Nick Barley, Chairman of B2B Ecommerce specialists Netalogue in a series of articles, muses on the impact millennials will have as they join the workplace… part three
In this article he considers the impact of millennials in the workplace
I have an iPhone and I use it for….well, making phone calls. Secondarily I would say I use my smartphone for checking emails. My two daughters also have iPhones and they use their devices for anything but phone calls. They never make phones calls and, actually, they rarely send emails – (they certainly don’t reply to mine).
No, my daughters have exactly the same device in their hand as me but they use their iPhone for instant messaging, snap chatting, and Facebook sharing. There’s the difference between a Baby Boomer and Millennial – right there. One device; totally different usage and purpose. Why call it an iPhone, or Smartphone, when making a phone call is the least of its purposes for Millennials? The iPHONE is dead….better to call it the iIntenetOfThings. (Go brand that name Apple marketing supremo’s).
PWC predict millennials will form 50% of the workforce …
Of course these subtle nuances may seem minor – the ramblings of aged Boomer – but when it comes to designing great business software it must make the designers challenge doubly more difficult. Slowly the Millennials are taking over the workplace. I recently read an article authored by PWC called ‘Millennials at work; reshaping the workplace’. Their projection is that Millennials will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020. (Surprising fact: In India Millennials already form 50% of the population).
So, designing software for Millennials makes sense and whilst Boomers may still be the senior and key decision makers in an organisation today that picture is going to change pretty rapidly. In previous blogs I have written about the impact of Millennials on the workplace and how their behaviour is coloured by their experience of the global economic crisis and their need to place more emphasis on their personal needs rather than those of the organisation for whom they work.
Millennials are uncomfortable with current practices and are loyalty-lite …
PWC note that in their survey 75% of Millennials had compromised to get into work and speculated this would change when economic conditions improved. Millennials were uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures, information silos and current management practice. PWC use the term “Loyalty-lite” which I rather like.
The issue for business software designers is how to take traditional, seriously important business processes-driven applications, build on the original concept of automating manual processes – forms driven, input oriented through keyboard and mouse, and make them relevant for the new generations.
For example, in my time in the workplace, email has become the staple diet for most business communication. And yet Millennials use instant messaging, Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘snapchatting’ in preference to email in their personal lives. Increasingly we are seeing ‘social elements’ built into business software design with the ability for say, call handling agents to IM each other during business processes to share information or gather intelligence.
Preference for electronic communications over telephone and face-to-face…
41% of the PWC survey said they prefer electronic communication at work rather than face-to-face meeting, or the telephone. Witness more business applications creating ‘Facebook like’ community groups within their business processes to allow sharing.
Another trend is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to the workplace. Millennials expect the technologies that empower their personal lives to also drive communication and innovation in the workplace. And that an employer’s provision of state-of-the art technology was important to them when considering a job, but they habitually use workplace technology alongside their own.
This has always struck me as daft. Personally I cannot understand why many members of the business community I meet have two Smartphones in their possession – one personal, one for business.
Why have two, when one will do? (I can only imagine that the organisation for whom they work imposes a device on them – phone and computer).
I have a problem not forgetting the single phone I own now – have two to manage – and not lose – would be a nightmare. Surely it makes sense to minimise the number of devices that follow us around – so long as we can securely connect to our corporate data and separate work and business. Not beyond the wit of man I would say.
Business software is changing to reflect millennial influence…
Ok, where am I going with this…how do I bring my thoughts to a graceful conclusion? Attitudes in the workplace are changing, Millennials are becoming the majority.
Technology has changed and continues to change the way we choose to live our lives. Consumer software has changed radically as global Internet procurement has dramatically increased. Business software is changing too to reflect the growing influence of Millennials in the workplace. Millennials demand mobility, work life balance, global communities. They demand access to business process and information, securely, on the move – wherever they live their life. They demand technological sociability in the workplace and in their business software – to support learning, process improvement, customer service levels, customer insight.
Any clever software developers and employers need to take note.
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