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Food for thought series, #2: Millennials & the changing rules with social media and technology

 

By Dave Twohy

 

Over the never few weeks, I’m going to be talking about some of the big trends and mega-influencers that are driving change in the world around us. The second topic I’d like to explore with you is the evolving workforce, the emergence of the next generation, the “Millennials”, and the influence that this generation is already having on information technology.

Here are a couple of facts to set the stage. The first: half of the world’s population today was born after 1980. Second: according to one study, 10,000 workers in the U.S. will be eligible for retirement – the Baby Boomers - every day for the next 19 years. If you do the math, you’ll find that a staggering 70 million workers will turn over during the course of the next 19 years. The effect of that many individuals leaving the workforce will impact businesses everywhere, but the government sector and IT are expected to be hit especially hard as the baby boomers leave the workforce. Enter the Millennials. This generation is the first truly digital generation, and they are very different in terms of how they think about work and life.

Here are some examples that I can share with you.

A few months ago, I had an opportunity to sit down and talk with a successful young Millennial. He talked extensively about the team approach that had contributed to his success. He told me that as a child he played team sports, and “everybody got trophies”, rather than the winning team. Some people look down upon this practice; they call it entitlement. After all, it could be argued that the “everyone gets trophies” approach breeds complacency and mediocrity. He had a different perspective. For him, it wasn’t all about winning; it was all about being part of the team. That’s a very different thought process than the mentality of Baby Boomers or Gen X or Gen Y, for that matter.

So – how have these changes manifested themselves in terms of technology? One answer, of course, is the explosion of social media. Millenials solve problems real-time, they solve problems collaboratively, they use mobile platforms, and they use social media extensively.

Here is an example of what I mean. A few weeks ago I was visiting an HP Channel Partner with a 25 year old HP sales rep. She had recently moved to Chicago and she wanted to find a good tapas restaurant, so she reached out to her friends via social media on her smart phone. She got 20 responses and a half dozen personal recommendations – within minutes – and that is how she made her dinner plans.

And that is another very interesting facet of the Millennials: they are accustomed to instant gratification from an IT perspective. “There’s an App for that” sums up what Millennials want and expect. They want access to whatever information they need, in the palm of their hands, right NOW. Does that make them an “entitled” generation? Some may say that. I prefer to say it’s the instant generation -- whatever they want -- they want it right this minute. They want to download the app right now. They want access to the data right now. They don’t care what platform it runs on. They don’t care what server it runs on. They don’t care what database it runs on. They don’t care what network it runs on. They just want the app. NOW. And IT is shifting rapidly as a result of this trend. It has had to; at a global level, there are 5.9 billion mobile subscribers today. That is 87% of the world population. Over 300,000 apps have been developed over the past 3 years. That’s 273 new apps being rolled out every day! And these apps gave been downloaded 10.9 billion times!

Another example of changing technology usage is email. According to a recent ComScore study, email usage has declined by 27% in the past year (ages 12-34). At the same time, the typical Millenial sends 50 texts in an average day, and according to an eMarketer study, 43% of 18-24 year olds say that texting is just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone.

This puts pressure on IT both from an infrastructure as well as an application development and management standpoint. Enterprises need to control and secure their information. They also need to develop and deploy relevant apps rapidly and make their apps available on any mobile platform. And they need to consider how to manage the convergence of consumer and enterprise IT. According to one study, 96% of business professionals are using mobile devices to store, access, and send sensitive material. They are using the same device to play games, access social media sites, send texts, and run any number of personal apps. IT needs to consider document security, encryption, and metadata scrubbing to address these risks.

Another issue that IT and other industries are going to have to wrestle with when it comes to the Millennials is that this generation is not particularly focused on company loyalty. In fact the average 26 year old will be on their 7th job! Organizations that hire Millennials will need to develop new strategies in terms of how to attract, train, and retain these individuals as part of their workforce.

Bottom line, it’s clear that what motivates a Millennial is not necessarily the same as what motivated prior generations. It’s going to be very interesting to see how their career moves continue to shape the future of IT – and the success of the companies they work for.

 

 

If you like this blog and are interested in hearing more thoughts about the IT industry, IT services, and other ideas real time, please follow me on Twitter. My handle is @DaveTwohyatHP.


Dave TwohyDave Twohy is WW VP of HP’s Technology Services Channel Organization. He has 23 years of experience in the IT industry and has worked extensively with large and small enterprises and channel partners around the world. He is a frequent speaker at industry events, partner conferences, and HP’s customer experience center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • I’m a Global Strategist, a certified (PMI) Project Manager, specializing in business to IT alignment, agility consulting, Infrastructure Transformation and Strategic Architecture for Big Data, Mobility, Private Cloud, Unified Communications and Collaboration. I drive the strategy, vision and content of strategic consulting services in the Big Data IT Infrastructure services area at HP. As part of this, I meet with senior level customers to understand their challenges, conduct workshops to determine future vision and roadmaps as well as presenting at industry and analyst events.
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