The Millennials are Coming … Wait, They’re Already Here

Millennials have arrived in the IT industry — and they’re not the entitled, slacker generation we expected, according to Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer of CompTIA, during his state of the industry keynote speech at ChannelCon 2014. Instead, millennials are already making important changes in the industry.

The generation of entitled slackers known as the millennials has arrived in the IT industry, and they’re nothing like we expected, according to Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer of CompTIA.

“These are young professionals who are already out there making a difference,” Thibodeaux said in his state of the industry keynote speech Tuesday at ChannelCon. “They’re eventually going to be leading this industry in a very short period of time. Right here, right now this transformation is taking place.”

Millennials — born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — are 80 million strong in the United States and more than 1 billion in numbers worldwide.

“By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce,” Thibodeaux noted. “They are changing the DNA of our industry.”

He listed five ways in which they are bringing about change:

Products are disposable. If something breaks or becomes outdated, they’re quick to buy something new.

Brand isn’t king. They’re more willing to try new brands and more likely to change brands if they’re not serviced and dealt with on their own terms.

They’re software centric. Applications are what it’s all about.

Tech training is cool. They’re eager and willing learners, but not in a traditional classroom setting. They’re more receptive to — and expect — new training methods.

No more geeks. Or at least not the stereotypical geeks. Rather, millennials are different kinds of geeks, in usability, in content, in information.

They also have definite ideas about what they want to do with their lives. More than 50 percent of millennials want to own their own business. More than 70 percent believe it’s their responsibility to share feedback, good or bad, about their experiences to help others.

Thibodeaux shared the stage with two members of the Millennial generation who are already making their mark in the IT industry — Samantha Ciaccia from Datto and Brittani Von Roden from Erb’s Technology Solutions.

Neither young woman envisioned IT as a career — Ciaccia went to her job interview at Datto because her mom said it would be good practice. But now that they are in the business they’re making an immediate impact.

Asked what they need from their older colleagues, they cited feedback and freedom.

“We really want constant feedback,” Ciaccia said. “We are begging for feedback, not just once a year, not just once a quarter, but once a week.”

“Give us a little rope and let us run with it,” Von Roden remarked. “Trust that we have your best interests at heart.”

Thibodeaux noted that knowledge transfer between generations in the workforce is critical.

“They’ve demonstrated how it can be a part of your life and part of your business,” he said. “What they really want that there is a good, smooth transfer of knowledge from one generation to the other. It has to happen or the industry will not function as it has and as it needs to.”

To help facilitate this, Thibodeaux announced that CompTIA will create a new Millennial Advisory Council, a group tasked with helping the association and the industry stay relevant for the up-and-coming generation.

Thibodeaux also spoke about the technology curve and likened it to “a treadmill that we can’t seem to keep up with.”

“There are opportunities today for companies to make mistakes because there are so many opportunities out there,” he noted. “You don’t know which one to go after, which one is the best opportunity. The accumulation of legacy systems that we continue to maintain makes it that much more challenging.”

Steven Ostrowski is CompTIA’s director of corporate communications.

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