Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Enter the characters shown in the image.

Where do we go from here? when generation Y dictates IT strategy

Where do we go from here? when generation Y dictates IT strategy
September 17, 2012in Business2012-09-172013-03-18businessen
Users are now frequently the driving force in technological innovation and advancement in the workplace. Forrester estimates that the average information worker spends $1,200/year of his own money on devices and applications like iPhones, iPads, Skype and Dropbox to use at work. And most IT...
where do we go from here? when generation Y dictates IT strategy
Users are now frequently the driving force in technological innovation and advancement in the workplace. Forrester estimates that the average information worker spends $1,200/year of his own money on devices and applications like iPhones, iPads, Skype and Dropbox to use at work. And most IT departments know nothing about it. While senior executives were discussing the potential benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), employees simply went ahead and did it. Users have thrown down the gauntlet to corporate IT departments: get with the program, or we will go and work somewhere else.
Enterprises are facing a perfect storm of user-centricity, driven by the simultaneous emergence of smart phones, social media, cloud computing, big data, and a younger, IT-literate employee, a.k.a. Generation Y. When fresh-outof- college employees are out-geeking IT managers, where does the IT department go from there?
The rise of this technological user-centricity has caught most businesses napping. While IT departments are still upgrading aging legacy systems, employees have been demanding the same levels of independence and flexibility at work that they enjoy in their personal lives. "If you can download an application now for two dollars or wait for IT to give you the same functionality but in six month's time, which option would you choose?" asks Peter Glock, Mobility Solution Director, Orange Business Services. "The price versus risk is so low now, there is little to prevent employees from trying applications and discarding them if they don't like them." 
The traditional IT department is now at a crossroads - evolve, embrace new user habits and engage with stakeholders on equal terms, or risk simply getting left behind. As Andrew Cross, Director of Marketing, Global Mobility Services, Orange Business Services, puts it, "For the last decade or so, much IT departmental thinking has been as 'legacy' as to their systems. Most simply wanted centralized IT and the inherent economies of scale. What they weren't expecting, however, were proactive end users 'out innovating' them, using their own money. Somewhere along the line, technology became a lifestyle accessory."
speed of delivery
This end-user revolution has also been driven by speed of delivery and ease of access. Consumer technology and applications evolve at speeds with which enterprise IT has been, simply, unable to keep up. While companies have been building business cases to justify migrating from mainframes to web-based ERP solutions, workers have acted independently, using devices and apps to help them do their jobs more effectively.
In fact, many companies still think that only mobile workers - a.k.a. road warriors - need mobility tools. And yet, in most knowledge-based organizations, all workers now have a degree of mobility and want to be able to work wherever, whenever and with whomever they need to. All the required components are in place - devices, applications, the cloud, Wi-Fi, mobile broadband - to allow this.
"We must change our established beliefs and practices quickly. When employees have their own preferred tools, they are more productive and deliver greater results. When they are frustrated and their expectations are not being met - when in effect their employers are letting them down - the risk of apathy, frustration and eventually employee turnover looms large," adds Andrew Cross. "After all, in the modern, knowledge-based economy, firms depend on the discretionary effort' and commitment of their staff."
adapt, engage and manage
This is not to say that the IT department is by any means an outdated entity. It simply needs to get used to a new philosophy, one that brings it and the rest of the business closer together than ever before.
one of the core practices
intrinsic to the consumerization of IT in the workplace is increased collaboration. It is now easier than ever for IT departments to engage with users on level terms and enjoy mutually beneficial relationships. "With the advent of social media, employees now share and collaborate daily, so business needs to recognize this as the potential asset that it is. By engaging with users on their terms, companies can reap exponential benefits - costs are reduced, productivity is increased and collaboration powers leaner, more effective project teams," says Peter Glock.
So the nature of the game is now engagement - with whom, how often and to what end. Organizations that have defined mobility strategies in place, led by teams comprised of IT, HR, sales and other lines of business, are able to prosper. Other types of enterprise IT managers - those used to control and an almost dictatorial approach to hardware and software procurement and deployment - could find themselves facing extinction.
"You have to remember something fundamental about the employer-employee relationship; the worker was trusted sufficiently to get the job in the first place, so shouldn't he now be trusted to know what tools will help him work more effectively?" adds Peter Glock.
Andrew Cross concurs, "It is now about mechanisms for enabling engagement, not just tools for recording data. Your knowledge workers are the front line and the factory floor of your business. They expect to be trusted to represent the company in every type of engagement - internally, with suppliers, with customers and so on - and they demand the same quality of communication tools at work as they use in their personal lives. Management must take these demands seriously."
don't be afraid
Security is, of course, still a vital element of the new way of thinking. More mobile users, more devices and more data naturally combine to create one big headache for the IT security team, but again it is important to focus on the benefits and not the risk. Security can be factored in to enterprise mobility thinking in much the same way it is into any other business process.
Perimeter security in the shape of a robust firewall does not protect edge devices that are off the premises. By protecting data all the way down through the user journey, IT departments can protect sensitive company data while empowering the end user. A range of tools is now available to manage enterprise app patching and remote wiping on smartphones and tablets, and the devices don't need to be company owned. Security and flexibility can go hand in hand.
"The benefits are clear, the governance is achievable, the user is already on board - mobility is here to stay, and companies that enable people to work in this way will find themselves better off. Enhanced communications and collaboration tools not only make the IT department's job easier, they truly benefit the organization as a whole and add value across the organization. This isn't going away," concludes Andrew Cross.
storage goes prosumer
Cloud storage is a good example of where employees are doing it for themselves. The success of Dropbox - which is installed on 250 million devices - is due to the willingness for workers to use a DIY service to syndicate their work files across different devices or share them with colleagues both inside and outside the corporate perimeter.
A free Dropbox account offers 2 GB of storage. A pro account offers around 100 GB of storage for $100 a year. Can an enterprise data center offer the same capacity, portability and shareability at this price?
Dropbox is not alone in providing cloud storage and synchronization to consumers, freelancers and small businesses. The cut-throat competition with Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, Box and Amazon's Cloud Drive is helping to keep prices down and capabilities high.
so is this a panacea for enterprise storage then?
Hardly. Dropbox announced in August that it had been hacked, which led to users being spammed. While CIOs may believe all of their sensitive data is stored in their own secure data centers, the odds are that nearly every enterprise is exposed to public cloud storage.
Enterprise storage solutions exist, but if they are not as user and device friendly as the consumer solutions with which they are competing, they will not be adopted. The challenge for companies is one of delivering on both user expectation and business necessity. "71% of senior IT leaders see mobile as transformational or strategic, but only 18% have a comprehensive strategy in place to make the change."
Mobile in the Enterprise, SAP, June 2012

Latest opinions

Subscribe to Real Times

Sign up below to receive our monthly e-newsletter, featuring the latest technology trends.

Register now
Change the display