Carl Weinschenk spoke to Elizabeth Herrell, vice president and principal analyst for Constellation Research.
The emergence of powerful devices and networks is throwing multiple challenges at IT departments. For one thing, millennial workers are crashing the gates and using these tools - whether the IT department signs off on it or not. The question isn't whether these devices should be allowed. They are being brought into the workplace, whether or not they are authorized. The real question is how proactively IT adapts to both secure them and optimize their value.
"You can't bring them [younger workers] into a work force and expect them to be satisfied with more traditional communications tools that don't relate to how they communicate socially and how they want to communicate in a business environment."
Weinschenk: What are the ramifications of millennials and Generation Y coming into the workplace?
Herrell: The ramification is that the IT department must become aware of the total work force needs and no longer consider one-size-fits-all when developing a strategy to upgrade communications systems.
It used to be when workers got on board they got a telephone and a PC loaded with software. Because we have younger workers who are much more engaged in different devices, that is no longer the case. Younger workers are adept with the Internet, smartphones, iPhones, tablets and other devices. You can't bring them into a work force and expect them to be satisfied with more traditional communications tools that don't relate to how they communicate socially and how they want to communicate in a business environment.
Weinschenk: What does an IT department need to do?
Herrell: I think the first thing is to understand how workers communicate today. Today, younger workers prefer texting to email. They believe in speaking back and forth to find real-time information. They believe using email is slow and cumbersome. Younger workers today usually will send a voice message to tell the person that email is important and they need to read it. They do this because they are not expecting colleagues to read their email. If they really want to talk to them, it will be in a text message. This is what changed. This is their normal way of communications.
Weinschenk: This suggests a huge change in the way IT operates.
Herrell: I think it is already [has changed]. What we have is the consumerization of IT, which means the IT department no longer dictates what is going to be used. The proliferation of other devices brought in by younger workers now is part of the work force. IT is struggling. They are asking, "Do we support them?" Well, they must. IT has to go from behind the curve to ahead of the curve. They must start realistically looking at the needs of workers and not let them be pulled along because they are too slow. Younger workers will bring their devices to work [regardless of what IT does].