Robert Lee Harris
Robert Lee Harris is President of Communications Advantage, Inc., a consulting company focusing on enterprise communications strategies and cost management....
Read Full Bio >>

Robert Lee Harris | August 08, 2012 |


Millennials and Collaborative Tech: 5 Reasons Not to Freak Out

Millennials and Collaborative Tech: 5 Reasons Not to Freak Out Trying to make business communication plans based on how people spend their free time could be a fool's errand.

Trying to make business communication plans based on how people spend their free time could be a fool's errand.

"You'd better be ready, when those millennials start working at your company, these are the things they are going to demand."

How many sales pitches of instant messaging tools, video, collaboration portals or corporate social networking have you heard that include this idea? As the story goes, the upcoming generation of workers are "digital natives", more connected and much more comfortable in a virtualized workplace, replacing office time with FaceTime and face to face meetings with video chat. The only way to optimize their talents will be to have the environment in place that they are used to functioning in!

There is no denying that enterprise technology has rapidly advanced (with significant influence from consumer technology), but this whole concept of the millennials’ special fluency in technology adds a new facet to planning for enterprise IT. Those actually making the financial decisions (typically Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers) are told that they need to implement things that might not make complete sense to them from a business standpoint. Anyone who dares to cast a skeptical eye on any of the collaboration tools being pedaled to the enterprise is told that they did not grow up "digital" and consequently "just don't get it".

I bristle against the idea that the newest members of the workforce will "demand" specific technology and connectivity. Maybe it's because I am a parent, a "digital immigrant", or both, but would millennials honestly let a job be given to a less demanding worker while they stay at home in a familiar environment of video games and Facebook?

Here are some points to consider when making plans for virtual workspaces, unified communications and collaboration. Nothing in these points will stop enterprise IT planners in their tracks, but perhaps a different perspective will help to make sure that what you end up with actually delivers the intended results:

1. The "Better watch out, kids are so much better at technology" proposition is nothing new.
Humanity has a seemingly unlimited capacity to invent, and then be amazed by our own inventions. We are subsequently amazed by how well consumers adapt to these very inventions, especially when the consumers are younger people. Some searching of archived publications reveals statements that could have been in the newspaper last week. A 1966 Los Angeles Times report said of the generation that in 2012 is now retiring: "There has never been a generation like this. They know more than their parents and grandparents did at a similar age. They are more aware, more sophisticated." Two years later, the Los Angeles Times reported on a speech by Chief Justice Earl Warren, "that the rebelliousness of youth may be due in part to their knowing more than their parents about modern technology...a 16-year-old boy may be an expert in computers and people many years older may have to be his disciples in that field." This speech, given in 1968, inferred that all that rebelliousness of the '60s was "linked to rapid technological change which has given young people skills their elders cannot understand."

Later, in 1983, an editorial complains about the lack of investment in computer training for current office workers compared with Gen-Xers, saying, "The kids are going to be comfortable with computers no matter what society does; the growing universe of consumer electronics will see to that very nicely." I suspect if we dug back even further, "kids today and their technology" statements would be preceded by "kids today and their solid state radios." Might we even be able to dig up worries about "kids today and their mechanical toys"? New technology has been and will continue to be disruptive. Plan for it, but remember that we are not the first generation to assume that there is an unprecedented generational shift. Planning should be based on current productivity potential rather than abstract concerns about how "differently" millennials think and work.

Next page: Evolving views on "Digital Natives"


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.