The Digital And Generational Transformation Effect: Part 2

Mark Mueller

In the first part of this blog, I focused on the excitement and opportunities that have been created by today’s new digital age. This post will focus on the nature of new business models in the digital age and the importance of what we call the generational transformation effect.

This race to relevancy and new business models in the digital age is a relay. The baton will be passed from Baby Boomers (51-65 online shopping with digital tablet and credit card --- Image by © 2/Aping Vision / STS/Ocean/Corbisyears), who are workforce-driven and defined by their work, to Millennials (18-34 years), who are a digital-driven workforce defined by work and life integration. Millennials have the potential to be transformational in their influence of our business operations – how we design, develop, market, sell, build, and buy. Maybe more importantly, they are defining our business culture – how, when, and where we work.

While a given business may feel they can contain this influence within their four walls, they cannot control the Millennial influence of their customers, suppliers, and competitors. There is a different expectation of how commerce happens, and this generation will buy, sell, and work in a more self-service and digital way. Their influence is already felt in the expectations of technology. Consumer applications should be accessible from anywhere, cost next to nothing, and run on the device of their choice while interacting with them the same way, regardless of the device.

Consumer commerce has proven that they are right—that the expectation can be realized and monetized.  When we scan the horizon of social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), news (Google and Yahoo), banking (BOA, WF), or commerce (Amazon, Craigslist, ebay), the experience is the same. We can access them from anywhere, have the same experience regardless of device and, most importantly, we instinctively know how to use them when we need them—without training, confusion or need for support.

All of this is to say that your business markets and workforce personnel have new expectations: to satisfy their needs in the moment, from anywhere, on any device, and at any time; that the interaction with your business will be intuitive and open to self-service from research to commerce; that your business knows what they need and when they need it without the boundaries of the traditional business day or personal interaction. This type of expectation drives innovation, and innovation drives new business models.

One question is, are the innovations and models driven by you or by your competitors (both known and unknown)? Another question is, do your enterprise applications fulfill the expectation, or do you rely on Baby Boomer technology for a digital-native world held together by workarounds and tribal knowledge that can scale only with more people and associated costs?

The challenge is not hypothetical—it is only a question when, not if, these transformations will disrupt your business—and whether it will be to your competitive advantage or disadvantage.

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