Did you know that 75% of the working population will be Millenials or Gen Z by 2025?

The problem is that B2B service providers tend to build for yesterday, rather than tomorrow, and the huge changes that businesses are going through are often not reflected in the products offered to the business market. To be successful, they need to understand not just what older decision makers want, but what younger workers want and need in order to build propositions to support the changing dynamics of the business market. 

While many B2B service providers struggle to put together a coherent story on IoT, for example, their customers are embracing its opportunities and threats wholescale. That can be seen in the adoption of wearables by employees or whole industries preparing for the opportunities IoT will deliver.

Take the retail sector, 96% of decision makers are making changes to ready for IoT adoption, according to recent research by Zebra Technologies. These retailers are investing in beacons, RFID, AI and IoT platforms – readying themselves for hyper-localised, AI-enhanced, and personalised experiences that enable them to delight customers and sell more.

Now consider Millennials and Gen Zers themselves. According to a study by Deloitte, 43% of Millennials say they will leave their job within two years. They perceive short-term jobs and freelancing as the way of the future – with 62% saying they are willing to leave for these kind of opportunities. Gen Zers are even less loyal or willing to be employed. Sixty-one percent say they will leave their current jobs within two years if they can.

Even amongst those who intend to stay with a firm, a large proportion (55%) note that this is partly because the firm has become a lot more flexible in how its employees work, allowing greater choice of where and when employees work compared to three years ago.

Thus the enterprise of the future faces much higher worker churn, more contractors and short-term employees, and far greater challenges in terms of recruitment. These workers will want to come with their own mobile and wearable devices (BYOD). They will expect organisations to be easy to connect to and work with, but will also increase the risk profile of organisations. Saying no to them and making their working conditions too restrictive, will simply make it impossible for organisations to recruit enough workers.

Enterprises will have to refocus on the balance between productivity and innovation versus risk and security – a balance that will become ever-more challenging as workers and objects within the smart workplace become more connected. How do you tell a Generation Zer that they cannot wear their connected coat to work, or use their connected umbrella? How do you tell an older worker that their blood pressure monitoring device may compromise your enterprise security? How do you prevent an Alexa-enabled headset in someone’s bag from listening to sensitive corporate information?

Changing workforce dynamics and expectations represents an opportunity for B2B service providers to create products that cater for the needs of younger workers, while helping protect their business customers from new and emerging risks.

Posted by Teresa Cottam

Teresa helps B2B service providers improve their commercial results and the customer experience they deliver through research, insight and analysis that builds effective strategy. She is a judge of the GSMA GloMo's for customer experience and enterprise innovation, and for the UK Cloud awards. You can follow her on Twitter @teresacottam

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