August 18, 2011 ­­– Information workers raised in an environment of ubiquitous communication and the Internet are giving traditional IT support some challenges, according to GigaOM Pro’s new research.

The results are from an online study of 400 “Millennials” in the U.S., ages 20 through 29 (born after 1982), along with in-depth interviews of Millennials and IT managers at large corporations. Research was conducted by Isurus Market Research and Consulting with analysis by GigaOM Pro. The study was underwritten by Bomgar, a software solution provider.

Different generational attitudes impact how the groups work with IT departments. The generation of workers known as Millennials, sometimes called the Google or Facebook Generation, make demands with challenging expectations for IT support. Born in the 1980s and ’90s, Millennials are accustomed to ever-present mobile phones, online access and a connection to people and information. This research shows Millennials have a distinct attitude of “instant gratification.” 

For example, the biggest disparity between IT managers and Millennial expectations was regarding response time to technical problems. Of Millennials, 60 percent of those surveyed think that good support time for a technical problem to be solved is under 10 minutes. IT managers feel differently: only 25 percent operated with a response-time policy for under 10 minutes, and about 25 percent said an hour to more than an hour was a reasonable time frame for technology issues to be solved.

Millennial knowledge workers expect to be able to work from anywhere using any device, driving demand for anytime IT support. A wider variety of communication channels are desired, with 58 percent of Millennials preferred a channel other than the telephone, such as chat or text messaging.

Partly due to IT’s response time but also because of self-sufficiency along with ability in using search and social channels, 71 percent of Millennials use a search engine to look for answers to support problems, and 24 percent use a forum, while 16 percent have queried Facebook communities.

“There are issues with that – if they’re looking up and finding their own solutions, you don’t want them to get a bad solution and make the problem worse,” says David Card, research director at GigaOM Pro. “You don’t want them broadcasting technical issues to a wide audience, which could damage the brand.”

GigaOM Pro points out in the research that Millennials’ desire to solve their own technology issues creates opportunities for IT departments to improve efficiency and cut costs while increasing Millennials’ satisfaction.

GigaOM Pro’s advice to IT is to adjust traditional processes to create a more real-time and collaborative support model. “Build up an IT structure in the way they like to work: try implementing SMS, FAQs that are searchable, and chat,” says Card. Also, he advises devoting a topic area to tech support in the company intranet and let workers know where to search within the forum.

Read more coverage of IT support issues due to mobile demands here.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Information Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access