As the old saying goes, “the only thing that is constant, is change”. This rings true not only in our daily lives but also when it comes to technology and the mediums, we use to get information. The “asset-light” generation is not keen or familiar with picking up an Encyclopedia or physical newspaper to pick up and read to get their information. Everything is at their fingertips, Google has become synonymous with getting information, valid or not. When celebrities want to validate their status, they say things like “Google me”. As a Xennial, (someone born between 1977 and 1983), I remember being so excited when my parents got second- hand Encyclopedia’s one year. It allowed me to be able to look up information on a subject. I remember having to do the alphabet in my head so that I picked up just the right volume to get the information I seek. It was simpler times as the information that I had access to at the time was outdated just as quickly as it went to print.
The “beta” version of Google also known as Ask Jeeves, was a game changer during the times of dial up. Having access to a computer was a big deal, let alone having access to a “personal” computer. Everything was accessible through tangible resources such as newspapers (microfilm) and periodic articles. Floppy disks, where floppy, and before a CD- Rom, we all used hard disks. However, technology has changed, we now store information in the “cloud” or on a jump drive. We no longer must connect to the internet through a hard wire connection and all our music and movie choices can be instantly downloaded and watched from small devices that we carry around everywhere. With having the convenience of access to instant information, it keeps us in the know. We no longer must wait the next day for the paper to be printed or wait for the 6 o’clock news to get information about what is going on in our local communities. We benefit from having downloadable apps that allow us to get notifications about break news on subject matters that are important to us. We can bypass what is not important to us and go straight into information that affects us personally or professionally.
Not only is the information accessible, but it is also instantaneous. For the “asset-light” generation, being able to access information quickly is important. They are a “microwave” generation that does not like to have to wait to get information that is important to them. However, due to this and the ever-evolving change in technology, older adults, such as Baby Boomers, who prefer traditional mediums to get their information are being left in the dust. It brings about a big dilemma for local newspaper owners. On one hand, they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them by eliminating paper news, after all, these are the people who have been faithful readers and subscribers that have kept them afloat all these years. However, in a sense of not wanting to die out completely, most, if not all papers have incorporated some form of digital or multimedia unto the production of news content. Finding that balance has been a slippery slope. Wanting to appeal to a younger and diverse crowd now will pay dividends down the road as younger people will become comfortable to you and your content. Not appealing to this group by coming up with digital content such as apps that allow you to set up notifications, easily accessible online presence, sound, and video “bites” means possibly dying out with their aging “core” subscribers.
In Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovation, he focuses on how not everyone will adopt an idea just because it has obvious benefits. There are 5 types of customers who adapt, willingly and unwillingly to technology. These are the Innovators, made up of 2.5% of customers. They are normally the first to adopt to new technology and concepts. They are usually risk takers, in a higher social class, young, and financially well off. The second type are the Early Adopters, made up of 13.5% of customers, they are normally young, have a high social status, advanced education, high social skills, and well off financially. The third type is the Early Majority, they make up 34% of customers, they are slower in adopting the new process but hold onto it longer than an Innovator, have average social status, and seldom hold positions on opinion leadership. The fourth group is the Late Majority, they have a 34% split just like the Early Majority. They tend to be very skeptical regarding technology, they hold average social status, and very little disposable income. The last category is the Laggards. They make up 16% of customers and are the last to adopt technological ideas. They have little to no opinion on leadership, they are usually older, not very social outside of friends and family, and tend to be lower in social status, and exposable income. If I had to rank myself, I would say that I am somewhere between the Early Majority and Late Majority. By no means am I one of the first people to jump on a new platform until I know more about it. After all, it takes time and effort to create a profile and figure out what all I want to expose to the world.
For Laggards, technology can be intimidating mostly because it’s not something that they learned or were exposed to growing up. For many, they were already well into the workforce before computers became a thing. Software was in its beta stage and internet was still in its infancy stage as well. Social media such as Facebook were non-existent. Now for many this is the only way to stay in contact with loved ones and friends as the expansion of this technology has allowed our world to get much smaller. Many family members live and work on other sides of the world, with having technology in our pockets it opens us up to places, worlds, and people we would never have access to otherwise. Embracing technology, as frustrating as it can be sometimes, is essential no matter where you are on the age, personal, and professional spectrum.
Miller, R.W. (2018) Are You a Xennial? How to Tell If You’re a Micro-generation Between Gen X and Millennial. USA Today.
The 5 Customer Segments of Technology Adoption