Monday, November 11, 2013

Digital Millennials and The Real Reason Employees Want BYOD

"Thanks to the merger of globalization and the I.T. revolution that has unfolded over the last two decades - which is rapidly and radically transforming how knowledge and information are generated, disseminated and collaborated on to create value - the high-wage medium-skilled job is over."
~ Stephanie Sanford, Chief of Global Policy and Advocacy for the College Board.

The middle-class jobs of the past, the jobs you and I could start with and retire from, are mostly gone today.  It is much harder for millennials to find jobs that require simply hard-work, responsibility and dedication.  In today's world, in order for a millennial to live a traditional middle-class lifestyle that supports home ownership, cars, a college education and a family, it takes a different mindset and inventory of skills.  A set of skills our education system has yet to fully understand and embrace.  These are the skills of a digital millennial (DM).

DMs depend less on company issued laptops, smartphones and tablets, as they prefer to bring their own personal devices (BYOD) and tools that can accompany them from job to job and employer to employer.  DMs depend less on companies for  software applications and seek cloud-based applications and services that are tied to them personally, not just their current employer.  DMs seek recognition for their work beyond the four walls of their employer.  They want their contacts and followers (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) to be on their own personal networks, not just their current employers'.  They want their accumulated work history, reputation, skill sets and competencies to be in the public domain, not buried inside the file cabinet of a past boss.

I propose that DMs will also favor and advocate for investments, retirement and health insurance plans that are abstracted from employers, and attached to them personally.  These plans will follow them throughout their careers with no dependency on a particular employer.

To quote from Thomas L. Friedman, "The globalization/IT revolution is super empowering individuals, enabling them to challenge hierarchies’ and traditional authority figures from business to science to government." As businesses increasingly take advantage of technologies that reduce their dependence on and loyalty to the middle-class as a workforce,  the aware DMs or "super-empowered middle-class" will recognize their need to view employment as a transient state, rather than a semi-permanent state and will adjust their habits and practices to meet these emerging realities.

Let me quote from McKinsey Global Institute's James Manyika,  "How we think about 'employment' needs to expand to include a broader set of possibilities for generating income compared with the traditional job.  To be in the middle-class, you may need to consider not only high-skilled jobs, but also nontraditional forms of work.  Work itself may have to be thought of as a "form of entrepreneurship" where you draw on all kinds of assets and skills to generate income."

DMs of the future may find their dreams for a middle-class lifestyle can only be accomplished by engaging in multiple income generating activities.  They may rent out a room in their home through AirBnB, rent their car out through Lyft, sell products via eBay and contract their time and skills out through online contractors marketplaces.

DMs may view traditional home ownership as more of a liability than a benefit as their income sources and locations are less predictable.  They may seek stability in digital assets rather than physical.  We see this modeled when physical photos were replaced by digital photos, and as one's life-narrative migrated from a neighborhood and employer to Facebook and LinkedIn timelines.

DMs will find it hard to maintain a long career with one company or a dedication to just one area of expertise.  They will find it hard to cruise into retirement.  They need to adopt a new lifestyle that recognizes and values agility, persistent learning, networks and the survival skills and tools necessary in this new world.  In today's world, those tools look a lot like cloud-based services and marketplaces, social networking platforms and mobile apps running on personal smartphones and tablets.

For more information on the future of work and similar trends visit,

Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.