Can ERP Help Close the Generational Divide?

Mint Jutras founder Cindy Jutras shines a light on the heightened expectations the new generation of managers brings to the workplace, as well as the wider functionality that modern manufacturing companies require. This paper addresses how modern ERP solutions can address skill gaps in manufacturing by helping you recruit, onboard and retain today’s millennial workers, as well as foster collaboration and adapt to the changing needs of all employees.

July  2014       CAN  ERP  HELP  BRIDGE  THE  GENERATIONAL   DIVIDE?   ADDRESSING  THE  SKILLS  GAP   A  generational  divide  today  fuels  the  skills  gap  in  many  industries.  On  one   end  of  the  spectrum  we  see  highly  trained,  highly  skilled  baby  boomers   who  are  beginning  to  retire.  This  generation  entered  the  work  force  at  a   time  when  many  processes  were  still  very  manual,  requiring  a  greater   depth  of  knowledge  and  understanding.  When  faced  with  a  new  task  or   activity,  these  workers    also  faced  a  steep  learning  curve.  They   communicated  (or  not)  without  the  aid  of  cell  phones  and  the  Internet;   technology  played  a  relatively  minor  role  as  people  and  careers  matured.     On  the  other  end  of  the  spectrum  are  the  millennials  who  grew  up  with   technology.  They  don’t  know  life  without  the  Internet,  smart  phones  and   electronic  gadgets.  They  don’t  know  what  it  is  like  to  be  “disconnected.”   When  faced  with  a  new  task  or  activity  they  ask,  “Is  there  an  app  for   that?”  Since  the  answer  is  often  yes,  they  are  not  required  to  develop  the   same  level  of  understanding  possessed  by  those  who  may  soon  be   retiring.     While  baby  boomers  knew/know  the  business  and  perhaps  don’t   appreciate  the  extent  to  which  technology  can  help,  millennials  take     technology  for  granted  but  don’t  have  the  same  depth  of  business   knowledge.  Companies  are  increasingly  looking  for  ways  to  bridge  this   generational  divide.    Enterprise  Resource  Planning  (ERP)  and  other   complementary  systems  can  help,  but  only  with  a  new  generation  of   modern  applications.  By  automating  processes  and  making  the  user   experience  more  intuitive,  companies  can  not  only  attract  the  younger   generation  but  also  make  life  easier  for  older  workers,  drawing  them  into   the  technology  fold.     THE  ERP  CONNECTION   Those  running  outdated  ERP  applications  might  be  puzzled  by  the  assertion   that  such  a  solution  can  bridge  the  generation  gap  or  address  a  skill  deficit.   Early  ERP  solutions  created  the  need  for  lots  of  training.  Not  only  did  users   need  to  be  trained  in  how  to  navigate  menus  and  screens,  but  also  in  workflow   and  procedure.  Because  early  ERP  systems  didn’t  work  exactly  the  way  people   worked,  workers  first  had  to  learn  how  to  do  their  jobs,  and  then  separately   had  to  learn  how  to  enter  data  into  ERP,  and/or  how  to  extract  it.  Depending   Key Takeaways ü June  11,  2014:  the  Wall   Street  Journal  reported   the  number  of  job   openings  in  the  US  rose   to  its  highest  level  in  7   years   ü While  job  openings  have   returned  to  pre-­‐ recession  levels,  hiring   has  not;  unemployed   workers  lack  required   skills     ü The  connectivity,   collaboration  capabilities   and  added  visibility  of   newer  ERP  solutions   hold  the  key  to  bridging   generational  and  skill   gaps   ü Ease  of  use  has  taken   the  top  spot  in  terms  of   overall  priority  for   companies  when   evaluating  ERP  solutions   ü Younger  workers  are   twice  as  likely  to  seek   different  employment  as   a  result  of  usability   challenges     ü Older  and  younger   generations  will  be   drawn  to  new  user   experiences  for  different   reasons,  but  will  wind  up   in  the  same  place,   accessing  enterprise   data  in  real  time     ü New  “social”  capabilities   now  being  delivered  by   ERP  solution  providers   can  produce  a  synergistic   effect  and  help  close  the   skills  gap   Can  ERP  Help  Bridge  the  Generational  Divide?   