Business Management

Nathan McNeill (Global) - Millennials and Enterprise IT: Friend or Foe?

There's a prevalent notion that the millennial generation is a thorn in the side of IT with their demands for the latest consumer devices and constant use of mobile and social technology. But is this really the case? Working with GigaOM Pro and Isurus market research, Bomgar recently conducted a study of 400 millennial employees and 200 IT managers to uncover specifics about the relationship between millennials and IT support. The goal was to better understand millennials' expectations and perceptions of support and how they impact enterprise IT departments. I'll examine the former here and delve into the implications for IT in an upcoming post.

The millennial generation-generally defined as those born in the 1980s and later-grew up in a very different world than their elder counterparts in the workforce. They were raised with the Internet, social media, cell phones and portable video games-in short, they've been engaged with technology on a constant basis since childhood, and they have a high comfort level with all things technical. These experiences have informed how this generation uses technology at work and, as millennials are poised to soon be the dominant group in the workforce, it's imperative that IT departments understand how to optimize support for this growing generation.

One of the predominant findings in our research is that millennials expect a nearly instantaneous response from IT when something goes wrong. 59% of those surveyed believe an acceptable response time from tech support is ten minutes or less, while 30% said just "a couple of minutes." This isn't too surprising, given the "always-on" environment in which this group grew up - Google providing instant answers; Facebook offering constant connections with friends; OnStar providing immediate help. What is interesting, however, is that the younger millennials (those 24 and under) have even higher expectations than those over the age of 25. Of this group, 64% expect a response from IT in less than 10 minutes and a third believes that "a couple of minutes" is acceptable. So expectations are rising even higher.

As mentioned I'll examine the perspectives of IT leaders in a subsequent post but, suffice to say, their view of an acceptable response time differs from that of millennials. The IT managers we spoke with noted that response time is often based on prioritization of incoming requests and the majority confessed that they don't offer anything resembling a ten minute guaranteed response time. As more millennials enter the workforce, IT will soon be forced to address this gap by developing a more efficient support model and/or adopting more advanced self-service technologies that enable millennials to resolve issues themselves.

Despite expectations for instantaneous support, the majority of millennials are sympathetic to the challenges enterprise IT departments face and want to lighten their burden as much as possible. We discovered that this group has a real desire to be self-sufficient and often leverages external resources, such as Google, to solve their issues. While some of this is driven by the desire for a quick resolution, 29% of millennials said they wanted to better understand and be able to describe a problem before bringing it to IT. Nearly three-quarters of the millennials who had experience with remote support solutions, said they liked to watch what the tech support rep is doing so they can fix the problem themselves in the future. This tendency towards helping themselves opens a lot of opportunities for IT to optimize and get more value from their self-service solutions.

Along with the eagerness to understand the root of the problem, the desire for constant connection is a key characteristic of millennials in the workplace. Almost a third of the millennials we surveyed report use a mobile device for work on a daily basis. Of those who don't have a work-provided mobile device, 40% are interested in using their personal device to access company resources, such as email and applications. It's clear that mobile computing can help increase employee productivity--our research found a significant number of millennials work at least part-time from home, and mobile devices play a big role in enabling this. As both millennials and mobility continue to grow in the enterprise, IT needs to ensure their support is equipped to match this growth.

We'll be examining these and other IT implications of our millennial research in a subsequent post, so stay tuned for further analysis.

By Nathan McNeill, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Bomgar



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