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Millennials Want More IT Support Than Boomers, Study Finds

Millennials are predicting greater reliance on IT support in 2016, surpassing the expectations of the Baby Boomer generation, according to a new CompTIA report.
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IT professionals, take note: Research shows Millennials are already anticipating greater reliance on tech support in 2016.

In a new study from CompTIA, researchers found 58% of Millennials say they believe their need for IT support will grow in the new year. Their expected demand far surpasses that of Baby Boomers, 33% of whom predicted greater need for IT support.

The CompTIA study, titled "Managing the Multigenerational Workforce," explores how IT pros can accommodate new workers' needs. More businesses are working to attract young professionals while retaining older and more experienced employees.

[Read: How Millennials are reshaping customer service.]

"Businesses are building their technological capabilities, but only 16% of employees see their workplace as cutting edge in technology usage," the report states. Seventeen percent of employees view themselves as tech savvy, but the trend points to stronger tech usage as workers get younger.

Researchers conducted two surveys. The first was an online survey distributed among 700 business professionals across age groups and industries. The second was an online survey of 1,010 individuals aged 13 to 24. It was intended to gauge interest in IT careers. For the enterprise portion of this study, CompTIA included Millennials currently in the workforce (20 and older).

Study participants answered questions related to topics including how different age groups embrace new technology, how they relate to different aspects of office life, their role within the organization, and their expectations of IT services.

Results show that employees of all ages are using more devices, applications, and networks to do their jobs and that they expect to be productive anywhere, at any time, with any device. The growing role of devices will predictably lead to heavier reliance on IT support, even as these devices become more user-friendly.

More than half (58%) of the Millennials who participated in the study say they expect their need for IT support to increase, 34% predict no change in IT support demand, and 8% say their need will decrease. For Baby Boomers, the results are almost exactly the opposite: 33% anticipate greater need for tech support, 58% predict no change, and 9% expect a decrease.

For the most part, Gen X responses fell between those of younger and older generations. Forty-four percent anticipate their reliance on tech support will grow; almost half (49%) don't think their needs will change. Only 7% of Gen X respondents think their need for IT support will go down in 2016.

Despite the downward trend currently affecting the PC market, CompTIA says its research shows "the importance of the PC to office workers remains as vital as ever."

Desktop and laptop PCs top of the list for IT support tickets, with 42% of workers requesting computer maintenance or troubleshooting in the three months prior to taking the survey. PC problems generally mean a halt to productivity, an indication these devices won't be replaced anytime soon.

"BYOD has not become the force that many imagined just a few years ago," states the report, noting only 40% of all workers use personal devices on the job. "The post-PC era is also not quite here yet -- desktops and laptops are still heavily used along with smartphones, with tablets lagging behind."

In the cross-generational study, six of ten employees claim they use company-provided devices. The BYOD trends are not surprising: 53% of Millennials and 28% of Boomers use personal devices, and BYOD is more common at SMBs (46%) than at large corporations (29%). In terms of job role, senior staffers (65%) were more likely to use personal devices than were employees ranked mid-level or lower (32%).

Smartphones and tablets received the fewest support requests among the devices in CompTIA's study, but researchers predict the demand will grow as they become more integrated into the enterprise. Even with BYOD growth, IT support will be needed to boost mobility initiatives and train employees.

Data supports the idea of smartphone and tablet growth: 67% of Millennials use smartphones in the workplace, compared with 59% of Gen X workers and 43% of Baby Boomers. Forty percent of Millennials use tablets, while 28% of Gen X workers and 18% of Baby Boomers do the same.

When they run into issues, Millennials are more likely to try fixing problems on their own before reaching out to IT. When they do contact tech support, they engage through emerging technologies. Instant messaging (71%), video chat (54%), and mobile apps (54%) are the top forms of communication among Millennials.

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