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Consumerization of Software: Mega Trends That Will Transform Your Consultancy

Javier Baldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
“If I spend so much of my day using these enterprise software products, why are they so difficult to use?” If you’ve heard (or said) this before, you aren’t alone. There is a technology and design shift underway called the Consumerization of Software and it’s impacting our expectations surrounding software and the way we do business. Earlier, I kicked off our blog series on transformative trends with some statistics about the Millennial workforce. Today, I want to shed some light on a concept called the Consumerization of Software. Over the next few months, follow along as we take an in-depth look into more developments that will affect the future of the architecture and engineering industry, both tomorrow and beyond. Trend TWO: CONSUMERIZATION OF SOFTWARE Here’s the issue: many of the enterprise software solutions used by engineering consultancies today are often cumbersome and hard to use. That’s because in most instances, the systems were designed fifteen to twenty years ago – without the context of widespread internet and smart phone usage. These outdated interfaces offer distinctly different user experiences when compared to the modern applications of today. Not surprisingly, this does not make users happy. WHAT IS THE CONSUMERIZATION OF SOFTWARE? Simply put, the Consumerization of Software is all about making things easier. Think about your own life. At home, we use mobile apps to connect with loved ones, manage our grocery lists, and even order pizza. Why? Because they make our lives easier. They save us time and money. Our workforce is now coming to the office with that same ease-of-use mindset and because of this, we have seen a shift in expectations around software. Your employees want intuitive, usable, and beautifully designed applications. And they don’t just want them in their personal lives, they want them professionally. Software today must meet the standards of user experiences that engineers have in their everyday lives--think about popular fitness apps, banking apps, or even parking apps. Systems design is steering away from the overly complicated and moving toward the user-friendly, and much of this will be driven by Millennials. What DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESS COMPUTING? In short -- Big change. In 2012, Future Simple CEO Uzi Shmilovici shared 3 predictions on the future of enterprise software: A new class of enterprise software will emerge — As new user experience paradigms become more prevalent, a new generation of business software will transpire. With a strong focus on user experience and making software usable for more than just managers, but end users themselves, this new generation of software will take hold quickly and provide a lot of value for a fraction of the cost. We will see a dramatic shift in discovery channels — Today people find new apps via social media, peer recommendations, search, or through their app store. There’s no need for a special committee to choose the right software when you can rely on credible ratings and recommendations. Many traditional vendors will fail to adopt—The truth is that it is not easy to adapt when you are sitting on top of a complex legacy code that barely runs in a modern browser, let alone on a new device. And, many vendors simply won’t make the investment. Fast forward four years after those predictions and one thing is certain--the future is here and there is still work to do. According to a 2016 Tech Pro Research survey, 44% of respondents say UX is lacking with enterprise software when compared to consumer software. Yet, even Gartner asserts that “competitive advantage hinges on exceptional user experience.” The need for a better user experience is paramount. Over the next few years, the devices and software that we use in our work environments will evolve into something dramatically different. The question is: Will you keep up? Do you feel the strains of consumerization at your organization? Share your story in a comment below. Author’s Note: This is the second post in a series on major trends affecting the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry.

