Gen Z wants to see the benefits of tech before it adopts

The new kids on the block are not interested in tech for tech's sake.
22 November 2022

Gen Z – smarter about technology than you’ve given it credit for.

The technology industry is no stranger to cliches, and one of the easiest and laziest of them is that the youngest generation in any workforce will necessarily adopt technology fastest and easiest, more or less taking up technology for technology’s sake. But a new survey into Gen Z and its attitudes to technology in their home environment has lessons to teach businesses about their approach to business technology too.

Business lessons from a domestic survey

That survey, from The Property Marketing Strategists, has revealed that a full 23% of Gen Z tech-users avoid technology like Internet of Things (IoT) devices because they’re aware of the potential privacy and hacking concerns attached to them.

That surprised the researchers, given that such devices include the likes of Alexa and Google Home – which it was generally assumed that Gen Z would use simply on the basis that they were available.

On the other hand, 57% of the 2,500 Gen Z technology users surveyed said they would happily adopt technology where there was a clear benefit and/or very few security downsides, such as energy meters to help them monitor and reduce their energy wastage and cost.

The results of the survey suggest that it’s deeply unwise of businesses to simply assume that Gen Z will turn to new technologies just because they’re new and available. They’re a lot more discerning and intelligent about their chosen technology in their out-of-office lives. That means to get the most buy-in to your digital transformation projects from Gen Z staff, you’re best advised to ensure there are strong cybersecurity protocols in place around any new technological innovations, to minimize the security and privacy concerns. That will lower the resistance of young staff and colleagues to taking the new technology on board.

If you can also clearly enunciate the business – and personal – benefits of the technological upgrade into the bargain, you adjust the benefit/risk profile of your technology, from a simple software upgrade to a full digital transformation project, and help ensure significantly higher and faster acceptance by Gen Z staff.

A generation of Meta-skeptics?

Deenie Lee, co-founder of The Property Marketing Strategists, further explained how the results of the survey could be applied to business technology purchases and implementations for Gen Z workers. “Gen Z are taking a very savvy approach to appraising new innovations and embracing those which they consider to bring them true utility – such as smart meters. Meanwhile, they expect other innovations to fit around them, rather than fitting their lives around new developments such as VR and the Metaverse.”

In fairness, the survey revealed that technology like VR and the much-vaunted Metaverse have yet to convince much more than half of society’s non-billionaires of their transformative effect on the way we live, irrespective of generation. 45% of people said they could not see how either of those “next big technologies” will impact how they live at home, let alone how they go about their daily work.

Adoption based on utility

That said, and despite the resistance to IoT tech like Alexa, Gen Z are evolving a level of comfort with effectively protected smart technology – as is perhaps understandable for a generation which has more or less lived its life in the age of the internet and the smartphone.

Between 35-63% of the Gen Z respondents said they would be happy with smart technology in their bedrooms (the range depending on where the young people were born and raised), and between 21-33% were willing to pay for extra high speed internet and smart technology connectivity.

That gives businesses a strong indication of the kind of technology that will get easiest uptake from Generation Z – anything that helps them work faster, smarter, or more thoroughly, with minimal risk of security compromise, and ideally, very little sense of fundamental change, so that the technological change doesn’t feel like it’s an innovation simply for the sake of it.

If you’re changing email software, for instance, make sure your Gen Z employees understand what it can do for them that their previous system – with the added bonus of familiarity – couldn’t deliver. If it feels too similar to what’s come before, they’re likely to accept it but not see why the change was necessary. If it’s a whole new level of learning, you’ll get the best buy-in from focusing on what the new system can add to their workday in terms of speed, convenience, safety, or efficiency.

Observable benefits

If, on the other hand, you’re upgrading to a handful of integrations to connect a range of existing programs together and increase effectiveness of them through interoperability, you’re likely to get relatively easy buy-in from your Gen Z staff, because the ways in which the transformation benefits them in the day-to-day workplace will become rapidly obvious through use.

So as Gen Z begins to replace older generations in the workplace, like baby boomers and even Gen X, it’s worth understanding the ways in which Gen Z approach technology, so that your company can get the most benefit, and your younger staff can drive your digital transformation in a way that’s intuitive to them.

After all, currently between 70-95% of digital transformations fail – not least because they don’t take the human factor into account. Understanding how Gen Z thinks, particularly with regard to the technology in which it sees value and the technology in which it doesn’t, can only help improve those numbers over time.