Enterprise technology – A future written by millennials?

In viewing the release of our newest sourcing platform during a demo, I tried to discern all the pieces that I saw as unique or compelling. Looking past core features in the sourcing platform, such as RFx, auction and award management capabilities, I saw aspects of the new platform that are clearly distinguishable. Things like a slick and simple UI, collaborative reporting, in-app messaging and other social media, including capabilities for networking, made me think of the evolution of technology and the parallels to how sourcing and procurement platforms have dramatically changed over the past 15 years.


Being smack in the middle of Gen X, I can clearly remember when I got into the workforce after graduate school, where mobile phones were dumb, having a laptop meant lugging around 10 lbs. of silicon and plastic, and collaboration was a face-to-face activity on a white board. So I wanted to come up with a term that best described these Facebook/LinkedIn-like features I was seeing in the demo. Was it simply Web 2.0? Was it SaaS? Cloud computing? How do you best describe it?

The term “millennialization” of technology came to mind. Is this even a word? Maybe I should ask the former NBA coach Pat Riley. Well even if it isn’t, it made perfect sense to me in the context of the technology I was looking at. Millennializaition of course refers to the millennials or generation Y born between 1991 and 2000. Often characterized by a short attention span, little patience for the mundane and a lot of hand-holding, this newest generation in the workforce is becoming a driving force in society.

In this vein, the November/December 2014 issue of Procurement Leaders (PL) written by Maggie Slowik asks, “Should procurement worry about millennials?” The PL article pointed out that in five to ten years 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials, a group that has literally grown up with email, instant message, apps, text messages and the Internet.

Reading this article also got me to thinking, so I dug a little deeper into the subject and found out some interesting facts about the millennial generation. One piece I found was an article published by Forbes this summer, which pointed to a detailed study of 1,019 18 – 34-year-olds on the usage of video games. The research showed that a vast majority of millennials noted video games as important in the development of their work and life skills. For instance, of those surveyed – 63% said video games helped in teaching them how to work smoothly and successfully on a team, 67% said it was important in helping them learn how to create winning strategies and 70% felt it aided them in learning how to solve problems.

Clearly, as millennials look to replace the baby boomers over the next few years, technology will also need to continue to mimic and incorporate the way the current generation interacts with it, in both social and business settings. Moreover, with the increased computing power capacity according to Moore’s law, and the unending development of features like real-time analytics and role-playing/scenario-playing happening in video games today, what does this portend or require of business technology? How will these gaming and mobile features improve how professionals work with enterprise technology in the future?

While I doubt we will be seeing the detailed eye-popping project planning features of SimCity or the detailed analytics of Call of Duty in a sourcing or contracts dashboard any time soon, it very well may be this future based on increased influence of millennials that determines how collaboration and predictive analytics get incorporated into technology.

Which technology features do you think are next for enterprise solutions? What changes does the millennial generation continue to demand of your business technology today? What have you experienced as part of this “millennialization” of technology? We would love to hear from you.

Still quiet here.sas

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