Will the computer mouse go the way of the rotary phone?

Ever hear stories about how when millennials, as children, were shown old rotary-dial telephones, they would press on the numbers instead of rotating the “dial” clockwise? (I’m not making this up.)

Well, not many years from now, you can expect a blank stare from the recent college grads in your department when you sit them down in front of old desktop computers (yes, you’ll still have a few) and instruct them to use the “mouse.” (“Why do you insist on calling this thing a ‘mouse’? It doesn’t look anything like one. Old people are so weird.”)

That’s what Dan Kieny, chief information officer of Black & Veatch, a global infrastructure development services company based in Kansas, says enterprises can expect from the post-millennial generation of workers.

Kieny talked with CIO‘s Martha Heller about how businesses must be prepared to accommodate the skills, experiences and expectations of this new generation. Some key excerpts:

“Young children have a completely different UX paradigm and many do not know how to use peripheral devices, like keyboards and mice. In fact, they are rapidly moving beyond touch technology toward a direct dialogue with computers and are engaging in cognitive computing in a way that didn’t exist for our current workforce.”

OK, as long as they don’t conspire with intelligent machines to overthrow and enslave older generations.

“The generation after the millennials will be even more resistant to old ways of working. They will want to interact much more directly with the data. They will ask ‘what if’ all the time.”

I know, it sounds maddening, but it’s actually a good thing. As to what this all means to IT…

“In the workplace of the future, the user, not the device, becomes the focus. This requires a new level of user support, which will involve multiple applications, devices, and personas.”

Forward-thinking enterprises have been adopting a user-centric focus for awhile now. Consider Kieny’s words a warning to those organizations that are behind the curve regarding their willingness and ability to focus on the needs of users. It’s no longer really an option.


What millennials bring to – and gain from – a career in public sector

When it comes to consuming media, we’re all millennials

Is your workplace millennialized?


  1. Apple has the Magic Mouse, which kinda bridges the gap between a touch interface and a traditional mouse. I think it works really well, and it didn’t take long for me to rely on it.


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