How Inkling Has Embraced the Millennial Mindset (And Why You Should, Too)

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When our founder Matt MacInnis left Apple to start Inkling, he knew that the iPad–and the continued rise of mobile devices–would change everything we previously thought about how technology could be used in our daily lives. It would change how we shop, how we read, how we connect to each other, and even how we learn. While the emergence of tablets and smartphones has broadly impacted all ages (e.g. my 90 year old grandma is on Facebook and Instagram. Really.), there is one group that has been raised in a world where having multiple devices and being connected online all the time is normal: millennials.

Why we’ve kept millennials in mind

Inkling knows millennials. Building products that help students learn in new and exciting ways has been in our DNA since our very first product launch five years ago: Inkling for iPad. Our first products translated static print textbooks into engaging and absorbing learning experiences for smartphones and tablets. Students were eager to ditch heavy textbooks for interactive content in the palm of their hands and to trade thumbing through indexes for quick, Google-like searches.

Today at Inkling, our focus on building products for millennials has evolved into a bigger story: our products serve not only college students but also the much broader, growing millennial workforce that requires training and corporate learning content in every field imaginable.

Learn about four key trends that are shaping the mLearning and blended learning landscape when you download our free report

Creating A Millennial-Savvy Product

Designing for the end user is a core tenant of our product development philosophy, and when the end users are millennials, we try to consider the new set of technical fluency they bring to the workforce. For example, millennials have grown up Google-ing and expect to find information fast on any device, which is why all Inkling content is fully searchable, online with the web readers or offline within native apps.

Millennials, with their love of apps, online games, and immersive websites, also expect interactivity in their content. The challenge for content creators catering to millennials, of course, is how to include interactivity with little to no technical expertise or help. At Inkling, our product development focuses on these content creators, as well as the end users. For example, our content creation platform, Habitat, enables non-technical content creators to “layer” additional information over text or images with easy-to-use widgets. One such widget is what we call a “poptip”, which is a little bubble that pops open when tapped or clicked to reveal more detailed information, such as a text definition with hyperlinks, a photo, or a video. This transforms learning content from  a one-size-fits-all block of text to a layered, customizable experience, with options for the learner to dive in deeper as she wants to.

How to distribute content to millennials? Mobile

Creating more engaging content is just one part of the story. The content needs to be more accessible on mobile than ever, as millennials rely on their devices. While millennials make up only 29% of the population, they account for 41% of the total time that Americans spend on their smartphones.

 When it comes to corporate learning, your millennial employees want to access and use the content at multiple touch points on multiple devices during the day, from classroom training with a company-provided laptop to self-guided learning on their tablet at home or even quick reference on their mobile phone between meetings. To meet millennials where they already are, teams responsible for building learning content need solutions that can distribute that content to any device. At Inkling, we’ve built our products so that content can be distributed to practically any device or PC, for a native, slick experience in each environment.  We hope to power learning wherever millennials need it.

The “Millennials in the Workplace” trend is here to stay

To survive and thrive, businesses are constantly re-assessing how their strategies align with new trends, and the surge of millennials in the workplace has already influenced new communication practices. With millennials projected to be an increasing proportion of your workforce, more and more of your learning strategies will be driven by their needs. The new buzzword on the block is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and the data is again compelling:

When high-risk mobile use meets millennial demand

Nevertheless, it’s dangerous to immediately convert to a new, mobile world where the ramifications of a “risk gone awry” are unknown. With the entrance of mobile, a new list of security concerns emerges: Who can access this content? Can they do it in off-hours? Can do they do it while out of the office? If they are terminated, do they still have access?

These are valid concerns, and they are the “right questions” for the head of any IT or HR organization to ask about content distribution. On the other hand, there are less tangible questions to ask, too: If we don’t provide solutions for tablet and mobile, where will our millennial employees turn to when they need information now? 

The answer to these questions is simple: millennials are the generation of receiving information-on-demand, and finding answers to questions is a skill they have curated for years. Searching the Internet is not a new concept, and navigating the spectrum of results–be it quality sources or garbage–is also nothing new. The trick is, this generation is accustomed to finding “good enough” and then moving on. For your training and learning organization, then, the real question is: Is “good enough info” actually good enough for our business-critical information? If not, it’s imperative that you offer information where your millennial employees seek it by optimizing your content for mobile devices in ways that alleviate your security concerns.

The bottom line

The tides are turning, as more millennials enter the workforce every year. The companies that adapt their tools and environments today will be a step ahead in building the leaders of tomorrow. Embracing a BYOD policy may not be right for every business–many businesses take the alternative route of issuing their own devices–but the key lies in finding a solution that both satisfies this emerging workforce, while staying grounded in your business needs.

Go from being a company that is “figuring out millennials” to one that has a real strategy to foster their talent. We’ll help you get there in our next post, where we identify the three millennial must-haves for your mLearning software solution.

Want to boost your instructor-led training with smart mobile content, designed with millennials in mind? Learn how Inkling can help you get there