Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gen Yers on KOM's Radar

Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) will host its fourth and final Digital Nation seminar for 2007 at 7:30pm Sunday 9 December on KOM. Panelists for the event include: Riyadh Al Balushi, Oman3D; Jeremy Foster, Ericsson; Graham Porter, Cisco; Daniel Pinto, Netsolo; and Tariq Al Barwani, Nawras.

Supported by Ericsson, Nawras, Microsoft, HP, Infoline, SAP Arabia, Infocomm and Omania e-Commerce, Sunday’s seminar is entitled iGeneration: Embracing the Digital World. According to Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing “iGeneration or Generation Y as they’re also known were born between 1978 – 1998 and account for a large slice of Oman’s population. Indeed, statistics reveal that the sultanate’s median age is just 18.9.”

Gen Yers are often characterized as ambitious, self-absorbed, gregarious, demanding, confident and believe they can change the world. They are the offspring of baby-boomers, a generation of Omanis now preparing for retirement and relying on their children to produce the wealth needed to finance their old age.

Karim Rahemtulla, MD of Infocomm, an M-commerce firm based on KOM described Gen Yers as the "world's first truly mobile and connected generation". He added: "Through our community portal, we have a tremendous amount of contact with Gen Yers and this is a generation that has grown up with technology, they’ve access to the Internet, laptops, wi-fi, Google, iPods, CD, DVD, MP3, SMS and MMS. This multitude of choice, this instant connectivity, this speed of globalization is all they’ve ever known. In fact, this is a generation that has never had to memorize a phone number or had to get off the sofa to change a satellite TV channel.”

Technology is the buzz word when it comes to Generation Y. Personal computers and the Internet have transformed both the home and school environment. A recent study predicts that current 10 to 17-year olds will spend one-third of their lives (circa 23 years) on the Internet. “You probably won't find too many Gen Yers in the library and it's unlikely that you’ll find them flicking through a ‘real’ dictionary or consulting a thesaurus, it’ll all be done online,” suggests Nasser Al Rahbi, Marketing Officer at KOM.

In 2000, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), a popular form of instant communication among Gen Yers, boasted 90 million registered users and 2.4 million simultaneous users. Since then it has gown tremendously. According to Time magazine, a new user registers to join the AIM community every 3.5 seconds.

Cisco’s Graham Porter and moderator for tomorrow evening’s Digital Nation seminar says: “It’s AOL statistics that indicate how tech savvy Gen Yers are. Blogs, e-mail, online games, satellite TV, iPods and smart phones have elevated their mobility tremendously, these folk are truly global. In my view, Oman-based companies must begin to measure, understand and embrace this permanently changing landscape. Research is required into how Gen Yers operate. Indeed, if firms neglect this booming and IT centric generation they risk degradation of brand equity and failure to draw new customers.”

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