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Advances in technology causes boundaries between work and private life to become blurred, according to Cisco

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One in three college students and young professionals consider the Internet to be as important as air, water, food and shelter, according to the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, published yesterday.

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%).

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.

The report also found 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 behaviour 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 second annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report examines the relationship between human behaviour, 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 into present-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 centres and cloud computing to traditional wired and wireless networks. · 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.

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. 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.

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.

Marie Hattar, vice president, Enterprise Marketing, Cisco, said: "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."

The study was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress, a third-party market research firm. 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 polled were The United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China, Japan, and Australia.