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Is your network infrastructure ready for today’s workforce and the post-generational world?

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15 June 2016

J-P De Clerck

Blogs by author: J-P De Clerck, Digital Consultant

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Underneath all the applications we use for work, private goals and increasingly both at the same time, sit evolving networks.

In times where people expect ubiquitous connectivity, at the office, on the go or at home, a mix of networks needs to serve their increasing data needs. The forecasted impact of video on mobile data traffic, for instance, is staggering.

New data-intensive applications in areas such as the Internet of Things demand new network approaches, while expectations regarding corporate networks and the cloud continue to push the limits of infrastructural capacity in the extended enterprise.

The impact of changing mobile and digital worker behaviour and expectations

Today's digital and mobile workers and prosumers won't express their needs in terms of network infrastructure capacities. They express them in terms of how they experience speed, performance and availability, anywhere and anytime.

Still, in the end the infrastructure makes the difference and defines whether we satisfy or frustrate workers and customers. Research from BT and InfoVista shows the mentioned changing demands for the demographic segment of people born from circa 1980 to 2000, carrying the generational label 'Generation Y' (also known as Millennials).

The network is mission criticalLooking at the expectations of this age group, which is becoming a large part of the workforce, the challenges for network infrastructure demand and application availability become clear and match several priorities of responding IT professionals.

The Gen Y workforce wants their end user applications to be easy to use, reflecting the same customer experience and simplicity levels as they’re used to in their capacity as 'consumers'. They want applications to be flexible and adapted to their ways of working and communicating, which is mobile first.

It is unsurprising, that 94% of organisations agree that the network is mission critical. To meet both business demands and the expectations of the evolving workforce it is essential that the network remains fit for purpose at all times. However, the survey highlights that the increased volume of network traffic is NOT without problems with in excess of 90% of respondents having received complaints relating to application performance. More.

The challenges for CIOs and IT professionals - recognising the key role of the network

The impact of these demands on the IT department and network infrastructure are huge. CIOs are challenged to make sure the Gen Y workforce, which has overtaken GenXers (that's people like me) in the US labour force a year ago, can work in the conditions that makes it thrive.

They need to make sure they align with the expectations and behaviour of Gen Y customers. Yet at the same time they need to balance costs, when adapting their network infrastructure to the highly mobile, connected and digital "generations".

The large majority of IT professionals (a whopping 94 percent) in the research with InfoVista recognises the increasingly business-critical role for the network amid these evolutions. Knowing that just as the usage of mobile video is expected to grow, a majority of the Gen Y workforce prefers video conferencing to face-to-face meetings and knowing that 68 percent of respondents expect end users will demand better performance of applications, the drivers for that recognition of the key role of the network become clear.

When asked about most challenging business or end user initiatives with regard to applications performance, the top three answers clearly reflected then Gen Y trends and expectations: 1) working with cloud applications, 2) BYOD and shadow IT, and 3) video conferencing.

Impact of future expectations on application performance from end users.

Impact of future expectations on application performance from end users - click for full PDF report.

Generation Y is not your sole challenge: here comes the post-generational reality

The research further explores the challenges as perceived by IT professionals in regards to growing expectations, as well as ways to deal with them, along with an overview of Generation Y workforce "characteristics".

The question on how to balance costs and network infrastructure performance for a changing world and workforce becomes all the more relevant if we realise that we're really starting to live in a post-generational world. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only GenXer who has similar work patterns as are commonly attributed to Generation Y. In the end, generational labels, which are descriptive constructs, cover a quite large age cohort for research purposes and it's the behaviour that makes all the difference.

In an increasingly post-generational world, connectivity, the digital/mobile lifestyle and shifting work behaviour are spreading like a wildfire across age groups and are among the many drivers of digital transformation. The question: is your network and overall infrastructure - with critical aspects such as security - ready?

More about the mentioned new research in "Meeting the network demands of changing generations" (PDF opens). 

BT Let’s Talk guest blogger J-P De Clerck is active on the crossroads where marketing, business, customer experience, technologies, IT, media and digital transformation meet. You can connect with him on Twitter and in our Benelux LinkedIn Group.