The “Big” Shift: Mega Trends That Will Transform Your Consultancy

Javier Baldor
Executive Vice President
BST Global
Having time to sift through all of the new research, infographics, and buzz words is challenging. Everyday, there is an increasing amount of data being thrown at us. It’s hard to know what to tune into and what to tune out. To help you navigate through the sea of information, we’re launching a series of blog posts exploring the major trends that will transform your consultancy. Over the next few months, follow along with us as we take an in-depth look into how these developments will affect our future, both tomorrow and beyond. Trend One: THE "BIG" ShiFT We’ve seen it coming -- the “Big” Shift. This year, the Millennial generation is projected to surpass the outsized Baby Boom generation as the largest living generation. What’s more, they’ve also edged out Generation X to make up the largest share of the American workforce. This massive generational shift has big implications for the way we do business. Chances are you are already hiring Millennials, promoting them, and trying to figure out how to get them to stay. Millennials have a new set of expectations surrounding work. And, if we don’t shift our own practices, we will fall behind. Who are they? Millennials are the boom from the Baby Boomers. They are between the ages of 18 and 34, they are passionate, they are tech savvy, they love to share, and they are always connected. They are the first generation to be raised on mobile phones and the Internet. Not surprisingly, 87% of Millennials agree that their smartphone never leaves their side, night or day. What motivates them? In a recent Kleiner Perkins survey, Millennials selected their most valued work benefit – and the results may surprise you. Training and development placed first with 22% of the vote, followed by flexible working hours at 19%, and cash bonuses coming in at 14%. Additionally, managers and Millennials were both asked what the most important thing to Millennials is in terms of work. Thirty percent of Millennials indicated meaningful work as the most important thing to them, yet nearly half of their managers guessed it to be higher pay. This statistic is very telling — there is a big perception disconnect happening between Millennials and their managers. What do they expect? Millennials entering the industry have different expectations around work/life balance, availability of workplace environments, technological resources, and training that meet their standards of simplicity and flexibility. Flexibility  They expect flexible work hours and 32% believe they will be working ‘mainly flexible' hours in the future. Mobility They expect to be able to work from home, office, or cafes at will. The latest technology Millennials prefer to collaborate online at work as opposed to in-person or over the phone, and 45% use personal smartphones for work. Moreover, the consumer software Millennials use at home (think Apple, Google) influences their expectations at work. They expect a beautiful user experience and they want it on-the-go. This trend, called the Consumerization of Software, is important to recognize. Mentorship Millennials have very short tenures (just 2 years!) when compared to other generations which range from 5-10 years. Why? A recent Deloitte study cites one of the primary reasons Millennials seek change is a lack of personal benefit, growth, and mentorship. Of note, 71% of those likely to leave their job in the next two years are unhappy with the development of their leadership skills. What can you do?  Embrace the opportunity and find a way to connect with Millennials and leverage their talent and passion. Your growing workforce comes with different expectations, so it may be time to rethink your work environment.  Millennials want to collaborate, learn, and grow. They want to feel supported and valued. They want flexibility. Create an environment that fosters this and you will create a company where Millennials want to work, love to work, and stay for years. Millennials are, after all, the future of our industry. Ben Horowitz with 4B private equity firm Andreessen Horowitz said: "Younger people tend to be more innovative because they have fewer assumptions. They don't understand why things are the way they are. They don't understand why they have to hail a taxi... You get more innovation because of that." Has your company seen a shift in workforce? If so, share some of your best practices or lessons learned in a comment below! Author’s Note: This is the first in a series on major trends affecting the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry.

Born Wired: How do we Retain Millennial Talent?

Evelyn March
Group Director
BST Global
While our current workforce covers three distinct generations – The Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials – today’s toughest HR challenge seems to be in attracting talented Millennials and getting them to stay. Many in the talent development realm fight to crack the code of creating a workplace conducive to drawing and retaining the brightest talent. Companies want their team members to exude enthusiasm, collaboration, and hard work. In exchange, employees want promotions, flexible work/life balance, and reliable benefits. In all, we’re seeking to create an environment where everyone enjoys the prosperity formula where Happiness = Reality – Expectations. But, what does that mean to Millennials? This new generation was born wired. They come to the workforce with an inherent knowledge of using technology to leverage opportunities and customers on a global scale in near real time. And they have unbridled enthusiasm that drives it all. To keep that motor humming, they expect unremitted feedback, recognition, and collaboration. To them, there’s never too much information. Everything moves at a speed that has them trading spit-shined wing tips for worn-in sneakers. Careers are of no exception. They join organizations with an expectation of a clearly laid out career path paved with training that’s direct, to the point, and hopefully, on demand. In a relentless pursuit of happiness, Millennials look for new professional ventures everywhere. According to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey, 91 percent of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. This leaves companies figuring out how to evolve to meet these needs. Doing so reduces the task of re-investing capital to recruit, onboard, and train new talent, as well as the loss of revenues during the temporary down-turn in staffing. Perhaps the answer to the retention conundrum is in rethinking the talent of all three generations without singling out one. Baby Boomers came into the workforce in a post-war era that was filled with opportunity and prosperity. They sought new ventures, rolled up their sleeves, and worked to conquer them. This mindset has applauded Baby Boomers as consistent producers and loyal workers. The Generation X employees are challenged with raising children and caring for parents. They are the architects of successfully handling work/life balance and being great revenue producers. Tapping into the strengths of these three groups can create the perfect formula of inclusion and cultural growth. So, we’re now left with the question of how? Reassess your communication strategy.  Text, emails, and corporate meetings may mean redundant communication, but all generations will feel ‘engaged’ as management addresses their individual approaches to communication. Rethink your benefits package.  Baby Boomers who are dedicated producers may want to move to part-time. Offering benefits for those employees may reduce the cost of onboarding new talent. Generation Xers are fully aware of the state of Social Security and seek a robust 401K plan to win their loyalty. Millennials want flexibility to accompany their lifestyle. Flex time, telecommuting, and flexible schedules can be an attractive incentive for longevity. Offer mentoring and training, mix it up, and keep it fresh.  Baby Boomers are a wealth of information, and Millennials are sponges, while Generation Xers were raised in the era of collaboration. Introduce one-on-ones, knowledge transfers, blended learning forums, and discussion panels. Despite the era, everyone enjoys both giving and receiving knowledge. In our multigenerational workforce, traditional approaches are passé. Evaluating your talent and working to their strengths is the fastest way to graduate reality to expectations and achieve that happiness formula. What challenges have you faced with the incoming generation? What have you done to adjust? Please share your thoughts below.