Update from the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit: The Millennial Tide Has Risen

This week at the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit, I chaired a roundtable on digital engagement in the workplace with IT executives from larger enterprises. On multiple occasions, the conversation came back to a recent study released by the Pew Research Center showing that Millennials have surpassed Gen Xers in the labor force for the first time. It’s already apparent at work where behaviors around professional content consumption have changed. And it’s not just among the early career employees: even late career employees have changed their behavior.

As always, younger employees exhibit behavioral changes first. Where go the Millennials, goes the workforce, so it’s interesting to study them directly. Here are some of the key conclusions we reached at the Gartner event, for posterity.

Work-related content must be as convenient as Google search.

Whether it’s new employee onboarding content, performance support documents, or training materials, it’s no longer acceptable to toss a PDF into SharePoint or lock content inside of an LMS. 38% of Millennials find it “frustrating” to “waste time searching for documents,” a full 10% more than the total population. So what do they do instead of using our tools? They just Google what they’re looking for.

Data must drive insights about the content.

To address the needs of the modern employee, the HR, marketing and sales enablement leaders who build content for their employees need insight into who’s using the content, and when and where they’re using it. Without this data, the lines of business who depend on the content are flying blind. Is it effective? Which parts are most useful? It’s a guessing game. Attendees at the roundtable also remarked that the level of effort required just to get a content system up and running often puts the integration of an analytics system to the side from the get-go. And yet everyone craves data.

Mobile-first content systems must be integrated, off-the-shelf solutions.

By now it is common knowledge that Millennials and mobile go hand-and-hand. Yet building mobile-first systems using general purpose components, like standalone CMSes, is simply too complex for both IT and end users. With tools for creating content from one company, a system for managing the content from another company, yet another piece of software for viewing the content, or, worse, the need for custom mobile apps, the complexity reinforces the status quo.

To be sure, this approach has worked to date, but mobile is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The next generation of content systems are cloud-based, mobile-first and HTML5-based, integrating authoring, distribution, display and measurement of content into single platforms that specialize in specific use cases, as Inkling does for learning and development.

The bottom line:

It is an exciting time to work with content in the enterprise, and the enthusiasm at the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit was palpable. The influence of millennials, the move to mobile and cloud, and the maturation of HTML5 as a content/software format are coming together to spell significant change and huge new opportunities for employee engagement.

If you’d like to see how Inkling solves many of these problems, request a demo to learn how customers like Comcast, Roche and Nest have driven new revenue, reduced costs and improved employee satisfaction.