How Young People View The Impact Of Digitization On The World [INFOGRAPHIC]

Anne Le Bacon-Gaillard

“By 2020, 46% of the workforce will be millennials, and we at SAP are actively engaging them to help us in our mission to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives – through our technology, through investing in our people, and by fulfilling our corporate responsibility to those living in the communities where we do business.” –Ernesto Marinelli, human resources head SAP EMEA & MEE

Indeed, 2016 is what Personnel Today called “the digital equivalent of the Industrial Revolution,” with 46% of the world now using the Internet. It is at this exciting time that millennials are entering the workforce. This prompted a study from SAP and MakeSense with the intent of gathering insight and aiming to shed light on young people’s thoughts on the impact of the increasingly digital world in which we live.

The global survey of young people from a range of different countries focused on digitization and the world they want to live in. Those surveyed came from many different professions and included employees, entrepreneurs, students, and freelancers. The survey asked the following six questions:

  1. What are your top three priorities to create a world we want to live in?
  1. What are your top three influencers in creating a world we want to live in?
  1. Will the digital transformation have a positive impact on work, leisure, relationships, and the world?
  1. What role would digitization have in creating a world you want to live in?
  1. What is the one thing that you would like to see technology change about the world today?
  1. How do you think digitization will impact/change the workplace in the future?

The results presented several interesting findings.

Peace, sustainability, and equal opportunity rank as top three priorities for tomorrow

First, we asked young people to rank their top three priorities in creating a world they want to live in. Interestingly, building peace was the top priority, with nearly 40% of respondents opting for this. The second priority was equal opportunity for all (20%), and the third was sustainability (18%).

Individuals play a vital role in our future

Respondents where then asked about the top three influencers in creating a better world for tomorrow. Over half of the respondents (52%) said that individuals (via social media and other online platforms) are the most important influencers today. Other stakeholders that young people view as playing a vital role are governments (20%), corporations (13%), and NGOs (7%).

Digital transformation will play a largely positive role, except with respect to relationships

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when respondents were asked whether the digital transformation would have a positive impact on their career, over 70% thought that it would. One respondent said that it would lead to “transparency in finances and bureaucracy. It will speed up processes, allow easy access to statistics, and cause efficient production and reasonable management of resources.”

Furthermore, the percentage was even higher when it comes to digitization enabling people to make a positive impact on the world (72%). However, digital transformation is perceived differently on relationships, where nearly 40% of young people thought it would have a negative effect.

The results demonstrate that young people are aware of the tremendous impact that an increasingly digital era has and the potential for good that it can have on the world that we live in. Overwhelmingly, respondents also felt that digitization should act as an enabler to accessible information and communications. One participant stated that digitization acts as a communicator for three reasons: “To connect social innovations, to raise awareness, and to tackle issues locally and globally.” Through increased access to information and communication, digitization should provide more education about the world today.

Millennials also had interesting ideas on how digitization could be used to increase efficiency in the working world. They suggested an app that could replace a manager, establishing missions and objectives for a team and evaluating employees on a peer-to-peer basis, which would increase efficiency and communication.

While digitization offers advantages, such as the potential of working remotely and increasing efficiency, it also present concerns for millennials. Respondents cited a decrease in direct communication and fewer jobs as examples. One millennial said that a potential implication of a digital era would be fewer jobs available, adding, “it will be a luxury to have a physical workplace.” Additionally, the research showed an awareness among young people of the negative impact that digitization can create on leisure (20%).

One millennial described the potential impact of a digital era by saying, “Digitization is forcing us to rethink work in general, even more with the rise of cognitive computing. We are going to see a shift in the skills we value.”

However, a recent article in the Financial Times highlighted that, while companies are increasingly trying to upgrade their technology in an effort to boost productivity, the link between digital and productivity is not yet apparent. Additionally, a recent article in the Economist highlighted that a consequence of the digital era may be to increase efficiency and to facilitate going about our daily jobs – a point that most millennials undertaking this research agreed with.

“Millennials are more connected to technology than any previous generation. The way that millennials use technology is influencing the way that companies do business, governments deliver services, and communities find members and build identities. Indeed, that 52% cited individuals as having the greatest influence in creating a better world for tomorrow illustrates the entrepreneurial ‘can do’ spirit that we at SAP are keen to engage.” –Ernesto Marinelli


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MakeSense is an international community that rallies SenseMakers and Gangsters in 128 cities across the world to help social entrepreneurs solve their challenges. Its mission is to accelerate the impact of social entrepreneurs by connecting them with individuals ready to take up their challenges. To enable anyone to help, MakeSense constantly creates new problem-solving workshop methodologies and trains passionate volunteers. For more information, visit