Millennials: How To Engage Them In The Enterprise

Rick Knowles

In today’s digital economy, do you struggle to retain millennial employees?

Millennials, those young professionals aged around 20 to 35, now outnumber baby boomers in the workforce. A recent Forbes article states that 60% of millennials leave their jobs in less than three years, which costs most companies $15-25,000 to replace each millennial employee they lose.

At the same time, it can be challenging to keep aging employees motivated and engaged in their roles. In the report, 71% of companies say losing millennials in the workplace increases the workload and stress level of remaining employees.

To address the financial burden and morale hit resulting from millennial turnover, companies need to take action to keep employees motivated, engaged, and interested in their jobs. Besides the obvious HR strategies that focus on retention, it’s also crucial to have an engaging and innovative mobile strategy.

The mobile revolution

Last year, 65% of online traffic came from mobile devices, according to an Entrepreneur.com article. The amount of time people in the U.S. spend on digital media has increased by more than 50% in the past three years, and 90% of that growth is directly related to mobile apps, according to comScore’s 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report.

In light of these statistics, enterprise mobility is on the upsurge as business leaders realize the importance of having a mobile strategy in today’s digital era. A recent 451 Research report states that 70% of responding businesses have a corporate mobile strategy in place, and it predicts that smartphone use will grow to eventually become the primary channel that businesses use to engage with partners, employees, and customers. Going mobile has also become easier than ever, with new developments in technology and agreements like the Apple-SAP partnership, which give developers the tools and training they need to build powerful native mobile apps for the enterprise.

Mobile is clearly the preferred digital technology – especially among the growing number of millennial employees in the workforce – so bringing the mobile experience into the enterprise is important to help your business thrive going forward.

Mobile millennials

Millennials lead the way when it comes to mobile technology. According to a recent article on mobile app use, millennials spend a staggering 90 hours per month on smartphone apps alone, and two-thirds of their digital media minutes are with mobile technology.

These tech-savvy millennials want to work the way they live. They are accustomed to intuitive, up-to-date user experiences with mobile apps on their smartphones and tablets, but at work they’re often expected to use older, less optimal applications. Millennials quickly grow tired of working with archaic systems, so they look for job opportunities at more innovative digital companies. Business leaders need to realize this and pursue a millennial mobile strategy that simplifies work and empowers a multigenerational workforce.

Since millennials now make up the largest generational group in the workforce, it’s not surprising that millennial trends are starting to influence workplace trends. According to the Arcadis report, 2016 Trends in the Workplace, the current generational breakdown in the workplace is as follows:

  • 35% millennials (approximate ages 20-35)
  • 34% Generation X (approx. 35-50)
  • 29% baby boomers (approx. 50-70)
  • 2% others (called Silents or Veterans in the study)

Engaging all generations in the workforce

The EY report, The Upside of Disruption, states that the millennial-dominated workforce will reinvent the workplace. The workplace is where millennials feel the most influential and accountable, according to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017, so employers should strive to build on that sense of purpose to create a more engaged millennial workforce via mobile technology.

Meanwhile, what does this mean for the other generations in the workforce? While it’s fair to say that millennials are proficient with mobile apps, they’re not the only generation willing to use digital technology. For example, millennials are not the heaviest users of social media. Based on the 2016 Nielsen Social Media Report, Gen Xers spend the most time on social media, at almost 7 hours per week (millennials are a close second, at just over 6 hours per week).

What’s the common denominator? Engagement. Regardless of age, if someone is interested in what the technology offers, they will use it. The key is to engage employees with mobile technology that makes their job quicker, easier, more interesting, and simply better.

Mobile apps focused on the user

How do you design the best contextual native enterprise apps to appeal to all generations in today’s workforce? Focus on the user, whether the user is an employee, a partner, or a customer. A mobile app that’s created around the user will lead to greater adoption, increased engagement, and more employee satisfaction, which in turn will result in less employee turnover, greater cost savings, streamlined workflows, and higher productivity.

Adopting new mobile apps is fairly easy to do for millennials, according to SAP user interface designer Bernadette Faller (who happens to be a millennial herself). Faller works with multiple companies to develop intuitive mobile apps through the Apple and SAP partnership. She says millennial employees quickly adopt mobile technology because they are not intimidated by it: “We use tech each and every day. It’s part of our lives. It’s how we view the world and how we interact with people.”

While Gen Xers and baby boomers in the workforce may be a bit more hesitant about adopting an enterprise app, Faller says designing it around the employee role can help by clearly demonstrating its benefits.

