Millennials and the Machines

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As more and more millennials join the modern workforce, they bring a whole new set of expectations. They bring expectations for the workplace, for their peers, and for technology. And with these expectations, they bring an entire paradigm shift. They live in a new world that revolves around innovation, agility, and always on technology within a new universe that revolves around the user.

This new paradigm has been met with new technology trends to accommodate it. New concepts like the commercialization of IT, social networking, the Internet of Things (IoT), and mobility have been led by a new generation of technologists and technology enthusiasts. With this new generation, technology is being woven into everything that we do. The IoT connects us to the world around us, social media connects us to one another, and technologies like wearable devices may even connect us more to ourselves (as we learn about our own patterns of behavior). All of this may seem overwhelming and unmanageable to traditional IT teams...but it's not. New technology is directly correlated to new opportunity for IT teams. But, when managing the machines used by millennials, IT has to be willing to do things a bit differently than in the past. 

What the Data Tells Us

Indeed, 46 percent of generation Y want to choose their own technology in the workplace, 27percent are disappointed by employer-provided technology, and 37 percent consider state of the art technology to be a key factor in selecting an employer, according to Accenture's research. This research shows that it is more and more important for IT teams to recognize that people want to have the ability to choose their own technologies. This is driving many businesses to make the decision to implement employee choice and BYOD programs. In fact, Gartner reports that user preference is the number one driver in the adoption of BYOD programs.

Moreover, millennials generally prefer to be in control, therefore favoring self-service solutions over assisted service, notes a Wired Innovation Insights article by Jake Wobbrock. Many young adults don't like being told what to do, and have become very efficient at procuring technology and supporting themselves. This makes the adoption of a self-service model for technology services a fundamental and critical approach for businesses to pursue. Young adults want technologies to be available at their fingertips at all times, and expect it to be personalized and always available.

And all of today’s youth know how to use all technology, right? Even complex interfaces can be easily decoded and figured out by a millennial with the snap of a finger, right? Wrong.  Young adults who are a part of what is referred to as the “Net Generation” have varying degrees of Internet abilities and activities – while there are many “digital natives,” there are also plenty of digital “naïves” -- according to research from Northwestern University. Research in my own day-to-day life yields the same results. I can't tell you how many young people have come to me asking questions about technology that could have just as easily been solved with a quick Google search.

IT's New Role

This is where IT comes in. We can't assume that every user, no matter what their age, knows about all the technology that's out there and available to them, and will be able to use everything unassisted. So, when following a self-service model, it's important that guidance is part of the strategy. IT should act as a consultant to users within an organization -- finding, curating, and distributing the best technology to each individual based on his or her personal and role-based needs (with automation, of course).

So, how is generation Y best integrated into the workplace? How can businesses attract and keep the best talent? Along with their expectations, the younger crowd also brings new aspirations and dreams. Skilled and talented fresh minds can bring creativity and innovation to organizations, spring board success and create competitive advantage. In fact, today’s young adults are highly productive (contrary to popular belief) and 70 percent work up to 20 hours or more off hours per week due to access to technology, according to new data from RingCentral. Don’t overlook the value of employee choice and guided self-service, and never underestimate the power of the millennials and the machines.

Jason Stanaland is product marketing manager at JAMF Software.

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