Page  2  of  9       on  how  closely  (or  not)  these  two  were  aligned,  the  same  ERP  that  was   supposed  to  make  life  easier,  sometimes  made  it  harder.  While  baby  boomers   might  not  claim  to  have  walked  five  miles  to  school  in  two  feet  of  snow  (uphill   both  ways?),  they  were  accustomed  to  “hard.”  They  didn’t  revolt.  They   adapted,  even  if  it  meant  working  around  the  system  instead  of  with  it.   But  on  a  personal  level  baby  boomers  also  wanted  “better”  and  “easier”  for   the  next  generation.  And  they  delivered  that,  providing  all  the  “modern   conveniences”  to  their  children  and  grandchildren.  And  of  course  the   electronics  of  today  were  a  natural  progression  for  these  next  generations.   They  took  to  Xbox  and  computer  games  like  fish  to  water.  And  games  led  to   computers  and  cell  phones  and  then  smart  phones,  and  then  tablets.   Computers  led  them  to  the  Internet.  Smart  phones  and  tablets  led  them  to   “apps.”     When  the  generation  that  grew  up  with  consumer  technology  entered  the   “real  world”  and  got  jobs,  they  couldn’t  understand  why  the  “apps”  they  used   at  work  weren’t  as  easy  to  use  as  the  ones  they  were  using  on  their  smart   phones  and  tablets.  Unlike  the  older  generation  that  knew  the  business  and   the  business  processes  inside  and  out,  and  therefore  knew  how  to  operate   outside  of  the  system,  the  younger  generation  had  become  dependent  upon   technology.   The  combination  of  these  forces  has  led  to  a  change  in  how  enterprise   software  like  ERP  is  evaluated.  While  fit  and  functionality  was  the  top  selection   criteria  (by  far)  for  many  years,  ease  of  use  has  caught  up  and  has  now  nudged   “fit  and  functionality”  into  second  place.     Table  1:  Selection  Criteria   Mean Must Have / Most Important Ease of use 4.39 48% Fit and Functionality 4.38 54% Flexibility to address changing business needs 4.22 44% Total cost of ownership 4.13 39% Integration technologies and capabilities 4.12 37% Ease and speed of implementation 4.07 32% Quality and availability of vendor support services 4.07 36% Must be an integrated end-to-end solution (preferred over multiple point solutions) 3.98 36% Ability to tailor functionality without programming 3.98 32% Level of industry-specific expertise available from vendor/ partners 3.95 34% Software cost 3.94 29% The ability to access ERP data and functions through a mobile device 3.54 25% Having a choice of different deployment options (SaaS, Hosted, on-premise) 3.44 19% Selection Criteria Ranking Participants  were  asked   to  prioritize  13  different   selection  criteria  on  a   scale  of  1  to  5  as  follows:   5:  Must  Have/Most   Important   4:  Important   3:  Somewhat  Important   2:  Nice  to  Have   1:  Not  a  Consideration   The  actual  “mean”   shown  in  Table  1  is  less   important  than  the   relative  priority  of  the   different  evaluation   criteria.   Data Source In  this  report,    Mint   Jutras  references  data   collected  from  its  2014   ERP  Solution  Study,   which  investigated  ERP   goals,  challenges  and   status  and  also   benchmarked   performance  of  ERP   implementations.   Almost  800  responses   were  collected  from   companies  across  a   broad  range  of   industries.  This  sample   included  responses  from   companies  of  all  sizes,   ranging  from  very  small   to  very  large  enterprises.     ü     Can  ERP  Help  Bridge  the  Generational  Divide?   Page  3  of  9       Source: Mint Jutras 2014 ERP Solution Study The  Mint  Jutras  2014  ERP  Solution  Study  asked  participants  to  prioritize  13   different  selection  criteria  (Table  1)  on  a  scale  of  1  to  5.  While  fit  and   functionality  still  has  the  highest  percentage  of  participant  votes  for  “must   have/most  important,”  ease  of  use  has  taken  the  top  spot  in  terms  of  overall   priority.  Having  all  the  functionality  in  the  world  is  meaningless  if  you  can’t   figure  out  how  to  use  it.   