Leadership / Management | Organizational Development | Technology & Social Media | Training & CPE

Boomers and technology

Boomer "Above all, any strategy, that is, any commitment of present resources to future expectations -- and this, to repeat, is what strategy means -- has to start out with demographics ..." - Peter Drucker, 1999

As we get ready to ring in the new year, did you know that more than one-third of the population in the U.S. will be over 50?

This generational cohort called the baby boomers is also in charge of 50 percent of the discretionary spending and will be outspending younger adults by $1 trillion in 2010, according to a recent report on Boomers & Technology by Microsoft and AARP.

The question you should be asking is, how will this changing demographic tsunami affect your business and what should you be doing about it as you craft your strategy for the next few years?

Some highlights that caught my attention are:

1. Boomers are becoming fast adopters of technology, influenced by their children (millennials) at home and often also taking care of aging parents. This gives them a special vantage point that combines the "brash enthusiasm of youth" with the "deliberate caution of older adults." I am seeing this thinking in CPAs as we discuss the impact of millennials on the workplace.

2. Boomers are concerned that their children will let technology shape their lives rather than using it to shape the lives they want. Boomers experienced the dawn of the technology era with the advent of the IBM PCs and Apples in the early 1980s, yet came of age without any of the social networking tools that exist for today's teens. Their values included human rights and individual freedoms and they have concerns about these in the wake of technology abuses.

3. They also pointed out the benefits of "reverse mentoring" as many baby boomers are learning about technology from their children. How can you apply this to your workplace? I could see a bi-synchronous mentoring as millennials teach us (boomers and matures) about technology and we teach them about the risks and how to manage it for their benefit.

The report goes onto give 13 predictions for "The Boomer Ahead in 2019" (page 26 of the report).

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Digital fitness: Sensors wired to computers (like the iPod sensors of today) and to fitness equipment to track their progress.
  • Video game fever (especially games that use real sports equipment).
  • Social networks will become a Boomer mainstay.
  • Parents: Boomers will buy technology to monitor and communicate with their aging parents.
  • Goodbye to tiny screens: Projectors built into smartphones and PDAs. (Yeah!)

Special thanks to fellow blogger Steve King at Small Business Labs who pointed this out in his post, Boomers and Technology. You can read the full report here.

So, what does this mean to you?