is vitally important as part of their daily life's sustenance.
  • Life's Daily Sustenance:More than half of the respondents (55% of college students and 62% of employees) said they could not live without the Internet and cite it as an "integral part of their lives."
  • The New Way to Get Around:If forced to make a choice between one or the other, the majority of college students globally – about two of three (64%) – would choose an Internet connection instead of a car.

The New Social Life: Internet over Love and Friendship?

  • First Love:Two of five college students surveyed globally (40%) said the Internet is more important to them than dating, going out with friends, or listening to music.
  • Social Life 2.0:Whereas previous generations preferred socializing in person, the next generation is indicating a shift toward online interaction. More than one in four college students globally (27%) said staying updated on Facebook was more important than partying, dating, listening to music, or hanging out with friends.

The Use of Mobile Devices for Accessing Information…and the End of TV and Newspapers?

  • Importance of Mobile Devices:Two-thirds of students (66%) and more than half of employees (58%) cite a mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) as "the most important technology in their lives."
  • Continued Rise of Smartphones and Mobility:Smartphones are poised to surpass desktops as the most prevalent tool from a global perspective, as 19% of college students consider smartphones as their "most important" device used on a daily basis, compared to 20% for desktops – an indication of the growing trend of smartphone prominence and expected rise in usage by the next generation of college graduates upon entering the workforce. This finding fans the debate over the necessity of offices compared to the ability to connect to the Internet and work anywhere, such as at home or in public settings. In the 2010 edition of the study, three of five employees globally (60%) said offices are unnecessary for being productive.
  • TV's Decline:Both surveys indicate that the TV's prominence is decreasing among college students and young employees in favor of mobile devices like laptops and smartphones. Globally, fewer than one in 10 college students (6%) and employees (8%) said the TV is the most important technology device in their daily lives. As TV programming and movies become available on mobile devices, this downward trend is expected to continue.
  • Paper Route's Dead End?Only one of 25 college students and employees (4%) surveyed globally said the newspaper is their most important tool for accessing information.
  • Saving Trees:One of five students (21%) have not bought a physical book (excluding textbooks required for class) in a bookstore in more than two years – or never at all.

Influence of Social Media – And Distractions in Daily Life

  • Facebook Interaction:About nine of 10 (91%) college students and employees (88%) globally said they have a Facebook account – of those, 81 percent of college students and 73% of employees check their Facebook page at least once a day. One of those three (33%) said they check at least five times a day.
  • Online Interruption or Disruption?College students reported constant online interruptions while doing projects or homework, such as instant messaging, social media updates and phone calls. In a given hour, more than four out of five (84%) college students said they are interrupted at least once. About one in five students (19%) said they are interrupted six times or more – an average of at least once every 10 minutes. One of 10 (12%) said they lose count how many times they are interrupted while they are trying to focus on a project.
  • Work Is Life:In a sign that the boundary between work and personal lives is becoming thinner, seven of 10 employees "friended" their managers and/or co-workers on Facebook, indicating the dissolution of boundaries separating work and private life. Culturally, the United States featured lower percentages of employees friending managers and co-workers – only about one in four (23%) – although two of five friended their co-workers (40%).
  • The Work Grapevine:Of employees who use Twitter, more than two of every three (68%) follow the Twitter activity of either their manager or colleagues; 42% follow both, while one-third (32%) prefer to keep their personal lives private.

About the Study

  • The study was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress, a third-party market research firm based in the United States.
  • The global study consists of two surveys – one involving college students, the other on young professionals in their 20s. Each survey includes 100 respondents from each of 14 countries, resulting in a pool of 2,800 respondents.
  • The 14 countries: The United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China, Japan, and Australia.  

Supporting Quotes:

  • Marie Hattar, vice president, Enterprise Marketing, Cisco: "The results of the Cisco Connected World Technology Report should make businesses re-examine how they need to evolve in order to attract talent and shape their business models. Without a doubt, our world is changing to be much more Internet-focused, and becomes even more so with each new generation. CIOs need to plan and scale their networks now to address the security and mobility demands that the next generation workforce will put on their infrastructure, and they need to do this in conjunction with a proper assessment of corporate policies."
  • Dave Evans, chief futurist, Cisco: "The lifestyles of ‘prosumers' – the blending of professionals and consumers in the workplace — their technology expectations, and their behavior toward information access is changing the nature of communications on a global basis. The findings in the Cisco Connected World Technology Report provide businesses with insights that will give them a competitive advantage when it comes to IT decisions and HR processes."

Supporting Resources

Tags/keywords: Cisco, routing, switching, security, wireless, mobility, Cisco Connected World Technology Report, survey, college, Millennials, newspapers, Twitter, Facebook, workforce, HR.

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