While  the  2014  ERP  Solution  Study  did  not  capture  age  of  participants,  prior   Mint  Jutras  research  did  just  that.  This  prior  research  was  conducted  to   understand  how  different  generations  responded  to  usability  challenges.  Older   generations  were  significantly  more  likely  to  complain  about  these  issues.  Less   secure  in  their  positions,  and  with  less  influence,  the  younger  generation   might  be  reluctant  to  speak  up,  but  they  are  certainly  not  willing  to  just  suffer   in  silence.  The  youngest  segment  (those  in  the  age  group  of  18  to  35  years)   was  twice  as  likely  to  seek  different  employment  as  a  result  of  these  issues.  So   if  you  are  looking  to  attract  and  retain  bright,  young  talent,  you  need  to   address  these  challenges.   In  the  meantime,  all  age  groups  are  likely  to  use  ERP  less  frequently  and  are   more  likely  to  use  other  tools  as  an  alternative,  with  the  younger  crowd   overwhelmingly  turning  to  spreadsheets.  Nobody  graduates  from  business   school  today  without  having  mastered  the  use  of  spreadsheets  and  that  skill   seems  to  be  well  utilized  when  ERP  is  hard  to  use.   So  what  does  ease  of  use  really  mean?  Realizing  that  this  phrase  means   different  things  to  different  people,  and  even  different  things  to  the  same   person,  we  asked  survey  respondents  to  select  the  top  three  elements  of  ease   of  use  that  were  most  important  (Figure  1).   Figure  1:  Defining  Ease  of  Use     Age Groups Participants  were  asked   to  identify  their  age  by   age  group:   ü 18  –  35  years  old   ü 36  –  45  years  old   ü 46  –  55  years  old   ü over  55  years  old   Younger  workers  are   twice  as  likely  to  seek   different  employment   as  a  result  of  usability   challenges.     In  selecting  ERP,  “ease   of  use”  has  taken  the   top  spot  in  terms  of   overall  priority.   Can  ERP  Help  Bridge  the  Generational  Divide?   Page  4  of  9       Source: Mint Jutras 2014 ERP Solution Study Efficiency  and  intuitive  navigation  topped  the  list.  The  popularity  of  mobile   devices  like  smart  phones  and  tablets  (reflected  in  the  third  category:  easy   access  to  ERP  from  anywhere,  any  time)  has  also  served  to  raise  the  bar  in   terms  of  expectations.  One  measure  of  how  easy  ERP  is  to  use  is  the   percentage  of  employees  within  the  company  that  actually  use  it.    While  for   many,  many  years,  access  to  ERP  was  limited  to  those  doing  data  entry  and  a   few  “super  users,”  today  the  percentage  of  employees  that  use  ERP  has  grown   to  55%.  This  is  a  fairly  consistent  percentage  across  industries,  size  of  company   and  other  ways  of  categorizing  our  survey  results,  including  top  performing   implementations  that  we  call  “World  Class”…  with  one  exception.     For  those  operating  in  the  cloud,  running  ERP  as  Software  as  a  Service  (SaaS),   this  percentage  jumps  to  63%.  With  the  mobilization  of  the  work  force,  the   access  any  time,  from  anywhere  nature  of  the  cloud  is  a  clear  advantage.  Not   only  are  workforces  more  distributed  today  (Figure  2),  but  mobile  devices  also   keep  us  constantly  connected.   Figure  2:  Environments  are  increasingly  distributed     Source: Mint Jutras 2014 ERP Solution Study And  that  is  why  the  ability  to  connect  to  ERP  through  a  mobile  device  is  even   more  important  than  many  realize.  Notice  that  in  Table  1  the  ability  to  access   ERP  data  and  functions  is  very  close  to  the  bottom  of  the  priority  list.  This  is  a   “World Class” Mint  defines  “World   Class”  in  terms  of  the   performance  of  ERP   implementations.   Survey  responses  are   used  to  measure  cost   savings  and  other   improvements  since   implementing  ERP,   progress  made  in   achieving  goals  and   selected  metrics  of   current  performance,   metrics  that  can  apply   universally  to  any   business.   The  top  15%  in   performance  is   categorized  as  “World   Class”  and  the  remaining   85%  are  referred  to  as   “All  Others.”     