The Thing about Millennials and Technology

Steve Tzikakis_headshot_May 2017by Steve Tzikakis  SAP President EMEA South
25 years ago, I went to work for the  first time with a hand-held device in  my hand: a Casio calculator. I thought
I was the man. Today, the new  generation of workers turning up for  their first day often have a better  grasp of technology than senior  management. That scares some companies. Me, not so much. I’m excited – because
I believe there’s a huge  opportunity waiting for companies that  start viewing their enterprise  technology the way millennials do.
Big Data is the new currency and  companies I talk to today either have a  strong technology stack, or they’re on
a “digital transformation journey”.
But what they really should be after is  enterprise software that can give  them real-time dashboards of any aspect
of the business, from what’s  happening in a specific location at any  time down to how many tea bags  they used last week. What they need is  CRM suites that can practically  predict their customers’ behaviour and  productivity software that can  allow everyone in the business to  collaborate and share like never before.
But here’s a harsh reality. While we’re  busy thinking that putting HR in  the Cloud is part of a “digital  journey”, millennials are looking at us  and thinking: did we just get caught in  a time-warp?
And here’s the problem: When most  companies tell you they are undertaking  a “digital journey”, what they really
mean is that they want to use  technology to make their business  faster, more efficient and more  profitable. But they often end up automating bad processes, or using  clunky technology that makes their  people frustrated and unhappy.
Millennials look at technology totally  differently. They’re not  particularly interested in making  existing technologies better; they want  to make existing processes simpler.
They’re not excited by a multi-year  rollout of the latest enterprise  software. They want their technology to  work quickly and intuitively. They  want immediate access to information,  from numerous sources, in a way that  makes sense to the way they view the  world. They want to connect easily to  the people they work with, and their  broader networks, without having to   worry about whether the company prefers  Teams or Yammer.
Let’s face it. Enterprise Software  hasn’t exactly always been the cool kid  of the technology world. But that’s changing fairly rapidly, as businesses  – and their users – start to see the  possibilities that are unlocked by technologies like in-memory computing,  which basically allows us to make  sense of the tsunami of data that washes over us every day.
Suddenly, at the prompting of  millennials, we’re seeing enterprise  software increasingly delivering and embracing the type of social  communication that people use every  day. This doesn’t just make businesses better at doing business: it also makes  them more dynamic, vibrant places  to work.
The influence of millennials on  technology isn’t only limited to Big  Business, though. In emerging economies
across the world, we’re  increasingly seeing small and   micro-businesses using enterprise software  in their day-to-day operations. Their  success is not only building a new  breed of entrepreneurs in emerging  economies across Africa, the Middle  East and Europe – in many cases, it’s  growing entire economies. Many of  these micro-businesses are being run by  millennials, who are meeting the  challenge of unemployment in a  traditional job market by creating their  own future.
In a recent article on how millennials are changing  product development across the  globe, Mathieu Turpault nails it: “What  most of the analysts I’ve read  don’t get is that millennials are the  first generation to truly live by  its own set of consumer and business   rules. As consumers, they expect the  brands they follow to share their  principles (much as Gen X and Boomers  did before them). But as entrepreneurs,  they’re also able to deliver on it.”
I have recently pushed my own  organisation to dramatically increase the  percentage of millennials in our  workforce. We are doing this  systematically, and most importantly,  with great respect for our most  experienced professionals. The results  are unprecedented.
Unlike many previous 20th century  market shifts, the digital revolution is  unbelievably swift. There’s no doubt that empowering millennials will help  business move from a state of planning  to one of leading. Perhaps it’s time for us to let the digital natives  loose on our enterprise software  stacks. Our businesses may never be the same again, but they will more  than likely still be here tomorrow.
-CAJ News

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