Are Younger Workers Really Changing IT?


It seemed inevitable that the next generation would shake up IT shops as we know them. But is it happening? I'm a pretty avid reader, but I just got around to starting Tom Brokaw's Boom!, which has been sitting on a bookshelf since Christmas. And right in the intro, an interesting phrase popped out at me.

"We're here and we have our own ideas."

He was talking about the attitudes of baby boomers, who enjoyed a longer adolescence than their older counterparts, as well as a more affluent lifestyle. So they became a new market for goods. And entertainment—Brokaw used the quote to illustrate the type of music these kids were after.

For some reason, the phrase sounded like something that could easily be muttered by any new member of the IT workforce...meaning the millennials or foreign-born IT pros.

It's been several months since Ed Cone chronicled the rise of the new generation and it's potential impact on the IT workforce. (Ed also explained how to spot the generation gap and how to manage it, both of which are highly instructive.)

We've speculated even more on the impact—more Web 2.0 tools or emerging technologies, increased mobility, new workplace climates, etc. But I'd rather here it from you.

IT pros: are the new generation of workers shaking up IT as you know it? Are they bringing new ideas to your IT shop? Or is this a whole lot of babbling over a bunch of snot-nosed kids?


12 Comments for "Are Younger Workers Really Changing IT?"

  • Maya November 27, 2008 3:16 am

    The new generation is changing the way of doing business because they are more open to changes and do not take them with bias. Working with young talented people is very good -- they are full of ideas and have different approaches of problem solving. Motivating young and talented people in the right manner will result with qualified worker generation.

  • bfc August 15, 2008 4:54 pm

    I have to leave a post on this in that I was involved in a couple of "knowledge management" and "aging workforce" efforts and actually did some research on the subject. I am not young, maybe an in-between at 43, but I am getting really tired of the pessimism displayed by many baby boomers. It borders on arrogance and self-promotion. Now, before I get started, I want to state my great and deep respect for the accomplishments of the previous generations (not just the baby boomers). One of my favorite quotes is Isaac Newton's, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." There is so much to learn from the methods and practices of the previous generation, but what would Newton have accomplished if he did not challenge the status quo? This self-promotion is almost unconscious. In our company, they actually called the program to recruit and train the next generation of technical workers the "Legacy" project. No one even realized that to the current generation "legacy" has a negative connotation and was something to be dealt with or replaced with something better. I can't help but think of Asimov's Foundation Series when this type of thinking manifests itself. On a positive note, the next (or rather current) generation will solve the problems we could not solve. Look at society's challenges with open eyes, from a viewpoint we can't even imagine. Use tools, techniques, and methods that our beyond our abilities. Their tools and methods to us would be like handing a calculator to an eighteenth century man. I am very optimistic for the future of the next generation and the tech industry. The tech industry is just starting to mature and fulfill a sliver of its potential. We are still in the at the dawn of the digital age, and yet many view it as the setting sun! Get over yourselves...anyone is replaceable. p.s. I really like gk's comments. We are all humans, whether h-1b or millennial. Treat people with respect and you can learn a lot.

  • GregMoore August 13, 2008 8:44 pm

    I find that the newer generation of staff is indeed shaking things up. Most of us who have been in the business for a long time have honed our skills on many generations of technology. We're good at keeping things running smooth. If you're an old salty like me, trying to keep a data center containing 10 years of technology alive, you're not spending a lot of time learning about Web 2.0, iPhones and Facebook. Our younger staff already is deeply embedded in these technologies. We can learn a lot from the kids. We just have to make the time and make it a priority. Nobody said IT would be easy. Greg

  • gk August 13, 2008 1:43 pm

    As long as the old keep themselves updated with the new technologies they must be able to not only keep up with the new but also do better. It all depends upon their mental sharpness, whether they have made best of the resources available to them. If they have and in a state of constant learning they will be better than the young ones. Not only that young ones will be led by the old. Being agile, keeping in a state of learning can lead the older to a state of supervisory or leadership ones that the young folks will be looking for their directions. So, all said and done, generation gap can have good effects. It is not the generation gap that matters; but it is whether they are young in thinking with a curiosity to learn and improve.

  • Dan August 13, 2008 1:39 pm

    I've been working with some young techs for some time. Some are good. Some are not so good. It's the same with the older techs. I'm amazed at some of the younger tech's ability to spend countless hours digging into technology...but many don't have families or responsibilities. The latter changes the perspectives of many people as they get older. Some older techs have also experienced the "joys" of getting caught up in company restructurings or layoffs. That affects your enthusiasm toward what you do. Non-techie supervisors making illogical decisions affect you also.

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