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IT companies worry over Gen Y’s tech use

Companies love the creativity and enthusiasm young workers bring to the table but are terrified of their security habits, a new study by Intel Corporation shows.

Companies love the creativity and enthusiasm young workers bring to the table but are terrified of their security habits, a new study by Intel Corporation shows.

The study surveyed a pool of information-technology (IT) specialists at a variety of companies and found that while 75 per cent of IT professionals surveyed believed Gen Yers — people under the age of 28 — positively impacted the companies they work for, 50 per cent of them also believed Gen Yers are a major source of security concerns.

Social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace, highly popular among Gen Yers, were perceived as a threat to security due to the speed and scale at which information can be spread and exchanged on those sites. Generation Y’s extensive use of mobile personal communication devices like Blackberries and the iPhone also worried companies in the study, concerned open collaboration could lead to security leaks.

Spyware, malware and risks downloads also factored heavily in IT professionals’ concerns, with three out of five IT pros saying Gen Yers’ use of third-party downloadable software was troubling.

Despite the concerns however, the study showed many companies are starting to relax their security policies, with 60 per cent allowing company e-mail to be sent to personal smartphones, 39 per cent allowing outside personal computers to connect to the company network and 34 per cent letting employees use social networking sites at work.

Elaine Mah, a business marketing manager for Intel Canada, says the study highlights how many companies are realizing Gen Yers’ work habits can be beneficial to the bottom line when properly managed.

“Work behaviour is evolving. A few years ago it was unthinkable for IT departments to allow e-mail to be sent to personal data devices — now those changes are happening as we recognize the utility of that kind of work environment,” Mah said.

Collaboration is one of Gen Y’s greatest strengths, Mah said, and harnessing that spirit of teamwork by allowing Gen Yers to use the technological tools they’re comfortable with will be crucial for companies to succeed in the future.

“Organizations realize they can’t just create a walled garden. Technology has evolved and we need that creativity and collaboration that a Gen Yer might bring to an organization,” Mah said.

Mah said trying to put a lid on Gen Yers’ communication habits by prohibiting the use of various communication devices and services — even those deemed relatively risky, such as social networks — is a losing proposition anyways as Gen Yers are skilled at using technology to skip over roadblocks.

“It’s their natural instinct to say, ‘If you put me in a corner, I’ll find a work-around,’” Mah said.

 
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