IT's future: Bring your own PC-tablet-phone to work

Out with the old, stuffy ways of doing things, in with a new generation of tech workers?

Business people walking

Businesses need to change with the times to attract the next generation of workers, say industry expertsPhoto: Shutterstock

CIOs should buckle up and brace themselves for a future of flexible IT as employees will be routinely bringing in their own machines and expecting the business to support them, says Tony Henderson, head of communications at UK tech sector trade body Intellect.

Henderson was speaking at a roundtable discussion organised by UK recruiter Adecco on the future of technology skills in the UK. Asked to predict the shape of the IT business landscape in five years' time, he said big businesses are going to have to become more flexible about how IT is provisioned and managed - to enable a new generation of workers who use consumer technologies to communicate and be productive.

"The big challenge for the enterprise space is that people will expect to bring their own devices and connect in to the office networks and systems," Henderson said. "That change is probably coming a lot quicker than just five years' time. I think it will be a lot sooner than that."

Also speaking at the event, Justin Parks, head of workplace online at IT services company Getronics, said consumerisation is driving how businesses are looking at the technology they provide to their users.

"We've got a lot of discussions going on today about 'bring your own computer' and how organisations can adopt how a user wants to work into their organisation as opposed to prescribing a device and saying, 'There you go, this is how you have to work'," he said.

"Organisations today have got more of a job trying to make their organisation look appealing and exciting in terms of the technology to these guys who are coming who are very comfortable with tech."

In a wide-ranging discussion that touched on topics including the skills employers are looking for and how universities and businesses need to work together to produce employable graduates, the culture clash between old, established ways of doing business and new, youth-driven ways of working was a recurring theme.

Collette Lux, director of marketing and communications at IT sector skills body e-skills UK, said the big issue among employers is employability. "I find it incredible that you have so many graduates who can't find work - and we talk to our graduate recruiters and they say, 'We had thousands of applications but either they were written in text speak or we've interviewed these kids and they may have the intellectual skill and the technology knowledge but we couldn't see them leading a team or working collaboratively with people.' So, it really is these rounded skills that seem to be missing."

David Clubb, managing director of office staff recruitment company Office Angels, said the younger generation find face-to-face interviews challenging.

"They're not able to conduct themselves in the appropriate way. We're having to coach and guide candidates far more into face-to-face interviews than we had to do before. [Previously] it was about educating them how to formulate their CV. Now we have to teach them how to greet a prospective employer and what you should and shouldn't say."

But Clubb said businesses are also behaving inappropriately in the face of a new generation. "We also have to coach the clients - because to ask a Generation Y or Generation Z candidate, 'Where do you see yourself in five years' time?' [is pointless]. They don't even know the next six months, let alone five years. So it's a culture clash."

The consensus of the roundtable was that...