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CompTIA Survey: Millennials Will Need the Channel

Edward GatelyMillennials envision the workplace of the future as more tech savvy, blurring the lines between personal and work lives, and emphasizing social-media engagement.

That’s according to CompTIA’s new report, “Managing the Multigenerational Workforce.” It is based on two separate online surveys: the first of 700 business professionals; and the second of more than 1,000 teenagers and young adults between the ages of 13 and 24.

CompTIA's Seth RobinsonThe report looks at generational issues that are changing workforce dynamics, and offers some insights on how millennials are expected to change the workplace of the future and how their views of IT support services differ from Gen X and Baby boomer workers.

Seth Robinson, CompTIA’s senior director of technology analysis, tells Channel Partners one of the big takeaways for the channel is around recruitment and retention.

“As the channel seeks to pull in new workers, they must realize that these workers are looking for companies that have strong technical competence,” he said. “Thirty-four percent of millennials say that company technology plays a significant factor in employment decisions, compared to just 21 percent of Gen X and 14 percent of Baby boomers. This does not necessarily mean being on the cutting edge, but for companies that are already deep in the technology industry, advanced adoption is probably not a bad idea. In general, technology can’t just be something the channel sells and manages — they have to foster a curiosity around technology and an openness to testing out new models.”

When it comes to their comfort level and ability to use technology, 70 percent of millennials label themselves as “cutting edge” or “upper tier.” For Gen X workers, the corresponding figure is 55 percent, and for Baby boomers, it’s 30 percent.

Email remains the most prevalent form of workplace communications, but newer forms of communications such as Skype, text and instant messaging are claiming an increasingly bigger footprint, especially among workers under the age of 50, according to the report.

“As far as opportunities, channel firms can take heart from the fact that 58 percent of Millennials expect IT support needs to increase,” Robinson said. “On the surface, this is counterintuitive since this group is so tech savvy, but that knowledge allows them to understand that there are many moving pieces that create the solutions they are so familiar with. With technology so deeply ingrained in their professional and personal lives, Millennials not only expect their support needs to increase but will also pay extra for top-notch service. Forty-two percent of Millennials say they would be willing to pay extra for …

… priority service.”

That service must be on-demand, using tools such as instant messaging, video chat or social media to resolve problems, he said. With so many tools having a heavy software component, channel firms will need to add some development skill along with the infrastructure for utilizing these various forms of communication with end users, he said.

Elsewhere in the report, millennials want to work for companies that offer an option to telecommute, even if it means accepting a lower salary. Companies that don’t offer a telecommuting option are viewed as old-fashioned.

As for social media, employees in their 20s and 30s are much more likely to use social media, such as Facebook, for work purposes — about three in 10 within each age group. In contrast, less than 20 percent of Baby boomers use Facebook for work purposes and 25 percent do not use Facebook at all, either for work or personal use.

The blurring of lines between work and personal lives, and the information being shared via social-media channels is cause for concern among businesses and acknowledged as a potential problem by employees. Most workers across all age groups (64 percent) believe that social media adversely impacts productivity at work.

“Organizations should seriously consider building a policy around social media to define proper behaviors and minimize the risk of sensitive data being shared,” Robinson said.


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