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Living with the toys of Generation Y in the workplace

There’s a scene in the old movie Network when Peter Finch’s character screams “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” which then inspires the rest of the nation to realize that they, too, are not going to take it anymore. A quieter version of that scene from Network is happening right now with Generation Y in the workplace.

You know those folks on your team who are under 30? Well, 34% of them admit to downloading unsanctioned applications and tools to do their jobs, said Forrester analyst Stephanie Moore at the 2011 Forrester IT Forum a few weeks ago. And I have to say, it’s not just Generation Y (20- and 30-somethings) in the workplace making these decisions to go rogue. Even Moore admitted to turning to her Gmail after she exceeded her corporate email inbox limit. In my previous life, I regularly witnessed managers downloading rogue software that either circumvented IT regulations and limitations or completely broke corporate policy. Let’s face it: We’re in the age of “prosumerization,” which means that if the business makes it difficult to get our job done, we’re going to find a way to get it done ourselves. People are unwilling to jump through hoops anymore, not when the wealth of the Internet and an easy download are just a browser window away.

On some level, this is inspiring. After all, by 2020, more than half of your workforce will consist of Generation Y or younger. Should CIOs push against this trend of self-provisioning, or should they take advantage of this level of self-reliance and build a solution that includes some vendor management and tracking for all of the weird little one-off licenses and software patches? It’s really a tough call, but it will be interesting to see which path the industry chooses to follow as teams become younger.

Do you alter your management style when you’re dealing with Generation X vs. the Millennials? The comments want to hear your solutions.