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Author's profile photo Sven Denecken

Capitalize on Millennials and the “New Normal”


There is no doubt, Millennials will change enterprises’ corporate cultures, their way of looking at their workplace and the expected working style will blow a fresh wind through organizations. Most people are aware that they will have significant influence on software user experience, service attitude and workspace design.

But it is much more. The next generation’s motivation and behavior is substantially different than the one of Generation X who has put its stamp on today´s corporate culture. We are mainly wired working towards long term goals, well planned career paths and strong commitments to the employer. 47% of the workforce in 2 years from now will be very different.

We are more than happy to have Ben Christensen and Amira Polack on the Agenda talking about how to Capitalize on Millennials and the “NEW NORMAL” – as special on the Forum Cloud in 2020 in Orlando June 4th.


Amira Polack works for SAP. Previously, Amira has worked in investment banking, at a garage-based startup in the Philippines, for her own social business Ubomi Beads LLC in South Africa, and at a non-profit organization Business Today. Amira is passionate about how business and technology can improve lives, which she aims to accelerate her acumen in at SAP.

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Ben Christensen is an IT-Business student with a design disposition, a social habit, a circus hobby, and an entrepreneurial streak. He lived, taught, studied, worked, entertained, or volunteered in various worlds: From working stockrooms in Helsinki to interning at Utah’s largest radio newsroom, from Taiwan concert halls to Mexican village no-walled-classrooms, from Copenhagen cafes to code-competition arenas, from virtual global conference rooms to local app design rooms, and from elected-student boardrooms to University dorm rooms.

Amira and Ben, 2 true digital Natives, will share with us how they live, think, study and work in a highly dynamic, interconnected world.

Ben: “My excitement for cloud comes from a resistance to things that slow me and my teams down. Embracing the informational agility and it´s associated risks to free my mind and hands so I can focus on the problem space”

Amira: “If value time is wasted on operations, analytics and administration you get restless Millennials. It’s the 21st century.”

I recently caught up with Ben while we met at an event in Copenhagen to get his insights on the cloud in 2020 and traded messages with Amira on the same. Following are excerpts from our conversations.

Sven Denecken (SD): Ben, what drives your personal cloud experience?

Ben Christensen (BC): My personal cloud experience comes from a resistance to things that slow me and my teams down. Time is the only resource I can´t increase. Efficiency in what we are all doing is Key. During my studies I discovered collaboration through a shared document in real time has shaped my expectations accordingly. Not only input from teammates but the whole document history is available. This behavior has spread to all my project work- to the extent that all input should be saved instantly, to become searchable, analyzable and sharable. Micro-blogging a team-learning journal makes every moment a collaborative knowledge management reference in our project journeys.

I guess the point I resonate with about the cloud is embracing the informational agility & it’s associated risks where-ever possible and auto-logging opportunities which free my mind and my hands so I can focus on interacting directly with “my people” and our solutions & problem spaces.

SD: Amira, how about your personal experience?

Amira Polack (AP): I work at SAP in CSR and Communications. Outside the company I run a social business in South Africa and chair a non-profit organization. I’m a recent college grad and I enjoy face-to-face socializing (not just Facebook and texting), spending time with my family (I consider myself a decent big sister), and spinning.

My cloud definition is broader than most of my peers define it today: The cloud needs to help me be a better me and bring my whole self to any context. The easiest way to scope the cloud is within my daily interactions, favorite services, and even contexts where I’ve been confronted with cloud-less environments. Especially in valuing face-time, the cloud plays a strong role: Google maps app (not GPS) to visit friends, Uber/Lyft (cheaper taxi alternative, mobile pay) if I don’t have a car or don´t want to drive or Venmo to split the bill.

In this sense, the cloud means connection, collaboration, being synced…but also physical enablement get around more effectively, enjoy moments with people I care about instead of feeling bad about hassling the waiter to split the bill ten ways, etc.

And Security: In college, I studied abroad in South Africa, often called the world’s “crime capital.” Mid-semester, my apartment was broken into and my valuables stolen, chiefly my Macbook. All my photos, videos, music, college assignments – “my life” since University started – gone. All had been backed up on a hard drive, but the burglars had stolen that too, Dropbox wasn’t as prevalent at the time. Facebook and Gmail saved my skin! So what is “secure?” I think it can be more risky to not opt for cloud.

SD: As an employee and expert, what do you transfer into your working life?

BC: I’d hope for some flexibility among my department/ team/ project space. A working environment should be as flexible as the people who are expected to work there.

Boundaries and inflexible structures drive focus away from a creative pursuit. We can’t just float around in white space or empty rooms. We hope that physical and process structures are reconfigurable in a lego-inspired style. Let’s see how green bricks fit in with gold bricks, and add an expert level blue brick against an orange brick. Mutually reconfigurable for collaborative results, and the journey traceable & self-logging so we can quickly analyze & share what works and what fails to inspire new productivity.

AP: Before my first at SAP, my manager leveled expectations with me: “At least in the beginning, I’ll expect you in the office most days. I’m usually in Tuesday & Thursday, and leave around 2:30 – 3…” Awesome. Don’t get me wrong – I like to be as busy as possible. And as it turns out, I prefer working in the office most days, having lunch with colleagues and the like – people are the best part about work. But freedom and choice is key. Most of my meetings and teammates take place in other geographies and time zones. We host the meeting on cloud-connect, collaborate on storylines for key campaigns on Jam, keep content stores on the cloud for topics we’re working on, microblog in online communities…from everywhere.

I don’t have to be in the office at 6am. But I can be in Mexico City to enjoy a weekend trip without taking vacation during the weekdays. Next month I have a wedding to go to in London on the 4th of July weekend, and will be working from there during the weekdays immediately before and after.  

I expect my working environment to be like the cloud-oriented one I grew up in, and meet my expectations of cloud-based consumer products. Millennials will transform their environments to meet their cloud needs…I’ve done so. 36% of respondents to a Fortinet survey of Millennials said they’d break company policy restricting use of personal cloud storage. 79% have used personal cloud storage for work purposes.

SD: What is your advice to the audience?

BC: Will we find an environment to flex our mutual information sharing opportunity from ubiquitous connectivity? I hope we can use the storm of connected things smarter together by getting each of our minds merged in a pattern solutions exploration. And standard commodity cloud persistent technology will be the catalyst.

Millennials like us are well acquainted with navigating emerging technologies, and freshly pressed off some cool study programs – we still hunger for the depth of wisdom that the previous five generations, who are going to be colleagues, have built up from actual experience with real business needs and changing customer demands over the gone years.

And finally a note on generational diversity of employees: I hope it´s true that millennials can add value by thinking differently,  we want and need to be exposed to the ways you all think differently when we approach your business & IT.

Working together across generations or across levels of seniority will improve our understanding as we mutually inspire, learn, share, and act in sync with our heads in the cloud towards our mutual business goals.

AP: Let´s slip into the consumers shoes for a second, because here cloud is a starting point, but to Ben’s point: not all cloud opportunities are created equal. It’s necessary, but not the end-all. There are several examples where services are on the web but simply overtaken by others.

  • Spotify is a service of choice for music, you can listen to anything, and you can expand repertoire with social.
  • Dropbox works, but it feels like every time a document syncs I get a notification. Space allocation when sharing is unclear to most. Got a simpler alternative? I’m there
  • Millennials don’t like email, even if on the cloud. They like Gmail – what my college and prior employer transitioned to.

As an employee: Consumer technology [cloud-inclusive] sets standard for the work environment; catch up, or good luck keeping me around.

Example: Prior work environments with and without the cloud – student orgs vs. a “real world” internship. All my student orgs operated on cloud-based collaboration tools; this environment was what I expect entering the workforce. If valuable time is wasted on operations, analytics, etc. that aren’t on the cloud that should be, or on transferring things to the cloud, you get restless millennials. It’s the 21st century.

As an entrepreneur: Be cloud-savvy, or prepare to get disrupted.

  • According to a survey by Deloitte, 70% want to start their own businesses, and a key to affordable iteration/experimentation is the cloud – lowered barrier to markets and freedom to fail until success. I’ve found this to be personally true – whether founding a company, leading an organization, or networking for the next big thing – the cloud is my starting point.

SD: Thanks Amira, Ben – looking forward to hear more at SAPPHIRENOW next month.

The entire agenda of the Cloud in 2020 Forum can be found here.
If you want to register, please follow this link. We are looking forward to welcome you onsite in Orlando on June 4th.

Follow us per twitter @SDenecken and @SAPCloud


Read other relevant blogs:

The forum #Cloud in 2020: The Driving Force of Business Outcome at #SAPPHIRENOW

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For more opinions on how Cloud Computing may affect your Industry and/or Line of Business (LoB) – and thus your career, read here:

#CloudCareer Central

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thanks, Sven! Looking forward to SAPPHIRE NOW!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thanks for raising this discussion Sven. See you at SAPPHIRE NOW on June 4th.