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Generation Y and technology: Till death do us part

They’re here. No, I’m not talking about ghosts. I’m talking about the new generation. Generation Y, a group also known as millennials, is entering the workforce and baffling employers and co-workers. It’s important to examine the topic of Generation Y and technology, considering that a study by the Pew Research Center found that 24% of millennials believe using technology is the factor that makes their generation unique, compared with the 12% of Generation X (the age group preceding Generation Y) who believe this.

According to a Bomgar Corp. survey, more than 80% of IT managers view Generation Y as different or very different from previous generations with regard to its technology expectations. What are these expectations? Bomgar found that 59% of Generation Y individuals feel that an acceptable wait time for IT support is 10 minutes or less. If you’re worried about Generation Y’s unrealistic IT expectations, however, rest easy with this finding: Of that age group, 74% gave their IT department a six or seven on a scale of one to seven, even with the gap between expectation and reality.

The Bomgar survey also found that 61% of Generation Y individuals first use resources other than company support for dealing with technology problems. Fifty-eight percent prefer chat or text messaging for their IT support communications, rather than the telephone.

Another link between Generation Y and technology is mobility. Generational dynamics expert Jessie Newburn says that if you ask Generation Y what productivity tool they could never do without, the answer you’ll get is smartphones. The answer from Generation X is computers. “They [Generation Y] see their prime ability to be productive and effective and communicative is in the realm of smartphones and things that move with them,” she says. This need for mobility will no doubt affect how technology tools are managed within the workplace.

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Pew Research study: 83% of Generation Y individuals sleep with their cell phone on or right next to their bed. This statistic surprised me for a second — until I realized I’m part of that 83%. 

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