Today’s workforce will demand social tools

by Ron on September 30, 2013

I was reading a post recently on IBM’s Building a Smaller Planet blog about the so-called millennials, that generation that came of age with computers as part of the fabric of their lives. The writer was talking about this generation’s desire to be social, and it got me thinking about what that means to today’s workplace.

Young people staring at smartphones  

 

It means that if you haven’t provided your employees with enterprise social tools, you really need to look into that immediately.

That’s because the young people coming into the workforce today are wired to be social online. They will balk at older enterprise tools. In fact, the entire consumerization movement, the idea that we want our enterprise tools to be as easy to use as the ones we use on our mobile devices, was born from the fact that’s what these kids are used to.

They don’t want to come into work and start struggling with clunky enterprise software that’s difficult to use and often gets in the way of doing their jobs. These tools were often built with IT administration in mind and not with end users who need to use a tool get work done.

And if you don’t provide these tools for them, they will simply blow around you and find tools that will. Short of locking down the internet, and that’s a self-defeating action in the name of securing the enterprise, you need to provide the kinds of tools these people need to do their work in today’s world.

That will have an impact on every aspect of enterprise computing, but one area you need to attack very quickly is providing an enterprise social platform. These young people grew up with Facebook. They have been using it for years. They are used to socializing and sharing information online and they want to be able to do that at work too.

Email isn’t going to cut it anymore.

My son, who just turned 18, barely uses email. He has a Gmail account, but he rarely checks it. He communicates with his friends through a variety of social channels from SMS to Snapchat to Facebook to Instagram. What he doesn’t do is check his email regularly. That’s just so 2005.

And today’s highly charged, internet-fueled competitive landscape demands that you react quickly to changes in the market. You can’t take months or years to develop products. It has to be an ongoing flow of ideas, and the best way to get those ideas gushing is an online social environment.

This provides a place where people can exchange and vett ideas. People can quickly form teams. They can work together and collaborate and you need to provide the tools to foster that kind of communication and collaboration.

If you can’t give the people what they want, chances are they will whip out their smartphones, open their favorite apps and start collaborating anyway. You have a choice here. You can exploit that enthusiasm and provide a safe environment or you can ignore it, and leave employees to come up with their own solutions.

And trust me, they will. They are not afraid of technology and they don’t need your help. Give them what they want, or they will find it themselves. It’s that simple. And the enterprise social platform is job one.

What are you waiting for?

Photo Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Heather Stone October 3, 2013 at 1:07 am

Hi Ron,
Aside from being the technology your youngest employees feel most comfortable with, isn’t it a good idea simply from a productivity standpoint? I am not sure why “clunky” would better even for an older staff. Isn’t the idea here to make collaboration as fluid as possible?? Of course, this is what social tools do best. Love to hear your take on this in the comment section on BizSugar. Thanks!

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