The age-old adage of ‘if it’s not broke, why fix it’ has become embedded in the way large enterprises operate around the world. But as the way we work continues to shift, particularly with the entrance of millennials and Gen Zs into the global workforce, the challenge of bridging generational gaps within a company is ever more prominent.
One of the more prevalent differences between generations can be seen through their use of technology platforms such as emails and cloud-based collaboration tools. For example, a big part of the roadblock when it comes to introducing collaboration tools across the board in large enterprises is the fear of moving away from the tried and tested.
However, staying may not be the most efficient use of technology tools available, and as a result, can inhibit a company’s ability to remain competitive in a constantly changing workplace. With 70 per cent of the global workforce predicted to be made up of millennials and Gen Z by 2025, it’s now more important than ever to introduce interoperability — the ability for computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information — within organisations.
Interoperability helps consolidate the myriad of tools across an organisation, even when it is built and developed by different companies. It is a great solution to bridge the inter-generational work gap, giving both sides the ability to continue to exchange information and collaborate regardless of whether they prefer email, Dropbox, GDrive, Slack or something else.
New generations, new expectations
The new generation of digital natives expect their employers to utilize efficient productivity and collaboration tools to help them remain efficient and get more done. The current generational gap represents both a challenge and an opportunity, particularly for enterprises that grapple with legacy systems and more traditional ways of working.
An organisation’s workplace technology can influence the tenure of this new generation of workers. They have high expectations — from the availability of productivity tools, to workplace culture — around the company where they spend 40+ hours of their working week.
This generation also believes that their workplace technology tool should be easy to use and as practical as the consumer apps and tools that they use in their personal life. As such, employers that fail to listen and adapt to the changing way different employees like to work are less likely to retain great talent.
The same goes for older generations that are used to traditional tech tools. Forcing a specific way of working on either party is unlikely to lead to success. This is particularly true for large companies — it becomes a more daunting task to introduce a platform wall-to-wall the more employees you have to upskill. It takes time to train, reskill or change the way someone works, which could result in lost productivity and increased business costs.
Old and new co-existing
We are in the midst of a 100 year shift in communication in the workplace. Today, there is a proliferation of technology tools that is helping knowledge workers transition to a more flexible, collaborative and transparent way of working. Less red tape, less time wasted.
However, the average enterprise company already utilizes about 1,000 different vendors, and having more productivity tools is not indicative of improved efficiency. Having too many fragmented tools can be overwhelming, resulting in constant context switching, siloed information and disjointed processes within the same company.
As a result, this can decrease productivity, innovation and revenue while increasing operational costs.
Interoperability allows different tech tools to communicate and work together, rather than in silos. For example, an employee communicating with their vendors via email can easily share the entire discussion thread with their colleagues on a collaboration platform like Slack, and continue the conversation without missing a beat.
This helps reduce unnecessary admin and minimize back-and-forths as relevant teams have access to all the relevant information they need to move the task along.
Bridging tools to increase efficiency
Bridging old and new tools encourages a more fluid and efficient way to collaborate, providing a solution for different generations of employees to continue to work better together and achieve their shared goals quickly.
But for interoperability to exist, have an impact and become more than just a buzzword within a company, enterprises must invest the time on identifying and bringing on board the tools that are widely interoperable.
Enterprises that continue to ignore the importance of interoperability will risk falling behind their competitors, so it’s crucial to act now or risk losing more than just revenue.
Arturo Arrarte is Head of Growth for Asia, Slack.
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