Talking ’bout a generation…

Three cheers for this post from Alan Pelz-Sharpe over at CMS Watch entitled “Debunking the Google Generation Myth.” He cites a UK study that found little substantive difference between a “new generation” entering the workforce and the rest of us.

I’m awfully tired of hearing about how enterprises need to change their applications to suit this “new generation.” I’m not doubting that kids graduating from college today are more tech-savvy than, say, my mother (who gets around email and the web pretty well herself these days), but since when do large employers change corporate culture and process to make new employees, what, happier? More comfortable? And are kids graduating from college today in a position to be so choosy that the UIs of enterprise applications are a factor as they choose between jobs? Outside of the tech industry where individuals are paid to show initiative with technology projects, how many first-year employees have the nerve (or inclination) to start a skunkworks social software project if the corporate app they’re expected to use doesn’t work like Facebook?

I’m not saying that corporate cultures don’t change or that they won’t, slowly, evolve as technology and technology users change. This has always been the case and will continue to be so. But there are so many more interesting (and legitimate) reasons for organizations to look at social software than because a ‘new generation demands’ it. Getting important discussions out of email and into a forum where they can be more broadly shared and retained, enabling far-flung colleagues and partners to find and work with each other more easily, and doing a better job organizing and sharing the ever-increasing onslaught of information, are a few such reasons.