A Millennial's Impact on IT Buying

Monday Apr 23rd 2018 by Pedro Hernandez
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A new report from Spiceworks reveals the generational differences in how IT buyers approach their purchase decisions.

Need a new PC, server or business app? Don't count on it coming from an IT industry mainstay if a millennial oversees your IT buying.

In the eyes of millennial IT buyers, established brands aren't what they used to be, revealed a new study from Spiceworks. The IT management software provider and technology community polled 674 technology decision makers in North America and Europe, and found that millennials, folks born between 1981 and 1997, place less value on how long a vendor has been in operation than their Generation X (born 1965 to 1980) or baby boomer (born 1946 to 1964) counterparts.

Less than a quarter (23 percent) of millennial IT buyers consider it critical or important for a vendor to have been established for at least 10 years, compared to 31 percent for Gen Xers and 32 percent for baby boomers.

"It's not a given that millennials will go with the big-name tech vendors just because they've been around since the early days of computing," said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks. "The established IT giants can't just rest on their laurels; they need to continuously innovate to stay relevant."

Spiceworks also discovered that a vendor's values matter more to millennials. Twenty-six percent of millennial IT buyers consider it critical or important that a company's mission align with their values, compared to 19 percent for Gen Xers and only 13 percent for baby boomers.

Tsai observed that "millennials care more than their peers about what companies stand for, perhaps because these younger IT pros are more idealistic and more willing to switch to a new service or product if a vendor's values are more in line with their views."

Millennials are also more likely to let their personal technology purchases influence their business buying decisions (65 percent) than Gen Xers (55 percent) and baby boomers (57 percent).

Flocking to Reliable and Secure IT Products

No one likes getting stuck with a lemon, whether a technology product is being used in the workplace or at home. Among all IT buyers, reliability is the most important or critical product attribute, across both business (98 percent) and  personal purchases (95 percent).

Users also appreciate products that don't play it fast and loose with their data. Security is a big priority (91 percent business, 81 percent personal), followed by cost effectiveness (88 percent business, 84 percent personal).

Spiceworks Survey - Product Attributes

These results may be unsurprising, but things start to get interesting when evaluating IT buyers' attitudes toward a vendor's ability to provide high-quality support.

High-quality support is considered important for 78 percent of buyers making business purchases. While evaluating technology vendors for their businesses, 85 percent of baby boomers and 82 percent of Gen Xers consider high-quality support critical or important, compared to 74 percent of millennials. The report suggests that since "millennials grew up in the digital age," they may feel more confident acting as their own tech support.

Meeting an employee's needs (82 percent) is the biggest purchase driver for end user devices in a business setting among all buyers, followed by inadequate performance in existing devices (71 percent). As with many business decisions, budget availability (67 percent) is a major factor as well.

Industry buzz has a minimal effect on business IT purchasing decisions (3 percent). But if a hot new product is making noise, millennials (17 percent) are likelier to pick it up for personal use than Gen Xers (10 percent) and baby boomers (8 percent), Spiceworks found.

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