Millennials Are Teaching Older Workers About Technology

As older generations stay in work for longer and younger people start entering the workforce, workplaces are becoming increasingly multigenerational. This may not be a bad thing though, as according to the Wall Street Journal, Millennial workers are now teaching their older colleagues a thing or two about how to use technology.

In this interesting turn of events, employees aged 18-34 are coming to the aid of older workers who may be unfamiliar with technologies such as smartphones, iPods and social media.

While they're not IT experts as such, the Millennial group was the first generation to grow up alongside the expansion of the internet, Wi-Fi and Facebook, meaning they are better placed than many to offer tech support.

And the issues they deal with don't only relate to work; the article offers numerous examples of younger workers being asked by their colleagues how to use Instagram, send a photo via WhatsApp or even transfer music to their smartphone.

"We, the 20- and 30-somethings, seem to be the go-to," explains Alison Schurick, a 25-year-old lawyer. "When I came in this morning, the first thing my admin said to me was, 'Hey, since you're the young techy person, I have a question about Apple TV."

While younger generations have often stepped in to help older workers adjust to new innovations in the past, the practice is "more prevalent now than ever because technology has changed so dramatically and rapidly," adds Sharalyn Orr, executive director for generational strategies at Frank N. Magid Associates Inc., a consulting firm that advises businesses on how to deal with demographic changes.

So, these 'young techy people' could be the perfect solution to bridging the gap between older baby-boomer workers and the constantly evolving digital era.


Future Applications Of Machine To Machine Technology

From Cloud computing to the Internet of Things, a number of emerging technologies are set to transform the way we live and work. A recent article on Cloud Tweaks took a closer look at Machine to Machine (M2M) technology, exploring the opportunities that it will bring for various industries.

As an earlier Cloud Tweaks article explains, M2M technology sounds almost the same as the Internet of Things (IoT) - but while there is a connection between the two technologies, they are actually very different.

It can be said that M2M is a part of the Internet of Things, but it is a more specific area. IoT is a fairly broad term, referring to any personal device that interacts with a server or Cloud and shares data autonomously. Meanwhile, M2M technology is when either wired or wireless systems communicate with each other (and similar devices) and is usually applied to telecommunications.

Future applications of the technology will depend largely on what advances are made in the next few years, but it has the potential to benefit many industries who embrace and adapt it early on.

Healthcare

This is the sector that M2M technology will have the greatest effect on, Cloud Tweaks suggests. It is already being adopted in sensors that monitor patients who may be susceptible to heart attacks, picking up on the warning signs of for cardiac arrest and alerting the emergency services if one seems imminent.

Combined with an aging baby boomer population freeing up more job vacancies in health care, the growth of M2M technology will also help create more job opportunities.

Consumer

The consumer market will also be affected by M2M technology, with things we once thought only possible in science fiction movies already becoming a reality. One example of this will be refrigerators that detect when you are running out of certain items, before ordering more from your supermarket and paying for it on your bank card - obviously with restrictions in place. This too will create more job opportunities within the consumer goods industry.

Indoor environments

M2M could also revolutionize the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) industry, particularly in commercial buildings but in residential ones, as well. Environmental sensors will monitor the temperature, light, noise, motion and air quality within a building, adjusting these where necessary and significantly reducing energy wastage.

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Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Future of College

Amidst all of the existential questioning of the modern world that pervades the media (and our dinner parties) at the moment, one of the hottest topics is the role and future of higher education; put most simply, is college worth it? The question really sub-divides into two parts; in a world of arbitrage and automation what should junior study to give him/her the best shot in the future of work out there in the real world, and should we (the parents and/or junior) spend a medium-sized fortune on paying for it?

Though there are some influential folks questioning the very premise of college, most notably Peter Thiel, and though there are some MOOC fans, my sense is that the broad bourgeois consensus still leans in favor of junior going to a school like the ones we went to, in the way that we went; I think your friends and family would cock an eyebrow or two if they heard you were encouraging junior not to bother with college at all, or to stay in the basement and be a MOOCer.

