Are Millennials the Best Thing to Happen to IT?

In this contributed blog post, Mark Settle, CIO of Okta, talks about millennials and how they have changed the technology industry.

The millennial generation, born between the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, is widely recognised for being at the forefront of the technological revolution sweeping the consumer and business landscape. And, according to Goldman Sachs, their impact is only growing. In the US alone, millennials make up the largest cohort of employees, coming in at 92 million, compared to Generation X and Baby Boomers at 61 million and 77 million respectively. Of course, a demographic this large is going to have a massive impact in driving new technology and strategies in business.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Tumblr founder David Karp are just two examples of millennials who have become well-known and wealthy figures in today’s business world. Millennials, with their unprecedented access to data and education, are changing how businesses are run. With more and more organisations looking to incorporate digital methods into the workplace, millennials can be an important asset in accommodating this shift.

Technology paradigm shift

For many organisations, traditional IT models and technologies have largely been the status quo. Take for example, how landlines and desktops are still omni-present in many offices. But as technology continues to evolve and bring unparalleled benefits to the enterprise, millennials have been a real driving force in changing the way corporate devices and services are used.

As millennials commonly use smartphones and apps in their personal lives, they expect the same in the workplace, and as a result, we’re seeing the relaxation of corporate rules and a move towards a more modern technology infrastructure. Company-issued Blackberry devices, which relied on Blackberry’s own (and limited) OS, are no longer commonplace. Now, it might be typical for an enterprise to adopt Android and Apple devices, some of which are employee-owned personal devices.

Additionally, the vast number of apps available on the market are also gathering momentum within the enterprise. For millennials tasked with company travel, their preferred choice is often services like Uber and Airbnb, which offer a convenient and cheaper way to travel than local taxi services and hotels. There is a growing acceptance within the enterprise to use consumer-based applications to improve business operations.

While this may cause initial concerns on the impact to IT, the fluidity in which millennials are using these devices and apps signifies a flexibility to existing IT models, and rethinking of the ways in which technology is secured.

Leading the path to a more secure workforce

Robust security must be key in today’s business climate. In recent years, organisations have been hit by high profile data breaches and with the looming GDPR legislation set to enforce stricter penalties for the loss of personal data, ensuring the highest security standards is paramount. Introducing new security initiatives or outsourcing security requirements may be some tactics towards strengthening security, but securing the workforce and how staff embrace security will be just as important.

Unlike previous generations, millennials have grown up around technology and are more acute to cyber-security basics such as phishing scams. Millennials are also more likely to use growing cloud-based services, such as Slack and Trello, that offer wider security assurances through encryption and security certifications, while boosting workplace productivity at the same time. The level of security already built-in with these applications means that IT teams can invest time and resource in improving other security aspects of the business.

Millennials’ experience of security with consumer applications in everyday life breeds a welcomed culture to expect the same level of security within their employer. Simple measures such as two-factor security authentication, which are common use in social media and banking apps can also be incorporated within work apps to ensure stronger security processes.

For organisations looking to capitalise on the benefits of technology innovation, the hiring of millennials will be important in supporting IT understanding and growth within the workplace. Millennial’s natural relationship with technology puts them in an ideal position to help organisations’ path towards more intelligent and secure technology solutions that can overhaul a business for the better.


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