Have you looked around your office lately? If so, you might have noticed a new generation dominating the workforce, running around the office, always online, always posting and always googling: Meet generation Millennial. The generation of digital natives brought up alongside the technological evolution ready to dictate everyone’s technological reality.
What is happening is actually quite natural: The younger generation Millennial is replacing the aging generation Baby Boomer. And, there is nothing particularly significant about that. Yet, this particular transition actually feels significant. Not because of the shift in generations, but because of the young Millennials’ lack of comparison to any earlier generation. The technological gap between these digital natives and their forefathers is virgin territory. And this gap has forced software companies to match unmatchable expectations from two obviously different generations into one product or service. Because, even though the world is quickly turning ‘Millennial’, Baby Boomers still represent a big part of the user demand, and they are not even close to letting go of the spotlight. So the question is: Is it even possible for companies today to combine the conflicting technological demands from both Millennials and Baby Boomers into one piece of technology? And if so, how?
The hyper technological super user vs. the early technological guidebook user
To answer that question, we need to dig a bit deeper into the two generations and their technological behaviour. Millennials are what we can call natural born digitals. They were practically raised with a mobile device in their hands – or at least they can not remember a life before. They are brought up alongside the digital evolution in a society where everything and everyone is always online. The result: A generation of young hyper technological super users with a constant demand for new, flawless technology. Millennials will dump a flawed technology in a split second just to download something newer and better, that keeps up with their standards. Millennials feel unique and special and demand to be treaded as such. So, in addition to being hyper technological super users they also demand custom solutions specifically tailored for them and their unique life story.
Baby Boomers, on the contrary, are post-war children brought up with a radio or a TV as their most prominent new technology. Their wisdom originates from books, and back when they went to school, research equalled long hours at the library going through archives, books and newspapers. Therefore, their technological ambitions and expectations are somewhat humble compared to Millennals’. They are actually pretty open-minded towards new technology, but the lack of new technology in their childhood has left them less native and more immigrant like in the digital landscape: They need to learn every time causing them to hang on to habits. Therefore, in contrast to Millennials’ self-taught hyper-technological behaviour, Baby Boomers demand guidance to accept new technology.
The recipe: The well guided and personalized piece of technology
So, how does this impact how companies should approach the two generations at ones? Well, let us start by looking at where the generations are compatible. We have seen that Millennials feed out of new technology, while Baby Boomers are pretty open-minded. So the good news is, that both actually want new technology. Now, let us sum up how companies can satisfy both generations by creating some general recommendations:
Millennials’ hyper technological behaviour indicates that companies need to bring something new to the technological table. The generation wants no more repeats. So in order to convert them to users, come up with a unique idea that benefits their lifestyle.
Millennials feel they are special. So make sure whatever technology you offer them is helping them to be special. For companies this means that customisation is a must. And preferable: Add a personal twist that makes users feel co-creative and in control to fit the technology to their personal requirements.
Baby Boomers are digital newcomers. So make sure to include user-guides and tutorials as a part of your launch-strategy. If not, Baby Boomers might not give your product a chance.