During the Collaboration Summit, I hosted a panel of Millennials to learn from them how they communicate and collaborate today. The panel consisted of seven members representing three different MBA programs. I enjoyed hosting this panel and I found it interesting to learn what the next generation is thinking around collaboration and the tools they're using. In the audience was a large group of customers of all sizes. The target attendee was the person ultimately responsible for the collaboration strategy of their company. It was very interesting to learn what was top of mind for the attendees as they posed questions to the millennials.
Here are a few of my take-aways from the panel session:
- Some applications struggle for use: applications, even those that are tried and true, are not as appreciated as they once were. Top of the list (by the millennials and by the attendees) during this session was voicemail. There was also a leaning toward real time and open applications over asynchronous and point-to-point communications.
- Millennials will use most any application: even though some applications aren't appreciated, they will still be used. More importantly, millennials will download and use practically any application that's referred in order to stay connected, even if it means different applications that do the same thing.
- They are security conscience but also trusting: the attendees were extremely concerned with security through the use of publicly available and cloud-based applications. The panelists were less concerned feeling they know how to self-govern intellectual property, but they also trust that cloud services are inherently secure and therefore may be used.
- Device choice is preferred: most of the panel is OK with using a personal device for work as long as they choose the device. They're also OK with capabilities like remote wipe knowing they will keep contacts and personal data secure in a cloud service. There were a couple that prefer the hard demarcation with personal and professional devices. They also want to use the right device at the right time. Tablets may have an advantage in some areas, but won't replace laptops anytime soon.
- Collaboration capabilities matter: they will research what's available before making a go-to decision. One panelist commented their choice in school and intern opportunities was led by the technical capabilities each offered over competitors.
Providing the best collaboration tools to employees has always been challenging. People become comfortable with what they know. Applications become obsolete and are replaced with something new and different. Gaining insight from your employees is both valuable and smart in determining your collaboration strategy. Be sure to have a diverse representation that includes your newer and future teams as well as your existing teams. I focused on having multiple schools, but one attendee commented that because they were all MBA students the field of representation from a workplace perspective wasn't that wide. In the workplace don't just ask the power users, but ask everybody for feedback. The answers may surprise you.