My Work Should Work for Me Too: Workplace Technology for Digital Natives

Rob DeBeau

It’s the end (yeah, right) of another (twelve-hour) day as I settle into my recliner (seat 6C of a 737) to relax (catch up on several hundred unread emails). En route from the West Coast to Chicago, I casually glance across the airplane aisle, and a half-page newspaper ad in the Seattle Times catches my eye: “My Work Should Work for Me Too,” the headline insists. But what does that really mean, and to whom?

Growing up in Generation X, I saw the world evolve. Black and white televisions were gone—well, maybe still at Grandma’s house—but as a kid in the 70’s in the Chicago suburbs, one TV and one rotary phone to share between six people was all the technology you were going to get. A private phone conversation meant saving your allowance to buy a 20′ handset cord so you could stretch the phone to your bedroom.

Rolling into the ’80s, things started to get interesting: my first computer a Commodore 64—though Microsoft only registered to me as the five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy that had to load before I could play Pong. Then came cable TV, MTV, Atari, cell phones (albeit with attendant suitcases), AOL (hey, the Internet!), and an explosion of technology. By the time I entered the workforce, I had embraced technology and wanted more. Technology was, as it still is today, a status symbol, and as long as I received technology at work, I really didn’t care how it was delivered—it was cool.

As technology proliferated throughout the workplace, companies needed to gain control and maintain cost. This alignment, not employee choice, drove standards and a single threaded support model that focused on efficiency and cost control. Most of us accepted that reality, and business moved on.

Back on my Chicago-bound flight, next to the gentleman with the newspaper was a small child feverishly tapping away at an iPad. This youngster was a true digital native: born to technology, learning through technology, interacting and communicating through technology.

The digital natives will become (and they have already arrived) the most disruptive force in today’s business. “My Work Should Work for Me Too” should be tattooed on their foreheads. They take technology for granted, living in an on-demand world where they can easily get what they want when they want, and they consume technology in a whole new way. Technology is always at their fingertips, but they are fickle. Loyalty to a brand or to a company, in many cases, only goes as far as the technology at hand.

This is a fundamental change that’s beginning to sweep the technology industry. Digital natives care about choice, about immediate satisfaction, and about working in the way that best suits them personally. Rigid standards in technology coupled with a cold overseas help desk and over-taxed local support turns the new workforce off. Companies must adapt to this change or risk losing their top talent and not being able to attract the right resources into their organization.

So let me retract my prior statement: “My Work Should Work for Me Too” shouldn’t be tattooed on the digital natives’ foreheads. It should be tattooed across every executive, IT, and HR leader. Technology is no longer simply a way to work faster, smarter, and better. Technology—and more importantly the way it is delivered and consumed—has become one of the most important HR benefits that allow companies to attract and maintain top talent.

Today’s modern organization should be laser-focused on finding technology partners that understand the digital native and drive outside the box, beyond dogmatic methods of IT service delivery that have dominated the industry for the last 25 years. Selling commodity hardware and software with a stale service model is no longer acceptable.

Your technology partner should understand your organization, believe in, and become part of your company culture. Finding a partner that can deliver an end-user experience that is dialed into your organization’s beliefs and culture can seem like a daunting challenge. The workforce is changing rapidly, and IT organizations are struggling to keep up.

  • Step into the new era of technology service and solution providers:
  • Omni Channel support models deliver choice and efficiency
  • Genius Bar style walk up centers provide white glove support in an open environment
  • On-demand vending solutions deliver needed technology with a swipe of an ID card
  • AI drives self-help, self-healing
  • Device as a Service provides choice and consistent technology refresh

End users don’t want to worry about technology—they simply want it and expect it to work. Your technology partner should work for you the same way. Does yours?

At Connection, our work will work for you too.

Rob DeBeau is a National Service Sales Manager at Connection, with 25 years of experience in Lifecycle and Managed Services.