It is hard to say exactly what makes a “millennial.” We all know that it is less about the actual year we were born and more about the way the world was when we were born, but what makes us truly “millennial?” Yes, technology has been available to us throughout our lives in a way like no generation before. And of course, this fostered our natural tendency to prefer the newest of these technologies, however, we are more than just the technology we crave, I promise!
Like our parents and more senior co-workers, we value relationships, only we do not need a physical presence to foster them. Our high school friends are seldom forgotten between awkward reunions because as we grow up and move on, we are still connected through tweets, status updates, and video chats. We maintain relationships across countries, and even across oceans, with relative ease. Beyond giving attention, we also crave it. We are constantly updating our status: one-third of millennials are willing to publish our physical location on social networks, just in case someone… anyone… was interested.
You may recognize us from our activity in the marketplace: peppering our social networks with questions before we even consider buying anything, constantly checking Yelp or Foursquare for reviews and insight on where to go and when to be there, and posting about 100 pictures or updates when we do anything to validate our choices among our closest 130 “friends” (and to think 28% of that happens before we even get out of bed in the morning). We get frustrated if we cannot operate efficiently from a smartphone; if we cannot access your site through a device, you just lost to your closest mobile-optimized competitor. Our behaviors have been impacting the market place for years, but now it is time to really get to know us.
We value teamwork and take pride in our accomplishments. Our parents made sure of that with all of the sports teams, clubs, and other after-school extracurricular activities that had our resumes jam-packed before we even reached high school. Our latest claim to fame? Making a name for ourselves as career-people. It may have been a slower start than we (or our parents) wanted but we are showing up in the vestibules of companies everywhere, ready to make a difference in the world as an employee.
The shift is happening; millennials are taking over. Ok, well maybe not taking over, but those of us who are not occupying Wall Street are busy making our impact on the workplace. According to a recently published report based on research conducted by IDC, 66% of this generation expects to be able to use personal devices at work, but currently 74% of IT executives place restriction of this type of use. This conflict is only the beginning of what is going to transform the role of IT and its place in the business – now the generation that bolstered the popularity and prevalence of social networking sites (like Facebook and Twitter) and devices (like smartphones and tablets) is no longer just “playing games.” We are in the workplace, we are bringing those “games” with us, and we are ready to play- even if it means changing the rules of the game.
Consumerization is nothing new, but the millennials are taking this concept to the next level with our appetites for information and the corresponding availability of the technology allowing us to take action whether our employers are ready or not. “Times they are a-changing (though we’re too young to know any Bob Dylan songs),” and it presents both an opportunity and challenge. As millenials move on to and up the ladder in greater numbers, IT trends are going to be increasingly driven by cultural, rather than just technological, change. We are looking to make a difference and have the technologies and the know-how to get started. Look out (professional) world, here we come!