Have you ever gone an entire day without looking at yourself in a mirror? Not even catching an accidental glimpse? Unlikely, and vanity doesn't enter the equation. We've designed mirrors to be imbedded in the human experience: they're on/in bathrooms, hallways, foyers, compact cases, ceilings, cars, and endless other locations. We reflect (pun intended), monitor, and interpret what we see, an act that is native to our very existence.
Technology has become our new "mirror" and millennials are the first generation of digital natives, casting their decentralized gaze on enterprise software (programs used by businesses). The effects of tech are everywhere and taken for granted by those who were born between 1980 - 2000, although there's some debate about the exact date range.
This millennial generation grew up in a time of rapid globalization and economic disruption. They have been politely described as constantly connected, tech-savvy, socially-aware, collaborative….and they're posed to reinvent the corporate status-quo. According to 2015 internet trends, 46% of B2B decision makers are millennials. The generation that lives online buys online, both at home and at work.
In 2014 the top enterprise software companies by revenue included Microsoft, oracle, IBM, and SAP. However, companies like Slack, Checkr, and Gainsight have been competing with these heavyweights by proving that workplace tools can be fun and interactive while still maintaining optimal functionality. Online communication has shifted its tone: value is placed on personalization and emotion. Due to this shift in perspective, previous generations are struggling to keep pace with the speed at which millennials utilize data and make connections. For example, social media has become a major component of software branding - studies have demonstrated that 34% of 18-35 year-olds like a product more when it leverages a social media platform. Ease of doing business is prioritized over industry expertise (for better or for worse) when millennials browse B2B vendors; instant access to price comparisons, product information, and peer reviews is expected by default.
Another millennial philosophy that has infiltrated, or corrupted, enterprise software is the concept of a "sharing economy". This is the preference of access over ownership - people would rather lease than own software, as ownership is considered to be a burden. Cloud-based applications that inspire agility and interoperability are appearing across all industry sectors. It would be logical to think that so much sharing could be risky, especially in terms of data security, but millennials have grown up understanding the intricacies of transparency. Generally speaking, they know what is and isn't safe to share. If a millennial happens to be your employer, this is good news!
‘Tap' and ‘share' have become part of our vocabulary while ‘save' and ‘click' fade to antiquity. This evolving language is causing millennials to ask questions about the future of technology, something that prior generations have always done. However now the question isn't how do we make existing technologies better, but instead, what is the next big thing people will want to use? Since mirrors have already been invented, maybe we need crystal balls. With Wi-Fi connectivity, of course.