Self-driving systems will bring worker generations together

Posted by  Thomas Staven

The Millennial generation (defined here as people born between 1980 and 1995) has made a significant impact in the workforce. While Millennials are a boon to the digital ability of your organization, these workers can be at odds with other demographics; Baby Boomers (born 1946-1960) and Gen Xers (born 1960-1980). With the right combination of technology and efficient enterprise systems and process, your organization can bring these generations together and create a culture that embraces a diverse workforce. Understanding what each generation needs out of your core business systems is a critical consideration.

While each group has varying technical abilities and comfort levels, there are a few usability preferences shared by all generations. Incorporating these factors will give your organization the foundation it needs for creating a healthy and productive business culture.

A modern ERP should address all of the disparate needs of these groups, helping to close the generational divide in the workplace. A new report by analyst firm Mint Jutras titled “Unit4’s ‘Self-Driving’ ERP Empowers People” details the top factors influencing ease of use among different generations, based on the results of an enterprise solution study.

ERP should be more accessible

Work doesn't stay at the office thanks to 24/7 online access and the prevalence of mobile devices. As tablet and smartphone penetration increases, technical literacy across all generations improves. However, the ease of accessibility also creates a blurred work and life balance.

While this flexibility benefits workers who want to move away from the traditional work day, it can also result in work taking longer if business systems aren't easy to use outside the office. Legacy ERP systems with rigid work processes can cause productivity issues when they are unable to adapt to the modern business environment.

Easily accessible ERP is another priority. Many workers across all generations have personal devices more than capable of handling ERP solutions outside of the office. Having a system that provides location flexibility is a major benefit. Today's workers want the flexibility to work around life's commitments, instead of doing all their work hours in a limited 40-hour period each week.

ERP should be intuitive and look good

The second shared priority is intuitive navigation. Interestingly only 30 percent of Millennials were concerned with this compared to Baby Boomers at 64 percent and Gen Xers at 44 percent. Essential business functions should be easy to access, with simple navigation. This factor is much less important for Millennials, perhaps due to the fact they have grown up with more intuitive technology so take it as a given.

One of the most significant concerns for Millennials--at 50 percent--is an attractive user interface. Millennials are used to using device-agnostic cutting-edge technology in other areas of their lives. They are accustomed to using software featuring modern user interfaces that improve the user experience. Legacy ERP with a dated interface would hamper their ability to do their jobs and create negative experience. 32 percent of Millennials also appreciate being able to customize software views to have the most relevant software features presented to them.

Gen X workers grew up as computer technology was starting to take off and require ERP to revolve around their natural way of working. While they are more comfortable with technology than Baby Boomers, they are not as flexible in adapting to new work processes and solutions as Millennials. If the ERP solution slides seamlessly into existing work processes, there's less disruption for Gen X workers.

Instead of jumping between multiple apps, Baby Boomers want everything in one centralized location. They don't want a lot of extra features distracting them from their core job duties.

As the user interfaces of workplace systems are modernized and user experience brought up to the standards we’re used to with consumer tech, the generational divide closes. Systems will look good, they will be intuitive and drive the user to perform well.  Millennials will feel at home, Gen Xers will easily adapt, and Baby Boomers will join in with enthusiasm. This is the future of enterprise software. One that delivers a great experience for everyone.

Self-Driving ERP meets experience requirements for all

The top priority shared by all was the minimization of time to complete job duties and this is exactly what Unit4 is delivering with its Self-Driving ERP; leaving people to focus only on exceptions where a decision needs to be made or action taken. By automating as much as possible of traditional ERP-processes, a Self-Driving business system takes care of tasks that are better served by technology and by utilizing advanced analytics to predict, propose and assist users, the business system will help users in getting their jobs done quicker.

This will allow the people in the organization to focus on their core tasks, applying what computers cannot add - people skills, knowledge and experience. Combined with a diverse generational workforce organizations can truly become dynamic and high performing. 

Thomas Staven

Thomas Staven

Thomas is passionately dedicated to technology innovation and delivering great experiences and business value to customers and has spent the last 16 years within Global R&D/Global Product Management and Global Sales at Unit4 in driving the ERP vendor's focus on delivering innovative enterprise solutions.

Currently Thomas is driving the Unit4 ERP strategy and working closely with the Innovation Lab as Product Strategist, all to deliver the future ERP and bring innovative technologies such as machine learning, AI, chat bots etc. to the world of Business Software.

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