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Biz not ready for the 'Millennials'

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Irish companies are unprepared for the technology demands of their younger workforce or their customers, according to a new report.

The study - 'Is Europe Ready for the Millennials?' - was carried out by Forrester Consulting for Xerox. It revealed that 40 per cent of Irish companies have no plans to allow customers to purchase products or services via the phone or the internet without them first visiting a shop or talking to a call centre representative.

In addition, 59 per cent of firms said they have no plans to provide online forums for customers to discuss products or services, while 52 per cent said they weren't planning to monitor customer discussions on other websites.

The survey was commissioned by Xerox to look at the effect people born between 1980 and 2000, which the company refers to as the "Millennials", are having on their workforce.

The Millennials, or Generation Y, account for 11 per cent of the European workforce and are defined as the younger university-educated workers born between 1980 and 2000. They have grown up with the internet and don't remember a world without it. This group is comfortable sourcing information from the internet, they communicate socially via instant messaging, they shop online,and they are looking for collaborative technology tools which help them to work better and more productively with their colleagues.

While Ireland seems to be close to the rest of Europe when it comes to providing basic technology communications like portals/extranets, providing staff with mobile phones, PDAs, and laptops, when it goes beyond the basics the Irish companies that haven't already developed more sophisticated online interaction said they have no plans to do so over the next six years.

The survey revealed that 91 per cent of executives across Europe recognise different working styles of the new generations, and 73 per cent believe their companies have responded to these requirements. However, Xerox said more needed to be done to meet this emerging group's needs.

"The Millennials will drive a revolution in the way products and services are chosen, developed, and procured. Customer endorsements on blogs and forum sites will become very important, and suppliers and partners will need to be able to work collaboratively online on every aspect of a product or service's development and delivery. Organisations in Ireland need to start embracing the Millennial way of working in order to keep up with the way their customers and partners want to do business," said Penny Rhodes, general manager of Xerox Ireland.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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