Will Millennials Prompt Greater Agility from IT?

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The CIO-Millennial Divide: Struggling to Keep Up with Younger Workers' Tech Support Expectations

A survey of Millennials by GigaOM Pro and Isurus Market Research & Consulting has been getting a lot of attention, especially in what it means for IT departments. The survey was sponsored by IT support vendor Bomgar.


Four hundred U.S. office workers between the ages of 20 and 29 were polled about what they do when a piece of equipment goes on the fritz. And 200 U.S. IT managers were surveyed about how they deal with this group.


Among the results:

  • 71 percent said they would try to fix the problem themselves, ask a co-worker or seek out an answer on the Internet before they contact support staff.
  • 60 percent of the young workers said it should take the help desk 10 minutes or less to solve a problem.
  • 80 percent of IT managers felt that Millennials had "different" or "very different" expectations about technology than their older coworkers.
  • IT managers believe nearly a third of Millennials disregard corporate policies. (An Accenture survey a few years ago bears that thinking out.) Yet only 1 in 10 young workers believes that's so.


It's that "10 minutes or less" response that's most likely to raise the hackles of IT and that seems to be a generational thing. But I've found myself telling the microwave to hurry up and I'll admit, I'm likely to ask around the office or try to fix the problem myself before I call the help desk. But that's because I hate feeling so stupid. It tends to always be an error between keyboard and chair.


At the same time, the survey indicates that Millennials have more respect for the IT department than we give them credit for. Rob Preston at InformationWeek points to a 2010 survey by Pew Research Center that found that Millennials tend to respect their elders more than previous generations did at their age.


I've been seeing a lot of what I'd call Millennial-bashing lately, such as this CNN.com piece by Ruben Navarrette Jr., "Are millennials cut out for this job market?" After reading that, I asked my husband whether he had experienced this sort of behavior from the young designers he supervises at the local newspaper. His answer: "Not at all." He described them as hard-working, yet fun-loving people who were eager to do a good job.


What this all means for the IT department, as our Rob Enderle wrote the other day about cloud computing's threat to IT jobs, it's all about customer care. He wrote:

If IT organizations get intimate with the line organizations they serve and focus on keeping those organizations happy by appearing responsive, they will likely have little risk. The more disconnected they are, the greater the risk that line organizations will bypass them and it has never been easier to do so.

Preston put it this way:

And even if Millennials' technology expectations are 'different' from their elders' expectations, as the GigaOM/Isurus research suggests, if their demands pressure hidebound IT organizations to improve their products and services, what could be so bad about that? This isn't about appeasing snot-nosed malcontents; it's about reevaluating IT policies and practices to ensure they're keeping up with the evolving needs of employees, partners, and customers.