Welcome to the Millennials and IT Transformation!
In 2012, I watched the TED video about a 12-year old boy (Thomas Suarez) who had taught himself to develop iPhone applications and was selling the apps. That video had a huge impact on my outlook as that evening I went to an IT presentation where someone was describing another ‘new’ lengthy process for IT improvement. It was during that presentation that it occurred to me, that as IT professionals, IT needs a total transformation. We need to totally re-think what we do and how we do it given the new millennials entering corporations.
Don’t get me wrong, I love processes, structure, methodologies, and have been a strong proponent of them in the past. But if you’ve watched the younger generation, like the 12-year-old Thomas talking about developing applications, they think and act differently than the generations of the past. As a mother of a 28 and 30-year-old, I have watched how my sons instinctively reach for their iPhone for a quick browser search for any question that comes up, and if there is a problem to solve, they have an app for it or quickly find a way to get whatever information they need.
So, how is this generation going to react in the business world when they want some information and hear the governance process they need to go through to get an IT project approved, and then it might take 9 to 12 months to get a project to deliver the information or process they need. They won’t wait. They will solve their problem immediately using technology like they have done their entire life.
IT as a function must take note and figure out how to accommodate the millennials, not create roadblocks for them, but help them and give them the tools for them to help the organization. IT as a function must re-define how they can add value in this new age, and be as agile, flexible, and innovative as the new generation. It doesn’t necessarily mean throwing away all processes and controls that have made IT successful in the past, but knowing when and how that structure can co-exist with the rapidly changing needs of the new organization.