Monday, October 05, 2015

Enterprise challenges in getting ready for Generation Z in the phygital world

The other day I was reading about a new generation of future customers/workers/citizens referred to as the Generation Z. According to this piece of analysis, it is a term used to collectively refer to people born in this millennium. They are different from generation Y which was the classification for Digital Natives – people who grew up with the Internet and computers during their school and college years – while generation X typically bunched together Digital Migrants (who were exposed to Personal Computers as they got into the workforce).

Generation Z is on the go with their computer in their pockets; they are the mobile generation equipped with smartphones, apps for almost everything they need or want, socially active, leaving a trail behind for anyone to leverage, fickle in their behavior with no perceivable loyalty to brand or product, ready to experiment and explore the world at large, impatient with the pace at which the rest of the world is moving, have a strong mind of their own; a generation that is going to be ready to get into the work force in the next 5+ years.

If we look inwards, enterprises today have embraced Cloud and Mobility working their way through the legacy systems which are not easily amenable. The journey has been full of challenges while the new generation systems have attempted to disrupt the monolithic systems of the past. Organizational inertia and fear of breaking a running system and process has prevented large scale deployments. App-ification of the world of IT has begun with new startups wanting to optimize every micro process by making it available in real-time.

Productivity on the move has rendered the laptop an unwieldy device which is losing ground to tablet computers as the primary consumption device. The tablet too has evolved bridging the gap and offering similar or better capabilities on the go; progressive early adopters have embraced this trend while conservatives continue to view the tablet as a consumer device under the ambit of BYOD. The sooner the transition happens, the faster the enterprise will be ready to move to the next level of engagement and productivity.

Focusing on the external world of direct and indirect consumers, some parts of the world are going mobile first with the web being an alternate channel; optimization of engagement and experience on the mobile is the Holy Grail that everyone is chasing. While Generation Y is adaptable across different channels, Generation Z will seek gratification primarily on the mobile channel and may not engage on other mediums. Organizations are thus building for current as well as the future which is creating discomfort for existing decision makers, the Generation X.

Generation Z presents new paradigms for enterprises internally as well as externally. The mobile first consumers of information are used to finding everything at their fingertips. Can they be tied down to a desk with a monitor, keyboard and mouse at their workplace and expect productivity at the same level that is delivered today ? Their restless will be challenged to stay subdued while they are corporatized to conform to existing norms of workplaces. The multi-tasking generation will seek avenues to vent their high energy existence.

At the same time, their social existence in the physical world is complemented by the mobile digital world with 4G and 5G speeds. They do not shun personal touch and immerse in the real world with equal élan leaving bread crumbs for marketers and analysts to microsegment personas. Can enterprises find a way to stay omnipresent in the new phygital world ? This was a much debated topic in a recent conference with thinking caps of all knowing consultants to enterprise captains and participants from all walks of life.

Conclusions were sparse with the world still evolving and no one wanting to put their bets on one direction or another; pace of change being what it is, attempting to hazard a guess was seen as epitome of foolishness. Everyone agreed that the future remains opaque with wearables bringing in a dimension as yet little understood in its impact. Work and Life are fungible today; in a boundary less world of the future, the focus will shift to outcomes rather than tasks; micro specialized skills will create new opportunities for enterprises and people.

Get ready for the phygital world, its coming sooner than you think !

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