Connected & Not Connected

Connected World

Right now there are two kinds of people and two kinds of devices: connected and not connected. This may sound obvious or trivial; I assure you it is not. Contrary to popular belief, all people below the age of 25 are not “connected” and all people over the age of 65 are not “not connected.”

We live in a world where the adoption of technology is lumpy and non-homogenous. How much technology you have been exposed to is a huge factor in determining where you are on the technology adoption and technological proficiency curve.

In my experience, people under the age of 25 and over the age of 45 are the most digitally skilled. Why? If you’re under 25, you were born into an all-digital world. If you’re over 45 and have kids, you were forced to learn a fair amount of digital skills to communicate with your kids and, your kids have been there to help you learn.

Often, the least technologically skilled people I meet are in their late 20’s to early 40’s. This cohort was not born into a digital world. He or she does not have kids old enough to help them and, when the rest of us were learning how to use digital tools, this group had the “big job” and no time (or need) to become technologically savvy.

In truth, the reasons for the lumpy distribution of connected and not connected people and devices do not matter. What matters is that this is a fact of life in the 21st century and every business leader will have to pay close attention to both connected and not connected people and devices in our evolving connected world.

Need proof? Credit cards and online payment systems have not created a cashless society. According to my friends at JPMorgan Chase Bank, 95 percent of all retail transactions are still done in cash. That’s not my personal experience; I’ll use a credit card to buy a cup of coffee. However, the data does not lie.

Email and scanners were going to give us the paperless office. Nope. There are piles of paper everywhere. We scan everything in my office, but we still go through enough paper for us to start our own recycling business.

You may think the world is changing very quickly. You’re wrong – it’s changing much faster than that. And, while there are some types of transactions that will always take place the way they always have, many types of transactions and interactions are going to change literally before your eyes.

The trends are easy to identify:

1) There will be more smartphones and tablets deployed tomorrow than there are today.

2) The cost of digital file storage will be lower tomorrow than it is today.

3) The cost of computer power will be lower tomorrow than it is today.

4) There will be more people connected to digital networks tomorrow than there are today.

As you can see, there is a pattern – technology is getting more powerful and less expensive, as is connectivity. According to Intel, at the beginning of 2012 there were approximately 2 billion people connected to the Internet. By 2015, Intel expects the number to be over 3 billion and, remarkably, by 2020, the company says there will be 4 billion people connected to the Internet using its chips. Cisco says that by 2020 there will be 15 billion connected devices in the world. Even if these numbers are not accurate, they are still important because the trend is clear: by 2020, there will be more connected people and connected devices in the world, as much as half the global population (but it still won’t be everybody).

What does this mean to you as a Digital Leader? How does this information help you succeed in a connected world? These are just two of the questions we will address at the Media Technology Summit 2012 on October 11th in New York. If we come up with some good answers, I’ll report back.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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