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How Millennials will Influence a Shift in Procurement Technology
Millennials are known for many things, and while there is no one ‘Millennial profile”, they are unquestionably natural with technology. Business technology is changing because providers are seeing demand trends from these digital natives. Since Millennials will make up 40% of the workforce by 2020, they are a group that will improve our current solutions because they have high expectations for technology. The challenge is to meet their expectations and bring more experienced users along with them.
88% of Millennials prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one, Intelligence group found in a study in 2014. Some companies have responded to this by creating open spaces in the office to promote teamwork - and it is working. Using platforms to virtually open up the workspace is a similar opportunity for procurement technology. It is a chance to collaborate and unify workflow. Many companies are seeing technology opportunities associated with social innovation too. Platforms that connect users with social media adoption could be the next big thing.
Just as with collaboration, Millennials expect communication to be easy and immediate. This is why they struggle with the relatively slow speed of email, because it is not as fast or convenient as texting or instant messaging.
Consider the many means of communication we use in business: video chat, email, Instant messaging, phone calls, and direct messaging. Let’s face it, texting is on the list too but it is not incorporated by traditional enterprise communication channels. Seeing this as an organizational problem, business apps like Slack have developed to redirect and redefine communication. This is what procurement needs. Don't be surprised if all these means become interconnected into one place in the near future.
Automation and standardized processes set the groundwork for measurable data, but the Millennial expectation is that data will be displayed in visual form. ‘Visual comprehension’ is an idea marketers have found to be incredibly effective with Millennials.
Challenges in procurement often result from a lack of centralized organizational information. Procurement organizations struggle to collect data and organize it in a way that creates value for stakeholders. The use of visual aids in procurement technology will need to become prominent, because quick comprehension means less time spent trying to understand something. We need to let technology do this for procurement. Interfaces that provide visual aids to statistical information will be preferred over those that do not.
Expectations from Technology
Millennials have grown up seeing constant and rapid improvements in their day to day processes through the evolution of technology. As a result, they expect time consuming, tedious tasks to be streamlined with technology. Millennials decide if an app will enable or inhibit their tasks based on their initial user experience. Procurement solutions with a dual goal of saving money and time will be of greater value. In response to this, developers need to improve the user experience. DuPont’s Craig Reed, at the 2016 Global Procurement Technology Conference mentioned how Millennials add something extra to digital strategies because they have the natural ability to find the route that requires the least clicks.
Millennials recognize the potential of technology without even realizing it. This is why looking at this age group's preferences can help procurement discover how we should shift our procurement solutions towards increased visibility, connectivity, speed, and accuracy. Millennials expect things to be fast and easy - and isn’t that what we ALL need in a business function that is universally understaffed and supposedly lacking talent? These models for the next round of technology advancement will help the procurement function increase its value.