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3 Posts tagged with the gen_y tag


It has long been a principle of information technology that the software and employees use must be strictly limited and controlled by IT. Otherwise, all hell would break loose: Employees would try to connect every imaginable contraption to the enterprise network using all kinds of software and putting at risk vast amounts of sensitive information — indeed, the integrity of the entire system.


As we know, that principle no longer applies. Younger employees now expect their company’s IT department not only to tolerate their smartphones and tablets, but to help support them and give them complete access to the Internet. They want to stay connected with Facebook friends, follow their Twitter feeds, play games, and generally mix business with pleasure over the course of their “working day”—which itself has fewer defined hours than ever before.


These trends will only accelerate, as the cohort born after 1990 joins the ranks of the world’s workers and consumers in growing numbers over the next decade. At Booz & Co., we call them Generation C—the C stands for connected, communicating, computerized, content-centric, community-oriented. Over the course of the next decade, our research indicates, this group will make up close to 50 percent of the worldwide workforce, and up to 40 percent of all consumers in the developed world.


Too many CIOs see nothing but risks associated with the rise of Generation C. From their short-term point of view, the security issues will continue to trump the added flexibility and employee loyalty to be gained through the consumerization of corporate IT — not to mention concerns about lower productivity, reputational risk, compliance and costs. Yet companies that can keep ahead of this trend will ultimately be giving themselves a real advantage in a matter of even greater importance: the race to meet the digital future head on.


Digitization's Impact

“Digitization” — the process by which technology is shaping every aspect of our public, commercial and private lives — is inevitable. Already, pervasive broadband, ubiquitous connectivity, cloud computing, and social networking, are all converging to transform how we work, play, communicate, socialize and do business. No CIO can afford to ignore or discount this process, as it will transform how every enterprise operates, both internally and externally. It will vastly increase the amount of insight businesses can gather about their customers; it will open up major new opportunities to capture value; and it will provide a huge productivity boost. As such, it holds the key to growth for global companies in virtually every industry as well as for government agencies and non-profit organizations for the foreseeable future.


CIOs looking to stay on top of the ongoing digitization of their employees, customers and overall operations need to understand just how well-prepared — or not — they are to meet this trend. On an internal level, they must assess their readiness to handle the needs of the coming wave of Generation C employees. The graphic below shows the tool we use to assess overall readiness to handle more consumer-oriented IT, as well as examples of average readiness in several different industries:



The assessment tool considers a number of criteria that determine readiness for consumer-oriented IT. Based on these factors, we can make the following assumptions:


  • Security and privacy requirements: Companies in industries with stringent demands for security and privacy should move to a consumer model more cautiously.

  • Maturity of IT support: Companies that already use ITIL or COBIT will be more prepared for the shift.

  • Use of Web-based applications: Web-based applications have less dependence on PC-based software to function correctly; hence, they fit a consumer IT model better.

  • PC-usage profile: Laptops fit the consumer IT model most strongly.

  • Legal and compliance environment: A complex legal and compliance environment makes the use of consumer IT riskier.

  • Risk culture:Risk-averse organizations are less likely to accept the risks associated  with consumer IT.

  • Employee profile:Tech-savvy employees are more demanding but more comfortable supporting themselves.

  • Working culture: A flexible culture requires looser security measures and is more open to the use of personal devices.

  • Type of work: Employees who typically work 9-to-5 are less likely to mix work and life.


As part of this assessment, the critical issues to consider are security needs and the nature and culture of employees. An aerospace manufacturer, for instance, will naturally have a greater need for maintaining a high level of security than an advertising agency, for instance. And its employees are, perhaps, less likely to be the young, creative and Web-savvy employees an ad agency would attract.


The internal transformation, however, is only a first step in mounting an offensive strategy in the face of increasing digitization. Every organization must also expect the trend to affect its business model and must determine the capabilities it will need to create value in the future. Digitization, we believe, will affect industries in different ways, depending on three major factors:


  1. Industries, such as retail and media and entertainment, where barriers to entry are low will look to digitization early, as a means of gaining a competitive advantage.

  2. Industries where information in some form or another is the primary product or a key success factor are ripe for digitization. Here, examples include financial services and, again, media and entertainment.

  3. Industries that are the most intensive in their use of capital — whether financial or human — offer big opportunities for digitization to reduce capital intensity and increase return on capital. Healthcare, and the public sector in general, fit both conditions.


As digitization takes hold, it will be the job of the CIO both to manage the transformation and to help prepare for the changes in the business and operating models needed to win in this environment. And that particularly means connecting, communicating and building communities with younger workers who will be leading the charge.



Roman Friedrich is a Booz & Company partner, based in Düsseldorf and Stockholm. He leads the firm’s communications, media and technology practice in Europe, and specializes in the strategic transformation of these industries in the context of digitization.


