Youth has always played a role in IT. And the message coming from Gartner analysts is that youth matters more than ever in IT. As the web becomes more interactive and collaborative, it is heading in directions that baby boomer-aged IT managers may be ill equipped to lead.
At the start of its US ITExpo, Gartner analysts said the recognition by CEOs of IT's strategic importance is moving senior IT managers close to the top of the corporate ladder. But at the same time, career opportunities built on the CEO's recognition of IT's importance to business survival is also moving more CIOs closer to the door.
"The number of CIOs leaving their jobs doubled this year – that's right it doubled," Gartner CEO Gene Hall said in his opening keynote. "Why? Many CEOs believe that their CIO is cost-focused and not capable of contributing to growth – and they need IT to contribute to growth."
He said companies poised for future growth will be clued into the so-called consumerisation of IT, a catch-all term covering the mobile, customisable and heavily interactive technologies those in their 20s now seem to expect.
Contrast that to senior IT managers, who are likely a "middle aged, sedan-driving, middle income, middle class, middle-of-the-road, midlife-crisis, mid-sised managers, who carry a little bit too much weight around their middles," said Gartner analyst, Mark Raskino.
"Plan for succession – what you need to find, what you need to nurture is fresh talent – and that talent will be multi-skilled, multi-disciplined...and it will take on new roles," he said, dubbing this next generation of IT professionals "versatilists."
Terry Epp, senior development manager at the Bank of Montreal, agreed with Gartner analysts about the consumerisation of IT and said it's prevalent in financial services with online banking and trading.
But Epp wasn't as sure about Gartner's take on age. He agreed that there is a need to tap into the "up-and-coming demographic" to discover where a company should be heading. But Epp said companies also need to understand the people who aren't using these services, "and I'm not sure that young people will be able to tell us that."
"This is not just about technology, first and foremost, it's about culture – it's about cultural change," said Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman. "Although this is probably discriminatory, there is a different attitude, at different ages, based on what technology can provide."
The best way to understand what's going to happen, Bittman said, is to look at what your children and grandchildren are doing.