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The rise of the millennials

The rise of millennials will drive disruption and innovation in the channel points out Steve Bailey, commercial director of Agilitas

Perhaps it has always been inevitable that by 2020, the number of ‘millennials’ working in the IT channel will be higher than ever before. The technological revolution that first started to boom in the 1990s - continuing through to the present day - has inspired a whole generation to pursue a career in the wider technology sector.

This goes hand-in-hand with a surge in the amount of general technology currently available in the IT channel, not only in terms of hardware and software, but also various inventory management and back-office systems, which Generation Y is already fully up to speed with.

Those who are frequently defined as being born between 1980 and 2001 are quickly ascending to the summit in the IT channel, moving into a number of senior roles and leadership positions. Unburdened with previous ways of working that may now be considered inflexible and outdated, it is expected that this generational shift will considerably impact the direction the channel takes, with 2020 marking a symbolic turning point.

This will be heavily reliant on how the emerging generation, both in existing and new-to-market channel providers, embraces current disruptive factors. This is mainly centred on how customers want to consume services; businesses no longer want to be tied into long-term, fixed contracts with little options for scalability.

Analysing the channel’s move from traditional CAPEX models of purchasing products and services to more flexible OPEX methods, that are currently evolving into on-demand service models, will continue to be developed by millennials in management positions. The transition from one business model to another has led decision makers to believe there will be an increase in the cost of maintaining both physical and cloud-based infrastructure, as the cost of outsourced services and the price of bespoke hardware continues to rise.

The fresh perspective that millennials will, and already are, bringing to the IT channel will have a significant impact in terms of new ways of working and collaboration. Recent Agilitas research has revealed that nearly three quarters of channel businesses believe that increased partnerships and new, effective ways of working will be best exploited by the millennial, through the fostering of new ideas and innovation, in turn increasing revenue.

Further Agilitas research has revealed that an average of £121,000 of a channel business’ income comes from utilising skills from partnerships with other companies, highlighting the importance of increasing these cross-sector relationships.

This is supported by over half the IT channel expecting younger leaders to increase overall revenue and reduce overheads when they move into senior positions. Alongside forming collaborative partnerships, the importance of generating new ideas shouldn’t be overlooked, with 68% of the channel believing that this can be achieved through innovation.

Bridging the skills gap is a hugely significant area in which millennials can drive the sector forward, two-fold. A constant challenge in the channel, the demand for a variety of skills is continuing to supersede the technical nous available from software developers, coders, technicians, engineers and programmers, to name several, as the IT channel continues to embrace and consume new technologies at a rapid rate.

The aforementioned boom in career opportunities provided by the wider IT sector can help to plug the skills gap, especially as the younger generation enthusiastically embrace technology as both an occupation and avocation. However, it also falls to millennials in senior positions to drive forward the training of both new and existing employees to the level required, which is more important than ever.

Adding to this headache is the inability for businesses to temporarily pull their highly skilled employees from current customer projects to attend further training. This is where an increase in collaborative partnerships can help with on-the-job training and courses, ensuring everyone in the supply chain possesses the correct level of expertise.

As the IT channel becomes increasingly customer centric with a focus on business outcomes and remaining relevant for customers, the appetite to rip-up the rule book and take a fresh approach to providing the services and solutions that the customer actually needs, not what is thought they want, is looking evermore attractive. The introduction of more millennials into senior management positions will drive this forward, leading the charge in how to embrace disruptive factors and increase existing cash-flow, while introducing new predictive revenue streams, through collaborative partnerships.

The current attitude is overwhelmingly positive for millennials calling the shots in somewhat of a transitional period for the channel, which will ultimately help businesses to remain adaptable to customer requirements, providing a fully-rounded IT channel solution.

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