by Bita Milanian, SVP Global Marketing Ribbon
Millennials are different from the rest of us - and that is promising!
According to Acosta research, Millennials - the generation born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials are generally globally minded, optimistic and tolerant. They grew up in a digital era with access to the Internet, mobile services, social media, streaming media, and smartphones.
This generation, according to the same report, also has a different view of work/life balance - perhaps we should even change the phrase to life/work balance, as young people now in their twenties and early thirties in the workforce are choosing to spend their time in companies with flexibility and opportunity that doesn't require 24/7 commitment. They are also choosing companies with strong social values, non-profit volunteering programs and more.
A pretty impressive generation, following the Silent (1928-1945), Baby Boom (1946-1964), and Gen X (1965 - 1980) waves who helped create the environment and began evolving the very technologies that the Millennials were born with and are now making a huge impact on.
As we fast forward towards 2020, when the majority of the workforce could be freelancers in a new "Gig Economy" - and when more and more enterprise value is being created in the digital world - how can we build the tools the Millennials will need to communicate in their own unique way - choosing the channel, device, application, and platforms of their choice?
Facetime, Skype and dozens of other live, peer-to-peer video applications have grown beyond novelty and are now as natural a choice of messaging as "calling" has been since the invention of the telephone. Visual goes beyond video to photography, and image manipulation with extremely popular apps like Snapchat, as more and more sophisticated design tools enabling people to filter, crop, enhance, blend and animate images are simple, intuitive and fun. Millennials are becoming millions of mini-movie makers!
If Context is King, then Social is Queen, and combining our hyperconnected, hyperconsumptive lives with the ability to share everything we wish with whomever we wish on the channels of our choices becomes increasingly part of Millennials’ hypercommunications behaviors. Social is becoming smarter and more feature rich, more intelligent and quietly invasive with the advent of AI increasingly blended into the mix. Companies like IBM and their Watson platform are now able to stream millions of concurrent conversations through their engine, correlating data, returning recommendations, creating analyses that enable advertisers and others to target with extremely localized and refined offers. Social is not only helping Millennials connect with others and ideas, but is actually grooming their networks and experiences for them, in ways they find helpful (while Gen X and Baby Boomers are wary of even as the notion of privacy falls away).
As Millennials choose to lead more independent work lives, they are avoiding email and opting for the cloud as the only real way to get work done. Whether they are using Slack, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or any other number of multimedia cloud-based collaboration platforms, the combination of the "work cloud" and their natural tendency to text has become enough to make email obsolete. Millennials have grown up digital and grown up on Google, and forcing them to use traditional means of contributing to projects (email, shared drives, moving documents around, having voice only conference calls) is downright unnatural. There are literally hundreds of collaboration platforms, and choosing the right one as enterprises look out into the 2020 milestone, is going to be important. Many enterprises we work with are developing their collaboration, workflow, CRM, ERP integrations embedding real-time communications (click-to-call, click-to-video, screen sharing, and more) as a competitive advantage. Unwilling to risk the security issues associated with "open collaboration platforms" and unwilling to pay steep licensing fees for tech giant solutions like Office 365, enterprises are investing in their own DevOps infrastructure and talented developers to take elements (like those we offer on our Kandy platform) and stitch together their own Millennial ready digital work platforms.
Ultimately, in this kaleidoscopic Millennial world, people will have more and more choices - more devices, more networks, more applications, more platforms. Look for brilliant new "mixes" where this new generation of global citizens are able to find ways to find each other, create their own channels, redefining what we perceived to be "media" and the making of new products and services which themselves may include immersive communications experiences. In this multichannel, multimedia and multithreaded world - all software all the time with software defined networks, virtualized machines, increasingly elastic applications, and extabytes of data moving through the digital layers will only further spawn creativity making these five trends five years from now seem obvious, while new innovations created by the Millennials stand to dramatically change not only how we communicate - but how we govern and rebuild more healthy societies.