Over the years that I have spent working in the IT industry I’ve heard many buzz words come and go. Many of the ideas behind those buzz words were never realized, but of course many of them are in in use today.
A couple years ago “the cloud” was becoming a major buzzword. Many a doubting Thomas, myself included, really didn’t understand exactly what the cloud was and how it would affect our day-to-day lives as IT people nor how it would affect all device users. I can’t recount exactly how many times I heard things like, “the cloud is just the latest CIO buzzword” or “How is a private cloud any different that a datacenter”
Shortly after “the cloud” BYOD was something everyone started talking about. This in my opinion has been largely driven by the success of the iPad. People have grown to love having their gadgets with them everywhere they go, including their work environment.
Lastly, and I admit I don’t know the correct buzz word for this trend, but it comes down to enabling the user to work when they want to work, where they want to work from and using any device they want to use. It could be called telecommuting or work/life balance but I am sure if you pick-up a copy of CIO magazine you’ll find a more up-to-date term. This is being driven by Gen-Y and even younger people who are now joining the workforce. These are the “kids” that grew up with high speed Internet, cell phones, x-boxes and other gizmos and gadgets the like.
Low and behold these things that some of us never imagined would affect us now have a direct impact in our day-to-day lives. Take a look at Office 2013, the iPad, Windows 8 or just about anything released in the past couple of years and you will see there is some type of web integration. Programs are now called applications and they don’t come in a box with a CD inside they are simply downloaded from “the app store” in seconds. Saving and sharing data of any kind is so simple that even my mom can do it.
With all of these modern conveniences come challenges and fears for those of us working in the IT world. Will it mean an end to our career or just a new frontier for us to conquer? Who knows? What we do know is that for some of us it’s causing major headaches. We work in industries that are heavily regulated. Management that has been around since the days of the IBM mainframe are struggling to get their minds wrapped around this new way or working. We just think that the stuffy old guys who manage us move slowly, the government who regulates us moves even slower.
Today some companies, especially those bound by regulations such as HIPAA are fighting tooth and nail to try to figure out how to get the devices users want into their hands but the users are finding once the devices have arrived they are so crippled by corporate policies they are no longer the same “fun” devices they own at home. This leads them to simply bring their own devices from home but they find they have no Internet access when they arrive in the office because the WiFi is locked down to allow only corporate owned devices. IT guys are busy scouring the internet for details how to disable the web integration features in the most modern software such as Office 2013 and Windows 8.
Indeed the World we live in today has been driven, by technology, to a new direction. Generations of young people who are entering the workforce have spent their entire lives online. Some of these men and women have never stepped foot in a school building, they’ve virtually attended K-12 and on to earn a college degree. These are the people who feel that it’s not a privilege; it’s a right to have the ability to work when they want, where they want and from any device they want to. This is the generation that will break down the cubicle walls and demand freedom from being connected to wires.
Enterprises that refuse to or slowly adapt to allowing employees to have this disconnected lifestyle in the workplace will find it increasingly difficult to attract talented workers. On the other hand enterprises who choose to adapt will find that operating costs are cut because they require less office space, labor costs go down because happy people will actually work harder and cheaper and the talent pool is much larger when not geographically constrained.
The true digital age is just now being realized. Get used to it, adapt to it or go the way of the dinosaur, the Betamax, newspapers and magazines. You will be assimilated, resistance is futile.