Reinvention in the Age of the Millennial

#IBMillenial_avatarOn December 10, 2014, IBM and clients convened in New York City for “Reinvention in the Age of the Millennial,” a gathering of technology, media, and industry visionaries to discuss how to engage this soon-to-be trillion dollar market. According to Gartner, by 2025, up to 75 percent of the global workforce will be Millennials. And companies are racing to try to meet this demographic shift.

Panel discussion at the event

Connected, directionless, collaborative, narcissistic, idealistic, deeply self-entitled, impatient, expert multitaskers, tech-savvy. Stereotypes about Millennials – broadly defined as people born between the early 1980s and 2000 – abound, frequently contradict and are often based on misunderstood research and media amplification.

The goals of the event were to steer the conversation well past such stereotypes by bringing industry influencers spanning multiple generations together, and through a collaborative, co-creation approach, identify ways that companies can better embrace the “Millennial mindset.” My colleagues at IBM recognize that our future growth will be influenced by the values system of Millennials, who prize attributes such as user experience, connection and authenticity, and, increasingly, will be the ones making major corporate purchasing decisions. The same can be said for our clients. Consequently, the team saw it as an imperative to include Millennial speakers and facilitators, and infuse collaborative, open, insightful and fun “personality traits” into the event.

The first half of the day was packed with rich insights from wide a range of speakers. To source a few points from the Twittersphere:

bluecheckKlout will become the new SAT scores for biz. If you aren’t building your social presence, you better start now! @sandy_carter #IBMillennial

bluecheckPre-cation is a rising cultural trend for 2015 – 2 weeks of paid vacation before you start at a new job – @akajuansmith #IBMillennial

bluecheckMTV polled #millennials and found that GenY thought it was cooler to be a nerd vs. a jock. – @Grady_IV #IBMillennial

bluecheck“All millennials’ problems can be solved with their smartphones- and that’s why this is the first global generation” – @KATontap #IBMillennial

bluecheckThe core, essential component that millennials want in an employer and a brand is TRUST. –@IBMSocialBiz #IBMillennial

millenial quote-Samantha Klein

Click to enlarge
Click graphic to enlarge

In the afternoon, the conversation shifted to what marketing and HR professionals can do to better engage Millennials as consumers and employees. The conversation, captured in the moment by a graphic designer, speaks to (among other things) the need for marketers to be authentic, relevant, always open, and to go where Millennials go.

What about for HR professionals? Participants in this session worked in small groups to brainstorm ideas for hiring and retaining Millennials, rank them, and as a larger group, come up with common themes. These ranged from opportunities to lead highly strategic projects with their peers, to broad access to tools and educational programs, to transparency in hiring and evaluations, to executive access. Although these may seem like a tall order to fill, as IBM Brand Strategist Bill Grady emphasized, “What’s good for Millennials is good for everyone.” This seems like something every company should consider.

For more information about the event, check out The Millennial Experience website and follow the recent conversation on Twitter at #IBMillennial. For additional materials on cultural relevance in 2015, check out this A-Z Cultural Glossary of 2015 from Sparks and Honey.


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