70% Of Gen Z Can't Use Your Application Portfolio

Posted by Neil Sheppard on June 24, 2024
70% Of Gen Z Can't Use Your Application Portfolio

Only a third of Gen Z workers feel empowered to use the digital toolset they've been provided at work. Can application modernization prepare your organization for the next generation?

​​"Only 32% of Gen Z feels very equipped... to learn the digital skills needed to thrive"

Salesforce Research

The 'Millennial' generation have found themselves growing up alongside the digital revolution. The internet arrived as they came of age and they had to learn to leverage it as it developed.

The nascent internet was basic and not user friendly, so Millennials had to learn how it worked in order to get the most out of it. Not to mention, it often failed, and Millennials had to figure out workarounds and maintenance.

Early on, there wasn't even the option to search Google for solutions, so Millennials had to figure things out for themselves. This meant an entire generation grew up to be technology wizards.

For the generation before Millennials, things weren't so easy, but they learned and adapted to the basics of digital technology under the guidance of their juniors. This even led to the trend of so-called 'reverse mentoring,' where Millennials would coach their elders on the use of new technology.

Everyone learned to at least get by with the technology that they had and were able to adapt when it changed. As time moved on and the next generation of employees began entering the workforce, it was assumed that things would get easier. After all,  'Generation Z' was born into a digital world and new technology, it was assumed, would come naturally to them.


Gen Z Not As Tech Savvy As Expected

As it turns out, there are two issues with Gen Z entering the workplace:

  1. They grew up with the latest consumer technology, not enterprise-grade tech
  2. They don't know how to problem-solve technology or adapt to new tools

Gen Z are used to having the latest iPhone or Android device with a touch screen and on-the-go applications and services that they exploit freely. If they need to type something more lengthy, they will use a small Chromebook and Google Docs.

When they get to the workplace, however, they need to sit at a desk with a keyboard and mouse, deal with elaborate security processes, and use Microsoft Office. Security and cost are often prioritized over the user experience.

This means Gen Z are immediately out of place in the modern workplace, leading to a lack of productivity and an excess of frustration. Salesforce found that only 32% of Gen Z employees felt they had the digital skills they needed in the workplace or the means to get them.

It's tempting to just write this off as a problem with 'the kids,' but Salesforce found that Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. Imagine the toll on your business when a quarter of your workers can't do their job because they can't use your software.

In 2019, John Donahoe, ServiceNow's then-CEO, told conference attendees that workers now want the same user experience in the workplace as they get from their personal technology. This, however, doesn't just mean offering mobile applications and Chrome OS.

Ever since Steve Jobs declared that Apple products should "just work," that's been the standard for consumer technology. Since so many consumer products do just that, that is what Gen Z are used to.

We all know, however, that complex enterprise systems don't always 'just work.' Millennials are capable of working around bugs and errors, and can often fix them through self-service. Gen Z, however, have not grown up with technology that needs this kind of maintenance.

Your enterprise technology needs to work perfectly for Gen Z, or else they will need support to fix it, taking a toll on your IT support teams. Training seems like the immediate answer, but this will still be difficult for Gen Z.


A Lifetime Of IT Experience

Okay, so if Gen Z lack IT skills, can't we train them up? Of course, you can, but it's not as simple as you may think it is.

The Verge reported anecdotal evidence from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) lecturers that even their brightest students are struggling to understand how to use computer file systems as they're completely beyond their realm of experience. These are extremely clever young people studying astrophysics who simply have no experience with how computers work beyond the surface level.

This isn't a matter of Gen Z lacking the capability to use computing technology, it's a cultural change that means our existing IT tools simply don't work the way that Gen Z thinks. It's not that Gen Z needs to change in order to better use our software, the software needs to change in order to support Gen Z's user experience.

A key example of this is the social networking app, Snapchat. 71% of Snapchat users are under the age of 25 and it's notorious for being frustrating and difficult to use for older people.

Snapchat has no headlines or value propositions, and there's little guidance as to how to use the app on screen. Snapchat breaks all the rules of user experience design, but is perfectly usable for its 70 million active Gen Z users, while they struggle with older Windows systems.

To cater to Gen Z, we need to redefine how we build software applications in order to cater to their needs. If we don't start seriously considering a Gen Z business transformation, we face crippling the productivity of our workforce within the next 20 years.


Time For Application Modernization

So, we know we need to transform our IT landscapes to prepare for Gen Z's takeover of the global workforce in the coming decade. How do we go about that?

SAP LeanIX can map your organization's application portfolio by collating information about your software from vendors, your own documentation, and the employees who work with it every day. Combining all of this together, you can begin identifying which of your applications fit Gen Z's expectations for user experience and which will need to be modernized.

When you go to replace them, you'll also need to understand what business capabilities are dependent on them, how they fit into your IT landscape, and whether your IT components are compatible with new software. Not only will SAP LeanIX track this for you, it will also tell you which of your employees are impacted.

Preparing yourself for the next generation of the workforce requires application modernization. SAP LeanIX is an essential tool for enabling that transformation.

To find out more about what SAP LeanIX can do for you, read our whitepaper:

WHITE PAPER: Insight, Communication, Engagement: How EA Supports Change Management

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