What is technology doing to users?

A+M caught up with Microsoft Malaysia’s chief marketing and operations officer, Danny Ong recently and found out what the technology industry has in store for internet users.

1. What trends do you see in the adoption of technology among consumers today?

I’ve been in the technology industry most of my working life and there’s no better time to be in the technology industry than today. In today’s workspace, there are three separate generations in the working world.

The first is generation X, who are uncomfortable around computers. Their choice of phones is also different in that they look at the size factor with their purchase. The bigger the screen, the better. Then comes generation Y, who are familiar with computers, and grew up using it. They are not inherent or involved. The third generation, the new generation of consumers, are those who have created a shift in the industry, which is interesting to observe. They are the ones who bring their home to the office, and take their office home. They read emails in bed, and play Zynga games in the office.

This has brought about consumerisation of IT, in that tablets are used in the workspace. It’s exciting for marketers, because it opens more channels to reach consumers.

2. What does technology have in store for marketers?

Technology today has created the instant ‘on’ culture among consumers, with the development of social media and geo-location. To marketers, it is interesting because a Pinterest post or FourSquare recommendation is worth a lot of money for a brand. But on the other hand, if you have a bad experience, it goes out rapidly and poses a threat to marketers. Some examples of this is what happened with KFC and Paradigm Mall in the past.

Such an experience is also the same with IT. If I’m an IT organisation, or in organisations where IT is an important part of the business, one of the charters of it is how do I manage and control secure access to company assets. Undeniably, a brand is one of the biggest assets. How do I control what goes into Twitter, Facebook, Four Square or Pinterest from people who have no reason to be talking on behalf of the brand. IT now has some interesting challenges like that and opportunities as well.

What ties all this together is cloud computing, because it allows that seamless access and allows IT to quickly run experiments and provision applications faster than before.

3. What is your take on cyber security?

In the past, security was about making sure our kids were safe from strangers. Cyber security today is the same. The difference is the security of machines and applications. With children, it’s making sure they don’t see inappropriate content or not meeting the wrong people online. What it boils down to is people-processed technology.

Someone I know who is a security ‘guru’ and used to work with Microsoft told me once that you can configure every single aspect of security except the one behind the keyboard.

4. How are consumers’ needs for technology today different from 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, internet was just booming. The needs of the consumers were contained, in terms of one-way interaction with technology. People were just playing games and asking for email addresses instead of fax numbers. They used to evaluate hardware and paid attention to memory and speed of our device.

Today, people evaluate technology based on the ecosystem. I don’t buy a smartphone because it has one row of icons more. I evaluate technology on the experiences I get from technology. It keeps me in touch with people close to me through one simple device where I can quickly consume and act on it.

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