The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Youth and the next wave of IT

youth.pngYesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with 16 students in technology related Master’s or PhD programs at the University of North Texas. We discussed their current research activities and their passions for applying technology to business. This was a motivating experience for me, since they talked about a wide variety of approaches, most of which I efforts taking place within HP.


It was clear that the flexibility driver in business that is shifting IT (currently manifesting itself as the force behind cloud computing) was well understood and assumed as part of their work by them. When these students hit the current work environment at many companies, they are going to bring in some very useful ideas as well as chaff at some of the unnecessary restraints that many businesses work within. IT leaders should try to capture some of those thoughts before they are paved over by the day-to-day operational demands.


Most of the students I talked with had very strong technical skills, but still had a way to go to understand how those skills can be applied to generate business value. That’s OK though since they have a whole lifetime of opportunity ahead of them to develop that expertise. Developing a peer group and a mentor relationship when they hit the workforce should help them land in their new environment softly though.


Everyone should spend a bit of time talking with a variety of individuals still in college if they want to understand the workforce needs and capabilities of the future.

Conflict, Gen Y and the Next Generation Enterprise

I was reading a blog entry on the "Motivate Inspire and Innovate" blog about How to Manage Generation Y (it was part of a series). It got me thinking more about a blog entry I'd done, titled: And not Or. The enterprise irregulars have also been talking (mostly internally) about the Gen Y question.


They all talked about the corporate environment and how it forced them out.


As I read the posts about Gen Y and how they were all destined to start their own small companies, I was forced to think about why I did not. I've always been a bit "out there" for most of the teams I've worked with, but I always focused on making them successful. In the process, I built a network of people who felt somewhat grateful.


I wrote a paper for Cutter a while back on what I thought it would take to have the next generation enterprise - I snuck it into a set of articles on Enterprise 2.0 (a moniker I always thought sold the enterprise short). I am an avid believer in strong internal business networks, as well as networks of suppliers and customers as a component of increasing importance for the next generation enterprise. Those who can establish a coalition and rely upon a network of networks will have an advantage.


The same can be said of interpersonal networks, especially during times of uncertainty. After a while, in my career, I ended up with a role where I could "wander around and make myself useful". I take on assignments, but always move on before I got too bored - because someone else needs the help.


When I became a Fellow for EDS, I told people "I knew I'd never get to finish anything, but I didn't know that once I became a Fellow I'd not even get to understand them, before I had to move on." It looks like I am going to continue to do this kind of thing for HP, so I am fortunate because that is the kind of person I am.


It does make me wonder what the larger companies will do if the Gen Y folks are as intolerant as everyone thinks. I agree it is an "and", not an "or" world out there, but the larger companies will be run by Gen Y someday... will they enable an experience more like those who have to leave the company or like mine?

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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