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The Millennial Committee & The Consumerization Of Enterprise IT

I am lucky enough to spend a lot of my time meeting customers, talking to them, listening to them and learning from them.  On a recent trip to Turkey I had the opportunity to chat with a number of CIOs and other technology leaders about the trends shaping enterprise IT today.  Of course you can’t really have such a conversation without mentioning Cloud, but Cloud is only a part of the bigger picture…

What has struck me over the last few years is the consumerization of enterprise IT as a whole.  We often think about the adoption of consumer technology within the enterprise, especially smart phones, tablets, and even the x86 architecture itself.   But what we perhaps tend to think less about is the tendency toward consumer behavior and expectation.

Consumer behavior is coming, and coming fast to the enterprise, as hi-lighted by Paul Maritz in his EMC World keynote, and reported by Giga-OM.  If we think about Cloud, Cloud is really about convenience and instant gratification – “I want this service! I want it now.  I’ll pay for what I use, and then throw it away when I’m done.”  This is typical consumer behavior and expectation.  Not traditional enterprise behavior.  The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is really about getting the services and data I want, any time and any place, on the device of my choice.  After all I know how to be productive and, guess what, the devices I have are newer and better, and are replaced every year!  And then I’d like to do this socially please.  I’d like to work with my team using the kinds of mechanisms I’ve grown used to and that facilitate easy and effective collaboration.  The enterprise is being morphed by both consumer technology and perhaps even more so, by consumer expectation and behavior.

The likely nature of the work force of the future can be illustrated by looking at my own family…

I have 4 daughters.  My eldest is 21 and doing a PhD.  She’s smarter than me.  Speaks a language I don’t understand any more.  Lots of stuff about biochemistry and genetics.  She’s already toyed with the idea of starting life-science services in the Cloud.  Yikes!   My youngest is 2.  The first thing she does when she sees a new electronic device is to go up to it and swipe her little index finger along the bottom.  Everything is an iSomething.  At 2!  But my 19 year old is the most interesting in terms of pointing the way to how the near term future workforce will expect to do things.  She does not read email.  She does not write email.  She does everything using messaging.  She does that messaging on a social site, and she does the vast majority of it on her mobile phone.

My 19 year old is a millennial.  And she is truly representative of the workforce of the future.  The very near future.  IT organizations have a choice.  They can sit on their thrones, like Cnut (Canute), demonstrating futility in the face of inevitability, or they can figure out how to take advantage of these shifts, safely and securely.

Which brings me back to my trip to Turkey, where one senior executive told me about his boss.  His boss recognized the inevitability of these changes and created/chartered a team to formulate and drive a strategy to take advantage of these.  No one on that team was older than 30!  They were the Millennial Committee.  And it wasn’t long before they had successfully deployed their own social platform inside their business.

So what are you doing in your organization to embrace all of this?  (Hint – talking to us might be a good idea! :o)


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