Every employee is now an IT employee, to some degree

Members of Generation Y know and love computers as much as any IT professional. (Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are getting more tech savvy as well.) Time to amp up the game.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

Are we reaching a point in which members of the corporate workforce are almost as tech-savvy as IT professionals themselves? The experiences of Google's CIO may be instructive.

IT worker-By Michael Krigsman
Photo credit: Michael Krigsman

Walter Frick of The Harvard Business Review recently spoke with Google CIO Ben Fried about what it takes to run the technology that supports one of the world's biggest tech operations. While his enterprise is still somewhat unique -- just about every employee has highly advanced computing skills -- the rest of the world is rapidly catching up, he says.

Blame it on Generation Y -- today's 20-somethings. As Fried put it, within any workforce that has a heavy contigent of under-30 employees, "make sure that that daily impression, that first impression they get of IT, is a good impression."

To meet an increasingly tech-savvy workforce, IT departments will need to amp up their game. "You have to have IT people who are more knowledgeable about the technology and the best ways to use it than the average employee," he adds. "In the future, that kind of thinking is going to differentiate great IT departments from good IT departments."

To do this, Fried says, enterprises and IT executives need to pay more attention to workplace technologies -- devices, laptops, and front-end applications -- start seeing them as strategic technologies to the business. Because nowadays, end-user technologies are strategic to the business. "I see a lot of CIOs spending a lot of time — which is very important to do — on major business initiatives," he says. "But I often see an inadequate amount of time spent where the day-to-day, most frequent touchpoints are."

IT departments need to be well-trained and knowledgeable on end-user technologies, he adds. If a company has a low-budget, ill-trained tech support function, it will be readily apparent to users.

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