Businesses have only recently got to grips with how they have to handle the expectations of the Millennials (or Generation Y) in their workforce, and yet they are now presented with a whole new generation that they need to accommodate, Generation Z.
Who are Generation Z?
These are typically the children of Generation X parents, born sometime between the mid-1990’s and before 2010. They don’t remember a time before computers, and the majority don’t even know what life was like without the internet. They are the first truly mobile-first generation, and whereas Millennials use three screens on average, Generation Z’ers use five; a smartphone, a TV, a laptop, a tablet and a console, and regularly surf two screens simultaneously.
They want everything, everywhere and immediately. They worry about the cost of the latest smartphone, but turn up their nose at paying for a film or a song that they can get for free online.
More than 8 out of 10 are hooked on social networks, and more than half of them think that this is where their real social life takes place. Gen Z’ers find it easier to talk online than in person, and their friends on social media are as important to them as their friends in real life.
They get all the latest trends from social media and live their life in constant fear of missing out, not being able to stand the idea of not being ‘in the loop’ when something new comes out. Facebook is still omnipresent, although its popularity is beginning to flag, in favour of more instantaneous social media products; Instagram, Snapchat, Whisper, Vine, Twitter and Tumblr.
They surf the web while watching the TV, and they think that everything is possible with technology, but they have a short attention span and tend to skim-read rather than read properly.
They have become the ultimate “self-educators”, learning how to use new stuff and find information via online video sharing sites, such as YouTube; 33% watch lessons online, 20% read textbooks on tablets, and 32% work with classmates online.
What does this mean for IT?
If you live in the UK you are probably aware of the idents that appear before a program. Saatchi & Saatchi produced a number of these as part of the Toyota Auris Hybrid sponsorship of ITV Movies. The ident for “Best foreign language film”, for me, sums up some of the challenges that Technology, and in particular IT Service Management, are going to face as Generation Z enters the workforce.
Generation Z are technologically savvy. Computers, tablets, smartphones, social media and collaboration, are about as natural to them as the air that they breathe. The girls are both looking at the same social media pages, from different devices, at the same time, while sitting next to each other in the back of a car, with the world going by.
Implications: The IT Service Management team will need to meet the high expectations that Gen Z have when entering the job market; that their employer will be digitally-savvy, embrace the flexibility, agility, simplicity, collaboration and social ways of working that come with modern technology; and that the technology provided will be the same as, or better than, they use at home.
Generation Z are social animals. There is a complete lack of privacy, everyone knows what everyone else is doing, all the time. They journal to share thoughts and emotions with the world, while isolating themselves in front of the screen. The girls, totally focused on their own screens, discuss a picture that a friend has posted that already 70 different people have seen, and then a post from a boy which one of their friends won’t like.
Implications: Gen Z doesn’t understand the concept of privacy and security, and the implications that this will have on the business that they work in. Sharing of information comes naturally and it will be the responsibility of the IT Service Management team to make sure that they are able to work the way they want to, while ensuring that corporate information is appropriately secured.
Generation Z are always on. They get online as soon as they can and then stay online all day as much as they can manage, as a result, they are always in touch with their social group. This has a knock-on impact that they rely on messaging rather than the telephone, expect instantaneous responses, think email is far too slow, and expect immediate replies to their messages. The girls are reviewing social media posts as they appear, and then Direct Messaging (“DM”) people to comment on them.
Implications: Gen Z’ers will be expecting to engage with colleagues and company services in similar ways to the way they engage with their friends. It is essential that the tools are available, supported by the right company culture, that can enable this. Automation, artificial intelligence and the use of ChatBots that rely on machine learning, will become increasingly important. The ITSM services provided will have to become far more socially enabled and instantaneous, being continuously available from multiple devices and platforms, both personal and corporate.
Generation Z are multi-taskers. Gen Z’ers live in a world where they get and expect continuous updates, where relevant is constantly being redefined, and they have to process information quickly and succinctly. This might mean they are seen as being less focused, however, they can quickly and efficiently work on multiple tasks, with multiple distractions going on, all at the same time. The girls are in a moving car, reviewing multiple social media streams, talking and messaging, all concurrently.
Implications: If they suspect that established processes are slowing them down, they have no qualms about working round existing systems to get what they want. It is important that IT Service Management recognise this and a focus is placed on the continual review and improvement of all systems and processes, based on feedback, ensuring they are fit for purpose.
Generation Z are entrepreneurial. They have a self-reliant spirit, that manifests itself in the creation and maintenance of their own personal brand, the importance that they place on the opinion of others and their openness in providing their own opinions. It’s implicit that both girls have, and maintain, their own social media presence, but are also focused on ensuring that their friends personal brand can be as good as it can be.
Implications: They need to have an outlet for their entrepreneurial spirit that supports their own personal brand, be provided with opportunities to take accountability and not make them invest long hours in projects that never end up seeing the light of day. The IT Service Management governance and processes have to be in place to be able to balance the need for corporate stability with empowering agile ways of working. Agile and empowerment are good as they quickly produce business results, however chaos is bad, and without control and governance, can lead to disaster.
Generation Z are self-educators. Gen Z’ers are self-motivated learners, who would rather learn themselves in their own time, through trial and error. They will actively use the internet to find what they want, and learn through watching videos and reading blogs and articles on the subject that they are interested in. They would rather do this than sit through classroom lessons, which may cover subjects that they are not so interested in, along with those that they are. The girls won’t have been taught how to use the social media, they will have learnt from each other and their own experiences, which they will be happy to share themselves through social media.
Implications: Gen Z’ers have the expectation that their company provides the reach and availability of relevant video learning materials that empower them with the means to complete tasks, stay up-to-date with live industry news and keep their skills sharpened. If they don’t feel that they have the means to control their own learning and development, in their own time, then they will start to look for other opportunities. The IT Service Management team, and in particular service transition, migration and business change, will need to work closely with the relevant Learning and Development teams to ensure that the content and technology is available to support these new learning expectations.
The way that people want to work, and consume the IT services that businesses provide, has taken a step change in the past decade, primarily in response to the Millennial generation entering the workplace. Agile, Lean and DevOps frameworks have all challenged the status quo, with new start-ups increasingly disrupting established market places, and incumbent businesses reacting by adopting bi-modal ways of working. Businesses are, only now, understanding the importance having the right IT Service Management governance and processes in place to ensure that replacing the structure and stability, of the established ways of working, doesn’t lead to chaos and unpredictability.
Generation Z entering the workplace will lead to an equivalent, if not greater, challenge for IT Service Management teams. They will want to move faster, engaging through multiple channels, being increasingly open and social with no privacy concerns, expect more responsibility earlier, be seen to be making difference and be constantly developing their own brand.
IT Service Management teams will need to continue to evolve and develop the services that they provide beyond the needs of millennials to accommodate the expectations and requirements of Generation Z as they enter the workplace. Rather than waiting to see what these changes will be and their implications, the IT Service Management team need to be anticipating how they are going to continue to modernise and support the ongoing changing needs of their workforce.
If you would like to find out how iCore can help you with your IT service management requirements then please contact us on 0207 868 2405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.