I decided the other day that in spite of my age, I’m really a millennial. I share with that generation their dislike of stodgy process, their desire to push a button and get something now, their general disdain for empty promises. I love to play with things—ideas, apps, tools, methods—then quickly analyze them and categorize them (useful or toy? smart or dumb?). After that I may tell others what I like and don’t like about them (the concepts, not the people). Moreover, that’s the kind of day-to-day activity that really gets my blood pumping: ingesting information, figuring out what it means, then explaining it to others.
My wife, who is a brilliant science teacher, constantly churns this conceptual framework in the same way. She and I discuss ad nauseam the best way to explain and model analogies and concepts in order to gain (and extol!) the fastest, deepest knowledge among the members of our audiences. There’s no shortcut here, no way to simply attach an idea directly to a nerve ending in someone’s brain and be done with it, but it doesn’t stop us from searching for one. Which brings me to the subject of this blog post: tying together the mind-set of the millennials with the business futures of tomorrow and how to explain it best.
At NetApp, we have a very deliberate, long-term mission of driving the enterprise-class technology that we have brought to the marketplace into what is, to baby boomers at least, a very new space: the cloud. Millennials don’t think of the cloud that way, though. They’re focused on what it can do for them: how quickly they can see benefits and how to use it simply, efficiently, and for good.
Cut to this article in Forbes, arguably a very traditionalist business publication if there ever was one. The author, who is a boomer probably not too far from my age, states the following: “My generation didn’t need to be convinced; we just looked for deals and realized the benefits after.”
After reading that sentence, very suddenly, 10 years or so of my technical life clicked into place. Many of the difficulties and problems that I’d run into while speaking to other customers and companies about their speed of change, their current project arcs, and their process changes, well, it all made sense in light of that quote.
Just think about that for a moment. Buying based on a deal leads to so much more. After making a price-first decision, a customer must then devote lots of time in analysis and figuring out how to use what they have already bought, which probably runs into months or years. And that approach leads to reliance on cost instead of utility as the key component and differentiator of a product (Yugo, anyone?). It also focuses attention on how to recoup costs now, not how a product can alter a company over the years.
It really made me think. As you would expect, primarily I thought of millennials and the cloud, because that pair in particular is diametrically opposed to these factors operating as drivers in their daily lives.
Take this quote about millennials and the changing nature of work, for example: “…baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have traditionally adapted to the demands of the workplace.… This new generation of employees [millennials] expects the workplace to adapt to them.” And this quote from a brilliant millennial who blogs at Cisco: “We are comfortable adopting new technologies we are not familiar with, provided we see value in them. We don’t fear the unknown, why should we?”
And that attitude is where the hope comes from.
In 1 or 10 or 20 years, all our businesses will be run by millennials and Gen Zs. They will want the same push-button services with enterprise-class capabilities that NetApp offers right now through hyperscalers, like NetApp® Cloud Volumes Service, NetApp Cloud Insights, and NetApp Kubernetes Service. All those services were designed from the start to be multicloud, simple to set up and to operate, and focused maniacally on results. That’s a millennial-cloud perfect match right there.
When traditional companies hire millennials and Gen Zs, they will notice a disdain for the deals that were made to bring in the infrastructure of the past. Even more telling, these new workers will wonder out loud why these software and hardware packages, massive capital expenses that they were, should be used at all unless they can be automatically connected to the cloud for immediate use of push-button resources. All of NetApp’s infrastructure-based solutions are cloud-connected out of the box, a design principle from the get-go. Once again, that’s an exact millennial-cloud match.
Personally, this attitude of “Why doesn’t it work this way?” warms my heart. It’s stupendously adaptive to change as well as relentlessly opposed to the lack of utility. Ultimately, the mind-set is perfectly cloudlike, perfectly in line with NetApp’s direction, and perfectly ripe for massive revolution. It’s refreshing, a cool breeze in the face of stodgy methods and processes. I can’t wait.
So jump on board! Head over to understand just how NetApp innovates in the multi-cloud world, and how bridging your on-prem data management to multiple clouds is done – easily, effectively, with instant results. Your millennials will grab it and go.
Matthew Scott is the Deputy CTO for the South Enterprise region at NetApp. His focus is to match NetApp’s vision and products to the business directions of his customers. He works with the largest customers in the region to design complex architectures and outline new methods for customers to use data wherever it lives. Matthew has spent over 25 years in the high-performance technical and computing space, the last 15 with NetApp.
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