A Tech-Savvy Generation Challenges the Status Quo

Managing the Changing IT Landscape: Tomorrow's Workforce

by Chris Peters, member of the IT Center

By 2020, Generation Y will account for 44 percent of the U.S. workforce, and baby boomers will represent only one-fifth (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). This powerful shift will inevitably change the landscape of the business and the IT organization, and in many ways, it already has.

A closer look at millennials reveals that these tech-savvy workers are leading the way. I just read a CIO Insight article that talks about the transformation. The article published highlights from a CompTIA generation research and technology survey of 700 workers, and I learned some interesting things about younger workers.

For starters, they are twice as likely as baby boomers to consider themselves "cutting edge" on tech usage; and they view texting, IM, video, and the Facebook* platform as important business communication tools.

Generation 'Y' communication preferences at work.jpg

Here are some additional interesting facts uncovered by CIO Insight about millenials:

  • 61 percent have used personally owned devices or apps for work.
  • 67 percent judge potential employers by how tech-savvy they are.
  • 40 percent deem social-media skills to be important for work.

What does this mean for business?

higher ed investing in students intel.jpg

Today’s youth are driving a technology revolution on college campuses, in consumer markets, and even in the workplace. There’s no denying that they adopt technology more readily. Millenials were born surrounded by technology, and they are more comfortable sharing information openly. And I’ve blogged about how these forces are shaping consumerization.

As a member of Gen X, I grew up with much less access to technology and was a little skeptical, especially at first. I can remember, back in 1985, when I went off to college and was first introduced to e-mail as an alternative for turning in my paper. I was immediately worried about it being lost in transmission. 

I won’t classify myself as an older worker (although my younger peers might), but I will say that I have an increased

tendency to be more set in my ways as I age. I constantly realize the need to keep my mind open to new approaches and ideas. Every generation has a different way of working, and it can create conflict with a younger generation of workers entering the workforce. These dynamics have several implications for business and for IT leaders, including the ability to:

  1. Adopt new communication tools – This younger generation of workers want and need to work differently, as shown in the chart above, and adopting these tools can bring benefits across the business.
  2. Embrace social media – Social media has altered the business landscape with a new communication and collaboration model, and right now it’s dominated by younger workers.
  3. Pick up the pace – Speed matters more than ever before. With cloud computing and ubiquitous on-demand, self-service solutions available to workers, IT needs to view employees as customers—or risk losing relevance. 
  4. Expect innovation – Younger workers have high expectations. And while the CIO Insight article calls it “entitlement,” I think it’s more about curiosity and a strong desire to innovate and create.

These themes of innovation, speed, and technology surround all of us, but they’re deep-seated in a younger generation of workers. These are important themes addressed in Intel’s vision paper on the future implications of consumerization.  I believe we have a huge opportunity to tap into this energy to guide a new vision for IT and business.

What does your business do to attract and retain younger workers? How have you embraced their tech-savvy nature to improve your business?

#ITCenter #MillenialsatWork