The Generational Impacts of the Technology Evolution

How do you fare when it comes to technology?

Personal efficiency gains from technology advancements can be a vicious cycle. Along with its benefits—the ability to bring you real-time information faster, reduce how much paper you have to carry, and communicate with people around the world more easily—technology also has downsides, notably the time suck and confusion caused by the noise and information overload. There is a bias against the boomer generation and their ability to keep up with the dizzying pace of technology evolution. In fact, in a report by the Washington Post last year, it was determined that venture capitalists have a predisposition against technology entrepreneurs over the age of 32. Despite the fact that Steve Jobs was 52 when he announced the iPhone innovation, many still consider boomers to lack the patience to learn new technology.It’s a huge generalization to assume all millennials are tech-savvy and no boomers have an interest in technology.So how can baby boomers, who dominate the market in terms of money spent on technology, shirk the reputation that their generation won’t learn new tricks?The first step is to learn from how the younger generations use and adopt technology—best practices you can follow to make your life more efficient – particularly at work.

Because new information is created at an alarming rate and new technology innovations are continuously fading in and out of the mainstream, it’s difficult to ‘learn’ about tech in the traditional methods that boomers might be used to. The younger generations tend to use technology across all facets of their life—shopping, communication, entertainment, food, news, health, wellness—and as such, have developed effective and efficient methods of understanding and embracing new technology innovations.

What does this have to do with the boardroom?

Directors have a responsibility to look at their business from both the inside-out and the outside-in.  Yet, looking at the business as an outsider would isn’t such a simple task anymore. According to IBM, the human population creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. How much of that data is created about your company? The professionals who work at your company? What about your competitors and their employees? How can you know what the industry is saying about your key customers and suppliers?

In some ways it was much easier to keep track of your business when the newspaper was the main way to receive independent information about the market. Now, teenagers could do a Google search for “macroeconomics” and find more information available in 1 minute than most boomers could have had access to during their entire MBA program.

You don’t have to have the technical skills of a millennial to be an excellent corporate director. You just have to learn what tools are available to help you segregate the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data between what is noise and what is valuable so you can make more informed decisions.

Younger generations have already bought into the concept that technology is a critical part of improving their lives and communities. How about you? Are you really convinced that technology is the way to solve the problems of today and tomorrow? Boomers might be eagerly participating in the new consumer tech economy; they might be buying the tech—but are they using it to its full effect? Are you?

This post also appears as a guest blog post in Clarkston Consulting Insights.