Will Millennials Make IT Maintenance Harder?

    February 2, 2016
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    By Dino Balafas

    It’s said that millennials are the first “digital natives,” coming of age with the most user-friendly technology in history. So how is it that this generation will need more IT support than any other?

    If there’s any definition of millennials that we all can agree on, it’s that they really know their way around the digital landscape. And why shouldn’t they? Many of them got their first smartphone before they took their first steps, and that knowledge tends to come in pretty handy in the workplace these days. While it can be tempting to roll our eyes at these kids’ constant texting, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little jealous they just get technology.

    Then why do studies say these kids will need even more IT support than we do?

    In an interesting twist, it’s expected that millennials will need more tech support than the previous generation, and that their high demand may make IT maintenance harder. Because of the ubiquity of digital products, it takes a whole lot more computing power to keep the whole system running. And despite their casual knowledge of modern tech, millennials are unaware of how the systems that support it actually work.

    More Products, More Support

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    According to a recent CompTIA study (read it here at InformationWeek), 58% of millennials expect to need more IT support, whereas only 33% of Baby Boomers think the same (only 8% and 9%, respectively, expect less support).

    This is due in large part to the fact that millennials seek broader and deeper digital engagement, which heightens the need for IT support. For instance, the use of video communication tools like Skype or Lync to talk directly with IT support appeals to 54% of millennials, versus 38% of the Greatest Generation (the parents of boomers). They’re also not only interested, but invested in things like social media and being able to contact support via a mobile app.

    And the list of products that will need such support is only growing longer.

    As the researchers put it: “Undoubtedly, the types of devices and applications in need of support will evolve, but that will not diminish the presence of IT support itself.” While millennials may be especially adept at using a wide array of products and applications, they have little insight into their inner workings.

    Thankfully, they have have a (slightly) more DIY attitude towards IT support than other groups 65%, compared to 63% of Gen Xers and 60% of Boomers. Still, 42% of all respondents sought laptop or desktop support within the past three months. At least they’re 21% more likely than Boomers to Google the problem.

    What Are the Implications for IT?

    Technology has become a ubiquitous social norm a trend that millennials’ kids will double down on and the workload demands of IT systems have grown in parallel. And while the speed and memory capabilities of IT systems have also increased dramatically, IT infrastructures have become too complex, and their problems too time-consuming, for individual IT professionals to solve.

    In this arms race between technological adoption and IT processing ability, IT workers will also need to find new ways of competing, as most now realize. Will this make IT “harder”? Probably not, considering the power of some bleeding-edge IT analytics tools. However, this does mean that IT will become impossible if IT workers don’t upgrade their arsenal.

    We’re doing well so far, as seven in ten respondents confirm that they’re satisfied with their current IT support. But that’s not a static figure they also have a growing expectation that their IT problems will be solved more quickly and proactively, with stronger communication channels between IT maintenance professionals and the people they’re helping.

    With each new generation comes higher standards for IT performance, but IT professionals will be best served to meet those rising expectations if they adhere to the old adage: work smarter, not harder.

    (Main image credit: zeitfaenger.at/flickr; 2nd image credit: Wikimedia)