The  ability  to  connect  to   ERP  through  a  mobile   device  is  even  more   important  than  many   realize….    This  is  a  clear   indication  that  survey   participants  under-­‐ estimate  the  role  ERP   can  and  should  play  in   communication,   collaboration  and   decision-­‐making.   Can  ERP  Help  Bridge  the  Generational  Divide?   Page  5  of  9       clear  indication  that  participants  underestimate  the  role  ERP  can  and  should   play  in  communication,  collaboration  and  decision-­‐making.   ERP  can  provide  these  capabilities  but  not  by  just  lifting  and  shifting  old  ways   of  accessing  ERP  to  a  mobile  device.  Give  a  new  mobile  device  to  a  millennial   and  he  or  she  will  find  dozens  of  productive  ways  to  use  it.  To  get  this  “there’s   an  app  for  that”  generation  to  use  ERP  on  a  mobile  device,  it  has  to  look,  feel   and  behave  like  other  mobile  apps.  Give  someone  of  the  older  generation  the   same  new  device,  and  it  is  just  as  likely  to  sit  in  a  desk  drawer.  To  get  these   baby  boomers  to  use  ERP  on  a  mobile  device,  you  need  to  deliver  a  user   experience  purpose-­‐built  to  answer  their  questions  and  help  them  solve  their   most  pressing  problems.     Today’s  technology-­‐enabled  ERP  solutions  can,  and  in  doing  so  also  help   bridge  the  generational  divide.  Older  and  younger  generations  may  be  drawn   to  these  new  user  experiences  for  different  reasons,  but  they  will  wind  up  in   the  same  place,  accessing  enterprise  data  in  real  time  and  communicating   from  the  same  page.  The  conclusion?  User  experience  is  equally  as  important   to  both  younger  and  older  generations  of  workers.     WHAT  ABOUT  THE  SKILLS  GAP?   New  ways  of  engaging  with  ERP,  including  engaging  with  mobile  devices,   might  bring  the  older  and  younger  generation  together,  but  can  it  help  address   the  skills  gap  that  still  seems  to  pervade  the  workplace?     And  yes,  we  do  seem  to  have  a  skills  gap.  On  June  11,  2014,  the  Wall  Street   Journal  (and  other  sources)  reported  the  number  of  job  openings  in  the  United   States  (U.S.)  economy  rose  to  its  highest  level  in  seven  years.  Yet  while  job   openings  have  returned  to  pre-­‐recession  levels,  hiring  has  not  and  economists   think  unemployed  workers  may  lack  the  skills  for  many  of  the  openings  that   are  available.  Of  course  these  statistics  are  just  for  the  U.S.  but  few  countries   around  the  world  have  a  population  more  highly  educated  and  skilled.   Indeed  the  connectivity,  collaboration  capabilities  and  added  visibility  of   newer  ERP  solutions  hold  the  key  to  bridging  this  gap.  The  trick  is  to  bring   these  two  generations  together  in  order  to  learn  from  each  other.  This  is   where  the  new  “social”  capabilities  now  being  delivered  by  ERP  solution   providers  can  produce  a  synergistic  effect  with  the  result  being  far  greater   than  the  sum  of  the  parts.   Of  course  the  term  “social”  has  different  connotations  to  the  older  and   younger  generations.  The  younger  generation  seems  to  operate  from  the   principle  of  communicate  early,  communicate  often.  And  this  communication   is  largely  electronic.  They  get  answers  from  the  Internet  instantly,  text  their   friends  and  colleagues  constantly  and  are  always  in  search  of  the  latest  in   Older  and  younger   generations  may  be   drawn  to  these  new  user   experiences  for  different   reasons,  but  they  will   wind  up  in  the  same   place,  accessing   enterprise  data  in  real   time  and  communicating   from  the  same  page.       The  connectivity,   collaboration   capabilities  and  added   visibility  of  newer  ERP   solutions  hold  the  key  to   bridging  this  skills  gap.   The  new  “social”   capabilities  now  being   delivered  by  ERP  solution   providers  can  produce  a   synergistic  effect  with   the  result  being  far   greater  than  the  sum  of   the  parts.   