Canon U.S.A. Panel Explores How Millennials are Remaking the Enterprise IT Environment in Their Own Image

Millennials – those born between 1982 and 2004 – now make-up the largest percentage of the U.S. workforce, and their expectations when it comes to technology are “starkly different” compared to previous generations, according to the Pew Research Center. Last week, Canon U.S.A. hosted a virtual panel and Webinair that explored how businesses are responding to the need to reprioritizing their information-technology (IT) purchasing decisions due to the increasing numbers of millennials joining the workforce.

The panel, which featured industry experts as well as Canon dealer Dale Dupree, vice president of sales for North American Office Solutions, looked at how the customization and mobility found in today’s consumer technology have been conditioning “digital natives” to expect the same options when it comes to business IT. Led by IDC analyst Chris Chute, the panelists drew on their own research and real-world experiences to illustrate how rapidly companies are responding to this demand for better, faster, and more agile workplaces by expanding their cloud and mobility offerings.

For example, Chute’s research shows that U.S. mid-market adoption of Microsoft Office 365 grew over 60 percent in one year, from 30 percent to 50 percent adoption between 2014 to and 2015. In another example of how companies are re-prioritizing IT decision-making, Chute’s research found that millennial-led firms are 25 percent more likely to be deploying Software as a Service (SaaS) versus their peers, and over 50 percent more likely to be deploying SaaS versions of travel booking, invoicing, payroll, and financial-management software.

“Millennials have had life-long experiences with consumer technology. When it comes to work, they expect their devices and apps be mobile-first and customizable and meet them on their own terms, regardless of location,” said Chris Chute, vice president of IDC’s Customer Insights and Analysis Group. “Mobility is essential, and cloud solutions are only going to become more the norm, so it’s clear that businesses need to adapt to this changing environment to remain competitive in 2017 and beyond.”

Tom O’Neill, director Product Marketing for Canon U.S.A.’s Enterprise Solutions Division, noted the inherent tension for the enterprise environment when it comes to addressing these changing conditions. For the enterprise environment, a primary goal is achieving standardization, managed controls, and security features. Decision-makers therefore need to actively avoid creating a problematic dynamic given millennial expectations for technology, flexibility and customization.

O’Neill discussed how Canon embraces a unified approach across hardware and software solutions to help enterprise environments optimize their digital workplace transformation to help meet the expectations of today’s workforce and support the mutual goal of access controls and an efficient, productive business environment.

One such example is seen with Canon’s third-generation imageRUNNER ADVANCE systems that now include uniFLOW Login Manager (ULM), a user-authentication application that help IT security administrators control who uses the device and the functions available to that user. With the My Advance feature, once authenticated, users can customize their individual user interface with the common functions and settings they use, for example setting the interface to display a particular language. Canon says this is a solution that helps balance access control with the needs of the enterprise environment and the customization expectations of the individual. And with this type of standard authentication found on Canon’s third-generation imageRUNNER ADVANCE systems, access to cloud services with security features that can help users protect documents and limit access to data is available to the user, and with the growing use of cloud based solutions, this ability to provide technology transparency to users and security features to the enterprise environment will grow in importance.

Dupree, a millennial himself, said that he expects that in 2017 will see even more demand for IT flexibility, customization and convenience in the workplace, and that providing a virtually seamless experience is critical to achieving the return-on-investment (ROI) that enterprises expect.

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