“We help bridge the gap between millennials and older generations by focussing on what they really need for the role,” Faller explains. “Older people I interact with often try to stay away from new technology because it can be difficult for them to continuously learn and adapt to rapid advancements that occur. We need to be mindful and empathetic to how users interact with technology, and the role of technology in their environment. As a designer, it’s critical to understand the users’ roles to make technology less intimidating and easy to use.”

Mobile apps for the digital age

In the end, age doesn’t matter when it comes to mobile success. Think about it: If any mobile app is too complex, it will frustrate users of all ages, and they won’t want to engage with it. On the other hand, apps that are completely designed to make users’ jobs easier and better will boost overall engagement. Having empathy for users and understanding their roles when designing and developing enterprise mobile apps is the best way to ensure high adoption rates, and ultimately, to ensure the success of mobile apps to improve workflows and increase employee engagement.

Whether your workplace is full of millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers, or a combination of all three, enterprise mobile apps can benefit your employees and your business. It’s not about designing a mobile app for employees of a certain age; it’s about implementing a strong mobile strategy and designing suitable, innovative enterprise apps for all your employees in the digital age.

Learn how the Apple and SAP partnership is revolutionizing mobile apps for the enterprise.

Find out more about the latest developments regarding the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS and the SAP Academy for iOS.

Learn more about the future of IoT and mobility.

For an in-depth look at how the digital era is affecting business, download the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

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Rick Knowles

About Rick Knowles

Rick Knowles is senior vice president (SVP) and general manager (GM) of the partnership between SAP SE and Apple, Inc. In this role, he oversees the strategic roadmap in building state-of-the-art applications for some of the most complex business systems in the world. Rick has been with SAP for close to 20 years, where he has held executive positions such as SVP and chief of staff, GM of One Customer Experience, and SVP and chief operating officer for SAP Americas, the company’s largest geographic market. You can follow him on Twitter @RickKnowlesSAP.

How To Design Your Company’s Digital Transformation

Sam Yen

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review features a cover story on design thinking’s coming of age. We have been applying design thinking within SAP for the past 10 years, and I’ve witnessed the growth of this human-centered approach to innovation first hand.

Design thinking is, as the HBR piece points out, “the best tool we have for … developing a responsive, flexible organizational culture.”

This means businesses are doing more to learn about their customers by interacting directly with them. We’re seeing this change in our work on d.forum — a community of design thinking champions and “disruptors” from across industries.

Meanwhile, technology is making it possible to know exponentially more about a customer. Businesses can now make increasingly accurate predictions about customers’ needs well into the future. The businesses best able to access and pull insights from this growing volume of data will win. That requires a fundamental change for our own industry; it necessitates a digital transformation.

So, how do we design this digital transformation?

It starts with the customer and an application of design thinking throughout an organization – blending business, technology and human values to generate innovation. Business is already incorporating design thinking, as the HBR cover story shows. We in technology need to do the same.

Design thinking plays an important role because it helps articulate what the end customer’s experience is going to be like. It helps focus all aspects of the business on understanding and articulating that future experience.

Once an organization is able to do that, the insights from that consumer experience need to be drawn down into the business, with the central question becoming: What does this future customer experience mean for us as an organization? What barriers do we need to remove? Do we need to organize ourselves differently? Does our process need to change – if it does, how? What kind of new technology do we need?

Then an organization must look carefully at roles within itself. What does this knowledge of the end customer’s future experience mean for an individual in human resources, for example, or finance? Those roles can then be viewed as end experiences unto themselves, with organizations applying design thinking to learn about the needs inherent to those roles. They can then change roles to better meet the end customer’s future needs. This end customer-centered approach is what drives change.

This also means design thinking is more important than ever for IT organizations.

We, in the IT industry, have been charged with being responsive to business, using technology to solve the problems business presents. Unfortunately, business sometimes views IT as the organization keeping the lights on. If we make the analogy of a store: business is responsible for the front office, focused on growing the business where consumers directly interact with products and marketing; while the perception is that IT focuses on the back office, keeping servers running and the distribution system humming. The key is to have business and IT align to meet the needs of the front office together.

Remember what I said about the growing availability of consumer data? The business best able to access and learn from that data will win. Those of us in IT organizations have the technology to make that win possible, but the way we are seen and our very nature needs to change if we want to remain relevant to business and participate in crafting the winning strategy.

We need to become more front office and less back office, proving to business that we are innovation partners in technology.

This means, in order to communicate with businesses today, we need to take a design thinking approach. We in IT need to show we have an understanding of the end consumer’s needs and experience, and we must align that knowledge and understanding with technological solutions. When this works — when the front office and back office come together in this way — it can lead to solutions that a company could otherwise never have realized.

