Perhaps the most influential gift of the Baby-Boomer Generation is the consciousness we all have of our own generations, be they the Quiet Generation, Generation X, Y, or Millennial. The language of generations and of the ways they communicate have become a part of everyone’s lexicon (Baby Boomers using ‘twitter’ as a verb, for example). As millennials (those born between 1981 and 2002) move into the business world and become heads of households and buyers of technologies, their influences are starting to be felt everywhere. But what is especially striking is that their numbers are comparable to Baby Boomers, whose efforts established most of the technologies and marketing strategies that we now use. In other words, the youngest and the oldest in the world of communications are meeting in the same tech space. But they are using that tech space quite differently.
Keith Woolcock on “SeekingAlpha.com” stresses the economic and technological changes that Millennials will make to what the Boomers gave us in computing:
The long march of Baby Boomers through the workforce changed the way business was done. Baby Boomers killed the mainframe computer and replaced them with personal computers and then the internet. Just as rock music rewired our ears, the internet and GSM rewired society. Now Millennials are quickly taking the internet to the next level and making it borderless.
Borderless and wireless., and he sees the move to wireless and handheld technologies as handcuffing larger “fixed line” computing companies like Dell and Microsoft, who have always been able to add more processor and hard drive to their computers because power to the machine and time connected to the network were ‘unlimited.’ Neither is true with a handheld device, companies who have already adapted to the changing practices of Millennials will be more successful in the upcoming decades.
‘Futurist’ Michael Rogers sees a similar development not only of handheld/portable computing but even of online relationships that override those in the real world (Confession: Any time I see someone described as a ‘Futurist’ I always wince before reading):
Baby boomers have always been adopters of new technology, and we’re pretty used to the rapid pace of change. The bulk of boomers will become increasingly comfortable with the virtual world and want to get things done online; they won’t necessarily need to talk to a human being — but when they want to talk to a human being, there’s got to be one there.”
By contrast virtual contact seems natural to millennials, particularly the cohort’s youngest members. The generation that’s growing up with social networking will maintain into adulthood the ability to have meaningful virtual relationships. You’ll ultimately have a social identity that you carry with you on the Internet.
Boomers, he believes will be willing to lead/follow the Millennials only so far on this path of virtuality. So the technology to go down that path will be coming from the Millennials, who will create cooler (temperature) and energy-efficient devices. Generation X (1961-1981) apparently only tweaked the improvements made by the Boomers and are ready to accept what the Millennials give them.
Which, according to a recenton EverywhereAllTheTime.com, will be the iPhone or its progeny. The generational division made here should be quite easy to verify:
Young people who were in school when the first iPhone came out were able to choose the iPhone as their first smartphone instead of this decision being made for them by their company. This contrasts with the many individuals who have been accepting company phones for years. It is normal to become attached to the technology you are most experienced with and the millennials are no different. This unique group of early iPhone adopters is now starting to enter the professional world and they’re taking their phones and their OS preferences with them.
And the blog offers a small survey to show just how many use Blackberry devices because they had to – and how many are moving into the professional world with the expectations of keeping their iPhone.
Besides the shifts in expectations of devices will come shifts in expectations in outreach, communication, and marketing. Millennials do not want to poke around with email when they can text (no matter how deadly it can be). They will also want their outreach from philanthropic organizations and breweries to come in brief but creative bursts. And they will have the numbers to move the mobile and smartphone economy in that direction even within the next decade as we talk of the retirement of the Boomers. But I make no claim to being a Futurist.