The Millennial generation, of which I am a member, is the largest percentage of any one generation in the workplace today. Gen Y has a very different set of interests, personality traits and ambitions than previous generations: we’re mobile, social and technologically savvy, and we expect our business environments to facilitate these traits. It’s not merely an issue of making demands, either. Our technology—our smartphones, tablets and social networks—are an ingrained part of our lives that transcend the lines of personal and professional.
Traditionally, business software has had to follow a paradigm of features piled on top of features; the business world is so varied that in order to be generally applicable, software tools have to try and cover as many edge and use cases as possible. Take your common spreadsheet program, for example. Spreadsheet tools are so endlessly complicated to cover the largest possible range of applications that there are books and classes on how to use them. While the product may be powerful and “gets the job done,” it’s anything but intuitive.
We’ve seen a shift in business tech in recent years, influenced in no small part by Gen Y, towards aesthetically pleasing designs, intuitive interfaces, cloud-powered availability and accessibility and the integration of social collaboration elements.
Millennials are driving the BYOD revolution because our devices are an integral part of our day. It’s how we stay connected to our friends and our offices, bringing us Facebook updates right alongside our work email. There’s almost no concept of anything outside of BYOD. Smartphones have become so powerful and mobile software so readily available that the idea of not utilizing them for work never enters our minds.
Smartphones, tablets and the app revolution have had a significant impact on all users’ expectations of how software should work, extending well beyond Gen Y. Mobile apps have brought powerful functionality into one-touch, intuitive interfaces that follow us wherever we go, freeing us from the tethers of desk chairs and cubicles. Interestingly, these mobile design paradigms are increasingly being retroactively engineered onto desktop applications, partially because many of these tools start out as mobile-only, but more frequently because mobile design is simply more intuitive, productive and effective.
Millennials are collaborative creatures. We live our lives as open books in online social spheres, commenting and sharing content effortlessly through countless social apps. As a result of this and the general explosion in popularity of social networking in recent years, there’s a wealth of business software tools designed to pull us out of email and let us truly virtually collaborate. Shared workspaces like Asana, social business platforms like Jive and socially integrated collaboration and meeting tools like iMeet® are creating a more socially engaged and connected workforce that Millennials in particular can thrive in, across geographic and departmental boundaries.
The notion of locking our information to a physical location is long gone, thanks to the proliferation of the cloud. Millennials have been emailing things to themselves since high school; we’re used to sending important documents and information out into the cloud to retrieve whenever, wherever and on whatever device we choose. The trend towards the cloud in business is clear as well. Common business tools like word processors, spreadsheet programs, presentation creators, task management tools and web and audio conferencing solutions that all once lived on our hard drives have moved into the cloud, providing greater access and increased flexibility.
Interested in more insights on technology’s impact on the future of work? Download PGi’s free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration” today!