The future is digital, the future is now…

In the good old days – the early ‘90s – it was simple. You got the odd telephone call, paper-based forms and letters by post and nothing was really urgent. The concepts of immediate responses and 24/7 customer service didn’t exist. For many businesses, the first sign of change was the fax machine – days turned to hours and the digital revolution had begun.

The modern world

Today it’s a totally different story; we live in a digital world where everyone expects everything to be instant. If it’s not they take to Twitter to complain so everyone can see and, if that’s not enough, they might be using a computer, a tablet or even a phone. How times have changed.

The consultancy view

These are just a few statements by respected consultancies around the world..

  • Gartner states that this year, refusing to communicate with customers via social media will be as harmful as ignoring emails or ‘phone calls is today.
  • IBM say social media will become the #2 customer interaction method in the next three to five years.
  • From IDC, more people in the United States will access the web via mobile devices than via computers by 2015.

Old is the new young

The truth of the matter is that our customers aren’t getting younger, we’re getting older. It’s estimated that by 2025, 40-60% of workers across the world will come from Generation Y.

So who are these people? They go from teenagers to people in their mid-30s – a group that was raised on MTV and the internet. They are the children of Baby Boomers and Generation X.

Generation Y represents a massive group of influencers – the largest and the most cutting edge generation in our history – that is until Gen Z hits us. Which is why it’s so important for businesses to create strategies that attract and retain this powerful demographic.

Paraphrasing Greg Pitcher from Personnel Today; before Generation Y came along, people obsessed with computers were called nerds or geeks. But now you’re nobody without an iPhone and hundreds friends on Facebook.

Gen Y – the facts

And just to position what this means for your organisation, here is some behavioural insight about Gen Y.

  • 70% talk daily with friends on a mobile phone but just 46% talk to friends on a landline phone
  • 60% send text messages every day
  • 54% use instant messaging
  • and 46% use search engines to find out about brands.

They spend an average of 16 hours a week online and 9 out of 10 teens have access to a home computer. In fact, 45% say they couldn’t live without a PC and web connection…

  • 96% have joined a social network
  • 28% have talked about a product or brand in an online forum during the past month.
  • 49% have reviewed a product online.

Engagement can be simple

So, how can we engage with them? We need to understand:

  1. Their mindset and attitudes
  2. How they consume media and information
  3. And their preferences in sourcing and sharing information.

In simple terms what this means is:

  • They’re happy to use technology
  • Buying decisions are made based on peer recommendations, especially friends.
  • They want information easily and instantly, in real time across multiple channels
  • And they’ll lose interest if information isn’t relevant and engaging.

Adapt to survive

To survive, organisations like need to adapt and change to meet the needs of their customers. It’s no longer the case of a few geeks in the corner playing with computers and iPhones. Most companies will need to put digital at the heart of their business to survive.

Adapting to the digital age is about turning your company inside out, listening to your customers and putting them at the heart of your organisation.

  • LittleVoice

    All very true stuff John! In fact I think by 2014 more people will be on mobiles then computers with 4g. The only thing holding back the smart device in my opinion is functionality. If html 5 gets its A into G we can invest more heavily in compatible functionality with pc’s. I also believe Apps will disappear when we get better web functionality. I don’t think marketeers need react in a panic over smart devices yet but it is coming and we need to be developing work around’s now. Thanks for the debate