Cisco talked about accommodating the needs of the younger generation in its European analyst conference last year. It produced the results of a survey conducted with 19-24 year olds. One of the questions asked about the most important things in thier lives‘they couldn’t do without’.


The results were very surprising. In particular:



  • Mobile phones came top (97%), followed by
  • The Internet (84%),
  • A car (64%), with
  • Their current partner (43%) scoring less.

John Chambers noted that the network broke on a particular plane (making it impossible to use the Internet) his management team used his paper copy of the Wall Street Journal instead, but had to learn how to use its index for the first time. He also admitted he made a deliberate change to the company’s ‘command and control’ structure some time ago – a style which was more natural to him.
Although it’s wrong to over-generalise, new generations entering the workforce are changing IT priorities in all sorts of areas. For instance

  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies, first talked about by Unisys many years ago, bow to the inevitable failure of companies to exert complete control the use of IT by their staff.
  • Gaming is changing they way project planning is done in many companies; IT staff have less fear of initial failure if they’ve played thousands of games which they always lose
  • The extensive use of social media and the consumerisation of IT is leading to new ways of running product design, support, HR and sales systems (described by IBM as Social Business)

For IT managers it’s important to separate the style from the policy. While we no longer live in a time of ‘fortress IT’ in which everything was locked down, we still have to consider issues of compliance, governance, data protection and retention – but even here we may need a rethink. It’s entirely possible that business will become less confidential and secretive than before. Social media sites continue to thrive, despite trading private information on their users to long-tail marketers. It’s not good enough to suggest that the young have less to keep private and things will be different when they too are old – the growth of social media suggests a permanent, more open approach to personal computing. Even the data jurisdiction laws (such as that insisting that EU companies must locate their IT in the EU) may change – not because they are unworkable, but because they are irrelevant to the new generation.
We believe that addressing the evolving IT purchasing behaviour of the younger generation can make you a rainmaker. We know that smart phones, tablets and social media are changing IT, but in a light hearted way, Cisco demonstrated the way IT is changing these respondents’ way of life.
Image Credit: Dwoodberry

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