The Millennial generation, comprised of students and workers between the ages of 14 and 27, is rocking the foundations of IT in the workplace – and is set to do so for years to come.
Global research recently conducted by Accenture on Millennials’ views and use of technology in 13 countries showed just how dramatically the first wave of this generation is impacting the workplace today. As a group, they see little separation between personal and work, virtual and physical, sanctioned and prohibited.
Although the survey identified national differences, the general findings deliver the following message: CIOs must realise that Millennials work and think differently. As a result, CIOs need to learn how to accommodate and learn from Millennials already in the workforce, and those who will enter in the future.
The key lessons that CIOs need to learn are:
1. Millennials expect to use the technology and devices of their choice. From mobility devices to reading devices, from the use of applications to accessing social networks, expect to be allowed to use the devices they know and prefer. They don’t want to be told what they can and cannot use.
2. They either don’t care about or won’t obey corporate IT policies. Large majorities of working Millennials in nearly every country said they either don’t read or won’t obey corporate IT policies – a scary thought to CIOs whose mission is to protect the enterprise’s digital assets by constraining what employees do inside the firewall. Having literally grown up with technology, Millennials know how and are willing to work around policies and firewalls.
3. They have an entirely different view of privacy than previous generations. Millennials are prepared to ignore boundaries, which includes sharing proprietary information with friends on the Internet and in social media sites if they believe it can help them solve problems.
4. They have little use for corporate email as a major collaboration tool. They consider email antique and archaic, favoring instead more real-time, interactive and collaborative ways of communicating. Recently the CIO of a major US bank discovered that a large portion of new employees had not initialised their enterprise email boxes. On investigation, including several one-on-one interviews, they learned that the new, Millennial employees had no intention of using corporate email, but strongly preferred text messages, social networks and blogs.