Can  ERP  Help  Bridge  the  Generational  Divide?   Page  6  of  9       techno-­‐gadgetry.  So  they  immediately  equate  the  term  “social”  to   engagement,  communication,  collaboration  and  transparency.   Mention  “social”  to  a  baby  boomer  and  you  get  a  far  different  reaction.  While   more  and  more  they  may  actively  engage  on  Facebook  to  share  pictures  of   grandchildren  and  communicate  with  relatives  and  friends  from  a  distance,   from  a  business  perspective  it  is  a  distraction,  something  that  should  be  done   on  employees’  personal  time.  For  the  traditional  businessperson  accustomed   to  traditional  means  of  communication,  “social”  has  an  unfortunate   connotation.  Traditionalists  distinguish  between  a  business  event  and  a  social   event,  between  a  business  conversation  and  a  social  chat,  between  a  business   colleague  and  a  friend  or  social  acquaintance.  Which  is  why  the  “social”  tag  is   unfortunate,  even  though  it  is  really  just  shorthand  for  new  and  improved   means  of  getting  and  staying  informed  in  a  collaborative  way.   Yet  by  applying  social  concepts  to  ERP,  you  not  only  unlock  the  potential  of   those  same  applications,  you  also  provide  a  means  of  bringing  multiple   generations  together.  Here  are  just  some  of  the  “social”  capabilities  being   built  into  ERP  solutions  today.   ENTERPRISE  SEARCH:   It  is  not  clear  exactly  when  “Google”  became  a  verb,  but  that  is  exactly  how   many  people  use  the  term  today.  Looking  for  information,  for  an  answer  to  a   question?  Just  “Google”  it.  Wouldn’t  it  be  great  if  you  could  do  the  same  with   your  enterprise  data  within  ERP?     Next  generation  ERP  solutions  with  social  capabilities  do  this  by  incorporating   a  simple  (to  use)  enterprise  search  capability.  Don’t  know  exactly  what  you  are   looking  for?  Don’t  know  exactly  where  to  look?  What  do  you  do?  In  the  real   world,  you  start  searching  and  perhaps  as  you  start  to  retrieve  information,   you  refine  that  search.  Why  not  apply  the  same  principle  to  accessing  data  in   enterprise  applications?  Search  by  customer,  order,  supplier,  part  or  product,   perhaps  combining  data  residing  in  your  enterprise  applications  with   unstructured  data  available  on  the  Internet.     Without  this  level  of  search  capability  in  ERP,  users  needed  to  know  where  and   how  different  data  elements  and  business  objects  were  stored  and  this   knowledge  was  dependent  on  technology  skills.  Adding  an  enterprise  search   function  bridges  that  skills  gap  and  allows  users  to  work,  discover  and  learn   more  naturally.   CONFIGURABLE  USER  INTERFACES:     Over  the  years  ERP  has  progressed  from  hierarchical  menus  and  tabbing   through  “forms”  to  point  and  click  and  drag  and  drop.  Now  as  we  also  begin  to   bring  these  applications  to  mobile  devices,  touch  screen  technology  is   emerging.  Those  ERP  solution  providers  that  are  truly  providing  modern,  next   generation  ERP  are  employing  a  “mobile  first”  philosophy  of  design.    If  you   Without  “Google-­‐like”   search  capability  in  ERP,   users  needed  to  know   where  and  how  different   data  elements  and   business  objects  were   stored  and  this   knowledge  was   dependent  on   technology  skills.  Adding   an  enterprise  search   function  bridges  that   skills  gap  and  allows   users  to  work,  discover   and  learn  more   naturally.   Can  ERP  Help  Bridge  the  Generational  Divide?   Page  7  of  9       allow  individuals  to  choose  the  paradigm  they  are  most  comfortable  with  and   customize  it  to  their  individual  needs,  you  get  everyone  on  the  same  page.     Younger  workers  can  use  familiar  interfaces  and  devices  to  build  their   knowledge  of  how  the  enterprise  works  while  older  workers  are  introduced  to   the  ease  with  which  they  can  connect  to  the  business.   PERSONALIZED  WORKSPACES:     These  may  be  called  dashboards,  portals  or  even  workspaces.  