While U.S. government agencies struggle to compete with private industry for new IT talent, the recruitment situation and its remedies vary greatly around the world. Here is a roundup of a few recent reports tracking global employment trends:


  • Traditional forms of compensation are not the only way to attract and retain employees, according to the Kelly Global Workforce Index released in August. Private employers are also looking for other means to motivate workers. For instance, Gen Y (aged 18-29), as well as Gen X (aged 30-47) are much more likely to be on some form of performance-based pay than those in the Baby Boomer generation (aged 48-65), according to the report. Among those not already on performance-based pay, Gen Y workers —also known by some as the Net Generation or Millennials-- are the most attracted to it.


Additionally, greater ownership in private business can motivate employees to perform at a higher level, with 60 percent of the Kelly survey respondents saying profit-sharing would be a big incentive. Kelly surveyed approximately 134,000 people in 29 countries across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.


The idea of giving employees a “slice of the pie” is gaining in appeal. Almost 40 percent of respondents say that some of their compensation is tied to individual, group or company performance targets. Of those who do not have such an arrangement, more than a third would like to see this practice adopted by their employers.
Geographically, 65 percent of those in the Asia-Pacific region say that profit sharing would motivate them to “perform more productively” — that’s higher than in North America and Europe. Aside from salary, the benefit that rates as most important to Asian employees is training, followed by flexible hours, health benefits, time off and retirement benefits.


In Europe, 78 percent say employers should take some responsibility for employee health and well-being, compared to 82 percent in Asia-Pacific.


  • At the high end of the market, hiring seems to be picking up slightly. Another recent survey, conducted by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) shows that executive-level recruitment this year is rising more than it has in the past 15 months. North America seems to be emerging from the recession “first and strongest,” according to the report, followed by Asia-Pacific and other emerging markets. Europe is lagging, with flat results from quarter one to quarter two this year.


  • Yet when viewed through another lens, the global labor market is worsening. In describing its newest report, the United Nation’s International Labour Organization (ILO), says that the world economic crisis has spurred a record increase in youth unemployment.

    “Global youth unemployment has reached its highest level on record, and is expected to increase through 2010,” the ILO said in the report, ILO Global Employment Trends for Youth 2010. The study was issued to coincide with the launch of the U.N. International Youth Year August 12.

    ILO says that “of some 620 million economically active youth aged 15 to 24 years, 81 million were unemployed at the end of 2009 — the highest number ever. This is 7.8 million more than the global number in 2007. The youth unemployment rate increased from 11.9 percent in 2007 to 13.0 percent in 2009.”


In most regions, young women continued to be the hardest hit by unemployment. Only in what the ILO calls “developed economies” and the European Union were young males harder hit. In particular, unemployed youths in the U.K. and Spain seem to be giving up their employment search in the greatest numbers.




There are many new organizational pressures that CIOs have to address.


One is from the top level of the organization where CEOs often have only a basic understanding of IT — much like the ABCs: in this case, Apple, Bangalore and Cloud. In other words, CEOs want everything from IT to be as simple and intuitive as the stuff that Apple builds. Then, if there’s a problem or budgets are getting tighter, the solution is to “ship it all out to Bangalore; let’s get rid of this.” And lastly, since even airline magazines are writing about cloud computing, the CEO now knows that the business can not only outsource to India, but to the cloud as well.

Consumerization also is having a devastating effect on the IT department. Previously, IT was the place that dispensed the cool technology to people when they started work at a company: a notebook PC, a cell phone or some video capability. Nowadays, when Generation Y employees begin work on their first day and are handed their tools, they pull a face and say, “You expect me to use this old stuff?” In many cases, people have better hardware and better Internet access at home than at the office. They expect the IT department to follow all the latest trends and to keep up with every new hardware fad. And that’s the dilemma.

CIOs are clearly caught in the middle: Much as they want to meet these demands, they cannot always cater to everyone.

Recently, for example, I talked to the CIO of a temporary employment agency. The company boasts of a modern image and a CEO who requested that all employees in the company be provided with an iPad to show how cutting-edge the company was. “Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure they have iPhones, too,” the CEO reportedly said. Was that the same CEO who kept asking for budget cuts, the CIO wondered?

The CIO was unsure of what to do. On the one hand, he would have been glad to provide everyone with the latest technology. But the CIO had doubts over both the manageability and the security of the iPad in a corporate environment. And most of all, he was absolutely not sure the enterprise applications that he had spent so much time building were going to work properly on this platform. Same for the iPhone.

Should he give in to the demands from his users and the CEO? Or should he use his role as an IT leader to adhere to the strict standards he had set out for the company to ensure compliance on different levels?

I believe that it’s useless resisting the pull of emerging technology. Consumerization means employees will bring their iPads and iPhones to work whether the devices are sanctioned or not. And if they’re not able to use corporate applications on these devices, employees will grab some collaboration tools from the “cloud” and move massive amounts of corporate data onto these cloud-hosted applications.

It seems to me that the CIO really has no choice but to follow these whims from users and management and embrace new technologies as they emerge. At the same time, IT has to be prepared to stretch the current constraints on security and compliance to support the greater goals of the organization and its auditors. And that’s not as easy as ABC.

How do you cope with conflicting demands from internal and external stakeholders? Let me know here on Smart Enterprise Exchange.

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