Do you know this guy? He uses an MMS barcode as a boarding pass to check-in, uses his mobile to remotely access his PC at home while he is away on business, does mobile banking but does not have a real world bank account, and uses his mobile GPS to find his way around a city he has never been to before. Who is this guy? He is the digital consumer of today and he is not all Generation Y either. This guy is everywhere, claims Abdul Karim, strategy director of Luciola DDB
Abdul Karim suggests that Baby Boomers are embracing technology 20 times faster than the younger generation and thus the presence of technophobes is set to diminish over time
Technology is impacting everyone. Computer power is 8,000 times cheaper than it was 30 years ago. There are now some communities on the web that are bigger than significant countries. Mobile as a technology has been adopted by more people than any other technology ever has and the statistics are astounding. At this rate, 80 per cent of the world will carry a mobile phone in five year’s time thereby creating a US$1 trillion industry.
What is happening? Mobile and web are changing human behaviour and leading to a way of living never anticipated. Let us consider five key directional changes in human behaviour caused by the convergence of communication technology. While these behavioural changes are being led by cutting-edge users and early adopters, we are also seeing some profound changes at the common level in the poorest of countries.
Five key changes to human behaviour
Indigivuality – Digital technology is enabling people to be more individualistic. Why is individuality so important for people in the first place? It is driven by the need to feel significant. Expressing oneself uniquely makes people feel important and distinct. While the idea of individuality is age-old the drive towards individuality today is manifesting itself in a number of ways across all aspects of life, and is now primarily driven by the web. Generation Y is growing up in a world of social media (blogs, Facebook, and so on). Expressing themselves digitally is the preferred choice. Media has compounded this need even further. Reality shows like American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent are encouraging people to embrace who they are and bring out whatever makes them unique.
Online marketers from all industries such as Threadless Tees, Reebok, Blue Nile and myDNAfragrance.com are relying on Indigivuality. Similarly mobile phones too have become a symbol of individuality and taste, from the handset to the ringtones to the personal accessories in which people invest. Indigivuality is a phenomenon that can only grow as communication technology becomes more and more pervasive.
Instaneity – Digital technology is enabling people to live life “here & now”. Technology is spoiling us to a point that we want everything this very moment. Instant gratification is the norm not the exception anymore and this is leading to significant changes in behaviour. There are no firm plans anymore. Everything is on-the-go, fluid and changeable. Web searches are taking Instaneity to a whole new level. With mobile Internet access to information when you need it, people as well as businesses are able to take advantage of immediacy and location. New kinds of coding technologies work with mobile phone cameras and can be used to unlock a world of possibilities instantly. All of this is changing user expectations in the real world. Attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter. “Snail mail” and email are no longer enough; we want nothing less than instant messaging. We want to be always in touch, always switched on.
Technology is empowering individuals to take control of their lives and is extending beyond the affluent segments of society. It is impacting healthcare in places like Africa and Southeast Asia for example
Virtunity – Virtual communities enabled through technology. They are driven by the human need to belong, to be a part of a community. Technology is fuelling this need and bringing people together in newer ways not seen before and this phenomenon is truly global. From social networking to multiplayer gaming to 3D virtual worlds, Virtunity is changing how people live and interact with each other. A number of things that used to be done offline are now being done with someone else online. As a direct result gaming has become a huge industry. Today some 200 million people log on worldwide to play interactive computer games. The desire to escape is another driver behind this as many enthusiasts spend numerous hours playing games online. 3D virtual communities like Second Life (SL) are other examples of how people are connecting with each other. With over 1.5 million active users alone SL is like a virtual country with an economy of its own.
Techpowered – Digital technologies are empowering individuals to take control of their lives. Driven by individuals’ desire for a sense of control over their lives, technology is enabling individuals to achieve more things with greater effectiveness. Today an individual can collaborate with others across continents seamlessly. The rules of the work place are changing. Organisations are moving from structure-based to knowledge-based setups. Techpowered organisations are doing everything from content creation, project management, knowledge management and even professional networking using Web 2.0.Business is being conducted online. Techpowered is also making a big impact on non-profit organisations. Digital Technologies are enabling individuals to contribute and make a difference in all areas of life. It is reaching more people and making participation easy for everyone. This is going beyond the affluent segments of society. Techpowered is impacting healthcare in places like Africa and Southeast Asia in a significant way. Technology is leap-frogging traditional ways of doing simple things like mobile banking.
Techvoidance – Avoid using digital technology for as long as possible and only use it when there is really no other alternative. Interestingly enough, there is conversely a new set of people who, despite all these developments and innovations, are shunning these ways and sticking to tradition. They are the late adopters who view the world today as a chaotic and confused mess. They are driven by simplicity and would shy away from anything remotely complicated. As a profile, Techvoiders are primarily older, less educated and lower in income. This does not imply that all old people or people like our parents are Techvoiders. Baby Boomers are embracing technology 20 times faster than the younger generation. Therefore in the long-run Techvoiders will be a rarity.
So what are the implications of these changes?
Constant evolution in the way we live as with the concept of “fluid planning” or planning while in the midst of implementing. In the past, we had to be precise with our schedules to meet someone and had to make sure we were there. There was no such thing as “last minute” unless there was an emergency. Today that is the way things are done regularly.
This article was contributed by Abdul Karim, strategy director of Luciola DDB