Millennials Want More IT Support Than Boomers, Study Finds - InformationWeek

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12/11/2015
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Millennials Want More IT Support Than Boomers, Study Finds

Millennials are predicting greater reliance on IT support in 2016, surpassing the expectations of the Baby Boomer generation, according to a new CompTIA report.

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IT professionals, take note: Research shows Millennials are already anticipating greater reliance on tech support in 2016.

In a new study from CompTIA, researchers found 58% of Millennials say they believe their need for IT support will grow in the new year. Their expected demand far surpasses that of Baby Boomers, 33% of whom predicted greater need for IT support.

The CompTIA study, titled "Managing the Multigenerational Workforce," explores how IT pros can accommodate new workers' needs. More businesses are working to attract young professionals while retaining older and more experienced employees.

[Read: How Millennials are reshaping customer service.]

"Businesses are building their technological capabilities, but only 16% of employees see their workplace as cutting edge in technology usage," the report states. Seventeen percent of employees view themselves as tech savvy, but the trend points to stronger tech usage as workers get younger.

Researchers conducted two surveys. The first was an online survey distributed among 700 business professionals across age groups and industries. The second was an online survey of 1,010 individuals aged 13 to 24. It was intended to gauge interest in IT careers. For the enterprise portion of this study, CompTIA included Millennials currently in the workforce (20 and older).

Study participants answered questions related to topics including how different age groups embrace new technology, how they relate to different aspects of office life, their role within the organization, and their expectations of IT services.

Results show that employees of all ages are using more devices, applications, and networks to do their jobs and that they expect to be productive anywhere, at any time, with any device. The growing role of devices will predictably lead to heavier reliance on IT support, even as these devices become more user-friendly.

More than half (58%) of the Millennials who participated in the study say they expect their need for IT support to increase, 34% predict no change in IT support demand, and 8% say their need will decrease. For Baby Boomers, the results are almost exactly the opposite: 33% anticipate greater need for tech support, 58% predict no change, and 9% expect a decrease.

For the most part, Gen X responses fell between those of younger and older generations. Forty-four percent anticipate their reliance on tech support will grow; almost half (49%) don't think their needs will change. Only 7% of Gen X respondents think their need for IT support will go down in 2016.

Despite the downward trend currently affecting the PC market, CompTIA says its research shows "the importance of the PC to office workers remains as vital as ever."

Desktop and laptop PCs top of the list for IT support tickets, with 42% of workers requesting computer maintenance or troubleshooting in the three months prior to taking the survey. PC problems generally mean a halt to productivity, an indication these devices won't be replaced anytime soon.

(Image: OcusFocus/iStockPhoto)

(Image: OcusFocus/iStockPhoto)

"BYOD has not become the force that many imagined just a few years ago," states the report, noting only 40% of all workers use personal devices on the job. "The post-PC era is also not quite here yet -- desktops and laptops are still heavily used along with smartphones, with tablets lagging behind."

In the cross-generational study, six of ten employees claim they use company-provided devices. The BYOD trends are not surprising: 53% of Millennials and 28% of Boomers use personal devices, and BYOD is more common at SMBs (46%) than at large corporations (29%). In terms of job role, senior staffers (65%) were more likely to use personal devices than were employees ranked mid-level or lower (32%).

Smartphones and tablets received the fewest support requests among the devices in CompTIA's study, but researchers predict the demand will grow as they become more integrated into the enterprise. Even with BYOD growth, IT support will be needed to boost mobility initiatives and train employees.

Data supports the idea of smartphone and tablet growth: 67% of Millennials use smartphones in the workplace, compared with 59% of Gen X workers and 43% of Baby Boomers. Forty percent of Millennials use tablets, while 28% of Gen X workers and 18% of Baby Boomers do the same.

When they run into issues, Millennials are more likely to try fixing problems on their own before reaching out to IT. When they do contact tech support, they engage through emerging technologies. Instant messaging (71%), video chat (54%), and mobile apps (54%) are the top forms of communication among Millennials.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
12/20/2015 | 10:11:09 PM
Re: Mileage may vary
vnewman, it's the equivalent of the person who walks around town with his head in his smartphone, not looking up when they cross streets or nearly get trampled. They won't look up until that bus runs them over. That would end their seamless technological experience.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2015 | 7:57:08 PM
Re: Mileage may vary
Ah @SaneIT - I hope it works out for you! Fingers crossed...
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2015 | 8:30:15 AM
Re: Mileage may vary
I feel your pain there.  I have that one legacy system that I hear promises about and have beta versions of its browser based interface but they just can't move quickly enough for me.  There are options though, I'll be doing a fair amount of ETL this coming year to minimize who has to access that system through its current interface.  It doesn't remove the need for some Windows installs to access it directly but it does open up the options for those who only need reporting or snippets of data from it.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2015 | 1:16:22 AM
Re: Mileage may vary
@Broadway. Exactly. So the tools they are used to using don't translate into the workplace. It's like asking someone who uses pens to write all the time to use a chisel and stone instead. But since you asked for millennial bashing - I will give you some. I've come to the conclusion that technology has become so seamless that they don't really stop to think about what they are doing. It's like they are on autopilot - Which is fine until inevitably something goes wrong and when it does they can't recover.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2015 | 12:15:14 AM
Re: Mileage may vary
vnewman, that's hilarious. So what's an enterprise to do. Allow them to switch to Macs at work? (I have to say, upoin seeing the article headline, I came to this article expecting a millennial bashing session --- and am disappinted not find it!).
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
12/16/2015 | 8:38:12 AM
Re: Mileage may vary
With some legacy tools, like our old, but still working, financial package, the options are limited.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
12/16/2015 | 8:35:30 AM
Re: Mileage may vary
That is totally understandable, depending on your industry it may be easier to keep OSX out but creative based industries need that flexibility.  I find that building that inside helps us to deliver externally.  It's not for everyone but I also see it as a future proofing, Win XP was great but if your applications won't run on Win 10 you've got the same problem that you would if OSX was in the mix.  Trying to do as much as we can independent of OS removes legacy systems and keeps us moving forward. 
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
12/15/2015 | 8:21:05 AM
Re: Mileage may vary
We build our customer-facing apps to be OS and browser independent. For internal applications and tools, we have chosen not to expend the extra costs to make our Microsoft-heavy environment OS independent. It's a cost/benefit decision for us, and the cost of Macs and all the extras to make them work in a Windows shop is not worth the cost. At least for us.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
12/15/2015 | 8:15:30 AM
Re: Mileage may vary
I've gone a long way to make services OS independent.  Sure there are things I can do with a Windows PC using group policy that I can't do with OSX but I can deliver most of the services that people need day to day in a way that doesn't force a particular OS on the desktop.  This helps in a lot of areas, not just on the desktop, it means greater flexibility for mobile devices and constantly looking forward.  It doesn't always work, I have one application that is locked into Windows but that is slowly being transitioned into the browser like so many other services have done already.  The OS is fading in importance and most developers are seeing this.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
12/14/2015 | 7:36:58 PM
Re: Mileage may vary
I feel your pain.
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