Engaging the millennial workforce by modernizing enterprise applications

Can improved recruitment and retention in the right areas be used in the business case for modernizing applications and/or front ends?

Group of millennials sitting with mobile devices in a row
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Few would expect to arrive on their first day and use technology as old as they are, but they may be surprised. US research group iDatalabs found 18,000 companies using SAP R/3, a product first introduced in 1992, which retains an 11% share of ERP installations. So, enterprise software can be the same age as a young millennial; the very group businesses are trying to attract.

As of 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the American workforce, making an average of 35% of employees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, businesses are striving to attract and recruit the most talented of the generation born between 1980 and the mid-1990s.

Although companies continue to run legacy applications because they remain fit-for-purpose and are too costly to migrate, the aging technology interfaces and poor user experience can create a negative impression on the millennial workforce, says Dimple Agarwal, Deloitte’s global leader, organization and transformation. After all, they have grown up with consumer technologies and slick ecommerce websites, and expect the same from workplace technology.

“Millennials join an organization for the culture and the experience. While they don’t know about the kinds of technology an organization runs when they are recruited for a job, once they have joined, it could really put them off. Once they have a bad experience, then they use that as a lens to a lot of other aspects of the experience. They would ask, ‘Is this the organization I want to work for if it is not making the right technology investments?’”

A focus on employee experience

Agarwal says businesses are creating new front-end for applications, as a means of making the employee experience more acceptable without ripping and replacing applications. “We are seeing a lot of demand for modernizing platforms in enterprise applications. The employee experience is at the front end of the agenda. If they are not ready to replace applications, then they will look at the front end.”

Research from PwC shows how millennials’ place the importance of the technology experience. Its survey of 4,000 graduates in 75 countries shows 54% say that older senior management did not understand the way they use technology at work. Millennials in the financial services sector, for example, place a great deal of emphasis on the technology used by their employer, with 66% saying that state‑of‑the‑art technology was important to them when considering an employer.

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