Friday, December 28, 2007

Is our business ready for the next generation of employees?

In his recent post on the IT Business Edge site Carl Weinschenk blogs about the kids coming to the office. We can call them Gen-Y, or post Gen-Y, or whatever, but those of us who either still remember or are blessed with teenage kids know what that means:

  1. I want to communicate on demand with as many people as I please (simultaneous multiple IM session)
  2. I multitask (above mentioned IM sessions, several open app windows, music in my ears)
  3. I want the answers delivered now (information on demand, wikis, blogs, tagging, search engines, social networks, 2 seconds average site visit time)
  4. I am part of a virtual community (Facebook-like applications, social networks, blogs)

And that's just for starters, this is an evolving situation and business leaders ought to pay attention. These kids are the future of our workforce.

Carl makes several excellent points. Quoting a recent Pew Internet Project study,  he reminds us that some 64% of 12- to 17-year olds have published something on the Internet. And that something is not necessarily just plain text. They share pictures, create and upload videos and podcasts. They are not just consumers of information, they are active participants, creators and publishers of information. This is a major paradigm shift for the established business community.

In order to attract talented young future leaders companies need to do a better job preparing the new enterprise communication and collaboration infrastructure. Email and land line telephones are so last century. This trend cannot be stopped, we can either develop a company-wide strategy for it and put in place new IT and Knowledge Sharing systems, or we will see an explosion of under-the-desk, open source, often insecure Web 2.0 applications. Well, actually all we need to do is open our eyes, we're in the middle of such an explosion.

Carl points out, that the future generations of workers will assume that the Web 2.0 solutions are in place and they will shun companies that do not offer those solutions. I don't doubt that at all.

The kids are coming with their tools and work & study practices that may feel odd to most of us baby boomers. But we do have to accept the inevitable: there is no turning back. The companies that are quick to adapt and embrace them will profit, the ones that are not will pay the price...

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