By Jim Cook, Vice President, Services Sales, Logicalis US

Research shows the millennial generation is now America’s largest living generation.  As millennials make their presence known in both the consumer world and in the workplace, they are dramatically impacting the way communication takes place.  These are people who have grown up with a mobile device in their hands.  They are accustomed to a consumer-like experience even when using business communications and computing tools. They are a generation of people who are inherently comfortable with technology and have a high expectation for how it will perform. As a result, the IT world experienced CIOs live in today is about to change.

Today, CIOs have a new role to fill.  It’s no longer about speeds and feeds – the millennial worker doesn’t care about that kind of tech talk. They want their devices and applications to be available when and where they need to use them, and they just want their technology to work – seamlessly, on demand, every time.  It’s a tall order, and one that is entirely dependent on providing the right user experience.

In each of today’s “third platform” technologies – cloud, analytics, security and mobile – emerging millennial users expect their compute experience to be seamless, secure, and portable, but delivering on those expectations is not as easy as it sounds.  There is no single, simple legacy-only or cloud-only approach to providing the kind of experience that today’s digital natives demand.

They want to connect with their mobile devices, access pre-provisioned cloud resources, interact with big data securely and do so in as little time and in as familiar a fashion as texting.  For IT professionals, that means moving beyond the data center, broadening perspectives and working to become a truly digital organization by combining the best solutions for the tasks at hand – and typically, that means a hybrid approach will be your best bet.  Before taking the next step, however, there are four important trends worth exploring.

Cloud

Shadow IT was the first indicator that things were changing in the IT department; IT has been stretched too thin trying to provide the services and solutions an increasingly on-the-go, on-demand mobile workforce needs to do its job.  As a result, line-of-business managers had begun to skirt IT, obtaining cloud-based applications and services on their own.  This is a problem destined to increase for organizations that choose to maintain the status quo, particularly as the consumerization of enterprise IT grows and as the Internet of Things (IoT) begins to blossom into a daily reality that many corporate IT teams are currently ill-equipped to handle.  All indicators point to strong growth in the cloud market, a fact that reflects the shift away from legacy IT solutions and a marked acceptance of cloud-based services as enterprise organizations work to become more digitally enabled in an effort to satisfy the expectations and requirements of a growing millennial workforce.

Analytics

As millennials become the new consumers, changes in customer buying habits are taking place.  As a result, with the vast amount of customer data now available to organizations, a “design-driven” culture is beginning to emerge in which corporate decision-makers seek to understand why a customer wants to purchase goods moreso than merely what they want to purchase.  With the influx of information that will soon be flowing into corporate America via the IoT, data will be among the enterprise’s most coveted assets. Therefore, decision-makers’ ability to quickly access, interpret and use that data will be a crucial point of success or failure for the IT department as design, strategy and technology become interlinked as methods to drive the customer’s purchasing decisions.

Security

As threats are evolving, becoming increasingly sophisticated and more numerous, digital natives have high expectations for security services. While experts say that all organizations should consider themselves targets for compromise, studies indicate that less than half of today’s IT professionals consider their organizations ready to mitigate a potential security threat.  As a result, it’s critical that CIOs take stock of their security readiness and expand traditional approaches to securing IT systems.  While cost may be one factor hindering increased security measures, experts say nearly three-fourths of corporate security professionals believe their current security methodologies limit their companies’ agility and performance. Cybersecurity measures, therefore, must be complementary to digital business, enabling its progress, not hindering it.

Mobile

Millennials literally live on their phones.  In fact, studies show the use of mobile applications will surpass domain names this year, which means mobile applications are becoming the dominant means of engaging with brands as digital natives make their impact on the consumer world. However, despite the continuing development of applications across many industries – retail, media and entertainment, services and hospitality – organizations often lack concrete, consistent mobile strategies.  Therefore, experts say, savvy CIOs should turn their attention now to mobile device management (MDM) solutions capable of enforcing data security and integrity in an increasingly mobile world.

Want to learn more? Start by downloading a Logicalis report, “Five Points to Consider as You Develop a Cloud Strategy,” then take a look at a WatchIT video featuring Logicalis’ CEO, Vince DeLuca, describing the path to becoming a digitally enabled enterprise. If you’ve been hesitant about taking on your company’s big data challenges, now’s the time for action; start by reading a Logicalis white paper, “Making Big Data Work.” Worried about security? Cybercrime is an insidious business; it happens in plain sight, avoids detection and causes damage quickly.  Find out if you’re ready by asking yourself 10 security questions every CIO must be able to answer. It’s clear that things are changing in the workplace today – in fact, work is no longer a place; it’s an activity. And that means your organization’s workers expect anywhere, anytime access to the workplace using the devices they know and trust.  Watch this brief video to see how you can get prepared: http://ow.ly/5TpB302AzrT.