Posts Tagged ‘Boomers


How will the next generation use technology?

Kid, Cell PHone

Frankly, we could make predictions until our faces turn blue and still not even come close. Rooted in patterns and habits, it might be easier to understand how current consumers are adapting new patterns of conversation, of technology usage, and so forth.

 Instead of looking at the obvious next generation consumers (ahem, Harper Drake), let’s instead look at an older generation to see how technology shapes their lives today.

 After two mini-research projects, I have come to this conclusion: current intimacy with technology defines where these consumers will go next.

 Case Study I: Mobile focus groups in Chicago

Boomers taught me this.

Their mobile is their best friend. It connects them with others, provides them information access points, and is never far from reach.  Despite the BFF status, they are quick to turn on the mobile. If the information is not easy to get/find/manage, they want nothing to do with it.

 After talking with them about the future of mobile, they see it as a ubiquitous device that does everything from opening the garage door and turning on lights, to remotely controlling their TiVo to help them record shows they may have forgotten about, to streaming doggie day care video so that can watch their pets while they are at work.

YET, when asked what feature they see themselves using the most in the future, it is hands down voice capability.


 Hmm. Moving on.


 Case Study II: My Parents (Mom: Rachel,  Step-Father: Ken)

I again learned some new things from my parents.

I learned that Ken plays solitaire on the computer to “warm it up” and then moves on to the Internet (once the computer is warm).

I learned that email attachments are something that you only forward on. Not something Mom knows how to physically attach to an original email.

I learned that Ken knows how to read text messages, but doesn’t know how to send them.

 I tell you these things not to spite my parents. I tell you these things to give you a broader picture.

My mom has been using a computer for 16 years, the Internet for 12, and yet has no desire to watch TV shows online or download music. She uses the Internet to check and send email, book trips, print out maps, and shop. Her offline interests (travel, shopping, communicating) have translated into the functions that she is most intimate with online.

 Ken’s vision of mobile phones is quite interesting as well. When asked to describe his ideal mobile phone, he basically described the iphone. He wants a slimmer phone that fits better on his hip, with a bigger screen and larger buttons that will make it easier to use. The iphone is not yet a reality to him. It’s what comes next.

 So, how do we leap this hurdle?

The point:

We need to realize that consumers come and in shapes, sizes, and mindsets. What might be truly “next generation” to you and I, ignores the millions out there who aren’t yet quite comfortable with the mobile web, or even the stagnant web for that matter. Our goal, no matter who the consumer is, should be to create well-designed, intuitive experiences that take the challenge out of learning new technology, therefore creating deeper experiences more readily.

Boomers can brainstorm a million things they that WANT to do with technology. But, in reality, they can only actually see themselves using features they are already comfortable with. So, what’s next? The are driven by utility, thus, technology and all things associated need to be accessible and easily assistive.

How do we help them build on the intimacy and baby step into the future?