In 2016, millennial IT professionals aren’t working in back offices. Increasingly, they are finding themselves in the CIO role. I chatted with IDC’s Christopher Chute, who is vice president of the SMB Cloud and Mobility Practice, about his recent study assessing how millennial CIOs are investing in digital transformation. Here’s a recap of our conversation.
Chris, what does digital transformation mean to millennial CIOs? Cloud and mobile-enabled workplaces, or something else?
That’s a big part of it. Millennial-aged midmarket CIOs interpret the digital transformation (DX) end-state as a cloud and mobile-first workplace revolving around modernized endpoints or devices, Internet of Things enablement, and a streamlined back office that outsources functions like printing. Basically, they want to IT-ify all of their business processes where it makes sense.
What were the biggest "AH HAs?" Anything you weren’t expecting?
Across every spending priority, executive-level millennials are adopting cloud-based technologies more rapidly than baby boomer and Gen X CIOs. This generation is having a profound impact on the transition from client server to SaaS (software-as-a-service) on millions of individual devices including notebooks and phablets. However, millennial CIOs are at the helm of mature IT infrastructures in which onsite and cloud systems are both supported – a hybrid approach. Millennial CIOs are prioritizing Windows 10 alongside mobile computing, and for now, they are erring on the side of keeping critical data on in-house servers while moving applications to the cloud.
It was surprising to us that millennials had moved into these CIO roles so quickly. When thinking about their customers, IT suppliers really need to factor in the age dimension.
How are millennial CIOs saving their organizations money with the hybrid approach?
Millennials are ahead of the market curve because they’ve moved the back office into the cloud. Instead of the organization hiring more people, IT buys a set of cloud services that makes existing office managers in HR and finance more productive. Millennial CIOs are also vigilant about auditing the existing infrastructure to see what onsite capabilities are really needed.
How are these CIOs securing their hybrid infrastructures?
That often depends on the industry and compliance requirements. But they are definitely using next generation security in the form of cloud-to-cloud backup, and smart systems from vendors like Trend Micro as opposed to putting a copy of antivirus software on every machine.
Are millennial CIOs generally receptive to citizen development?
Definitely. We found in the research that millennial CIOs have 22 percent greater PaaS (platform-as-a-service) adoption than their non-millennial peers and are generally more sophisticated when it comes to cloud computing. Millennial-led firms are running an average of 10 public cloud apps that are IT centric.
In these situations, IT knows about the development – it’s not some random department going rogue with Dropbox. Millennial CIOs are much more likely to partner with line of business managers to develop apps that will support the business. They understand why shadow IT exists and that it’s not all bad. We see less command-and-control and more collaboration from this group.