A New Generation Brings Innovation

Mary E. Shacklett, President, Transworld Data | 10/18/2011 | 5 comments

Mary E. Shacklett
We often talk about best-practices, technology advances, and a continuing need to teach the bedrock IT skills needed in enterprises to up-and-coming talent. This is important, but it’s also time to talk about some of the new thinking that young IT’ers are bringing into enterprises -- and the possibilities that this thinking opens up.

Individual collaboration in the form of instant messaging, social networks, video conferencing, etc., is not new -- but the ability of a new IT generation to grab hold of these technologies and apply them in new marketing and business operations models is starting to make a difference. Who ever thought that the very essence of the company’s brand could be reinvented, vaunted, or trashed in a matter of seconds on the cyber-airways, and that there would be a need for constant messaging and the right kind of bloggers to maintain brand integrity?

This is one of the reasons social media blogging is becoming one of the most popular IT concentrations in university technology curricula. Of course, it doesn’t stop here. Social media business is also beginning to reinvent the ways that companies operate. As more business traffic takes to the cloud, more business communications are getting done through the posting of key documents and communications (à la Facebook), instead of through older style file transfers.

Cloud computing
Cloud computing dates back to the 1960s' “service bureaus” that processed administrative workloads (such as payroll) for companies. But what makes cloud different today from earlier attempts is its tight relationship with Internet technology. This presents a layer of abstraction from hardware and software that lessens the need to “own” these resources.

Younger IT workers are not bringing with them the legacy of having to own their hardware, software, or even corporate security. This could lead to a point where many companies in the future have little or no hardware or software that they actually own. It could also lead to pushback, where companies elect to own some assets but not others. One thing is certain: Young IT’ers will have less hardware and software allegiance than their IT predecessors, because they grew up with abstraction as the first wholly Internet generation -- and they are comfortable with it.

Great user interfaces
As part of the iPhone generation, young IT’ers expect great user interfaces for technology and applications that are highly intuitive, totally usable, and as central to the success of an application as the underlying code and algorithms that drive the core software. This is going to eliminate user manuals (where it hasn’t already). The next logical extension will be to extend this interface beyond man-machine and into a total synergy with the environment surrounding the application.

Speed over quality and constant “morphing”
New-gen IT has also grown up with PCs and PC software, and is accustomed to software that “breaks” and the need to find ways around these failures in the interest of moving forward. This is in sharp contrast to an older generation that was schooled in the importance of thorough application and system testing, and in the systematic deployment of new applications in time-phased releases. This is not to say that quality is, or will be, going away -- only that there is likely to be greater tolerance for errors and “on the fly” corrections in the interests of getting applications out faster (as long as the risk is manageable).

Non-monolithic data
As recently as five years ago, it was virtually unheard of to break apart databases into smaller “shards” of data that were relevant to particular geographical areas of the world. But the speed of customer fulfillment that a new generation of consumers now expects is transforming data sharding into a major corporate consideration for transaction-oriented businesses, like the hospitality and airline industries. As young IT’ers enter corporate ranks, their reduced need to own their data could make data sharding in various third-party datacenters around the world a more common strategy.

Technical facility
Computers and Internet are second nature to most young IT’ers, and their ability to be quick studies on almost any technology topic is great for business. “Part of this is generational,” notes one IT director. “Today’s generation has already spent time at home working with technology, and they are very technologically savvy. They really hit the ground running.”

All of these skills promise to make major changes in the IT department and the way it is run. Good departments are going to be ready for it and embrace it. Bad ones may have trouble recovering from the upheaval. Are you ready?

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
mejiac   A New Generation Brings Innovation   10/25/2011 11:24:23 AM
Re: Skilled Young IT'ers


The difference starts with our schools and our teachers. Maybe it's because times have changed, but I had teachers who really but your brain in overload... the loved to put stuff in test for the purpose of making you think. 

Being taught to think logically, to break down a problem and see it as different parts that interact with one another is a process that takes time to sink in... same way that you learn to ride a bike...you never forget.

Students need to be challenged!.

Another important aspects is what companies consider as "knowledgeable". Being Tech Saavy is good, but not enough when it comes to the bottom line. Companies should take the time to screen applicants. This sends the single that younh professionals need to step up and put their brain to work.
nimanthad   A New Generation Brings Innovation   10/21/2011 3:46:54 AM
Re: Skilled Young IT'ers
Yes, always when a new thing pops up it becomes an innovation but always it doesnt suceed as an innovation. The sucess rate is a bit low when you comapre new generation = innovation along with old generation = innovation because of the experaince the older generation has. 
Technocrat   A New Generation Brings Innovation   10/19/2011 5:08:31 PM
Re: Skilled Young IT'ers

@mejiac  You bring up a very good point, which I think all of us are guilty of to some extent.   

 Googling of everything under the sun and letting that pass for true understanding.  I can see how this will become a major issue going forward - and I have always wondered what we would do if it (Google) ever went down!  

Not likely but as you point out - most of us would be lost without it and this new generation is more dependent upon it than ever !

Susan Fourtané   A New Generation Brings Innovation   10/19/2011 1:34:22 PM
Re: Skilled Young IT'ers

As always, your blogs are very interesting. 

One thing I would like to say is that there is a marked tendency and emphasis in the young ITers and how wonderfully technologically adapted and savvy they are. I have rarely read about others, who may not belong to the latest generation of ITers, but who also learn quickly about almost any new technological advancement. Why do you think this happens? 

In some other board, and thanks to this what I just mentioned, I have encountered one of this young ITers showing off and almost saying her generation is about the only one who can deal well with technology. 

So, I wonder if all this is not giving the young ITers the wings to fly over almost anyone dispaying an over inflated ego. 

This said, I am always one of the first defending and supporting the youngters as in general they have less fears in adopting new technolgies, like the cloud, for instance, while others may remain a bit relunctant. But, not just for this I would stereotype. I believe it's better to individualize the effort and achievements of each one disregarding to which age group they belong. 

Anyone who so wish it can be skilled.


User Ranking: Blogger
mejiac   A New Generation Brings Innovation   10/19/2011 9:22:35 AM
Skilled Young IT'ers

What you state is very true in regards to new generations of developers and network administrators.... they do definitely hit the ground running. My 10 year old brother is already accustomed to touch screens and wireless gadgets (heck, the only reason he knows that something prior to the Wii existed is because he found my old SNES).


Working in Web Development as Project Manager, one of the things I have encountered is that young developers don't "think". They are very good at knowing code and creating apps with lots of bells and whistles, but when it comes done to business needs, or dealing with issue and troubleshooting.... if it's not on google they practically give up.

I once saw an entire IT department completed stalled because no one new how to fix a network issue...they were googling and going through forums like crazy.

As an Engineer, we’re taught to think logically, break down a problem so as to identify possible solutions. Young developers aren't being groomed to think this way, but to bang on the software until it works... and google the solution. This may explain why companies are constantly seeking Project Managers to drive development projects. They need people to "think". 

One of the things I really do like working with young developers is that the sky is the limit. I've never heard than say "No, I can't do that", instead they say "Hmmm, that sound cool!".

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