It has become impossible to have a conversation with ICT vendors without ‘consumerization’ and ‘Gen Y’ popping up. But do we all mean the same thing? Does consumerization matter more than the march of prosumers? Do marketing messages have to be strictly aligned to age groups? We think not; in fact, it may be dangerous to not analyse digital habits in more detail.

There is much work ahead as vendors grapple with the challenge of keeping current customers happy while positioning to capture spending by future budget holders. Enterprises across the size and vertical segment spectrum are struggling to balance the need for alignment, control, compliance and accountability with clamours for collaboration, socialization, mobility and transparency. But among senior business managers there is diversity in digital comfort. While the vast majority of workforce in their 20s and 30s are likely to embrace all things digital with enthusiasm, we find that attitudes in older age groups depend on time available to experiment. Not surprising then that the over 60s are outpacing those in their 40s and 50s; exposure via grandchildren and generally more time to try out new ‘toys’ lead to greater comfort. Miles travelled digitally matter more than just the age. Work we did with large organisations suggests need for more careful profiling.

What does this mean for ICT vendors?

Generations is one of six lenses we apply when assessing a vendor’s Rainmaker Index. We look at internal profiling, alignment with customers’ employee maps and how partnering is leveraged to supplement gaps in generational approaches.

As discussed in our advice to IBM, there are many faces to the generations game. Getting this right will be crucial for long term success. Unfortunately the consequences of getting it wrong will not be immediately apparent.

Image credit: debit72

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