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The Millennials Are Coming: How Will You Adjust Your Communications, Collaboration Tools?

August 12, 2014

There’s no disputing that a new generation is making its way to the business world. In fact, by 2025, those born between the 80’s and 90’s, affectionately dubbed the Millennials, will make up the majority of the workforce.

So what does that mean for your company? That you have to be ready to equip your newest workforce with the communications and capabilities they are used to leveraging in their everyday lives.

“I was at a conference for a number of our dealers and at a table with the dealer’s 18-year-old daughter and I was asking her what she is seeing with technology,” Kevin Butler, director of Product Management for Vertical Communications, said during this morning’s ITEXPO panel discussion titled “Unifying Communications for the Connected Business.”

“She said, ‘I don’t talk on the phone ever,’ and that was really tough to hear,” he added. “But then she saved me from dying right there in my seat and said, ‘Except for when I have a problem with a business—then I want to talk to them on the phone.’ That was the point where I said, we have to consider this as a business. There are more forms of communication that this group wants to use and we have to be available to offer all of them.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, fellow panelist Rick Garcia, Director of Business Development of Vitelity, said that the impending generational gap in the workforce will greatly impact organizations across all spaces. For instance, every feature you see in the business space today was driven from some sort of consumer habit or trend, and that trend will not slow down any time soon.

Conversely, the up-and-coming workforce expects that your business will use similar communications and collaboration solutions they use in their everyday life so they can continue to operate in a manner they are used to.

“When those individuals move into positions of power to have decision-making abilities, they will look for something that’s more advanced than a guy my age who would say things like, ‘I still like the hardphone,’” Garcia explained. “And we at Vitelity are planning for that. We think there will be a lot of mobile down the road.”

John Cash, senior manager of Enterprise Accounts for BlackBerry, agreed, noting his company has spent ample time focusing its attention on building and optimizing for the mobile environment. Specifically the company has focused on building up its BlackBerry Messenger application as a UC tool, which can bring desired functionalities and capabilities to users of all generations. 

As vendors prepare to come up with robust enterprise UC solutions that will address this younger, more mobile workforce, the panelists encouraged vendors to refrain from creating barriers to UC adoption. When it comes to adopting enterprise UC solutions, for example, many companies grapple with exorbitant costs and licensing concerns that steer them away from such inception.

“We tend to throw up our own barriers in this industry,” Butler said. “You have to say that UC is always on the table and it’s part of your core offering. If you are not doing that you will become increasingly irrelevant… offer it as a standard part of your package.”

And as vendors look to reposition their UC platforms—optimizing them for the burgeoning workforce—fellow panelist Barry Derrick, product marketing manager of ADTRAN, reminded to keep it simple.

“Users want something easy—something they can pick up and not have to read the manual or a 40-page instruction book on how to use the desk phone. They want to be able to push out and empower their users quickly,” he said.

As the workforce continues to evolve and this younger generation makes its way into decision-making positions, the panelists all cautioned to understand this new market. Understand the tools they use, how they want to interact with their enterprise UC solutions and how you can securely account for personal preferences in your corporate environment.

“We cannot predict the 22-year-old mind—and that’s a scary thing—but that’s what’s coming,” Butler reminded. “Keep it simple; they have no time to read a manual.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle