Two big themes from last week’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference were the importance of simplicity and the growing role of Millennials in the workplace. There isn’t a clear connection between the two messages—simple business and unpredictable youth don’t exactly go hand in hand. As I watched Bill McDermott’s opening day keynote, I found myself wondering if and how young talent could help a company on its path to simplification.
A recent Wall Street Journal article titled “How To Use Tech Like a Teenager” gave me some inspiration. In general, teenagers simplify technology because they don’t rely on pre-established rules and expectations. They find creative solutions that result in the fastest, easiest, and most productive solutions. Today’s teens are the very youngest of the millennial generation, but I think they already have some valuable lessons for businesses:
1. E-mail is Overrated
According to Pew Research Center, only 6 percent of teens email daily—and when they do email, it is for official purposes like college applications. On a daily basis they prefer to use a range of quick, easy-to-use, and flexible apps like iMessage, Facebook messenger, and Snapchat. These are better at facilitating normal, personal conversations.
The lesson? In the workplace, don’t always rely on lengthy emails – instead, pick up the phone for personal chats, or send an IM for quick feedback. Think about what type of communication is necessary for the task at hand. If you’re feeling extra radical, check out Toastio: a start-up that limits emails to only 350 characters.
2. Be Visual
Pew also found out that 91 percent of today’s teens post photos of themselves to social media sites. They are constantly using Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat; I’ve noticed that my own 18-year-old brother sends more “snaps” than texts to his friends. Teenagers realize that sometimes you can express yourself better with images than you can with words.
The lesson? BE VISUAL! Use videos, images, and infographics to tell the SAP story. And you don’t have to be in a communications or marketing role to do this – if you have a smartphone and a story you want to tell, you too can become an SAP Story Hunter by submitting a video to the Global Corporate Affairs Jam page.
3. Break the rules!
Finally, teenagers simplify technology because they think outside the box. They take the technology they have, break the rules, and experiment with how to make things easier—especially with regards to communicating. They can do this quickly because they don’t have to worry about best practices and processes.
The lesson? Be disruptive. Take on the mindset of a hacker—or teenager—in your day-to-day work. Think about whether your daily tasks can be done in a more simple, more compelling, or more productive way. Aim for the very best outcome—but consider how you get there.