There’s different qualities, of course, between front office and back office requirements. The back office is the foundation of a company and requires robustness, stability, and reliability. The front office, on the other hand, moves much more quickly. It is always changing with new product offerings and marketing campaigns. Technology must also show agility, flexibility, and speed. The business needs both functions to survive. This is a challenge for IT organizations, but it is not an impossible shift for us to make.

Here’s the breakdown of our challenge.

1. We need to better understand the real needs of the business.

This means learning more about the experience and needs of the end customer and then translating that information into technological solutions.

2. We need to be involved in more of the strategic discussions of the business.

Use the regular invitations to meetings with business as an opportunity to surface the deeper learning about the end consumer and the technology solutions that business may otherwise not know to ask for or how to implement.

The IT industry overall may not have a track record of operating in this way, but if we are not involved in the strategic direction of companies and shedding light on the future path, we risk not being considered innovation partners for the business.

We must collaborate with business, understand the strategic direction and highlight the technical challenges and opportunities. When we do, IT will become a hybrid organization – able to maintain the back office while capitalizing on the front office’s growing technical needs. We will highlight solutions that business could otherwise have missed, ushering in a digital transformation.

Digital transformation goes beyond just technology; it requires a mindset. See What It Really Means To Be A Digital Organization.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image via Shutterstock

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Sam Yen

About Sam Yen

Sam Yen is the Chief Design Officer for SAP and the Managing Director of SAP Labs Silicon Valley. He is focused on driving a renewed commitment to design and user experience at SAP. Under his leadership, SAP further strengthens its mission of listening to customers´ needs leading to tangible results, including SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and SAP´s UX design services.

How Productive Could You Be With 45 Minutes More Per Day?

Michael Rander

Chances are that you are already feeling your fair share of organizational complexity when navigating your current company, but have you ever considered just how much time is spent across all companies on managing complexity? According to a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the global impact of complexity is mind-blowing – and not in a good way.

The study revealed that 38% of respondents spent 16%-25% of their time just dealing with organizational complexity, and 17% spent a staggering 26%-50% of their time doing so. To put that into more concrete numbers, in the US alone, if executives could cut their time spent managing complexity in half, an estimated 8.6 million hours could be saved a week. That corresponds to 45 minutes per executive per day.

The potential productivity impact of every executive having 45 minutes more to work every single day is clearly significant, and considering that 55% say that their organization is either very or extremely complex, why are we then not making the reduction of complexity one or our top of mind issues?

The problem is that identifying the sources of complexity is complex in of itself. Key sources of complexity include organizational size, executive priorities, pace of innovation, decision-making processes, vastly increasing amounts of data to manage, organizational structures, and the pure culture of the company. As a consequence, answers are not universal by any means.

That being said, the negative productivity impact of complexity, regardless of the specific source, is felt similarly across a very large segment of the respondents, with 55% stating that complexity has taken a direct toll on profitability over the past three years.  This is such a serious problem that 8% of respondents actually slowed down their company growth in order to deal with complexity.

So, if complexity oftentimes impacts productivity and subsequently profitability, what are some of the more successful initiatives that companies are taking to combat these effects? Among the answers from the EIU survey, the following were highlighted among the most likely initiatives to reduce complexity and ultimately increase productivity:

  • Making it a company-wide goal to reduce complexity means that the executive level has to live and breathe simplification in order for the rest of the organization to get behind it. Changing behaviors across the organization requires strong leadership, commitment, and change management, and these initiatives ultimately lead to improved decision-making processes, which was reported by respondents as the top benefit of reducing complexity. From a leadership perspective this also requires setting appropriate metrics for measuring outcomes, and for metrics, productivity and efficiency were by far the most popular choices amongst respondents though strangely collaboration related metrics where not ranking high in spite of collaboration being a high level priority.
  • Promoting a culture of collaboration means enabling employees and management alike to collaborate not only within their teams but also across the organization, with partners, and with customers. Creating cross-functional roles to facilitate collaboration was cited by 56% as the most helpful strategy in achieving this goal.
  • More than half (54%) of respondents found the implementation of new technology and tools to be a successful step towards reducing complexity and improving productivity. Enabling collaboration, reducing information overload, building scenarios and prognoses, and enabling real-time decision-making are all key issues that technology can help to reduce complexity at all levels of the organization.

While these initiatives won’t help everyone, it is interesting to see that more than half of companies believe that if they could cut complexity in half they could be at least 11%-25% more productive. That nearly one in five respondents indicated that they could be 26%-50% more productive is a massive improvement.

