I have no choice but to write this blog telling you what our team has experienced while attending a number conferences this past month. At just one conference there was over 10,000 extremely smart professionals packed together for 3 days. We saw a “community” living and breathing technology as if it was the air they needed to survive and realized many of the attendees are, in fact, the new buyers for all things technology from vendors to service providers. This line isn’t the beginning of a joke, but:
Question – What do you get when you have over 10,000 millennials (today ages 19-34) at a massive technology-centric conference?
Answer – A petri dish that is the future customer of the technology provider.
So what does this mean? Let me tell you. Here are my three most memorable observations from a technology behavior perspective.
Real-time isn’t what it used to be. Email is not real-time, trading phone calls is not real-time and checking Facebook or LinkedIn a few times a day is not real-time. Real-time is when you see 99% (OK make it almost 100%) of everyone “heads down” (walking, sitting, eating) on their smartphone typing. And guess what – they are rarely typing emails or docs; instead they are communicating via SMS, group messaging and social media (see observation #2) in seconds.
2. Social media
Twitter – maybe that’s all I need to write. OK I’ll write the words Facebook and LinkedIn. But Twitter is the new social media platform for conferences and business millennials. Imagine a simple hash tag motivating, uniting and allowing thousands of people to communicate and network instantly and share content and ideas. Sitting in a presentation (maybe of a vendor or educator or…) and the crowd is taking pics non-stop, responding to polls, interacting with questions and sharing on Twitter with their comments (either good or bad) to who knows how may followers… and their followers… and their followers…………….
3. No bags
No bags and also no tables needed other than for your favorite cup of Joe or after 5:00 libation. What do I mean? Smartphones and tablets rule. In our increasing mobile workforce, conducting business 7×24 at conferences, the home office or Starbucks, BYOB is not an option for employers. The millennials most prized possession is their “own” Smartphone or tablet (or both) – it’s an appendage. These devices are personalized as if it was a tattoo and beloved like it was their best friend or puppy. Millennials are not overly concerned about losing their device (for long) – they just can’t lose their data.
When speaking with my peers, customers and partners. Occasionally we will discuss “who are our customers and who are we selling to today and in the future”. I often hear resistance (or is it arrogance or ignorance) when discussing millennials as a viable and legitimate customer segment. Hmmmmm.
As an employer of millennials are you providing them with the technology and services they need to breathe? And as a technology vendor or service provider are you providing them with these technologies and services?