Anyone who knows me, even a little, knows that I am process-oriented. I love structure. I make lists. I generally park in the same place everyday. I am *that* person. Do I take risks? Absolutely, but in different ways. For example, I work in consulting because I love the diversity of the teams and the project work. Hey, I am still all about efficiency.

Technology has made my obsession with process even more of a thing for me: I have an app for the grocery store, I check my bank balance via my bank app every day, I have a “stalking” app that tells me where my family members are on their commute home or to school, and I even have the city parking meter app so that I can “feed” the meter from wherever I am via my phone. If anything, apps have made my need for structure a bit more fun (and, may I say, somewhat cool and edgy?).

Now, I know I’m not the only one out there: there are lots of creatures of habit like me that rely on their phones and apps to survive. Why is it then, that so many of us settle for systems and processes that don’t quite meet our needs when we go to work? Whether you are process-oriented or not, we have all been there. Outside of work, we have great technology and our “way” of operating that makes sense to us. When we go to work, that is often not the case. There is at least one process that makes us want to openly sob every day. Or we work with a system on a regular basis that never really “fit the bill” and we just deal with it.

Why?

If the generations that are about to enter the workplace will do one thing and one thing alone, they will demand the true integration of technology and process. A few years ago, Fast Company published an article on Generation Z and what workplaces will need to do to accommodate their expectations. Generation Z, for those unfamiliar, is anyone born between 1998 and 2016. That means the first Gen Z kids just entered college and have started to step into our workplaces. The article highlights the following:

Gen Z has grown up always thinking “there’s an app for that,” and they rely on technology to expand their resources and be very efficient in their work. Downtime caused by technological inadequacies is especially frustrating to Gen Z… Organizations that are at the forefront of workplace technology trends and invest in IT infrastructure that supports this seamless experience will be pleasantly surprised and rewarded by Gen Z’s ability to leverage this connectivity.

As a parent of two Gen Zers myself, I know that they would have zero tolerance for a system that didn’t *really* help them do their jobs. As it is, I swear they have bionic thumbs that enable them to text at the speed of light. They will have no patience when it comes to companies that don’t invest in the right technology or that take the time to ensure processes are efficient and effective. I am pretty confident that a lack of technology will, frankly, induce panic attacks. Many companies today will simply not meet their high expectations.

NPR’s All Things Considered recently ran a piece about the new Amazon allowance, wherein the days of giving kids a credit card and dropping them off at the mall have been replaced with an Amazon expense account of sorts. The piece noted that, “Kids born after 1995, also known as Generation Z, will make up 40 percent of consumers by 2020.” That is pretty staggering when you think about it.

Those of us who grew up with typewriters and watched the digital age unfold: we’re different. We settle and often say that we can’t be bothered with change. I still know people who laugh and say they “know nothing” about computers when the printer goes awry or they just don’t have the patience to deal with software. Yet, what companies really need in order to stay relevant and truly thrive are talented employees that inherently understand and embrace technology.

An August 2017 Marketwatch article quotes Michael Erwin, a senior career adviser with CareerBuilder, as saying that Generation Z tends “to ask more questions around hardware and software used in the office.” The article continues, “having been surrounded by technology their whole lives, Generation Z will be more likely to view a company skeptically if its website is outdated or if its social-media presence is lacking.”

As someone who loves process and technology, this gives me comfort. Workplaces are about to change for the absolute better because they have to in order to survive. The 200 tab “master” spreadsheet? It will be gone. That manual process requiring “wet signatures” and three different approvals on an expense report? See ya! Before we know it, we’ll have processes and systems that make us want to come to work everyday.  The technology at work will match what we have in our personal lives and help us be better at what we do. It’s not a dream anymore: it’s a reality. We all need to buckle in and be ready for a great ride.

Yes, I bet there is an app to prepare oneself for that, too.

 

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