Business Technology and Generations in Flux

Having grown up as Generation Y and watching technology grow at what seems like hyper speed, I can’t describe just how interesting it has been watching each generation interact with new technology, new devices and how much the latest generation (Millennials) has influenced the rapid request for change across many industries.

It is quite the experience watching and listening to my and fellow Gen Yers’ actions that are a hybrid between our parent’s patient and methodical Baby Boomer mentality with our millennial-esque desire for information or services NOW, NOW, NOW.

As newer generations perceive the virtual world becoming increasingly richer than the real world, many have also begun to see technology as an extension of themselves. The problem is that businesses are having trouble getting their technology up to speed with a workforce that is in a state of generational flux. Having listened to both sides, it appears that both businesses and their employees are quite frustrated.

The Digital Experience Augments the Physical

Our desire for everything now has forced change in our everyday lives because technology has become so ingrained in our daily activities at the workplace and at home. On one hand, I absolutely prefer taking notes on paper or with handwriting instead of typing them because I know that our brains learn and retain information better this way. On the other hand, typing notes into an application like Google Docs is much faster and collaboration allows for others to contribute in real-time so that we can get things done rapidly. The happy medium technology to marry the two being the iPad Pro in which I can still write notes fluidly and share them in Google Docs.

For myself and many others, augmenting the physical experience with technology is much preferred to the full digital experience that many millennials prefer. The frustration that many millennials have with organizations still clinging to old technology is when they compare the available technology that they use at home to what is available at work: Why does it take more than a minute to find my benefits information at work when it takes less than 10 seconds to request an Uber ride? Why, as a valued customer, do I still have to physically hunt down someone to get help in a store? Why do I have to fill out 8 forms and waste time duplicating information on all of them? Why am I mailing this form? Why is that company the worst ever???

The enemy to this group is not the company itself, but the knowledge that they are wasting time on a task that available technology can make happen faster and more profitably. I can definitely relate.

I continue to see building frustration from millennials who post angry tweets, terrible reviews and claim that their jobs are horrendous all because their interactions and experiences that cause these social media outbursts are due to companies who are struggling to keep up with technology change demand. Millennials don’t want to waste time on something when they know that there is technology just sitting there, readily available that can reduce the time it takes to get it done. They see the technology available and want it implemented both in the companies that they work for and in the companies they buy from. It’s available so why isn’t it implemented like, yesterday?

Business must always be able to move and adapt quickly, and many of us don’t have a choice but to move right along with it to keep up with the pace of external demands. Baby Boomers and those in between are familiar with this and their frustrations come to light when their organization implements a technology that is not intuitive and requires large amounts of training for successful user adoption. Why do we have to replace our old technology? Why do I now have three times as many applications to work with? I feel like I’m always in some kind of training and our company can’t seem to make up their minds!!

This wide range of generations having varying augmentation preferences and levels of familiarity with technology have made it increasingly hard for businesses to keep up and implement applications that are just the right fit for their organization. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t inform their workforce what the technology road-map looks like or why it’s taking so long to implement.

Understanding the Challenge

For those who don’t understand why the process takes so long, I can shed a little bit of light based on collective conversations that I’ve had with many CIOs and IT leaders who have expressed to me their challenges in keeping up with millennial workplace/customer demands while also being Baby Boomer and Gen X friendly. These leaders have the daunting task of finding just the right applications and technologies that combine strategic initiatives with the desires and capabilities of their workforce.

It’s not that the company that you work for or even your favorite retail stores don’t care about new technology or are inherently slow or spear-headed by a non-millennial generation, it’s that it is not easy to transform technology as one might in a household. For an organization to shift from something like an old monolithic architecture to a resilient and nimble Microservice architecture can take years. Natural Language Processing and Machine learning can’t be intelligently implemented in the time it takes to request an Uber ride. Shifting technology in an organization is such a monstrous task that takes proper time and resources to do it well and do it right.

The Common Denominator

I’ve been helping to guide these leaders and big business through the technology transformation process every day and no matter the conversation or solution that is being sought out, there is always one common denominator between every generation and between every business: Conversational speech.

Conversational speech using computer/voice interface has been instrumental in augmenting everyday technological tasks — think about how Amazon Echo, Google Voice, and Siri have allowed its users of all generations to speak to those devices using natural language in order to get things done and receive information. These devices and engines have allowed many to connect their everyday applications and services to each other so that they can do a number of tasks: Ordering items for the home, getting general information about something that interests them, setting a timer, the list goes on and on.

Imagine if your organization could bring the power of conversational speech to the enterprise and have its very own computer/voice interface that every generation can relate to and speak to in order to get to their work in one step, just like at home.

My team has been working with many organizations to implement a computer/voice interface to unify their existing applications to create the best experience for their multi-generational customers and employees. It’s really quite fascinating to work with these innovative teams and see which applications are connected and how processes are impacted by implementing this technology.

I’m really curious to know how many of you can relate to your organization having trouble matching its technology with its multi-generational workforce.

Would you like to see a computer/voice interface connecting applications in your workplace? If so, what would be the advice you would give to your company on how to use it to make your experience better?

Syndi Espinoza is a solutions consultant & sales professional who aligns business and technology objectives.