Attitudes towards technology change through the generations, today’s young people hold a completely different view of both technology and the way that technology allows them to communicate compared to the generations that came before them. Being the first generation to grow up with the internet, these digital natives expect to communicate through a huge variety of different connected devices, instant web services and mobile applications. The phrase “there’s an app for that” is no longer just a marketing slogan, for these young people it’s a way of life.
The “App Generation” can be defined by its attitudes towards – and expectations of – technology itself. With 84% of teenagers using mobile messaging apps, 57% regularly conducting video calls and 38% using cloud storage, as this generation enters the workforce, businesses and IT teams will be expected to drastically change, and improve, the tools that they are using to communicate.
As teenagers, the App Generation has been the perfect target for large consumer tech brands. In the next five years however, they will be bringing these expectations into the workforce, leaving many organisations wondering how to accommodate this fast-moving, tech savvy, reactive audience within their current workplaces.
Many businesses believe that the App Generation will present significant challenges as a result of their technological expectations and demands. In fact, Fuze’s research suggests that as many as half of European workers believe that the App Generation will bring with it new challenges for the workplace, with IT departments being some of the first to be affected.
As it stands, two thirds of office workers believe that their workplace tech has some catching up to do before it matches what they would expect to use within their personal lives. This revelation represents a major point of concern for those companies looking to hire App Gen employees, with many of these teenagers expecting that all technology – regardless of whether it’s at home or in an office – should “just work”. Unfortunately, the reality for most IT departments is that this simply is not the case.
The new generation consider technologies such as smartphones, mobile messaging, cloud storage services and VOIP calls essential. In contrast, attachment to older technologies such as desk phones and emails is wavering, with just 2% of App Gen teenagers still using a landline to make calls. This changes drastically for current workers, with Fuze’s research finding that older communications tools such as office desk phones are consistently listed as one of the top five “essential items” in the workplace.
Remote working is another factor for businesses to consider when accommodating the new generation. There is an unmet demand for technology-driven, flexible working that is likely to cause significant issues for both businesses and IT departments over the next five years. As it stands, 78% of the App Generation would like to work from home, while 43% do not see the appeal of working in an office at all. Comparing this to current workers, only 37% actually do work from home, while another 49% would like to but aren’t allowed.
Hundreds of thousands of young workers will enter the business community in the next five years, all with high expectations around work-life balance and new technologies. Ignoring the App Generation is not a solution, even if IT departments attempt to ignore these changes, employees will simply work around them.
Already 21% of office workers use cloud storage without their IT department’s consent, while 32% install messaging apps and 25% make video calls, all without IT’s knowledge. Given this growing reliance on so-called “Shadow IT”, businesses risk facing a shortage of control over their systems and this problem can only get worse with the influx of App Generation teenagers entering the workplace and expecting to use their own devices.
This is why IT must look to develop their technology roadmaps now, ensuring that they have the infrastructure and tools in place to support the arrival of the App Generation.
It’s clear that a vast combination of factors is set to impact the workplace in terms of working styles and practices. Not to mention the potentially costly change in technology for IT departments. To successfully benefit from the skills of the App Generation, while ensuring staff productivity is at a maximum, the time to adapt, change and learn in order to be ready is now.