When it comes to technology, consumers used to follow where businesses led. Now however, the proliferation of consumer technology has meant that, when compared to their employees, many businesses are in the Digital Dark Ages and they need to catch up.
Advances in consumer technology highlight many important gaps in the way businesses prioritise and use their own technology. Information sharing and collaborative technologies like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, among many others, are integral to many people’s personal lives, but are all too often absent from their working lives. There is a growing demand for professional standard ‘consumerised’ technologies, largely driven by the digital natives of Generation Y. Emerging as a major force, they are more fully engaged with a culture of sharing and transparency, and far more likely to decouple work from its location. They are leading the call for more collaborative technologies that enable their comingled work-life patterns.
This consumerisation of IT represents a significant opportunity for software and IT services vendors, but it is by no means clear that business users are embracing the idea with any enthusiasm, with policies for technology use, including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Choose Your Own Device (CYOD), often falling short of employee expectations. So, how can businesses learn from their digital native employees to emerge from the Digital Dark Ages? Try to think like a Millennial.
Over 60% of people in the UK use digital collaboration tools in their personal lives, and Generation Y already uses on average six apps per day. More and more in the European workforce, exposure to a decade of rich, engaging collaboration tools, and the ability to share documents, instant message, or videoconference in our personal lives has increased general awareness of the potential impact such technologies could have in the workplace. Indeed, research shows that employees are more satisfied with their workplace culture when they have access to effective digital collaboration tools and 61% of employees want to work for an organisation where they can use the very latest technology.
In a world where employees are demanding more high-tech, collaborative tools in the workplace, business owners need to jolt themselves out of traditional, modular thinking where IT systems are siloed and the CTO dictates company technology. Those who catch up to this consumer-led way of choosing enterprise IT have better chances of attaining the talent that they want, with 87% of young leaders preferring to work for a video-enabled organisation over a company that has not invested in business-class video communications.
As this cohort sees little distinction between work and social time when it comes to using devices, Generation Y also believes that flexibility in the workplace is an important factor when choosing an employer. In a recent survey, 67% of employees say working remotely is more productive, 69% say it is liberating, so businesses need to embrace the changing attitudes of their employees and institute flexible, collaborative technologies that facilitate this style of working. Clearly, to reach these digital natives, organisations need to go much further than single point solutions such as email, smart phones, teleconferencing screens or flexible working. Unifying communications tools such that all elements of the collaboration process work with each other requires firms to establish a level of consistency. By embracing the potential of technology, team members can come together from any location and from any device. Firms that recognise the capabilities of technology to improve and augment face-to-face interactions are more likely to attract talent from the Millennial generation.