Living with a Digital Native

Lithium Alumni (Retired)


Ed, Lithium's SVP of Business Development and Strategic Alliances, brings more than 25 years of experience building indirect sales and global partnership channels at companies including Adobe, Salesforce and BEA.


You can follow him in the Lithosphere where he is EdVanS.



I staggered through my first week at Lithium. Head spinning from the electric energy radiating from every conversation and from every person that I met.  Only once did I feel like I was going to spontaneously combust, like a drummer from "This is Spinal Tap".  I bumped into our secret, yet not so secret weapon, Michael Wu.  Michael is not the typical guy you’d meet in the Silicon Valley.  There was no discussion around the merits of a restful API or the power of NodeJS.  Nope -- there was none of that.  You see, Michael has a doctorate in behavioral science.  


That is when it hit me -- like a ton of bricks.  I realized that the social enterprise, as many have dubbed the category, demands a fundamentally new approach, a new framing.  The application of Michael's work in the Lithium platform separates us from the other pretenders in our category -- pretenders who confuse the market with meaningless chatter that's nothing more than a bunch of jive talk at the end of the day (I now must publicly apologize to my wife who I embarrassedly admit is a Bee Gees fan).  Allow me to state the obvious: social software must be social at its core.  Applied behavioral science truly distinguishes the Lithium platform, and, if this is too heady of a term, then let's just call it the gamification of enterprise software.


So at the end of my week, I waltzed into the kitchen with my head buzzing with ideas and content only to find my 15 year old son sitting at the table -- earbud in one ear and laptop tuned into some YouTube channel.  Sorry, he wasn't wearing his black hoodie, otherwise the picture would be complete, right?!  My euphoria of a week at Lithium was about to take a strange turn, as I asked: "what are you watching?"


To which he grunts, "a video."  Ahhh, the refreshing apathy of a teenager who not so subtly states the obvious with an air of "duh-Dad" ringing in his tone...  After a deep breath, we then talked about the video that his was watching.  It was a user generated video, reviewing some aspect of a game for XBox 360.  (Now after only one week on the job, I am dangerous enough to spot a Superfan when I see one!)


Well, it turns out that my son has watched over 400 videos from this blogger.  He gains a ton of his gaming insight from this particular expert, admitting that his purchase decisions are largely influenced by these videos.  He also, and quite naturally, hits the "like" button if he finds a particular post useful.  That action then cascades throughout his network of friends on Facebook.  


My son also mentioned that he leverages YouTube to learn how to build worlds in UDK (Unreal Development Kit): "Yeah, if I don't know how to do something, I just head to YouTube.  Do a quick search. And BAM there's a video showing me how to do something." 


BAM is right. 


Clearly, I am living with a digital native and he completely embodies the future of the social enterprise.  My son is connected, social and mobile. The Internet is just an appendage, like an arm or leg.  He has no other point of reference.


He effortlessly glides and slices through data.  His support network is the Internet -- for all things.  He learns, solves, explores and engages on-line.  He is a highly optimized query engine -- he is a digital consumer of content using his parameters to guide the experience - how he wants it, when he wants, in the format that he wants it, in the places he wants it.  He is a digital native.


So, there I was face-to-face with the very consumer who thrives in a Lithium community -- the very consumer who portends the future of the social enterprise -- the very consumer who corporations must find, engage and nurture but do so on his terms.


This is the era of the empowered consumer.  He has access to unlimited choice.  He has access to complete and total price transparency.  His voice is amplified, connected and social.  His discovery and buying habits have become completely digital. And he is connected – above everything else he is connected.  My son is the empowered consumer.

Not applicable

I must say that my friend, EdVanS is on his game, as usual, and only after a short time on the job. For an older southern boy with barely a 5th grade education, and that was because the teacher used to beat it into me and finally got tired of it all and socially promoted me, I sometimes feel it is very hard to keep up with the "social enterprise." I still very much like my socializing at a cocktail party with the added benefit of a good recreational beverage, maybe with an olive in it. Having said that, the number of people who meet or find something in common through web and social media activities is astonishing. From a business perspective we are only scratching the surface.  I will count on EdVanS to lead me out of my semi-darkness and into this world of overwhelming plenty. Just hope my slowly decaying body is up to it. Good luck Ed......

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Always been a fan of your writing, Ed, you know that!  Glad to see you so energized at Lithium and tweeting too!  You are going to draw lots of superfans yourself in no time.

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Great post!  My daughter is definitely growing up as a digital native.  Before she turned three she could navigate my iPhone and pull down videos from YouTube as well as TV episodes from Netflix.  She asks me the same two questions every morning:


   1.  Dad, are you awake?

   2.  Can I watch videos on your phone?


Give her a few years, and she'll probably be ready to demo Lithium at school for show and tell. 😉

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