Attack of the Millennials
Being born on the cusp of Gen-X
), I think I relate to both generations pretty well. Although I was born in '79, technically the periods collide around '82--though I've always been a bit immature for my age. And I'm sure both generations will probably agree that they too occasionally hear Super Mario music in their heads while waiting in line in the grocery store. Just kidding that doesn't happen to me...um...er
are growing up with technology surrounding them--screens and keyboards practically in their cribs. They grew up tagging, texting
and tweeting their little hearts out...many
now in entry level and management jobs. And they have a unique trait unlike previous generations, they
have no fear of IT. These little techno-brats have grown up bossing their soccer moms around while get chauffeured in their mini-vans like they were Burt Reynolds. They have always gotten their way, and IT guys in the corporate Nerdery
are certainly no match for them.
Past generations have viewed IT as a force not to be reckoned with. IT held all the keys to their kingdom and could make their life much easier if they just played by the rules, nobody got hurt. If they didn't, well they would have to answer to the entire nerd herd of network access, permissions and security gods. Trust me, nobody wants to mess with them. Technology has always been kind of a black box to the average person...arguabley deliberately. Inherently, it's only as complex as the creator wants to make it, and typically a creator does not want to give away the secret sauce as there's serious intellectual property at stake. And the more complex something appears to be, the more likely that person appears to be a linchpin in the organization, in turn creating the ultimate job security. What can often take years to build by teams of individuals, can be replicated and improved with very little effort unlike many other crafts. Take art or cooking for example; both of these skills are extremely difficult to master. And although you can copy a recipe (or...say the Mona Lisa), the chances of reproducing the original is nearly impossible.
What's the Point Ed?
Gen Y's are different. They grew up playing with many of the tools that enterprise IT groups use, and they are perfectly comfortable with them. Many Gen Y's are born with a hybrid technology/business DNA, and they have no problem challenging IT. They know what makes them more productive--like having an iPhone versus an IT issued Blackberry. Or using Google Apps to collaborate with their team versus a $12M ERP package.
They are also becoming more comfortable with...do I dare say...software code. Gen-Y's are already using hashtags, html and php snippets, etc. I'm not saying we'll be writing emails in c++ any time soon, but you get it. And they get it. Many of the startups that I talk to today are Gen-Y's. They clearly see a massive opportunity brewing in technology and they are prepared to
start the attack on traditional software. IT: there is no firewall that can block these little buggers. Get used to them, they aren't going anywhere.