Generation Z entered the workforce a few years ago with vastly different experiences and expectations related to technology than other generations. In fact, each of the four generations (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomer) has different attitudes toward their workplace technology leading to a myriad of problems as they attempt to communicate and collaborate with one another.
A 60-year old likely worked for a number of years without even a computer at their workspace. The 21-year-old likely used a smartphone or tablet before they even entered preschool. With the introduction and mass adoption of technology on both the consumer and commercial side, there is not only an age gap but a familiarity gap with technology.
I get asked often how to create pervasive adoption. As the CTO of a company that focuses on user experience with technology, I believe that everyone can achieve adoption regardless of the multigenerational gap in employees. It starts by recognizing that the biggest dilemma is the alignment of perspectives – how people respond to technology and how generational perspectives impact adoption.
Here are some tips to reach the pervasive adoption that is so critical to technology implementations:
- Align expectation with reality
The modern workplace has created the problem of the adoption dilemma. Much of this has to do with the expectation of a system. The traditionalist generation wonders about cost and need for technology. The Baby Boomer generation recognizes the potential, but will wonder who will operate the machine. Generation X will see the innovation of the technology to improve current methods. Millennials will wonder if there is a different technological avenue to explore.
- Measure success not by failure but by utilization
It wasn’t long ago that success of enterprise technology was measured by failure. How many helpdesk requests are issued? While those metrics are important, the question that should be asked more often by IT leaders are less related to service availability and more about workforce utilization.
- Adoption leads to ROI
Making sure that everyone in the organization adopts new technology isn’t just crucial to the technology, it’s crucial to the bottom line. The less adoption, the less value of the system. Without the multigenerational perspective in mind, adoption will be mediocre. Once organizations understand how their multigeneration workforce uses technology, the outcome will be better reached.
- The multigenerational difference
The basis of solving problems is significantly different depending on the generation at the task. Members of one generation are more apt to work independently and then bring the solution to the team. Another generation may believe it’s the team’s responsibility to solve the problem. In this case, frustrations will arise.
- Adoption requires a strong focus
No matter the example or situation, whether it be communication technology or CRM tools, without strong focus on the experience the technology will provide, the technology will not be consumed. Quantify user expectations and provide system designs to meet those expectations.
- Take employee input into account
Listen for more than specifications about “what” the user expects the system to do. Focus on “why” and “how” they expect to accomplish tasks. Systematically draw these user experience expectations from the stakeholders, synthesize these across multiple generations and then make these perspectives the key “specs” that influence adoption. Focus on workflows and try to eliminate places in the users’ workflows, where they make decisions about using technology.
- Set expectations for multigenerational training and adoption
Join user expectations with specific workflows and communicate which use cases can be adopted right away, along with which need training or support to be accomplished. These metrics include user expectations across multiple generations. Baby boomers can collaborate with the team. Members of Generation X can receive training. Millennials might have access to apps that fit into current expectations. Each generation has a workflow that looks like the way they already work.
- Accelerate Adoption to Boost ROI
Look at the normal work flow of employees and reduce the friction points along the way. Integrating multigenerational perspectives and aligning the technology with natural work flows accelerates adoption by conforming to systems employees are used to navigating.
- Fit adoption into technical work flow
The goal is aligning these expectations to the technical workflows. By doing so, we limit or eliminate the requirement to choose certain workflows for certain outcomes. The technology works the way we expect it to, and it conforms to how we already work, which accelerates adoption.