A GENERATION CONNECTED: MILLENNIALS AND ERP

According to Pew Research, Millennials are now the largest generation in the American workforce.  They outnumber the baby boomers and the Gen Xers.  In fact, one in three workers today are millennials.  Of course, the label “millennial” has adopted more than a few negative connotations.  Some prefer Gen Y, and Google has coined the term Gen C but all of these labels describe the same group of people.  An entire generation of digital natives that will soon outnumber the generations of digital immigrants that came before them.

Gen C- The Digital Natives

Google has often avoided the dreaded “M” word and opted for the label Generation or Gen C instead.  The “C” stands for creation, curation, connection, and community and though the term was first used to describe millennials, now transcends traditional age demographics.  Instead, they describe Gen C as a psychographic, a mindset that spans generational divides to encompass all individuals empowered by technology and driven by the community.

The term digital natives refer to the group of individuals born during or after the rise of digital technologies.  Those born before the advent of digital technologies, who have learned to adapt are referred to as digital immigrants.  This digital divide is again, more of a psychological difference than a generational divide.  After all, digital immigrants are the ones who invented the digital technologies that digital natives characteristically grew up using.

Creating A Gen C Workplace

Like it or not, millennials are changing businesses worldwide.  This article from the CIO Network highlights these five ways that Gen Y is changing the workplace.

  1. The End of Being “Off-the-Grid”
    Gen C is characterized by constant connectivity.  Their communications habits are, in a word, constant.  This means that for better or worse, the line between office and home has nearly dissolved entirely.  Understandably, organizations have embraced this mindset with Forrester Research stating that 70% now encourage teleworking.
  2. BYOD
    Part of being an empowered consumer is being proud of the brands and products that you choose to consume.  Gen Y has taken pride in being defined in-part by the devices and brands that they are most loyal to.  This may be in part, due to the rising expectations of working long hours both at home and in the office, but employees have increasingly demanded the use of their personal devices at work.  It started with Macs OS X systems, then smartphones, now tablets and smartwatches.
  3. Instant Communication
    Again, characterized by constant connectivity, Gen C demands real-time communication.  Digital natives grew up with AOL instant messenger, texting, even Facebook Messenger and SnapChat. They have the ability to have instant conversations with friends all over the world, so there’s really no excuse for Susan in accounting to not respond to an email or G-Chat in a timely fashion.
  4. File Sharing
    The advent and popularization of file sharing programs may be the most important Gen Y / Gen C / Millennial driven innovation for business.  Collaboration is another key characteristic of Gen C and for successful collaboration, platforms like DropBox are a necessity.
  5. Social Networks
    In a recent post we discussed Social CRM and the empowered consumer.  Beyond just marketing and sales though, social networks have an enormous and lasting impact on business.  Personal profiles, activity feeds, and status updates are integrated effectively into many business tools.

Millennials And ERP

As businesses relationship with and expectations of technology shift towards those of Millennials, ERP solutions have also evolved to adopt these values.

By incorporating mobility in the form of apps, ERP solutions are now accessible instantly on the go.  Information is immediately available on any device, anywhere, anytime.  Employees must be able to share knowledge and provide critical insight in real time.  For a generation used to instant access to information in the palm of their hand, searching through multiple programs or spreadsheets for information, increasingly hurts productivity.  With instantaneous communications, feedback, and access to information, workers can head off issues and collaborate more effectively.

Millennial influence has pushed ERP developers to User Interfaces that are more and more intuitive to digital natives.  This means that workers can start using the software without extensive training, because the interface is familiar and intuitive, substantially shortening the learning curve.

Like it or not, millennials are re-shaping businesses across the board.  Gen Y / Gen C has grown up in the digital age, as will all future generations.  Their expectations are changing the way ERP solutions look and function.  ERP software solutions must be more mobile, robust, collaborative and intuitive.

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