Cisco has urged the industry to pay closer attention to developing older staff - not just millennials - as the workforce and customers age.
Many firms have ploughed a significant amount of investment and attention into getting youngsters interested in tech, with apprenticeships and graduate schemes widespread across the channel. Cisco says while this remains important, there is a "significant business development opportunity" to focus on older, more experienced staff.
The company's UK CTO Alison Vincent said on a Cisco blog that by 2020, there will be one billion people aged over 60 in the world, with a collective spending power of $15tn (£11.8tn).
"This is a huge market for companies to go after and a significant business development opportunity," she said. "The companies who still have employees in this age bracket will be the ones who will truly hit the sweet spot for this discerning market.
"The advantages of diverse teams extend to both ends of the employment age spectrum and...there is a growing feeling in the business world that we need to drive the inter-generational workforce as a new competitive advantage."
She cited a figure stating that companies with multi-generational teams increase productivity by 20 per cent, adding: "Experience is our greatest natural asset - and it's always growing."
Vincent is not alone in thinking that older staff need to be nurtured as much as millennials.
Swiss start-up LzLabs, which claims to have created the world's first software-defined mainframe, said its product simply could not be built by youngsters because many of the necessary skills are no longer taught or practised.
"LzLabs' purpose is to develop software that enables companies to modernise their legacy systems and embrace new, innovative methods of computing," said its chairman Thilo Rockmann.
"We therefore employ an eclectic mix of experienced mainframe programmers, some of whom are 50 to 60 years old and have come out of retirement to work for us, and younger developers who can build on their existing knowledge and apply their expertise on new open systems such as Linux and the cloud in order to bridge gaps between the old and the new. We see this combination of age and experience as absolutely crucial to our product's success.
"We also see this issue as a potentially huge stumbling block for our customers. Coding languages for many legacy systems are no longer taught by educational establishments, and the majority of mainframe programmers are retiring or retired.
"For this reason, companies are seeking technology solutions that can upgrade their legacy systems and make them more accessible for aspiring systems technicians. The skills of older, more experienced employees will of course be crucial in the migration process, but companies simply can't afford to rely on these skill sets if they wish to remain competitive."
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