If you follow tech at all you’re probably aware that Mary Meeker‘s annual report on the state of digital came out a couple of weeks ago. It’s always a great read and gives excellent thinking on where we’re all heading on the technology front. As an aside, by now I hope we all recognize that no matter what business we’re in, what’s happening with the internet and with technology will affect us, so this is probably worth a few minutes of reading.
Buried in the report is a nugget that’s our topic today. It has to do with what young employees ages 18-34 (often called GenY or Millenials) want out of their jobs vs. what their managers believe those Millennials want. The differences are startling and I believe have great implications. Let’s see what you think.
If you have a look at the chart, you’ll see that managers are pretty clueless. They believe that most younger employees are after big bucks while the truth is that only 27% of actual Millennials report that as an important factor. Granted, the data is a couple of years old but I doubt things have changed very much. Where the Millennials say they want “meaningful work” and the importance they place on feeling a “sense of accomplishment,” mangers dismiss those factors as being important almost entirely. Quite the disconnect.
I suspect that this is due to a couple of things. First, I’ve known many managers who rarely interact with people several layers “beneath” them. Maybe a “hello” at a holiday party is as close as they get. One could write that off to the demands of the job and the lack of time in the day. That’s crap – you need to make an effort and the people who make the actual work happen are worth the effort.
More importantly, I suspect that for many of these disconnected managers this is how they treat their customers as well. They don’t make an effort to understand the truth about their customers’ needs and wants, believing that they have a full understanding already. And we wonder why businesses fail…
What your staff wants, how they value work, and how their priorities might differ from yours is something about which you shouldn’t be guessing. Are you?
My birthday is coming up in a few weeks.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I think I’m officially what would be classified as an Older American (seems like that’s anyone over 25 these days), so I read the press release from the folks at Perion with some interest. They’re “a developer of software tailored for 40+ Second Wave Adopters (SWAs) of technology”. I’m not sure if that means all their products are in large type, but nevertheless the research they conducted concluded that:
Older Americans have a cautious approach to technology, but are still willing to embrace it depending on the practical impact it will have on their lives. The study shows that 88.5% of Americans over 45 surveyed consider themselves slow to adopt technology. However, 84.8% adopt a new technology when it fits their current lifestyle, 89% will use new technology if it’s better than what they use today, and 79.2% enjoy technology and new gadgets.
Only 50% of respondents felt that greater usage of technology has hurt social interactions, and 89% said that they were good at keeping in touch with friends. Key to understanding the segment is the recognition that SWAs over 45 do not fear technology, but they need to be a little more convinced to use it than others. Surprisingly, 76% said that technology was fun; not a term usually associated with technology amongst SWAs.
Add to that this nugget:
A new study by Euro RSCG says people are tired of having to act and look younger than they are and live up to some sort of unattainable youth ideal. Just about three-quarters of those who surveyed expressed the belief that society has grown much too youth-obsessed — an opinion shared not just by the older set but also by 6 in 10 Millennials.
In other words, if you’re thinking that we oldsters don’t “get” what you’re doing you’re insulting not only a potentially lucrative business segment but maybe angering our kids as well (most of them do love us, after all). Ever use the phrase “you’re not the demo” when receiving business commentary from an older person? Maybe we really are.
The real underlying message is that older folks will use whatever means they can to stay in touch and make our lives easier. We’re pragmatists, balancing the discomfort of the learning with the desire to make use of every minute we have. Birthdays are great incentives!
I noticed something yesterday that got me thinking about the role tech plays in rejuvenating “old” products. In this case, the product is baseball. If you’re over the age of 50, baseball was probably the first sport you came to love and follow because when my peers and I were kids it truly was the American past-time. College football and the NFL were a distant second; the NBA was barely surviving, and soccer was something they did in Europe.
The Harris Interactive folks have been running a poll for many years which tracks which sport fans label as “their favorite.” As you can see in this document, baseball has been falling for most of the almost 30 years they’ve been measuring this. In 1985, baseball was about even with pro football when fans answered the question “If you had to choose, which ONE of these sports would you say is your favorite?” By 2011, those responding “pro football” were 2.5x greater than those responding “baseball.” One might expect that baseball’s audience would be older – there’s plenty of research to support that – and this poll identified the 50-64 segment as the one with the most avidity for the game.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That’s why, when I read this piece yesterday, I had a thought. Another research company, Scarborough, found about the same percentage of “avid” baseball fans as did the Harris study. However, it also found a lot of strength for the game among Gen Y fans. Generation Y are the “echo boomers,” the children of boomers like me. In fact:
54% of Gen Y MLB Fans more likely than all MLB Fans to have used a mobile device to read a newspaper in the past 30 days, 84% more likely to have listened to internet radio in the past 30 days and 22% more likely than all MLB Fans to typically watch reality TV. Gen Y MLB Fans are more than twice as likely as all MLB Fans to have visited Twitter in the past 30 days, 59% more likely to have read or contributed to a blog in the past 30 days and 68% more likely to have watched video clips online in the same time period. Gen Y MLB Fans are 131% more likely than all MLB Fans to have visited Hulu.com in the past 30 days and 65% more likely to have visited YouTube.com in the same time frame.
So this is my thought. The game isn’t any faster nor has there been a breakthrough in game presentation that is stirring interest. What is going on here in my mind has to do with the thing that MLB does better than any other sports league ( and I say that as someone who was once responsible for this at a major sports league): digital media and technology. Baseball’s tech arm, MLBAM, is widely recognized as the leader over the last decade. Their commitment to make their games available on all devices was revolutionary at the time and their “At Bat” product is terrific. I think this is what’s driving the reemergence of the sport among younger people. It’s accessible, it’s presented in a manner they understand, and it’s everywhere they are.
Could it be that new technology is making our oldest professional sport new again? What do you think? How can it do the same for other “old” businesses?