We are all aware that IT departments spend lots of time trying to find out what their current employees need in order to work best, but how much do they know about the needs of their future employees? There is no avoiding the fact that the students of today are the workforce of tomorrow. These future workers will demand high-tech BYOD solutions, cloud computing, and online collaboration, because for them these are already the norm. IT departments looking to the future need to understand students now, if they’re to keep pace with their employees’ needs over the next five years.

Students are already using cloud services every day, even if they don’t know it yet. Increasingly, students are downloading their lecture slides from the university’s intranet and annotating them during lectures using their own laptops. Many students are also now using tablet devices. Furthermore, as more and more books go digital and more reading is done online, students are increasingly swapping working in the library during 9 to 5 hours for working wherever they want, whenever they want, with any device they want. Most students work in multiple different locations, and need access to their files and important resources everywhere they go.

As a student myself, I know that the way I study is not the same as someone who would have done my course 20 years ago. If I can’t access the internet then I can’t work, and if I’ve left my laptop at home then it’s game over. I’m as comfortable writing an essay in a library at 2am as I am writing one in bed at 2pm, and if I need help from another student, I’ll contact them through social media. I’ve become used to working however I want, whenever I want, and on my own devices. Personally, this is how I work best, and when I go to on to start my career, I’d expect an IT solution which gives me a similar level of flexibility.

Therefore, the idea of constraining students to a specific device, or a specific way of working seems completely bizarre and entirely archaic. Already, 53% of workers use multiple devices for their work, and 37% work from multiple locations (Forrester, 2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends, 2013). These figures will only increase over the next five years as students graduate and enter the world of work. If employers want to get the most out of their new employees, they should choose an IT solution which suits our workflow best. Online collaboration, BYOD, and cloud computing are the future of IT not just because it’s what the employees of today want, but because it’s what the employees of tomorrow will expect.