SAP research: How do young people view the impact of digitization on the world today?
“By 2020 46% of the workforce will be millenials and we, at SAP, are actively engaging them to help us in our mission to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives – through our technology; through investing in our people and by fulfilling our corporate responsibility to those living in the communities where we do business.” says Ernesto Marinelli, Human Resources Head SAP EMEA & MEE.
Indeed we are currently living in what Personnel Today called ‘the Digital Equivalent of the Industrial Revolution’, with 46% of the world using the internet in 2016. It is at this exciting time that Millennials are entering the workforce. Consequently at SAP, we have collaborated with MakeSense gathering insight, aiming to shed light on young people’s thoughts on the impact of the increasingly digital world that we live. Our global survey that obtained answers from young people across a range of different countries, including Lebanon and Spain, asked young people (between the age of X and Y) six questions focused on digitization and ‘the world we want to live in’. We asked young people across different professions, including employees, entrepreneurs, students, freelancers the following six questions:
- What are your top three priorities to create a world we want to live in?
- What are your top three influencers in creating a world we want to live in?
- Will the digital transformation have a positive impact on i) work ii) leisure iii) relationships iv) the world?
- What role would digitization have in creating a world you want to live in?
- What is the one thing that you would like to see technology change about the world today?
- How do you think digitization will impact/ change the workplace in the future?
The results presented several interesting findings:
‘Peace’, ‘sustainability’ and equal ‘opportunity’ rank as top three priorities for tomorrow
First of all, we asked young people to rank their top three priorities in creating a world we want to live in. Interestingly, building peace was the main priority, with nearly 40% of respondents opting for this. The second priority listed by respondents was ‘equal opportunity for all’ (20%), and the third priority was ‘sustainability. (18%)’
Individuals play a vital role in our future
We then asked our respondents what the top three influencers were in creating a better world tomorrow. Over half of our respondents (52%) highlighted that individuals (via social media and other online platforms) are the most important influencer today. Other stakeholders that young people view as playing a vital role are governments (20%), corporations (13%) and NGOs (7%).
Digital transformation will play a largely positive role, except for with respect to relationships
Perhaps unsurprisingly, when respondents were asked whether the digital transformation would have a positive impact on their career, over 70% thought that it would. One respondent said that it would lead to ‘transparency in finances and bureaucracy. It will speed up processes, allow easy access to statistics and cause efficient production and reasonable management of resources’.
Furthermore, the percentage was even higher when it comes to digitization enabling people to make a positive impact on the world (72%). However, one area where the digital transformation is perceived as having a more negative effect is on relationships, where nearly 40% of young people thought it would have a negative effect.
Our results have demonstrated that young people are aware of the tremendous impact that an increasingly digital era has and the potential for good that it can have on the world that we live in. Overwhelmingly, respondents also felt that digitization should act as an enabler to accessible information and communications with one participant saying that digitization acts as a communicator for three reasons; ‘1) to connect social innovations 2) to raise awareness and 3) to tackle issues locally and globally’. Through this increased access to information and communication globally, digitization should provide more education about the world today.
Millennials also had an interesting idea on how digitization could be used to increase efficiency in a working world. They suggested an app that could replace a manager, establishing missions and objectives for a team, and evaluating employees on a peer to peer basis, which would consequently increase efficiency and communication. However, the upsides to digitization such as the potential of remote working and increased efficiency also present concerns for millennials. Respondents felt that one of the downsides to digitization includes a decrease in direct communication, through facilities such as remote working as well as the decrease in job availability. One millennial stated that a potential implication of a digital era would be that there are ‘fewer jobs available and it will be a luxury to have a physical workplace’. Additionally, the research showed an awareness amongst young people of the negative impact that digitization can create on leisure (20%).
One millennial described the potential impact of a digital era by saying ‘digitization is forcing us to rethink work in general, even more with the rise of cognitive computing. We are going to see a shift in the skills we value’. However, an article last week in the Financial Times highlighted that while companies are increasingly trying to upgrade their technology in an effort to boost productivity, this link between digital and productivity is not yet apparent. Additionally, a recent article in the Economist highlighted that a consequence of a digital era, may be (as most millennials undertaking this piece of research agreed with) to increase efficiency and to facilitate going about our daily jobs.
“Millennials are more connected to technology than any previous generation. The way that millennials use technology is influencing the way that companies do business; Governments deliver services and communities find members and build identities. Indeed, that 52% cited ‘individuals’ as having the greatest influence in creating a better world for tomorrow illustrates the entrepreneurial ‘can do’ spirit that we at SAP are keen to engage.” says Ernesto Marinelli.
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable approximately 320,000 business and public sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com.
MakeSense is an international community that rallies SenseMakers and Gangsters in 128 cities across the world to help social entrepreneurs to solve their challenges. Its mission is to accelerate the impact of social entrepreneurs by connecting them with individuals ready to take up their challenges. To enable anyone to help, MakeSense constantly creates new problem-solving workshop methodologies and trains passionate volunteers. For more information, visit https://www.makesense.org/en.