Wednesday 31 October 2007

Enterprise 2.0 and Generation Y - What's the right time to adopt?

I have been reading some papers recently about the differences between the Baby Boomer Generation and Generation Y. Specifically, I am interested in how individuals from both generations will react to the social computing tools when they are eventually adopted behind the firewall in large organisations.

Generation Y kids (those born between 1985 - 1995) are now coming into the workforce. I was born in 1984, so I actually feel a bit left out when I read about all of the excitement around this next bunch!

These individuals (which is a strange way to describe the most connected generation there has ever been) bring with them a whole new genre of communicating. They were the first to experience internet use in their schools, they have come through college with Google, Facebook, YouTube and all of the other social networking sites over the last 10 years.

If I focus a little on their most recent experience - College, here they have used the power of google and the web to teach themselves how to find information. They have used social networking sites to find, rate, share and view content such as music, videos, stories and slideshows with each other.

Now Imagine yourself as one of these guys (e.g. You are 21, and starting in a large MNC):
  • You arrive in an environment where there are no efficient ways for finding the information you want, now when you don't know something about a specific task in your company - you can't just google it!
  • You have no way of finding others who may know because the corporate directory lists only name, department, email and phone details - there are no full profiles (Knowledge Maps).
  • To top it all off, you can't access YouTube, Facebook, SlideShare, Flickr etc because they are all banned in your organisation.

I could add more to this list but my basic point is that these young creative individuals will be like fish out of water when they arrive at their desks on day 1! What I am interested in is when is the right time to introduce Enterprise 2.0 into your organisation.

In the beginning the Baby Boomer senior management will not understand the user urge for wiki's, blogs, and collaborative tools such as tagging and bookmarking, however, at the same time the generation Y knowledge workers will get frustrated with the lack of structure and transparency in the enterprise information environment they will be working in.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Pace layering theory suggests that different parts / segments of your organisation will move at different speeds - there will always be early adopters while laggards drag their feet. This is a little liberating, because it suggests there's no point in trying to convert everyone all at once - you just need some people with a genuine need to see the benefit and try using it. The more useful it is (ie the more useful it is seen to be), the more that slower moving people will overcome their hesitations.

And generational matters are only part of the equation. If it's a no-brainer that radically simplifies or improves work (wikis once adopted seem like no-brainers for collaborative drafting tasks) then even generational divides tend to break down in the face of everyday realism :)