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Generation Y are coming. They are your future customers, business partners, employees and competitors.

As this demographic wave hits the enterprise, how will traditionally rigid enterprise CIOs and IT Directors integrate it with the baby boomers and Generation-X employees that are accustomed to hierarchical structures, 9 to 5 office working and traditional enterprise software?

Generation Y will demand the Internet as a service and are used to unrestricted access. In work, as at home, they will expect access to Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Google, iCloud and instant messaging. However, many current CIOs have adopted strict policies on employee use of social networks due to concerns regarding productivity.

This lack of flexibility and openness may hinder the recruitment and retention of new talent, enterprises may need to weigh up the pros and cons of greater openness vs security and control as well as dealing with a cross-generation workforce with differing attitudes to flexible working and working hours.

So how can an enterprise keep this cross-generation workforce happy, productive and efficient? It’s likely to be more about changing behaviours and less about software tools. Perhaps the key is to encourage collaboration and use employee teams from all age groups to test software tools to ensure that everyone in the office can benefit from the latest technical innovations.

The use of cloud-based productivity tools and mobile devices could enable mobile flexible working – older staff may suddenly feel liberated by not needing to be chained to a desk, younger staff will appreciate the flexibility. Real-time communication and collaboration tools will also enable colleagues, customers and partners to increase engagement. Many studies have shown that the adoption of mobile flexible working can increase productivity and reduce costs.

An enterprise should also consider involving Generation Y employees in IT strategy decision making. They may have already used applications that could improve productivity, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Perhaps they may have used an app that could transform engagement with customers. Get them involved in testing, training and transitioning your business. After all, Generation Y will soon be your customers.

Innovation is the lifeblood of the enterprise, with greater openness, the cross-generational testing of tools, proper training and a phased approach to deployment, the whole enterprise can benefit from business transformation.