Within that belief (or hope) the course to study debate has, it seems, become more partisan between those who favor the STEM end of the continuum and those who continue to be long on the humanities. Your humble correspondent can see the logic in both of these arguments; in a world growing more digital by the day it would be entirely sensible to arm yourself with as many tools as possible to leverage the incredible opportunities the new code rush will afford.  But a world exclusively populated by STEM graduates doesn’t bear thinking about!

The more I’ve thought about this – with the college countdown clock for Cost Centers One and Two ticking loudly – the more I’ve come to the following conclusion, that a) yes, absolutely, college is worth it, and b) it doesn’t matter what you study. But the conclusion comes with a caveat. A very big caveat, namely that universities need to remember and reassert the fundamental role they play in developing the ethical and aesthetical qualities of their students.

Every day we hear of a new scandal in the commanding heights of society; bribery, doping, cheating in major sports, leading politicians on sexual misconduct charges, corrupt drug companies, blue-chip banks paying huge fines for shady dealings. The list goes on and on. In recent weeks both the British Prime Minister and the Governor of the Bank of England have urged for an end to an “era of irresponsibility”.  Many of the people being caught up in these scandals have gone to the best schools in the world and have been amongst the elite at those schools.  Presumably whilst there they mastered Discounted Future Cash Flow, and C++, and how to create value through corporate restructuring, but I’d question whether they were taught how to be kind, how to put others first, how to decide between two equally unpleasant courses of action, how to value service over money.

Colleges might say that’s not their job, or that they do teach those qualities though indirectly, or that they’re not responsible for alum in later life going rouge. I guess those points would be fair enough.  But I can’t help thinking that the most valuable thing colleges can (and should) contribute to society, and which seems lower on the agenda right now http://bloom.bg/1GOPTVd, is a (heightened) focus on turning out ethical young people, rather than new ranks of kids armed with the latest “hot” (but perishable) skill that profit motivated employers want at that precise moment.

Similarly, higher education should be helping young people develop and strengthen an ability to differentiate between the beautiful and the ugly. The doyenne of Silicon Valley, Mary Meeker, says that we’re in an era where “we’re reimagining nearly everything … in the search for beauty”. It’s beauty that has made Apple the most successful company in the history of mankind, but yet, as anyone with an aesthetic eye can tell, beauty is very unevenly distributed. We live our lives in the midst of so much that is not beautiful and there is so much opportunity to create beauty in every aspect of our lives. It’s the beauty of the High Line that has revitalized Chelsea in New York. It’s the beauty of the Guggenheim that has revitalized Bilbao.

How much time and energy and focus is the college that your kid is at – or about to go to – spending on developing your kid’s ability to think critically about the difference between Jeff Koons and Banksy, between Jet Blue and American Airlines, about the Westin and the Hilton, about A versus B? Aesthetics, to some, is the preserve of the effete and the refuge of the non-commercial (in a highly commercial age) but, aesthetics is in reality about the ability to make decisions, which surely is the core principle of “economics”. And isn’t that something every kid should major in?

At 21 a person is still very, very young (though they of course themselves don’t think that!); really still a baby. And ahead are 40 or 50 years of work; within that span what they do, how they do it, the tools they’ll need, the skills they’ll need, are going to change time and time again.

In my very humble opinion colleges shouldn’t be worrying about minor detail x over minor detail y; they should be worrying about graduating people who will act well in the pursuit of beauty. That is what will serve them, and society, most beneficially during the unknowable years ahead.

The commercialization of college has led to a doubling down on the “resume virtues” – in David Brook’s parlance http://amzn.to/1L09TG4 - instead of the “eulogy virtues. In an “era of behavior”, as Dov Seidman puts it http://amzn.to/1L0aCXD higher education is in danger of making a big, big, mistake that you and I will have to pay for in the short run but which we all may have to pay for in the long run.