Think  of  them  as   a  home  base  of  operations  from  which  you  can  easily  access  the  data  and  tools   you  need  and  use  every  day,  all  day.  The  power  of  a  well-­‐constructed   workspace  lies  in  blurring  the  boundaries  between  ERP  and  other  enterprise   applications,  desktop  tools  like  spreadsheets,  email,  instant  messaging,  alerts   and  more.  You  are  able  to  reach  out  and  touch  any  of  these  without  closing   down  or  minimizing  one  application  before  firing  up  another.     As  always,  a  picture  is  worth  a  thousand  words.  Click  on  a  chart  to  drill  down   into  further  detail.  The  need  to  learn  new  “navigational”  skills  disappears.   These  workspaces  are  also  a  convenient  place  to  insert  that  enterprise  search   button.  These  too  should  be  easily  configured  and  customized  by  role  or  by   individual.   PUSH  VERSUS  PULL:     While  all  of  these  new  consumer  grade  interfaces  can  be  very  valuable,  they   only  deliver  answers  when  interrogated.  Younger,  less  experienced  workers   won’t  even  know  what  to  look  for.  Older  workers,  aware  of  potential  danger,   may  not  know  where  to  look.  Why  not  have  ERP  deliver  data  to  you  without   having  to  ask  for  it?  In  its  most  simple  form,  this  could  simply  be  in  the  format   of  an  alert.     Event  management,  which  is  the  underlying  technology  that  triggers  an  alert,   is  hardly  new,  but  still  not  widely  used.  An  event  manager  can  be  constantly   searching  for  conditions  or  events  that  occur  (e.g.  a  big  order  comes  in)  or  fail   to  occur  (e.g.  payment  of  a  large  invoice  does  not)  while  you  go  about  your   business.    Alerts  can  be  delivered  in  any  number  of  ways,  but  the  most   common  today  is  still  via  email.   While  the  exception  management  facilitated  by  these  alerts  is  certainly  a  plus,   executives  and  line  managers  can  still  be  blind-­‐sided  by  a  notification  that   seemingly  comes  out  of  the  blue.  Of  course  in  some  cases  the  sensitivity  level   can  be  increased  to  give  a  warning,  but  think  how  much  more  valuable  it   would  be  to  have  the  ability  to  monitor  a  stream  of  activity  surrounding  that   big  order  or  the  efforts  made  to  collect  payment  from  that  delinquent   account.  In  order  to  do  that,  you  need  to  be  “following”  the  account.   THE  CONCEPT  OF  “FOLLOWING”   Younger,  less   experienced  workers   won’t  even  know  what   to  look  for.  Older   workers,  aware  of   potential  danger,  may   not  know  where  to  look.   Why  not  have  ERP   deliver  data  to  you   without  having  to  ask   for  it?   Can  ERP  Help  Bridge  the  Generational  Divide?   Page  8  of  9       If  you  aren’t  already  a  fan  of  “social”,  the  concept  of  “following”  someone  or   something  might  not  seem  immediately  familiar  to  you.  But  chances  are,  you   are  already  following  someone  or  something  either  in  your  professional  or   personal  life.  Perhaps  you  follow  the  stock  price  of  specific  companies,  or  you   watch  a  stock  exchange  like  NASDAQ  or  the  Nikkei.  Or  maybe  you  follow  the   stats  of  your  favorite  sports  teams.  Maybe  you  do  that  through  newspapers,   online  or  using  an  app  on  your  mobile  device.  Perhaps  newsfeeds  are   delivered  to  you  through  email.  Regardless  of  the  delivery  method,  the   objective  is  to  stay  informed.   What  if  you  could  easily  apply  that  same  concept  to  your  customers,  orders  or   prospects?  Let’s  look  at  that  big  deal  you  are  expecting  to  close.  The  sales  rep   has  it  on  his  forecast  and  his  manager  also  feels  confident.  But  if  you  really   want  to  get  a  feel  for  the  timing  and  the  likelihood  of  closing  the  deal,  today   you  probably  pick  up  the  phone  and  talk  to  the  rep  or  his  manager.  But  do  you   get  the  full  picture?     Wouldn’t  it  also  be  helpful  to  follow  the  trail  of  activity  that  has  already   occurred  during  the  sales  cycle?    