NEW YORK; Feb. 10, 2010 – Companies and organizations in China and India stand to capture a global competitive advantage on the strength of young workers and students, who are the world’s most intensive users of corporate information technology, according to new research from Accenture
The research, based on a survey of more than 5,000 students and young workers in 13 countries around the world, found that the technology practices of new hires and students from the “Millennial” generation in China and India-- those between the ages of 14 and 27 – have leapfrogged their counterparts elsewhere in the world, especially in much of Western Europe, where many Millennials feel that technology consumes too much time.
Millennials in the Americas (Brazil, Canada, and the United States) and Asia-Pacific (Japan and Australia), meanwhile, have positive perceptions of technology, but not at the same level as young people in China and India.
The research comes on the heels of a similar survey completed by Accenture a year ago that focused only on the United States.
“The demographic shift from the baby boom generation to the Millennials can be either frightening or exhilarating ? maybe a bit of both ? but it can’t be ignored,” said Gary Curtis, Accenture’s chief technology strategist. “The implications are profound. Companies and organizations that fail to embrace Millennial behavior are at risk of failing to attract and retain new hires, while also seeing their competitive edge erode from lack of innovation in information technology.”
Some survey highlights:
- Chinese Millennials spend an extraordinary amount of time in the virtual world for both business and personal use, especially using real-time communication tools. Young Chinese in the workforce spend an averageof almost 34 working hours a week on tech communication tools, versus almost 11 hours for the rest of the world.
- For leisure, the Chinese spend 14.8 hours a week, on average, playing video games (versus 3.4 hours for the rest of the world), 5.1 hours shopping on the Internet (versus 1 hour), and 5.3 hours in virtual worlds (versus 0.4 hours).
- A large share of Millennials in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy said they believe that technology consumes too much time. The negative perceptions in Western Europe may result from lack of access to effective technology, as only between 18 percent and 21 percent of Millennials in those countries say that they have access to the right technologies at work.
When it comes to adopting new technologies, the survey found that borders don’t matter. Regardless of country, Millennials are clearly jumping the boundaries of corporate IT. They expect to use their own technology and devices rather than those supplied by their employers, according to the research. Even e-mail usage is changing. While older Millennials globally still spend an average of 6.8 hours a week writing or receiving work-related e-mails, mid-Millennials already in the workforce said they spend just 4.2 hours a week on e-mail.
Similarly, 45 percent of employed Millennials globally said they use social networking sites at work, whether prohibited or not. The same trend applies to corporate IT policies. Whether from lack of awareness or blatant disdain, two-thirds (66 percent) of Millennials globally don’t abide by such policies. In other findings:
- 29 percent of Millennials surveyed said they don’t know if their company has such a policy;
- 17 percent said their employer has not published such a policy;
- 11 percent said that whatever policy their company has published is too complex to understand;
- 9 percent said they will post work or client information on public sites regardless of any policy, at least when communicating with colleagues;
- 37 percent said that state-of-the-art technology is an important consideration in selecting an employer; and
- 72 percent of the Millennials in India, 52 percent in the United States and 45 percent in China said that an organization’s use of state-of-the-art equipment is an important factor when choosing where to work.
Moreover, Millennials are doing more than just expressing disappointment with the technology provided by their employers; many are bypassing corporate policy and installing and using external devices and applications that they prefer. For instance, 39 percent said they use mobile phones that are not supported by their employer for work-related activities. Activity was prevalent as well in the unsanctioned use of instant messaging (33 percent) and social networking sites (43 percent).
In their own words, hear seven members of the always-connected Millennial generation explain the reasoning behind their technology preferences—watch the video
Implications for companies
Dealing with the dynamic created by this changing demographic represents something of a juggling act for companies. On one hand, companies must accommodate Millennials. At the same time, they must meet the needs of older workers and continue to address concerns about data security and privacy.
Companies and organizations with cultures of strict hierarchy and conformity may be especially vulnerable, Curtis said. They will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the young talent needed to usher in the new technologies that are rapidly transforming the competitive landscape.
“We see the emergence of a conformity gap,” said Curtis. “Non-conformists recognize that the Millennial generation is rocking the foundation of information technology in the workplace. They’re responding by embracing change, contributing to an ever-expanding gap between them and their intransigent competitors.”
About the Study
To understand how the technology-driven culture of today’s "Millennials" — the incoming workforce — would affect IT organizations’ decisions in the future, Accenture conducted quantitative online surveys of approximately 5,600 consumers between the ages of 14 to 27 in 13 countries* across North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. All respondents aged 14-17 have completed at least middle school, and all respondents 18-27 years of age have completed at least high school. Respondents included in the analysis were in school, recently graduated or employed and represent a random sample of this subgroup, not of the general pool of consumers. The survey was part of Accenture’s ongoing High Performance IT research program, which aims to better understand the drivers and challenges to achieving high performance within IT.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 176,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.58 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2009. Its home page is accenture.com
*Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States.
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