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How mobile, BYOD and younger workers are reinventing IT

Changes are coming to IT, so you'd better be ready

February 24, 2012 07:31 AM ET

Computerworld - Despite big changes in technology over the past couple of decades, IT departments and the duties of their staffers have stayed pretty consistent. The classic IT operation involves help desk agents, desktop support staff, systems and network administrators, DBAs and developers, and managers at various levels reporting to a CIO or technology director.

It's a system that's worked pretty well, surviving the arrival of the Internet and related shifts in both technology and culture, with very little change to the actual duties of staffers and the running of a department.

Until now.

A combination of forces -- the move to mobility, the arrival of a new generation of employees and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend -- is changing the world of IT with a speed that might have seemed impossible a few years ago. The same is true of technology and how users interact with their smartphones and tablets, computers and even personal cloud services.

At its most basic level, the integration of technology into users' everyday lives -- both at home and at work -- is forcing IT pros to reinvent themselves, what they do and how they do it. Here's a look at how these forces will be reshaping IT for years to come.

Enter the millennial generation

One major factor in the transformation of IT over the next few years will be the addition of the so-called millennial generation (also known as Generation Y, or, more recently, "Gen C") to the workforce. This is the first generation that grew up with broadband Internet access, mobile phones, and social networks, all of which significantly shaped the lives and expectations of people in that generation.

A recent study commissioned by Bomgar and GigaOm Pro discovered some key trends about millennials and how they view technology and workplace IT departments. The study found that younger workers:

  • Have very high expectations when it comes to getting a response regarding support calls.
  • Prefer interactions with IT beyond just calling the help desk, including email, chat and texts.
  • Will typically research problems on their own (either before calling IT or while waiting for a response).
  • Tend to work outside of typical business hours and off premises.
  • Will develop their own solutions and processes with the tools at their disposal, including consumer-oriented cloud services and personal devices.
  • Value working collaboratively with colleagues within their organization and beyond it.
  • Are often willing to share knowledge about solutions provided to them by IT and solutions and processes they develop on their own.

For the most part, this means that millennials are assets to an organization. After all, what employer wouldn't want motivated self-starters that work well with others and can leverage their personal experience as well as that of their professional and social networks?



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