Business Management

Nathan McNeill (Global) - IT and Millennials: Can We All Get Along?

In an article posted earlier in the month, I discussed some findings from a recent survey my company conducted, along with GigaOM Pro and Isurus Market Research & Consulting, to better understand Millennials' technology needs in the workplace. Overall, the research found that this new generation of workers does not pose the support nightmare for IT that has been previously suggested. While they do expect a near instantaneous response when technology issues arise, they are also extremely self-sufficient and eager to understand the inner workings of their technologies. In this post, I'll elaborate on some of our additional research findings from the perspective of IT managers.

The biggest disparity that we found between what Millennials expect and what IT delivers is in tech support response time. Nearly 60% of the Millennials surveyed believe a response time of less than ten minutes is acceptable, however, only a quarter of IT managers said this expectation was consistent with their department's service levels. From IT management's perspective, support is often a matter of prioritization. For example, an outage affecting multiple users will likely get fixed within the desired ten minute window, but an individual user experiencing issues with email may face a longer wait time.

As I discussed in the previous post, Millennials' desire for a fast response time often results in them seeking answers outside of the organization, for example, posting their issue on forums or social networks. In addition to the obvious embarrassment this can cause an organization (no company wants to have its dirty tech laundry aired online), seeking help via outside sources has the potential to seriously harm the enterprise. The majority of the IT managers we spoke with point to compliance and security issues, in addition to the concern that more significant problems may arise as a result of bad advice. Additionally, if IT is not alerted to an issue at its outset, the organization may remain unaware of a larger systemic problem that's impacting multiple users.

Millennials not only turn to external sources to get their questions answered faster, but also because they have a self-sufficient nature when it comes to technology. They want to understand the issue and attempt to resolve it themselves before contacting IT support. To take advantage of Millennials' problem-solving tendencies, IT managers should investigate solutions that leverage the group's self-sufficient nature. These could take the form of FAQs or self-help centers that mimic the look and feel of search engines or social forums, as well as the implementation of remote support tools that allow Millennials to watch a technician fix their problem, even from afar.

The vast majority of the IT managers we spoke with - 81% - believe Millennials have a significantly different approach to technology than their older counterparts. One area is in Millennials preference for text-based versus voice-based communications. This is spurring some tech support organizations to evaluate communication channels beyond the phone, such as text messaging and chat. Of these, chat seems to be by the far the most popular with half of the IT managers polled confirming their organization uses the channel for support. The benefit for IT is that support technicians can help multiple users at a time when using chat, versus the one-to-one relationship of the phone. When implemented correctly, chat can instantly increase technician efficiency by two-fold or more. Also, when combined with remote support, chat also allows IT managers to record a log of the conversation and actions taken during every support session, which is helpful for analyzing performance and ultimately improving service.

The biggest takeaway from our research is that while Millennials certainly have a distinctive approach to technology, IT is not too far off in their ability to meet their expectations. As in all things, there are certain areas where both parties must concede ground, but by taking the time to understand Millennials' needs and preferred support channels, IT can easily adapt. As Millennials are poised to become the dominant group in the workplace, smart IT departments will begin investigating these avenues now to maintain a happy and productive workforce.

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



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