Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition: Will Enterprise 2.0 and Gen Y change the enterprise workplace?


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In his recent column in The Harvard Business Review, Enterprise 2.0 guru Andrew McAfee raised a vital issue about Generation Y and their opportunity to revolutionize the future landscape of a workplace. Mr. McAfee then immediately suffered an onslaught of really hard questioning as a hot discussion broke out in the comments section.

The range of presented opinions was quite wide with some people arguing for Gen Y, some against and some preferring to stay neutral. However, Andrew and the majority of the audience concluded that “it’s safe to assume that the workplace will change them more than the reverse.”

I find it irresistible to express my vision of what Enterprise 2.0, and true social enablement, will lead to, as the borders among companies, consultants, partners, contractors, and even clients continue to fade.

Established corporate environments definitely mold new employees to a fair degree, forcing them to adjust their preferences and style of work to conform to the adopted rules and procedures. This will definitely result in a tough clash between conservative and liberal powers, perhaps resembling teenage rebellion. The most ambitious and passionate persons will refuse to conform to the ‘backward’ state of affairs, fleeing and gathering around into more compatible companies and businesses.

This will inevitably lead to antagonism between the two HR-models, the ‘Y’ one being more successful in launching new ideas and technologies. The Ys will be quicker and more relevant in decision making, instinctively understanding market demand by virtue of being ‘kindred spirits’ with the target audience. I am pretty sure that we will have the pleasure of seeing the competition switch from vendor-based companies to generation-based. The question “what do you do” is doomed to transform into “are you one of us?”. Sounds like truly an inquisition! 🙂

In fact, this trend has already started as we see Millennials very successful in new technologies. Sometimes they even succeed in growing into large multinationals like Google without significantly transforming their workplace approach or being swallowed by the Big Fish.

As time passes, the new model will strengthen its pressure and ‘backward’ organizations will leave the quotation marks behind, progressively stepping aside and conceding the market to more aggressive and customer-oriented businesses led by the youngsters.

I trust large organizations understand these generation gap opportunities/threats and the evolving Enterprise 2.0/social media adoption clearly illustrates the shift in workplaces. ‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition’ is not the case here anymore. Businesses are aware and already moving forward to take advantage of the young employees.

Denis Zenkin
Denis Zenkin has 15+ years' experience in high-tech marketing. He currently leads global marketing at Bitrix, Inc. – a multi-national developer of Enterprise 2. and website management solutions with a special focus on SMB. Denis is a frequent speaker at industry-specific events covering social-enabled intranet technologies, and regularly publishes articles on E2. adoption practices.


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