Towards the end of 2010, chatter about ‘Millennials’ significantly increased – not so much to do with their purchasing decisions or sources of influence – but instead about the impact they will have on the future of the workplace.

More tech savvy, collaborative and demanding than Generation X, Millennials going into organisations today, who have grown up in a constantly-connect world, are likely to find existing IT infrastructures and business processes suffocating. With reams of red-tape upholding corporate and IT-usage policies, particularly around the utilisation of applications and devices dictated by the IT department, such working practices may indeed seem alien or unintuitive to Millennials who have grown up to function in a very different way.

I agree with Mark Samuels in his recent piece for silicon.com that, ‘[Millennials] are also far from the clichéd media depiction of tech-savvy anarchists set to destroy established corporate hierarchies,’ but I think that as technology evolves, the use of social media continues to become second nature to younger generations, as well as a more considered platform for business growth, then inevitably it is only a matter of time before significant change occurs. And it won’t just be employees influencing change; it will be customers demanding it too.

Therefore the pressure is on the CIO to make serious decisions about the future delivery of IT to the workforce, whether that’s through cloud models, VDI, supporting ‘bring your own devices’ and so on. A greater challenge can also be ensuring that Millennials and other generations within the organisation are supported to work collaboratively now, catering for the technological capabilities of younger generations while also recognising the needs of employees who haven’t grown up in the connected world we know today.

@LucyDesaDavies

After yesterday’s TweetLevel insanity, the evening brought dose of reality in the form of dinner with a bunch of CIOs. It’s always fun. No, really it is…I enjoy it. They’re senior guys in big companies – financial services, law, consumer goods, leisure – working right at the coalface of technology in industry. You get some great perspectives.

Oh, and by the way, none of them are on Twitter.

Much of the conversation was client-confidential, but there are a few bits I think I’m safe to reveal…

The mention of cloud computing provokes a reaction. And it’s not generally a good one. Not because the CIOs don’t feel that they will be putting stuff in the cloud, but because it’s regarded as another example of cynical technology industry marketing. One CIO said he fined any of his team every time they mentioned the phrase…

In reality, most of the CIOs said that they had been doing what would now be considered cloud computing for a good while, but were they about to entrust masses of sensitive data to someone else’s data centre thousands of miles away? Not likely. Security is cited at the main concern.

We chatted a bit about Windows 7, given the generally positive buzz it seems to be creating since its launch. Interestingly, none of the CIOs present had moved their businesses to Vista, so my assumption was that they’d be moving to 7 fairly soon. Not so…most didn’t feel that they’d jump to 7 until 2011 at the earliest, probably until the inevitable first Service Pack was delivered.

Despite it obviously having a negative impact, a number of the CIOs mentioned the positive changes brought by the recession. The increase in use of collaborative working technology, unified communications and remote working is something that won’t be reversed when the economic picture looks more positive, which has got to be a good thing.

For me though, the most interesting little nugget came from the CIO who said that he can see a day – and it’s not too far away – when people are joining his company and are better equipped technologically than the business. Therefore he believes that the role of his team will be to connect people’s personal and preferred technology into the corporate network. The implications of this are enormous, of course, from a security, payment, platform and network perspective.

Interesting stuff.