What  if  you  could  see  the  conversations  or   chatter  between  sales  rep  and  manager?  What  documents  have  been   delivered  to  the  prospect?  And  what  if  this  potential  deal  is  with  an  existing   customer?  Wouldn’t  you  like  to  be  able  to  scroll  through  the  support  activity   over  the  past  few  months,  including  the  calls,  issues  and  resolutions?  Has  the   customer  experienced  any  quality  or  delivery  issues?  Have  they  been   consistently  paying  their  bills  on  time  or  is  the  outstanding  balance  over  90   days?  Think  what  could  be  learned,  potentially  filling  more  of  those   information  gaps  that  are  only  aggravated  when  you  have  a  skills  gap.   COLLABORATION     Simply  aggregating  all  this  activity  and  data  and  making  it  available  to  all   interested  and  involved  parties  provides  an  environment  conducive  to   collaboration.  These  tools  can  easily  draw  all  parties  into  the  conversation,   sharing  strengths  and  creating  synergy.  Younger  workers  are  drawn  into  real   business  conversations  and  more  mature  workers  can  be  guided  through  using   these  electronic  means  of  engaging,  sharing  and  collaborating.       We  are  already  seeing  increased  engagement  with  ERP  at  higher  executive   levels  of  the  organization,  but  are  they  engaging  collaboratively?  Although  the   younger  generation  intuitively  works  collaboratively  because  they  are  always   connected,  we  see  few  of  these  younger  workers  in  top  executive   management  roles.  While  of  course,  these  higher  levels  are  not  necessarily   older  workers,  there  are  few  like  Mark  Zuckerbergs,  (CEO  before  the  age  of  30)   in  the  corporate  world.     Yet  while  we  have  made  significant  progress  in  top-­‐level  executives  simply   gaining  access  to  ERP,  we  still  have  a  long  way  to  go  before  they  are  well   equipped  for  collaborative  decision-­‐making  (Figure  3).  We  need  to  give  them   Social  capabilities  can   easily  draw  all  parties   into  the  conversation,   sharing  strengths  and   creating  synergy.   Younger  workers  are   drawn  into  real  business   conversations  and  more   mature  workers  can  be   guided  through  using   these  electronic  means   of  engaging,  sharing  and   collaborating.   Can  ERP  Help  Bridge  the  Generational  Divide?   Page  9  of  9       access  directly  from  the  mobile  devices  (which  they  all  carry  these  days)  and   apply  these  social  concepts  in  order  to  draw  them  into  the  real-­‐time   communication  of  the  digital  world.   Figure  3:  Level  of  Executive  Access       Source: Mint Jutras 2014 ERP Solution Study SUMMARY  AND  KEY  TAKE-­‐AWAYS   Can  new  ways  of  engaging  with  ERP  teach  the  younger  generation  the   business  while  awakening  the  more  mature  crowd  to  the  potential  for  new   technology?  The  answer  is  a  definitive  “Yes!”  Not  only  has  ERP  itself  matured   to  better  reflect  and  adapt  to  the  changing  business  world,  but  new  ways  of   engaging  with  modern,  next  generation  solutions  are  emerging.  Need  to   access  data  from  anywhere,  any  time?  There’s  an  app  for  that.  Need  to  access   it  from  your  mobile  device?  Yes,  there’s  an  app  for  that.  Need  to  communicate   throughout  the  chain  of  command,  across  the  generational  divide?  Yes,  there’s   an  app  for  that.  The  app  is  ERP.       About  the  author:    Cindy  Jutras  is  a  widely  recognized  expert  in  analyzing  the  impact   of  enterprise  applications  on  business  performance.  Utilizing  over  35  years  of   corporate  experience  and  specific  expertise  in  manufacturing,  supply  chain,  customer   service  and  business  performance  management,  Cindy  has  spent  the  past  8+  years   benchmarking  the  performance  of  software  solutions  in  the  context  of  the  business   benefits  of  technology.  In  2011  Cindy  founded  Mint  Jutras  LLC  (,   specializing  in  analyzing  and  communicating  the  business  value  enterprise  applications   bring  to  the  enterprise.