Generation Y: The IT departments' worst nightmare?

Summary:Some say the Generation Y are social trendsetters. Forrester seems to think otherwise. And, as per usual, I think differently too.

A Forrester Research study suggests that the Generation Y and the older Generation X 'aren't that much different' in the workplace.

Larry Dignan covered it this morning:

"Generation Y has been billed as the group of workers that’ll turn the enterprise into a social networking zone with consumerized tools and newfangled ways to manage."

But it isn't as simple as that. One of the key elements to the report was that:

"While more than two-thirds of Gen ' are individual contributors, 27% are managers or executives, and another 5% are consultants."

So, the long of the short of it is, is that the younger generation are adapting to the workplace post-education and are figuring out how to get ahead in the company at still a young age. With this, as many are already high-flyer's by the age of 25, it means they will have a say in influencing the technologies the business uses.

One of the main points of this survey is the stark similarity between the younger and older generation in the workplace.

However, a huge amount of pressure is being exerted on the skulls of the younger generation, as these 'revolutionary thinkers' that will change the workplace as we know it.

In reality, the younger generation consume these new technologies in a passive way: we take hold but we don't always necessarily take in.

The most interesting statistic I found in this study was that:

"They [the Generation Y] mostly see [the IT department] as a helpful resource, not a hindrance. This means that the bulk of Gen Y'ers, 62%, view IT as getting them what they need, or attempting to do this but hamstrung by corporate policy."

And I feel this explains a lot of what I try and do here, day in and day out.

The Generation Y are consumers, and consumer focused. They care about what's hot and what's not, they care about the upcoming technologies that allows greater and better socialisation, and are rarely bothered on the politicalisation of technology.

Just because we have the ability to run ourselves in the technological world on a personal level, does not mean we can work effectively in the enterprise arena. The rules of engagement are different; we cannot do as we please, or work with what we necessarily want to.

So, though we can pick up any mobile phone and 'automatically' know how to work it, does not apply to the enterprise.

But why?

What this means for business »

Rarely are we taught even the very basics of CRM or enterprise management software - or how enterprise business even works, at university. On the most part, they are buzzwords for something even arguably the older generations only understand through having them thrust upon them in the workplace.

At no given point do I think the expectation has been of the Millennial generation to revolutionise the enterprise workplace. In fact, truth be told, I would not be surprised to see the 'enterprise workplace' of business slowly die out. It just isn't interesting enough to these consumer-focused minds.

The creative industry, however, is slowly taking over the corporate world of business and hardcore technical working.

Granted, though the survey suggests that the Generation Y like to not only install software on their work computer, but also bring in their own devices to use, the technology they have access to 'is enough'.

Yet there seems to be such a focus on blatant generalisation.

But arguably, this could mean that the enterprise workplace is taking advantage of newer technologies, from smartphones to tablets and suchlike, to the point where the younger lot don't need to bring anything in from home. On the other hand, it could be indicative that the Generation Y prefer to keep home and work life separate, contrary to reports of 'Facebook merge'.

And once again, the differentiation between 'age range' of the Generation Y and the 'evolutionary user' of the iGeneration is not met. The two demographics are not mutually exclusive. The age range of the younger person cannot simply orchestrate an opinion based on the innate qualities this group will have, of naivety and lack of experience.

Topics: CXO, IT Employment

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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