Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Millennials' Challenge

I have been asked to speak at the Canada 3.0 Conference in Stratford, Ontario next week. Canada 3.0 is a unique type of conference that annually brings together participants from industry, government, and academia to discuss the country’s digital future.

My panel at the conference will be focused on the topic of millennials which is a topic that I am very interested in. The generally accepted way of thinking about the millennials is that they are about to join the workforce with their freshly minted college degrees and that they will take over the world with their digital hipness.

Indeed, the millennials have a lot going for them. They have been born and raised surrounded by all the digital technology. They have no fear of technology and they have a new way to handle information - in fact, often an implicit entitlement to information. They have discovered new ways of collaborating and communicating with each other. They don't use email anymore, relying on Facebook and SMS to communicate instead. And, what’s most important:

They will not put up with your old ways of doing business!

Especially, they will not put up with the old clunky applications your business forces them to use. They would rather go work somewhere else!

This could be very concerning for many organizations who are faced with an aging workforce and who are struggling to attract young talent. Just think about the government, for example. Such organizations need to seriously think about how to make their work environment more attractive for the millennials. Such considerations must include the productivity tools - from BYOD (bring your own device) to social media and gamification, the millennials will want it all!

At the same time, the world of business is not all about Facebook, Twitter and SMS. In the enterprise, some serious concerns will always exist about data security, intellectual property protection, regulatory compliance, and legal risk and liability. The existing IT infrastructure has been put in place to address these requirements. So, if you [young] people want a job here, forget about Facebook and get in line! After all, your generation of young university graduates is facing the greatest unemployment rate today...

As you can see, this can easily become a pretty emotional debate. That usually makes for an interesting panel discussion. That’s why I look forward to my Canada 3.0 session. It’s titled “The millennials’ role in the consumerization of IT”. I hope to see you there!

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