One of the most well-known characteristics of millennials is how comfortable they are with technology. Their ability to use, apply and understand different technologies quickly often sets them apart from other generations in the workforce. Their demand for up-to-date technology is putting pressure on companies to change or update certain business processes and will likely encourage many organizations to adopt advanced technology solutions and improve efficiency and collaboration in the workplace.
At the SAP Manufacturing Industries Forum 2016, held earlier this month in Lombard, Illinois, DJ Paoni, managing director of the Midwest region at SAP, said technology is embedded in everything millennials do. They are more interested in and curious about technology, too, than previous generations, and it is having an impact on how technology is being adopted and used across industries.
“Because of the influx of technology that they have grown up with since they can remember, I think they are going to be more adaptable to these new technologies,” Paoni said of millennials.
Technology Must-Haves for Millennials
Not just any technology will do, either, for millennials. It has to be up-to-date, efficient and user-friendly. Paoni said to imagine if a millennial walked into a new job and was given a work phone, but that phone was 15-year old flip phone, not the latest smartphone.
“They would say, ‘What is this?’ That’s the same reaction walking into a manufacturing shop floor – they say, ‘How can I use this technology?’ This has got to be updated, this has got to be state of the art,” Paoni said. “I think that will drive adoption.“
Hans Thalbauer, general manager of extended supply chain at SAP, also sees millennials causing a major shift in how technology is applied within organizations.
“They are making an impact,” he said of the younger generation. “And the impact is severe and very, very important.”
Specifically, millennials demand collaborative technology, Thalbauer added. The use of social media has made millennials more collaborative and likely to communicate with others to seek a solution and work together with teammates. This collaboration becomes an important must-have within software solutions millennials are using. Technology solutions must be efficient, easy to use and allow people to communicate and collaborate, he said.
Response From Technology Providers
Rick Imber, SAP’s head of extended supply chain for North America, said he is personally excited about the changes the millennial generation may drive inside organizations. However, the demands of the generation have also been a “wakeup call” for SAP, encouraging the technology provider to make improvements to its own solution offerings.
Imber, who has worked with SAP for nearly two decades, said it used to take 23 clicks to pull up a purchase order on a SAP solution. That wouldn’t work with millennials today, who demand two taps, “at most,” to find the information they need, he said. SAP has responded to demands like this to improve usability and efficiency with its technology, Imber said.
“We have come a long way in the last seven to 10 years, and millennials have helped drive that,” he said.