Millennials Are Just Normal Adults

An interesting survey of 1,446 millennials by the fantastic Tech.pinions regarding their opinions on technology's usefulness at work. The study turned up a few results which surprised the team. First, millennials are using Facebook more than any other social network (89% daily usage). Second, when asked what device they would take on a business trip if they could only pack one and 42% of people said their laptop, the same amount as answered their phone. Finally, millennials still value face to face meetings at critical junctures in a projects development and prefer to use messaging services for simply catching up day to day.

Honestly, I think what this highlights is that people who grew up as "digital natives" are simply interested in taking advantage of the best tool for a particular job. Despite a perception that this generation is "addicted" or "owned" by a particular app, device or communication technique, the reality is that millennials see the same pros and cons as anyone else.

Facebook is a terrific platform as a digital identity card. While it may not be the app their most excited to post to, the value of a social network that almost everyone uses and so readily can connect individuals is not lost on the younger generation. Snapchat and Instagram can be a ton of fun to post pictures to a large group of people that you have already connected with in someway, but Facebook still offers its own unique advantages.

Laptops, and more accurately, the mouse/keyboard interface is here to stay. For certain tasks in certain environments, its going to be a vastly more productive tool than a touch, voice, or heads up interface. As developers have more time to settle into these various interfaces, there will continually be more tasks that used to be best served by a mouse/keyboard that get usurped, but to pretend that there is no value to the paradigm is incredibly naïve.

Finally, face to face meetings obviously have value. Sure, these interactions can slowly become more and more virtualized with augmented reality (heads up displays) or full on VR. Still, when people are hashing out big decisions, body language is an important part of those dialogues. Digital natives may prefer to do as much trivial interaction anonymously, preferring to stick to text for day to day conversations and tasks, but honestly, once their introduced to it, almost every generation starts to find the value in being able to do these same tasks without needing to talk to someone else.

There are certainly generational divides, but when it comes to picking which tool to use for a particular task, people will generally agree on which tool best fits the needs. Sometimes older people will eschew learning a new tool, but rarely will a younger person try and force a new tool into situations an old tool excelled.