I’m a child of the 80’s… well, to be specific, 1980. Being born that year puts me on the edge of two distinct groups. The first is Generation X and the second is Generation Y. Depending on who you talk to, I fit into one group or the other. Given that my personality and technology trends mirror more Gen Y, I personally think I fit in there. Other terms that are used to describe me is a ‘Millennial’ or ‘Echo Boomer’. Whatever label you decide to put on my age demographic though, if you’re going to try and sell me something, you better be able to use technology and meet me where I am.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Millennials like me tend to be really handy with technology and use it almost every day. According to a Pew Research study published in February 2010, here are some data points for how Millennials use technology:
- 90% use the Internet to send and receive email
- 75% had a social networking profile
- 55% use social media every day
- 83% reported sleeping next to their cell phone
- 88% text on their cell phones
- 62% use wireless internet away from home or work
- 41% have a cellphone and no landline
- 74% think that new technology makes life easier
- 56% think that new technology allows people to use their time more efficiently
According to a study by Accenture Global Research, 52% of Millennials consider state-of-the-art technology as an important factor when selecting an employer.
“So what?”, you may be asking yourself. I know that this data may not shock a lot of people because it just proves that Millennials use a lot of technology – something most people already knew. The trick is that knowledge is the awareness and understanding of facts. Wisdom is knowing what to do with that knowledge.
Social media has been changing how the world does business in a lot of ways. The biggest is through how business are connecting with their customers. Millennials, as early adopters and avid users of social media, are growing accustom to engaging with not only friends and family on the various social sites, but also brands and businesses. On Facebook they can ‘like’ a company or get coupons for shopping. On Twitter they can complain about the last flight they were on and have a customer service rep reach out to them. Businesses who are, in my opinion, future focused are moving from selling to connecting and from ‘hard to reach’ to being available every where. Unfortunately though, social media adoption and even technology are still something that some businesses that refuse to use.
Working for myself, I have to pick up the cost of my own health insurance (yippee). I have a really great insurance guy. He’s a great guy and seems to always look out for the best deal. The biggest problem with him, the extent of technology he uses successfully is a telephone. Over the past few months as I’ve needed to make changes and add my wife, the process has become a nightmare. With my busy schedule between running client projects, phone conference calls, and teaching I don’t have time to go into an office and chat for 2 hours or sit on the phone for 45 minutes going over everything. But I do have time to read emails and other docs while I wait for conference calls to begin or when my ‘free time’ begins around 11:30pm. After pressing to get my agent to just email me the details he finally confessed that he barely knows how to use a computer let alone email. It is over this that I have just about gone elsewhere.
So what’s the moral of the story? If you’re going to do business with Millennials, get with the times. I’m not saying that you need to learn how to program websites, manage social media strategies, or talk to me via Twitter. What I’m saying is that you need to have the skills to service clients and function in the age of text messages, computers, and the Internet. If you don’t know how to type well… take a class and practice. If you don’t know how email works, find someone to teach you. If you want to learn how to use social networking, there are tons of resources out there to teach you the basics. We’re not expecting you to be experts, but to at least try.
Millennials have been and are now in the workforce. We’re buying homes, getting married, having kids, buying insurance, looking for services. We’re used to having access to companies online when we want it. We’re addicted to technology and use it all the time. If you’re content on ignoring this and unwilling to grow and/or change your own skills, I hope you’re satisfied turning your back on almost 70 million people in the US. Plus I hope you’re planning your retirement, because once Generation I (those born after 1994) hits this stage in life, you won’t be able to compete.