A key ingredient for deploying successful online communities is knowing and engaging your key stakeholders.
A new workforce is emerging. What is referred to as the Net Generation - that born between 1977 and 1994 - is entering the workforce with their first "real jobs". And they're bringing with them significantly different attitudes about technology and unconventional expectations about the workplace. At the same time, today's workforce is increasingly going mobile. Both of these factors will have a profound impact on many aspects of your organization, including your IT environment. This article examines the implications of these factors and demonstrates how online communities and social software meets the needs of this emerging workforce, what we are calling the new knowledge worker, in the digital economy.
Demographics: The Net Generation Comes to the Workforce
Thirty years ago, the Boomers represented the largest group ever to move into the workforce. By their numbers alone, they influenced many facets of society, including the workplace. The Net Generation carries more clout than the Boomers. For starters, they're bigger; stats show that four million of them will enter the market annually in North America in this year alone. This means that by 2010, they'll make up 40 percent of the workforce (Don Tapscott, The Rise of the Net Generation).
According to Tapscott, the Net Gener's influence is already prevalent. This generation has grown up with Napster, Blogs and Facebook. They are very well connected to large networks of their peers and can tap into this network in an instant using social networking or messaging applications. As employees, the 80 million young adults that belong to the Net Generation have a more rich experience in the digital world and more personal connections in the workplace. Unlike the Boomers, they want to engage and collaborate with their colleagues rather than work under rigid command and controls. Relationships and collaboration are a part of the Net Generation's approach to work. They prefer to work on teams, so that problem solving and decision-making is bottom up, not top down. Net Geners will want to use technology in the workplace that reflects this-one that creates and supports a network based on participation where users are the driving force, not necessarily management.So
What Can You Do?
A social software strategy for the IT Executive is pretty straightforward when it comes to this new workforce. First and foremost, management needs to acknowledge the workforce and embrace its new habits and characteristics. As they flood the workforce and overtake the Boomers in numbers, the Net Generation workforce will expect your organization to support the way they work. These new knowledge workers are accelerating the move to social networking, including cell phone-based blogging, multimedia sharing, location-based socialization services, chat-these are their primary work tools.
Your corporate applications will have to support the way both generations work: Boomers make phone calls and send emails; and Net Generation knowledge workers communicate using text messaging and online networks. Regardless of the generational mix of your knowledge workforce, the requirement will be the same: creating better connections to the expertise, knowledge and resources they need to get their jobs done effectively and efficiently.
And... don't forget to involve your workforce in the decision making process when deploying new social software and online community applications. Early buy-in by key stakeholders can almost guarantee a higher rate of adoption.
Learn how to properly plan your intranet deployment with Devan Hanna from Golin.