On Friday night I had to go to my son’s new school for a Parent Induction night. My son is starting Year 7 which is the first year of High School here in Australia, so that’s kind of a big deal.
The purpose of the talk was to discuss the technology that the school and students use and at the end we had to collect our son’s new MacBook Pro. Every student in the school is given a new MacBook in Year 7 and a replacement in Year 10.
In and of itself, the whole idea of the kids using computers didn’t seem too odd, but by about fifteen minutes in, I realized how profoundly different this generation is going to be and I started thinking about the true impact this is going to have on business owners as time moves on.
The school gives every child access to the Google Cloud Suite, so they get Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and everything is saved on Google Drive. Their teachers can collaborate with the students in real time on whatever they’re working on and give feedback, annotate or whatever they need to do. The students can work on documents, presentations and things with each other again, in real time.
Their textbooks are predominantly all eBooks – we had to go online and order them from the supplier a few weeks before school started. The books can be updated by the publisher remotely if need be and the kids can annotate the digital copy and even share their annotations with each other.
Everything is geared towards higher levels of collaboration and using technology to vastly enhance the learning experience. It’s incredible when you’re sitting there watching them describe it.
But then it starts to sink in just how different these “Digital Natives” are really going to be. They simply won’t know any other way of working other than digitally in highly collaborative team environments.
At the midpoint of the evening, I was thinking about all of the implications of this for businesses in the future. My initial thought was to think of what it will be like to provide goods and services to this generation as customers, but the real moment of clarity for me came when I thought about what these kids will look like as future employees and business owners themselves.
For me, that was pretty profound. I see businesses every day adapting to a newer “digital business” model and honestly, it’s slow going. Things like “Quality Assurance” programs from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s introduced processes and checkpoints in businesses that slowed everything down to a crawl. Business is having trouble adapting to the new way things are done because the old way is a boat anchor slowing them down.
And the key component in all of this is people. Imagine what these kids today are going to be like as employees? They’re going to come into your business and unless you’ve really moved well with technology, they’re going to struggle. While it’s easy to think that they’ll have to adapt, the reality is, the best young people will just go work somewhere that suits them and you’ll be stuck with leftovers.
However, if we can adapt our way of doing business to be more agile, quicker to respond to change and aggressively adopt technology where appropriate, then that’s going to make us magnets for better people. And most importantly, by having better processes, modern technology and great people, we’ll produce excellent products for our customers and give them an amazing overall experience!
This session at the school was a chance for me to glimpse the future. It made me realize how much work there is still for us to do. And it struck me that an overarching theme of what I’m going to try and achieve with the Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter is to help my subscribers with that journey to the new way of doing business.
If you want to come along for that ride, the Foundation Membership is still open and if you join before February 12, 2016 you’ll not only get my “No Hyperbole: The New Rules of Online Business” paperback book delivered to your door when it’s released, but I’m also including the January issue of the newsletter free in your Welcome Pack.