Generation Y to wreak havoc on Luddite bosses

1 Dec 2006

Irish bosses determined to resist technological change will have their work cut out for them trying to handle the expectations of current crop of college tech-savvy graduates born after 1980, new research by Forrester has revealed.

The Forrester research, commissioned by document firm Xerox, claims that bosses will struggle with the changes in the workplace and working methods demanded by what are termed Milliennials.

Millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y, consist of up to 11pc of the European workforce and are defined as the younger college/university educated workers born between 1980 and 2000 who have grown up with the internet and don’t remember a time without it.

This generation, Forrester said, will represent a greater proportion of the workforce by 2010 than people born just after World War II.

Forrester pointed out that Irish bosses are resisting investment in key business areas and collaborative tools required by this generation.

The research shows that while large numbers of companies provide their workforce with the basic tools, such as unrestricted use of paper printing (61pc), laptop PCs (35pc) and mobile phones (40pc), only a small minority offer the newer, Millennial-friendly collaborative working tools, such as webcasts, blogs, video conferencing or remote access to the internet or email.

Only 39pc of executives say they currently collaborate online with their suppliers and partners for product and service development, and as many as 52pc said they have no plans to post information on community sites or blogs.

A spokesperson for Xerox said bosses in Ireland register a 94pc awareness of the Millennials entering the workforce and 65pc feel they’re responding to them. However, the areas in which these workers can really make a difference — online collaboration and online marketing — are the very areas for which Irish companies are least prepared.

For example, 36pc of Irish companies surveyed said they had no plans over the next six years to gauge customer satisfaction and improvements through online communications.

Almost 60pc of Irish companies said they have no plans over the next six years to provide online portals where customers can rate and discuss products and services.

Some 52pc of companies have no plans over the next six years to monitor customer discussions and blogs outside their organisations for extra feedback and 60pc have no plans to offer extra value content.

Some 40pc said they had no plans to allow customers to purchase products or services via telephone or the website without first visiting a shop or talking to a call centre.

“The Millennials will drive a revolution in the way products and services are chosen, developed and procured,” said Penny Rhodes. “Customer endorsements on blogs and forum sites will become very important and suppliers and partners will need to be able to work collaboratively online on every aspect of a product or service’s development and delivery.

“Organisations in Ireland need to start embracing the Millennial way of working in order to keep up with the way their customers and partners want to do business,” Rhodes said.

By John Kennedy