Manufacturing Tomorrow


How Millennials are Influencing ERP for Manufacturing

Apr 24, 2017
Manufacturing and Distribution


Millennials—generally defined as people born to Baby Boomers between 1982-2004—are the first generation of workers raised in a “connected” world. Their inherent familiarity with and, arguably, over-dependence on electronic communications, the Internet, and digital technologies is necessitating changes in the way many industries interact with data, so that it more closely resembles ways Millennials expect it to occur.

To attract younger workers, manufacturing environments are embracing Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) options that forego frequent face-to-face meetings and phone calls in favor of ubiquitous, visual connectivity that transforms shop floors to a virtual reality of sorts. There are four prevalent Millennial-driven trends related to data management that ERP solutions readily offer:

1. Accessibility
Anytime, anywhere, any device data accessibility is a non-negotiable for Millennials. They not only want mobile access, they want connectivity through their personal devices. The blurred line between equipment for personal use and equipment for business use is blurring, causing a substantial uptick in “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies among manufacturers. In fact, the market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that 63 percent of manufacturing companies permit BYOD. When this fact is coupled with the reported 98 percent of manufacturers that have or plan to implement mobility solutions like ERP, the why and how of technological evolution is evident.

2. Minimal Training 
Millennials routinely engage with nearly defect-free interfaces in social media, and won’t settle for unduly burdensome applications in the workplace. An ERP offers a solution that is largely intuitive and minimizes required training that runs counter to the “right out of the box” usability expectation. Plus, an ERP solution prioritizes processes in a way that supports multitasking—a mainstay for the multi-screen generation.

3. Visual User Interface
Dashboards, graphics, and other “smart” departures from the traditional report format are the tools of choice for Millennials. An ERP system delivers analytics and key performance indicators (KPIs) in at-a-glance ways that promote prompt data investigation and issue resolution that might otherwise hinder progress on the shop floor.

4. Simplified Search and Collaboration
“Google it” is a knee-jerk reaction to finding answers, and that level of searchability ease for critical information across a manufacturing operation is essential. ERP solutions incorporate social networking and business intelligence features that allow for instantaneous data retrieval, communications, and real time collaboration that align with how Millennials share information and problem-solve.
Over the next decade, manufacturers are facing a substantial shortfall in workers to fit a projected 3.5 million jobs. Proactively incorporating technologies, devices, and processes that leverage Millennial skillsets and preferences will be a draw. Reach out to an expert at Wipfli today to discuss how an ERP solution can meet your business needs and the expectations of the next generation of employees.


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