For as long as most can remember, IT professionals have known more about technology than anybody else in their organization. However, with the arrival of millennials in the workforce, it’s starting to become apparent that there’s a new generation of end users who’ve been nursed on digital technology.
That shift is creating some major challenges in terms of how both internal IT organizations and IT staff need to go about providing technical support. The degree to which the knowledge and habits of this new generation of end users outpaces those of the people designated to support them has now been quantified.
A new study published jointly by the IT staffing firm Randstad Technologies and IDG Research Services finds that two-thirds of IT organizations either have or are trying to formulate an IT strategy specifically to support millennials. As is often the case with macro trends, this development represents a mix of opportunities and peril for both corporate IT organizations and IT service providers.
Millennials redefining and challenging how businesses operate
IT service providers tend to be staffed by old school IT professionals, many who are not familiar with the legions of mobile applications and cloud services that millennials routinely use. A case in point: the number of millennials without personal email addresses is on the rise. They simply have no need for what they consider an outmoded form of communication. Even more telling is that fact that most millennials rely heavily on tablets and smartphones, which are on and online by default, rather than on PCs, which require an arduous boot up process before they can be used.
According to the study from Randstad Technologies and IDG, millennials’ biggest impact comes from forcing companies to rely more heavily on mobile computing services. A full 78 percent of the IT professionals surveyed said that in the next 12 months millennials will require their organizations to adapt to a more mobile/remote workforce.
In terms of the tools provided, 73 percent said they would be making increased investments in collaboration and communications tools. There’s no doubt that despite any and all security issues, those tools will encompass every form of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) imaginable, including wearable devices such as smartwatches.
Right now, however, the survey finds that only about a third of IT organizations have confidence that they can respond to this emerging millennial challenge, the top two concerns being security and integration with legacy enterprise IT applications.
IT service providers need to “get with the times”
As a result, the degree to which IT service professionals will be able to stay “hip with the kids” is going to be increasingly vital. Organizations will be looking for external help to craft their mobile computing and communications frameworks, not only attract millennial talent, but also to engage millennials as customers. In fact, 80 percent of the respondents in the study specifically cited increased reliance on external service providers as being key to their millennial strategy.
By contrast, IT services firms stuck in a traditional “enterprise computing” mindset will soon find themselves left behind. This is the reason we already see companies such as VMware launching entire business mobility initiatives, specifically designed to address the computing needs of millennials while maintaining IT security.
Of course, many old school professionals will naturally scoff at anything they perceive as a fad enjoyed by more “inexperienced” members of the workforce. But with millennials expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce in the next 10 years it’s just a matter of months before organizations will be forced to make changes. As millennials evangelize their mobile-digital values across their companies, IT organizations unwilling evolve will be ill-prepared to secure their digital assets, much less to tap into these technologies’ benefits.