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Author's profile photo Bernhard Escherich

Digital natives are knocking at the front door! How to cope with the digital immigrants and the non-adopters?

Digital natives and their behaviour


“It is just a matter of time with a new generation entering the workforce which will bring a broad adoption of new technologies.” I bet that all of us have heard such a statement or made it ourselves. But recent projects in the area of higher education and discussions and thought-provoking discussions with a colleague from our solution management forced me to rethink my own position in this game.

Digital natives are people born after 1980 which grew up in a world of video games computers and later on the internet. They use these technologies in the same way as we speak our native tongue. In contrast people like me who were born before could master the new technologies very well but there will also be a slight difference to a “native speaker”. Many of us could notice this difference every day with our kids.

Higher education as a front-runner

As BPXer we have to take care of these people in our projects as well. Students in universities expect that the Web 2.0 applications they use every day – Facebook, StudiVZ, Twitter just to name a few – could be used in their work and learning activities as well. Bringing Facebook and SAP’s Student Lifecycle Management system together has blogged about a very interesting mash-up between Facebook and SAP´s Student Lifecycle Management just recently.

But at the same time we are facing the situation that some appraiser (e.g. outstanding scientist from universities) in grants management processes still ask for paper-based solutions if they should deliver their evaluations. Due to their importance it is not a request which you could simply deny. In a current project a very good solution was implemented from my point of view: The whole process was transferred in a digital one but with the possibility to print out the documents if the user requests it. This solution seems so simple but it took a lot of the heat out of the discussion.

Non-adopter support instead of a management decision

This could be a blueprint for a lot of other projects with many forms involved: If BPX target the digital natives and the non-adopters a broad adoption could be reached. This way digital immigrants will be satisfied as well as they could choose which behaviour to adopt. Besides it will help to overcome a lot of difficulties in document management projects. Consultants normally outline that management support is key. But in reality it is not the management support which is decisive but the broad employee support. Without the acceptance people will find ways work around and still use their paper.


Digital Natives should join forces with digital immigrant BPX to find the best solution

In the project mentioned we have young colleagues in our team who are 100% digital natives. The opportunity we have had with this was unique as the mix of the user was equally represented in the project team.  

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