My son, Andrew, graduated from college in December and moved back into his room at home (or my den of four years, depending upon your point of view) while looking for a job. Andrew, Gen Y to his core, conducts much of his life through a host of electronic accessories.
Nearly as I can tell, his ear buds are permanently affixed. He’ll hush me in midsentence to respond to a text message. He devotes time each day to a social website that keeps him in touch with his former college friends. He conducted his job search completely online, even the networking with friends, friends of friends and those strangers he hoped might befriend him. In fact, he ventured out of my hope-to-be-again-some-day den only for interviews. Then nervously watched his e-mail for responses.
He regards these tools as an entitlement, much like we Baby Boomers regarded television in our younger days – “Gee, Dad, you mean you didn’t have television at all? You must have been really poor.” He wondered aloud one day why I hadn’t responded to his text message. To avoid admitting I didn’t know how, I told him he was grown up now and should send e-mail like an adult.
Paradoxically, he harbors a general disdain for the technology underlying his electronic accoutrements, no more wanting to understand the risks of viruses or personal data theft than the potential consequences of driving his car with the oil light glowing (another failed conversation). This nonchalance makes him a bit of risk at home. We have periodically lost Internet contact with the outside world when he tried to connect his computer to the cable network. We also did without telephone service for some time, victims of a rewiring mishap. He innocently accepted e-mail viruses until his computer, flickering only faintly, coasted to the side of the digital highway.
Andrew recently scored a great job, but I wonder how his Gen-Y attitude and use of technology will mesh with a corporate IT organization, which is more than likely designed and maintained by Baby Boomers. What got me thinking about this is an Intel-sponsored study that looks into how IT is coping with the influx Gen-Y workers like Andrew and his friends who are entering the workforce. We became interested in it because of work we’re doing around “dynamic virtual clients.” These are computing models that enable IT departments to centralize PC images on a server then use data streaming and virtualization to distribute them to end-users. IT gets the security and maintenance ease of centralized management, and users retain the mobility and performance that’s important to them. More on DVC can be found here.
According to the study, 82 percent of IT professionals see Gen Yer’s as a positive influence – “They understand the newest and latest tools.” Many IT organizations are taking advantage of the potential for increased productivity with these new technologies, including enabling e-mail and Internet access on personal smart phones (60 percent), allowing personal PCs access to the corporate networks (39 percent) and relaxing rules regarding participation in social media sites as a company representative (34 percent).
At the same time, 50 percent see Gen Y’ers as a security risk as well – “They share personal and company information on network sites and through email.” In fact, three out of five point to Gen Y’ers use of downloadable applications and social media tools as particularly concerning. But IT professionals also are looking at ways to protect data and their networks. Most said that network security software and hardware solutions are the standard fare. However, roughly half have also implemented application management, streaming, virtualization and chip-based solutions in an effort to keeping their computer fleets running safely and smoothly.
That’s what the poll said, but I was curious about Intel’s strategy regarding Gen Y’ers. So, I talked with my buddy Dave Buchholz. Dave is Intel’s IT technology evangelist and is our point person in evaluating the potential of new technologies. Here’s what Dave told me.