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IT Support: Bridging The Generation Gap

  • There's been a lot of talk about how Millennials and will transform the workplace. The assumption is that these digital natives who grew up with computers and the Internet will have much different needs and expectations than aging Baby Boomers when it comes to the technology they use.

    Often stereotyped as entitled types who aren't exactly the most professional workers, Millennials (generally defined as people born after 1980) are expected to want to work as they live, demanding speedy access to corporate resources at all times via a computing device of their choice. Oft-cited statistics peg Millennials as surpassing Gen Xers this year as the largest share of the workforce.

    A recent study by CompTIA looked at the technology habits of this new generation of workers and their IT support expectations. Compared to older workers, these tech-savvy workers will want more IT support even though they're bit more apt than previous generations to take a DIY approach to tech fixes. They'll also look for IT support via video chat, instant messaging, and social media.

    Interestingly, even though employees are using a greater variety of devices, the venerable PC remains at the top of workers' list for IT support, according to CompTIA.

    CompTIA's study on IT support needs was based on an online survey conducted in September of 700 business professionals in different age groups across a variety of industry sectors.

    Let's take a closer look at CompTIA's findings to get an idea of what IT support teams will need to do to support this new generation of workers.

    (Image: mediaphotos/iStockphoto)

  • IT support demands will rise

    Computing devices are supposedly becoming more user-friendly, but CompTIA found that IT workers -- and in particular, Millennials -- expect IT support needs will increase. Fifty-eight percent of Millennials expect they'll need more IT support compared to 33% of Baby Boomers. Only a very small minority of either group think they'll need less IT support (8% and 9% respectively.) "Undoubtedly, the types of devices and applications in need of support will evolve, but that will not diminish the presence of IT support itself," researchers wrote.

    (Image: alvarez/iStockphoto)

  • PC tops support needs

    Despite all the talk about smartphones and tablets replacing PCs in the workplace -- especially with younger people joining the workforce -- desktops and laptops topped the list for IT support tickets in CompTIA's survey. Forty-two percent of those polled reported requiring laptop or desktop support in the past three months. Twenty-four percent needed help with connectivity (Internet, WiFi) while 16% needed support for a smartphone.

    The survey showed that while Millennials are much more likely to use their own personal computing devices at work (53% compared to 28% of Boomers), the BYOD trend hasn't taken over by any stretch. Six out of 10 workers said they only use company-supplied devices.

    (Image: SIphotography/iStockphoto)

  • IT engagement

    Not surprisingly, Millennials are more interested in using newer communications tools -- instant messaging, video chat and mobile apps -- to interact with IT support teams than their older colleagues, according to CompTIA's report. For example, 54% of Millennials expressed an interest in using Skype or Lync video chat to work with IT support compared to 38% of Boomers. Younger workers also were more open to using social media for device or application-related IT support.

    (Image: CompTIA)

  • DIY differences

    While the survey found that most workers try to fix basic IT problems themselves, it also found generational differences. Millennials were slightly more inclined to try the do-it-yourself approach (65%) than either Gen Xers (63%) or Baby Boomers (60%). Forty-seven percent of Millennials said they'd search for answers on Google other sources compared to 26% of Boomers.

    (Image: stevepb/Pixabay)

  • Room for improvement

    The research showed that overall, workers are satisfied with the IT support they get (7 out of 10 reported satisfaction) it also found there was room for improvement. Workers of all ages want their IT problems resolved faster, and many also want more proactive maintenance. Both Millennials and Boomers want better communication with IT support staff, while the younger generation is interested in better customer service.

    (Image: CompTIA)