Are you planning for Generation-Y?

A senior ICT director recently shared a story with me. He talked about a program to drive Sharepoint into all the departments and I asked him why? "It's about sparking passion for work and supporting the user experience. It's also about engaging the youth, who are entering the workforce and expect personalization of work and a rich experience at work!"

His comments speak to Generation Y or Millennials. This group is identified as being born from 1980 and are into Instant Messaging, Social Media, Mashups, Web 2.0, and really were the focus of the Time Person of the Year for 2006. This generation is also larger than baby boomers in many countries; and in Canada, nearly as large. They expect personalization of their work and typically have a richer experience with technology outside of work than at work. So what are their other attributes that you have to be mindful of? They are collaborative and into teamwork. They have an entrepreneurial bent. They are the first generation totally infused with technology and essentially born with it; keep in mind that the first PC came out at the same time as the beginning of this generation. They trust their friends or peers as sources of information and they can be hard working when focused on a passion or cause. Undeniably, they will hold many job and roles in their careers.  The two generations have the greatest impact on IT as a strategic asset in organizations are Baby Boomers, due to retirements, and Generation-Y, due to their differences in attributes.

Current State of IT: Changing Workforce

So the question is: are you planning for Generation Y? Are you looking at incorporating social media concepts into your workforce--concepts that resonate with Generation Y? More than 80% of college-age Gen-Y use social media services like FaceBook, and there's a blog coming up every second. In another conversation I had with the Chair of a prominent CIO leadership group, he was emphatic about recognizing this workforce and implementing strategies to engage them. Watch for several upcoming podcasts in this area!

It's clear that Generation-Y and their social media bent impacts: Commerce, collaboration, innovation, produces business and social transformation. After my keynote at the Strategic Architecture Forum (SAF), I was invited to speak before approximately 75 federal business and IT leaders in Ottawa; in a follow-up, one manager commented about the urgent need for addressing Generation-Y for all the reason given here (the above slide came from my presentation).

Examples of social media (and Gen-Y) influence include: Boeing Dreamliner (designed using mass collaboration/co-creation), (crowdsourcing), Bell Canada (using internal blogs for Jam sessions, managing projects, fostering collaboration), Scotia Bank (using Sharepoint to foster collaboration and sharing of best practices through online communities, user profiles, blogs, wikis). Yahoo, Google and MySpace promote OpenSocial - as a neutral, community-governed specification for building social-networking applications. In a Cisco commissioned study, adoption of these social media tools fosters more effective collaboration (66 per cent) and reduce travel costs (56 per cent).

Food for thought...

Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., MVP

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