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.


An Open Letter to CEOs on Digital Transformation

 “The main thing that has caused companies to fail, in my view, is that they missed the future.” Larry Page - CEO of Google

We have already entered into the permanent cycle of change as market dynamics and business rules are constantly changing, dictated by digital movement. As a CEO, you must re-write your traditional company’s strategy with the digital ink, and for that you must first accept that the change is upon you. It will help you to be better prepared to transform your traditional business and keep up with the digital disruption to avoid a Kodak-like moment. Provided below are our suggestions that will help you as the CEO to embrace the reality of Digital Transformation and prepare for the future:

  • Digital Transformation is an ongoing journey to transform business. Transformation has become a permanent state and your business must respond to disruption which will always be around (when one phase of disruption ends, another begins) – Period! We believe “Digital Transformation is more than technology. It means innovation to connect technology, data science, devices, design, and business strategy to change a business process or customer experience. It means putting the customer, device, organization, or business process at the center of real change in how we engage, create, build, and buy by connecting the physical world to the digital – code – world." 
  • There is no one-size-fits-all Digital Transformation strategy. While the base definition remains the same (as highlighted above), the strategy required to execute digital transformation will vary. Organizations are different in terms of their business type, the markets in which they operate, and the clients whom they serve, making it difficult to define a one-size-fits-all strategy. You need to develop your own strategy.
  • Lead from the front. You are the owner of business transformation in your firm and you have to make a compelling business case for the change. You have to convince the board, get the required investments in place and sensitize the idea both internally and externally.
  • Adopt the speed and agility of a startup. The digital environment has lowered the cost of setting up a business significantly, allowing new companies to establish their businesses overnight. Per Forrester Research, “digital disruption will see 10 times the number of innovators, who will have 100 times the power to disrupt and this all at a cost that is 10 times less than in the traditional world.” If you observe them carefully, you can learn a lot from innovators - how they are challenging the traditional business models.
  • Run a dual agenda moving forward. You need to run a dual agenda in order to maintain a good balance between traditional business and new capabilities moving forward: 1) Maintain and expand your legacy business which brings in money and value; 2) Identify business areas which are vulnerable to new competitors and will be most impacted by digital and invest in those areas. 
  • Hire a Chief Digital Officer. If you are thinking of giving the extra responsibility of leading digital transformation to your CMO or CIO, it will not work. You need to transform your business and it can’t be done with half-baked responsibility. Either you should have your CMO/ CIO give up their current role or you should hire someone new to lead the change. The success of your digital transformation strategy (and maybe your job) will depend on the new role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO). The CDO will act as an extension of you to connect with internal and external stakeholders, act as a change management agent, enable a digital-ready culture, and formulate and execute your digital strategy.
  • Encourage data-driven culture. Data is the holy grail of businesses. Successful companies are putting data at the center of their strategy and winning in the marketplace. We call this the Code Halos phenomenon and it is reason behind the success of Google, Netflix, Uber, Alibaba and other digital disruptors. Look at how Disney World is leveraging the power of data through MagicBands. Data driven culture will compliment your digital transformation strategy.

As a CEO, you must understand that digital development is shaping the future of your industry, your business and your own role. If you decide to embark on a digital transformation journey, it will require determination, money and time, and you must step up to take this challenge. The present CEOs who understand this will be the CEOs of tomorrow.

Digital transformation is your future, so handle it well.

All the best!

Our upcoming research - Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific, scheduled to be published in August’15, will provide interesting data and in-depth coverage on trends, opportunities, and challenges around digital transformation for CEOs globally. Follow me on Twitter @mbahl for latest updates on the research.

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Why Women Will Benefit From The Future Of Work

Whether it's due to globalization, technology or changing cultural values - or perhaps all three - workplace hierarchies are evolving. And according to a recent article on Business Insider, female workers in particular stand to benefit from the changes that are already taking place, and those that are yet to come.

An increasing number of companies are moving away from standardized hierarchies to more collaborative systems. One notable example of this is at Zappos, where managerial roles were ditched in favor of a moving towards 'Holocracy,' a staffing model based on self-management.

While this might be an extreme example, it serves to show that working structures are changing; and research suggests that this development could be particularly positive for women in leadership roles.

In the past, leaders have been expected to "exhibit power, dominance, courage, and boldness" - all traditionally male qualities, explains Raina Brands, assistant professor of organizational behavior at London Business School.

But in workplaces that rely on collaboration, communication and teamwork, women are generally considered to be more capable at leading a team than men. Brands' study found that participants preferred 'Michael' as a leader in centralized environments, and 'Michelle' in cohesive networks.

Of course, assuming that men display more dominant characteristics than women indicates that gender stereotypes in the workplace are still rife.

So does this mean that men's roles are in jeopardy?

Not exactly, says Brands. It is going to be easier for women to emerge as leaders in organizational models that require a more collaborative leadership approach; but that doesn't mean there will no longer be a place for male leaders, too.

"What we find is that cohesive networks help everyone," explained Brands. "It's just that it helps the women more than it helps the men."