We’ve all heard about the horsemen of the IT revolution that we're living — mobile, consumerization and cloud — and the changes these trends will demand of IT organizations to deliver their benefits. It seems that companies have to meet the insatiable demands (and desires) of business users and employees, as well as those of external customers. Compounding the pressure are the Millennials, or the Connected Generation (Gen C), and concerns about their presence in the workforce.
In my view, this demographic — combined with the new technologies they covet — will require huge changes inside the IT organization. The Gen C individual isn't just an IT customer, but an integral part of it. At a fundamental level, it means that how you engage in the business of IT itself has to change along with the services that you offer. In other words, you have to start an IT revolution from inside the enterprise, starting with IT itself. Old ways won’t work with new generation staff, as this CA slidecast explains.
Supporting the Support Staff
Let's use a simple example: IT support. IT teams typically have some way to rotate engineers through an on-call schedule. It amazes me how many still rely on physically handing off a device — usually a BlackBerry and sometimes a pager — to the person who is on call. That engineer is supposed to walk around with this device, whose sole purpose is to act as the on-call "bat-phone," should he or she be needed. Consider how ridiculous this is in today’s consumer driven-IT environment. All Gen C employees in IT likely have their own smartphones, so why saddle them with a crusty BlackBerry just to "page" them? I bet this approach is mocked mercilessly internally and with outsiders, and it causes credibility problems for IT. (You want to avoid the perception of systems administrators shown below, after all!)
Clearly, IT should walk the walk and use consumer IT in its own shop before it can manage it throughout the organization. What happens when an IT team takes something simple in the everyday work process, such as updating a problem ticket, accessing a knowledge management system, approving a change or getting information from diagnostic tools, and puts a barrier between the engineers and the systems they need? Inefficiencies result. For instance, if access to your IT management tools requires calling the service desk or operations team, or else powering up a laptop, connecting to your corporate network VPN, and then launching a fat client to get a simple task done, you're guilty of making things unnecessarily difficult and inefficient. We all have our favorite productivity apps on our smartphones and tablets; why not use them on the job? Ease of access to IT tools is not something that’s nice to have; it's a Gen C expectation.
If IT organizations don’t change the way they themselves operate, various staffing challenges and problems will result. Chief among these are an inability to attract and retain the best talent; IT people working around IT policies; and IT’s inability to fulfill the mission of supporting the business.
Many changes are not difficult to make, but they require you to commit to change and include younger workers in determining what parts of your IT processes are either broken or ripe for improvement. A simple formula to start with is:
- keep your people connected, mobile and engaged with the end users they support;
- offer them consumer-technology choices,
- and above all, keep it simple.
Taking these steps may not solve all of your staffing issues, but these policies will help establish a credible IT organization that can attract and retain strong IT people.
Additional reading and resources: