Sometimes even the best researchers forget that the answer you get depends entirely on who you ask. A new Forrester survey of 2,000 information workers has revealed that despite the hype, it’s not Gen Y that’s getting business to adopt collaborative technology. Gen X, those who are 30-43, are the ones leading the charge for social computing.
Forrester’s analysis is that despite their different view of technology, Gen Y, Millennials, or whatever you want to call those 29 and under, don’t yet have the clout within organizations to make real change. The same Gen X employees who are the fastest growing demographic in Facebook are the ones getting management to accept new technology as more than a fad.
Just Ask Employees
A common method for researching about how people use technology is to ask industry experts and management about what they’ve provided to workers and how they think it’s being used. That’s how many market researchers go about their business.
But Forrester has decided to just ask the employees directly in their new “Workforce Technographics” survey. Despite the imposing name, it’s basically just asking people who work with computers about how they use technology, instead of going over their heads to IT and management. The survey of 2,000 individuals was conducted online in April, and was limited to those who work in companies with more than 100 employees.
It’s All About Influence
A favorite argument among those who talk about the gap between Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y is that the youngest demographic is more adept with technology. According to the survey results, that’s just not true.
Gen X employees contribute to discussion forums and social networks just as much as their Gen Y counterparts. The use of blogs and wikis was either equal or different by just a couple percentage points.
But the most significant difference was not in usage stats. It was how effective employees are at getting new software to be accepted. 22% of Gen X said they felt they have the “clout in their organization” necessary to introduce new technology, while only 13% of those under 29 said the same.
Even if Gen Y was significantly better at using social software, it wouldn’t matter at this point. Obviously younger employees will increase their stature within organizations as the years pass. But the idea of Millennials at the vanguard of innovation in the enterprise is a myth.