Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are typically classed as the generation born between 1980 and 2000. This is the generation that has grown up with vast, emerging technologies and wants everything now, in the palm of their hand. Millennials want fast, accessible technology and businesses that can cater for those needs.
But how can companies keep up with the millennial generation, who have so much exposure to new technologies in a fast paced hyper-connected environment?
CBR spoke to Chris McGugan, general manager of Avaya's Emerging Products & Technology division about his views on millennials and their role within businesses today.
Can you describe in your own words, what you think a Millennial is?
I think it's an interesting viewpoint into where the consuming population is and is going today.
A millennial is generally a person who's grown up in the digital era, who has been part of the 'now' society.
When we look at the relevance of the population that's becoming the main consuming population today, there's an expectation of, in some cases, instantaneous communication, if they choose it. They are tech savvy, they own multiple devices, they tend to be very independent and they don't follow brand lines like we've seen in the past.
If you look at some of the statistics out there today, this population is quick to jump to a social media channel for a complaint after a bad experience and they're quick to change brands. That's how I see this population.
One of Avaya's key businesses in and around unified communications happens to be call centres and it's a core part of what we do. We touch a lot of people that way. With more mobile devices and connected items, it really starts to change the way the technology gets deployed and consumed.
There's a lot of newer technologies that are coming forward that start to make connected things much tighter. A technology called Web RTC is a new and emerging technology that will ease communication with an enterprise because it enables your browser to be a complete client; a voice client, a video client, a data sharing client, a co-browsing client, all of it combined together. So it's a very seamless transition between those different mediums and when you think about another characteristic of this millennial generation is that it's about self service. This whole construct of self service is really changing the way that people interact with entities. It brings back to that wealth of information that people are expecting to be available to them.
Companies are struggling right now a little bit, because just dealing with this hyper-independent community, you look at what used to take 24 months for IT to roll out an application, classically what it took to be designed, implemented and rolled out. But you can roll one out in a number of seconds now, and before you know it, it's viral.
The hyper-connectedness is something that's very prevalent today. You'll find that millennials have two devices, they want a separate work persona from their personal persona. Data privacy is very different to this community, you see the rise of Facebook and Twitter. You can see the younger half of this generation moving away from Facebook and Twitter becomes the communication of choice.
With young children starting to use iPads and their parents' smartphones, how can technology keep up with the generations of the future who have even more technology experience than the millennials?
That instantaneous nature is only going to become more and more real. But if you look in the past year, we've doubled the speed of the iPhone, we're going to continue to see processor speeds evolve. As we look at the communication and collaboration technology, we as provides, we have to keep up.
I'm the general manager of our emerging products and technology organisation and my team is tasked with looking out at what's in the 2 to 3 to 5 year forward looking range. Were always looking at ways to evolve and innovate and offer new methods of communication to see if they stick. Being able to trial out products on various demographic profiles that we have out there is important to us; that's part of the research my team does. So we ask: where does this fit? Is this something we can do today or shelve it for 3-4 years then find a way to enter it into the mainstream?
That's a huge part of our portfolio on how we plan out futuristic views into our technology because communications we know it is going to continue to evolve. Right now I can video conference from my iPhone or iPad; it used to be in a room you had to book, it wouldn't work, you'd fight with it and finally get a blurry image. Now I can walk down the street and be on a video call on my iPad or iPhone. So that's available to us today and as we see more bandwidth and technologies available, it's going to make those types of activities easier to do.
What specifically have you had to change to cater for millennials?
In different parts of the communication realm; in the contact centre we've had to take advantage of social media because people want to communicate and complain over social media, they want it to be a customer service channel for them.
I think companies are having to provide methodologies around personalisation; I may want to be communicated over SMS or twitter or email. So providing the options for people to choose is an important method for companies today.
So I think personalisation and providing choice are evolutionary changes that have come with this new generation.
Can you give our readers a bit of background about Avaya and what your role is?
I'm the general manager, I'm the one who oversees the operation and organisation of Avaya's Emerging Products & Technology division.
Our primary focus is collaboration and the technology that enables it. That singular focus is what sets our company apart from others. I'm really looking at the ways individuals communicate and collaborate together. That's the core ethos of what we create today. Avaya has communication technology that enables individuals, enterprises and SMEs to elaborate share, communicate ideas. So what my organisation does, is that we're set to look at the 3-5 years out futuristically. My team puts away about 250 patents a year, at any given point we have 250-300 patents pending. We're constantly looking to push the barriers out for the way we collaborate and communicate.
What are Avaya's plans?
One of the things that we are continuously focused on is that often big enterprises is where the big innovation happens with new features and functions. That's out of reach for small to medium business. In many cases those smaller business have as many complexities as a large enterprise. So one of the things you'll see coming up is really starting to bring our large enterprise class features further down the stack to the SMEs and taking that to be on par with the top end of the spectrum.