The question then becomes whether we can make complexity and its impact on productivity not only more visible as a key issue for companies to address, but (even more importantly) also something that every company and every employee should be actively working to reduce. The potential productivity gains listed by respondents certainly provide food for thought, and few other corporate activities are likely to gain that level of ROI.

Just imagine having 45 minutes each and every day for actively pursuing new projects, getting innovative, collaborating, mentoring, learning, reducing stress, etc. What would you do? The vision is certainly compelling, and the question is are we as companies, leaders, and employees going to do something about it?

To read more about the EIU study, please see:

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @michaelrander

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Michael Rander

About Michael Rander

Michael Rander is the Global Research Director for Future Of Work at SAP. He is an experienced project manager, strategic and competitive market researcher, operations manager as well as an avid photographer, athlete, traveler and entrepreneur. Share your thoughts with Michael on Twitter @michaelrander.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.


Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?


Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
 
 
 
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
 
 
 
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
 
 
 
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.


There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.


Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.


Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


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Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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Finance And HR: Friends Or Foes? Shifting To A Collaborative Mindset

Richard McLean

Part 1 in the 3-part “Finance and HR Collaboration” series

In my last blog, I challenged you to think of collaboration as the next killer app, citing a recent study by Oxford Economics sponsored by SAP. The study clearly explains how corporate performance improves when finance actively engages in collaboration with other business functions.

As a case in point, consider finance and HR. Both are being called on to work more collaboratively with each other – and the broader business – to help achieve a shared vision for the company. In most organizations, both have undergone a transformation to extend beyond operational tasks and adopt a more strategic focus, opening the door to more collaboration. As such, both have assumed three very important roles in the company – business partner, change agent, and steward. In this post, I’ll illustrate how collaboration can enable HR and finance to be more effective business partners.

Making the transition to focus on broader business objectives

My colleague Renata Janini Dohmen, senior vice president of HR for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, credits a changing mindset for both finance and HR as key to enabling the transition away from our traditional roles to be more collaborative. She says, “For a long time, people in HR and finance were seen as opponents. HR was focused on employees and how to motivate, encourage, and cheer on the workforce. Finance looked at the numbers and was a lot more cautious and possibly more skeptical in terms of making an investment. Today, both areas have made the transition to take on a more holistic perspective. We are pursuing strategies and approaching decisions based on what delivers the best return on investment for the company’s assets, whether those assets are monetary or non-monetary. This mindset shift plays a key role in how finance and HR execute the strategic imperatives of the company,” she notes.

Viewing joint decisions from a completely different lens

I agree with Renata. This mindset change has certainly impacted the way I make decisions. If I’m just focused on controlling costs and assessing expenditures, I’ll evaluate programs and ideas quite differently than if I’m thinking about the big picture.

For example, there’s an HR manager in our organization who runs Compensation and Benefits. She approaches me regularly with great ideas. But those ideas cost money. In the past, I was probably more inclined to look at those conversations from a tactical perspective. It was easy for me to simply say, “No, we can’t afford it.”

Now I look at her ideas from a more strategic perspective. I think, “What do we want our culture to be in the years ahead? Are the benefits packages she is proposing perhaps the right ones to get us there? Are they family friendly? Are they relevant for people in today’s world? Will they make us an employer of choice?” I quite enjoy the rich conversations we have about the impact of compensation and benefits design on the culture we want to create. Now, I see our relationship as much more collaborative and jointly invested in attracting and retaining the best people who will ultimately deliver on the company strategy. It’s a completely different lens.

Defining how finance and HR align to the company strategy

Renata and I believe that greater collaboration between finance and HR is a critical success factor. How can your organization achieve this shift? “Once the organization has clearly defined what role finance and HR must play and how they fundamentally align to the company strategy, then it’s more natural to structure them in a way to support such transformation,” Renata explains.

Technology plays an important role in our ability to successfully collaborate. Looking back, finance and HR were heavily focused on our own operational areas because everything we did tended to consume more time – just keeping the lights on and taking care of our basic responsibilities. Now, through a more efficient operating model with shared services, standard operating procedures, and automation, we can both be more business-focused and integrated. As a result, we’re able to collaborate in more meaningful ways to have a positive impact on business outcomes.

In our next blog, we’ll look at how finance and HR can work together as agents of change.

For a deeper dive, download the Oxford Economics study sponsored by SAP.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter)LinkedIn | FacebookYouTube

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Richard McLean

About Richard McLean

Richard McLean, regional CFO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, oversees all key finance and administrative functions for field and regional headquarters, supporting more than 16,000 employees. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior finance roles with leading global companies across a range of industries, including financial services, investment banking, automotive, and IT. He joined SAP in 2008.