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Millennial Workforce: IT Risk or Benefit?

They're here ... the Millennials that is. And according to a new Symantec study, Millennial Workforce: IT Risk or Benefit, this should be a real wake-up call to CIOs. Trying to implement IT risk management policies with a millennial workforce--one that has been labeled as risk takers--is very problematic. The study was conducted with 200 respondents each from the millennial workforce (born after 1980), the older workforce (born before 1980), and IT executives and professionals, to better understand this problem and the potential IT risk issues surrounding the emergence of this new tech savvy workforce. Clearly, the study reveals there is potential for huge risk exposure: data loss, compliance issues, legal implications, and other problems.

Millennial workers have differing attitudes regarding technology use and adoption in a work environment, when compared to their older colleagues.

  • Millennial workers access Web 2.0 applications much more frequently at work than other workers: 66 percent percent of millennials regularly access Facebook/MySpace (13 percent of other workers); 75 percent of millennials access Web-based personal email (54 percent of other workers), 51 percent access personal finance applications (27 percent of other workers), 46 percent regularly access instant messaging (22 percent of other workers), 38 percent access streaming audio/video (18 of other workers), 37 percent access photo sharing applications (17 percent of other workers), 33 percent access iTunes (13 percent of other workers), 23 percent access gaming applications (14 percent of other workers).
  • When asked whether they feel entitled to use whatever application/device/technology they would like, regardless of source or corporate IT policies, 69 percent of millennials said yes (only 31 percent of other workers fell into this category).
  • When asked to describe their technology usage at work, 69 percent of other workers stick to company-issued devices/applications, while only 45 percent of millennials indicated they stick to company-issued devices/applications.
  • 23 percent of millennial workers will use whatever application or device they think will maximize productivity, regardless of policy, while only 10 percent of other workers have this attitude.
  • 75 percent of millennials have downloaded software on their work PC for personal use (only 25 percent of other workers have done so).
  • Millennials regularly store corporate data on personal devices: 39 percent on personal PC (24 percent of other workers), 38 percent on personal USB drives (14 percent of other workers), 20 percent on personal hard drive (13 percent of other workers), 16 percent on personal smart phone (6 percent of other workers), 9 percent on device such as an iPod (4 percent of other workers). Millennials indicate they are slightly more productive because of new technologies: 54 percent say productivity has been at least slightly improved (42 percent of other workers claim at least some productivity improvements).
  • Both groups see an average of 5-6 hours/week in time savings because of new technologies.

IT managers largely feel they are doing an adequate job educating the workforce, while many employees feel they are not adequately trained on their employers policies around technology usage.

  • A least 50 percent of IT respondents have policies banning the following applications/technologies: Facebook/MySpace/social networking sites, iTunes, forums/chat rooms, streaming audio/video, and gaming applications. Millennials are regularly accessing these applications (see bullet #1 in first section).
  • Only 57 percent of both groups think they have been trained on their companys policy regarding technology usage at work. 11 percent of millennials indicated they have been trained, but do not follow policies (only 3 percent of other workers fell in this category).
  • When asked whether they were familiar with the actions needed to secure corporate data on personal devices, 80 percent of millennials said yes and 72 percent of other workers said yes.
  • 75 percent of corporate IT respondents have policies restricting corporate data and information on personal devices. Millennials are regularly using these devices to store corporate data (see bullet #6 above).
  • 85 percent of corporate IT respondents indicate they have policies restricting download/installation of software on work PCs for personal use. 75 percent of millennials have downloaded software for personal use.

Corporate IT managers have identified an increase in their risk exposure largely because of the millennial workforce and the new wave of technologies, and are taking different approaches on the spectrum of choice vs. control.

  • IT respondents have differing approaches for dealing with the new millennial workforce. 36 percent have written new policies and enforce them regularly; 28 percent have relaxed guidelines and allow more access of applications/devices, 36 percent have not revised their policies in the past five years.
  • When asked about technology usage that would be a fireable offense, 50 percent indicated gaming applications, 41 percent indicated streaming audio/video, 37 percent indicated iTunes/music sites, 33 percent indicated chat rooms/forums, and 27 percent indicated photo sharing applications.
  • 89 percent of corporate IT managers have recognized at least some increase in risk in the past five years.
  • 67 percent of corporate IT manager respondents have at least considered restricting the use of the latest wave of Web 2.0 applications and smart devices to increase manageability.
  • When asked about the perception that employees are entitled to use any technology/device/application they would like, corporate IT respondents indicated the perception exists primarily among millennial workers (36 percent). 17 percent indicated other workers held this perception. 31 percent responded that this was the case with all workers.
  • 54 percent of IT respondents have recognized at least some benefit from the latest wave of Web 2.0 application and personal smart devices among employees.
  • 47 percent of IT respondents feel younger workers pose a moderate to significant new challenge; 12 percent feel they are more risk savvy.
  • 63 percent monitor employees online activity to determine if they are following policies and restrictions.

Survey Specifics: The survey was conducted February-March 2008 by Applied Research-West.

  • 600 respondents were surveyed
  • 200 "Millennial" workers (born during or after 1980)
  • 200 Other workers (born before 1980)
  • 200 IT executives and personnel
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