Learning from the Collaboration Generation

Ever­yone has read the statis­tics on the growing numbers of tech-savvy millen­nials in the work­place. If you’re in the work­place, you’re already expe­ri­en­cing it. The numbers are no longer the point.

The critical point is iden­ti­fying what we can learn from how this gene­ra­tion uses tech­no­logy to collaborate.

This isn’t some B‑school exer­cise. Inno­va­tion and crea­ti­vity are key curren­cies in the know­ledge economy. Compa­nies that can’t attract, retain, and inspire know­ledge workers will find them­selves being disrupted. Witness the credit unions arguing that Uber has deva­luedNew York taxi medal­lions by as much as 40 percent.

Their always-on tech­no­logy, soci­ally-networked lives have taught millen­nials to colla­bo­rate in specific ways. They want flexi­bi­lity, simpli­city and effi­ci­ency. They like real-time inter­ac­tions (virtual and in-person) that spark crea­ti­vity, and use wikis and other online social spaces to share, iterate, and find support.

And they don’t think their current colla­bo­ra­tion options are cutting it.

recent survey found 71% of millen­nials saying they face chal­lenges using their compa­nies’ colla­bo­ra­tion tools. In another study, 38% of millen­nials said outdated modes of colla­bo­ra­tion hindered their compa­nies’ ability to innovate.

Mono-Functional Applications Create Multi-Tool Collaboration Model

The kicker is that millen­nials aren’t waiting for their IT depart­ments. They already know their options and start using whichever tool they think most quickly and easily solves their need. Hence the rise of Shadow IT and the high use of mono-func­tion apps.

Mono-func­tion apps do one thing really well. Since more millen­nials prefer chat and text than do older workers, they’re using tools like Slack, Snap­chat, and Zoom. By compa­rison, email is slow and doesn’t provide the same give-and-take as a chat or online meeting app. And when it comes to docu­ment manage­ment, the cloud-based systems, such as Dropbox or Box, domi­nate. And all the tools must be mobile.

The common charac­te­ristics of these mono-func­tion apps is: they’re easy to adopt, easy to use, and provide the flexible colla­bo­ra­tion millen­nials prefer.

All these various mono-func­tion apps combine into a multi-func­tion colla­bo­ra­tion model marked by nume­rous silos of commu­ni­ca­tion and content created by each mono-func­tion app being used. Thus there’s no context, no connec­tive thread supporting employees as they each use diffe­rent tools for diffe­rent functions.

More importantly, millen­nials select tools they each find most useful. So although indi­vi­duals may have the tools that help them in the moment, the enter­prise isn’t always seeing the bene­fits of collaboration.

Millenials on a laptop

Fighting Against Shadow IT with a Unified Platform

The millen­nial prefe­rence for simple, flexible tools should ease the tran­si­tion to newer colla­bo­ra­tion tech­no­lo­gies for older workers. And if compa­nies aren’t pro-active about provi­ding the colla­bo­ra­tion tools millen­nials find desi­rable and useful, they’ll end up with diffe­rent employees working in sepa­rate tools. Hardly the path of meaningful colla­bo­ra­tion and innovation.

Instead of leaving millen­nials to find their own mono-func­tion apps, reduce the tempt­a­tion for shadow IT by brin­ging in a unified plat­form that meets them where they are. That means a unified plat­form that gives all employees the flexi­bi­lity to colla­bo­rate in multiple ways, but with a simple user expe­ri­ence resul­ting in people from all gene­ra­tions actually using it.

A unified online colla­bo­ra­tion plat­form combines the flexi­bi­lity and features most desired with the simpli­city of a mono-func­tion app. It also centra­lizes content and commu­ni­ca­tions, provi­ding the contex­tual colla­bo­ra­tion needed to keep produc­ti­vity moving along at the pace millen­nials and their orga­niza­tions seek.

In truth, using online colla­bo­ra­tion tools that reflect millen­nials’ work values helps ever­yone perform at peak crea­ti­vity and productivity.

About: Scott Schreiman

Scott Schrei­manCEO

Scott Schreiman is the founder and chief execu­tive officer of Same­page, a startup that enables small busi­nesses and their teams to get more done.

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