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Yammer: Go Ahead, Trust Users Over 30

There is a common perception that age is a defining factor in how enterprise users adjust to, and engage with, enterprise social networking tools.   The problem, so the folk wisdom goes, is that older users are slower to adopt newer, “cutting edge” software (translation: consumer-like UI and functionality) because they are averse to change (translation: stodgy) and comfortable with what they have (translation: complacent).
YammerPoppycock, says Yammer.  (Go on, admit it, wouldn’t it be great to hear David or Adam get up at the next SharePoint Conference or YamJam and and say “Poppycock!” to a critic?)
Their research has shown that the demographics of age are less of a factor in enterprise social adoption than people think.  If you doubt that statement, go check and see if your mother-in-law is on Facebook and get back to me.  Mine is.  In fact, she’s probably ‘liking’ a photo of my daughter right now.
Where there’s been resistance to enterprise social, it’s been more about a question of how people work, Yammer tells us.   Their research shows that older ‘information workers’ (i.e., people who are used to interacting with knowledge in a give-and-take fashion) tend to adopt social tools in much the same frequency as younger information workers.  It is those used to a process-based approach to work that often resist.
While older workers are far more likely to be comfortable with a process-based approach– because hey, that’s how they grew up in business– there are also younger users (translation: engineers, project managers, etc.) who fit that bill as well.  The key to helping anyone with a process focus to become a successful user of social tools is in giving them a single use case where the social tool makes life easier than whatever they’re using today.
People will nearly always adopt a new tool when it is easier to use than the old tool. That takes research, requirements analysis and planning– it’s not instantaneous but it’s worth the effort!

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Rich Wood

Rich Wood has been planning, designing and building enterprise solutions and internet sites with an emphasis on stellar user and customer experiences since 1997. Rich is a National Director for Content and Commerce Platform work in Perficient Digital. One of the rare breed of strategists to truly understand both the business needs of the customer and the platforms that serve them, he is a keen advocate for and accomplished speaker/writer on issues that surround that inflection point. His work has been published on CMSWire, Sitecore and Microsoft partner blogs, and his own LinkedIn page as well as our various blogs here at Perficient, and he has spoken at multiple major conferences including Microsoft's SharePoint Conference 2014. Married and a father of five, Rich enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette University.

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