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This post was authored by Scott Woodgate, Director, Audience Marketing, Cloud Platform Marketing.

The rise of millennials in the workforce is well on its way. In 2016 millennials already represent one in three workers and by 2025 millennials will make up 75 percent of the U.S. workforce (Pew Research; Brookings Institute). Each generation has its own unique characteristics, and employers need to understand and embrace these to best motivate their employees to deliver business impact. This week at Microsoft Ignite, the largest IT exclusive conference, Microsoft is sharing new technology and best practices with IT on their career and cloud journeys.

We set out to understand millennials’ influence within the IT organization. Our research surveyed over 2,500 IT workers across industries and five markets – US, UK, Japan, Brazil and India, and we examined what perspectives millennials bring to their role, what work environments they are looking for and what technologies they are prioritizing.

Some of the key findings indicate that millennials in IT:

  1. Want their organizations to adopt public cloud faster and use it even for the most essential business applications even if it requires them to develop new skills.
  2. Are focused on delivering innovation, as well as believe that current IT policies need to adjust to better enable that innovation.
  3. Recognize that connecting public cloud solutions to their datacenter to create hybrid solutions will remain important years from now.

The findings indicate that Gen X and Baby Boomer peers are perhaps being influenced by their Millennial peers and are not far behind them. Below is a summary of the results, and the full report is here.

Millennials in IT are on the front foot in cloud adoption and innovation

In the U.S., nearly all – 97 percent – of millennials believe their organizations have applications that should be in the cloud but are not currently in the cloud. Across the markets surveyed, millennials also feel empowered – not inhibited – to acquire the cloud skills they need, with over three-fourths (76 percent) of millennials citing that they don’t see a lack of cloud skills as a barrier to public cloud adoption. Also in the U.S., more millennials cite they are “very” comfortable hosting their company’s most essential applications or services on the public cloud. Even with the strong move toward the public cloud, hybrid is here to stay. Nearly all (97 percent) IT decision maker millennials say that connecting their public cloud solutions seamlessly to their datacenter will be still important in five years’ time.

When it comes to embracing new technologies, millennials are also edging ahead. Across all markets, Millennial technology decision makers (ITDMs) are nearly all in agreement (97 percent) that all organizations with data stored in the cloud should use containers five years from now. millennials believe short-term risk in innovation is worth the long-term gain. More millennials than their combined Gen X and Baby Boomer peers cite they are “very” willing to risk system downtime when introducing a new technology at their organization for making their workplace more efficient.

Looking ahead at emerging technology and on-the-job learning, millennials are eager to adopt the latest and learn about the next-generation of technology. Nearly half of millennials are interested in learning about conversation bots on the job, and 41 percent of millennials are interested in robotics compared with 30 percent of non-millennials. Across all markets, Millennial technology decision makers (ITDMs) are nearly all in agreement (97 percent) that all organizations with data stored in the cloud should use containers five years from now.

Millennials expect their employers to provide them the flexibility and creative liberties to do their work

For a profession that is standards and process focused, there is evidence that is starting to change with a strong desire for more creativity. Our survey found that across all markets, nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) of millennials say their organization’s current IT policies and procedures don’t allow them to be as creative as they could be at work. In addition, nine in 10 (90 percent) of millennials say using their approach is frequently faster than their organization’s preferred approach. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 (19%) millennials cite they will start looking for a new job if their organization does not take their suggestion to change an IT policy or process, more than non-millennials (roughly 1 in 10 or 13 percent). This shows a need for IT organizations to encourage a culture that supports an agile mentality, where IT workers feel empowered to bring new ideas to the table and ways of getting work done.

As more millennials choose professions in IT and into more decision-maker roles, we can expect to see faster change and technology adoption that will help fuel business transformation, including productivity and posture in the market.

Empowering IT Transformation with millennials

We see a new generation of IT emerging where IT is powering change within their organizations fueled by new technology adoption, skill expansion, work styles and procedures, among other changes. We also see an opportunity to provide more resources for IT undergoing these changes.

Microsoft is focused on helping all IT Professionals through this digital transformation by providing free resources to advance their careers in cloud technology:

  1. Today we are also announcing the Microsoft Technical Community, an online destination that brings together IT, MVPs, and Microsoft SMEs to drive discussion, exchange ideas, build connections, and share best practices about Microsoft products and solutions.
  2. Microsoft IT Pro Cloud Essentials provides IT with free access to cloud services, a free support incident, discounted exam vouchers and free training. The Microsoft IT Pro Career Center helps IT map out their journey to cloud roles. Today we are expanding these two programs and making them available globally in 25 languages and across 40 markets.

We will continue to evolve and enhance these free programs to help IT Professionals and the growing workforce of millennials along their career journey in cloud technology.