Trends, Future

Move Over, Baby Boomers

Read in 8 min. Gen X-ers want far more collaboration with companies - both as customers and as employees. CIOs are uniquely positioned to help their enterprises meet the demands of this new technology-savvy generation.
Hire Albert Einstein Expertbase, a brainy Business Speaker from Ulm, Germany | Expertbase
PRO+

Albert Einstein

A Business Speaker from
Ulm, Germany

Albert is available for projects both virtually and in-person. Enquiries will go direct to Albert.
Comments
50 Claps
3267 Words
4.72 K
Last July, I had the honor of speaking on CRM and sports at the annual offsite conference of Comcast Spectacor (the owners of the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, among other franchises). The offsite was attended by 250 enthusiastic employees, of which about 240 were 35 and under. No exaggeration. Two months prior, I went to Croatia to keynote that country's first-ever CRM conference. There were about 165 attendees, roughly 80 percent of whom were 40 and under.

This youthful phenomenon transcends the anecdotal.

Gen X, those born between 1961 and 1982, are just beginning to enter business leadership en masse. In the United States, there are approximately 132 million combined Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers - a.k.a. echo boomers - as opposed to nearly 79 million baby boomers. The youngest echo boomer is 16 years old - of age to be a consumer with money to spend. The oldest Gen X-er is 43 years old - and poised to take those leadership positions coming available as baby boomers step down.

These new generations think differently and want significantly different things out of life than previous generations. And they are demanding new business models to give them the kinds of customer experiences they seek. What do they mean by a great experience? They desire enough visibility into companies they deal with to enable them to make smart choices easily through many means of communication.

There is a reason why Samsung Electronics has passed Sony as the leader in consumer electronics. In my opinion, Sony developers are a cloistered group of engineering monks. Samsung spends a lot of time, energy and dollars on working with its customers through advisory boards that help determine its next lines of consumer products. Samsung's approach is a harbinger of what happens when a business model is based on real collaboration between companies and their customers.

This is no trivial matter. If your company doesn't develop a new business model that provides this kind of proactive collaboration between you and your customers, then these new consumers will simply take their business elsewhere. The CIOs willing to figure out how to make these new models work in the context of their own businesses will be well positioned to flourish in this era. Those who don't will be toast.

Who Are These Gen X-ers?
But don't take my word for it. Let's look at what the research shows. According to generational consultant Claire Raines in her book Beyond Generation X, Gen X-ers grew up with both parents working, so they became self-reliant - the "latchkey generation." They desire to control their own destinies and their own experiences. You can see this in the incessant advertising aimed at "lifestyle" choices. These ads attempt to sell not a particular product or service, but the experience consumers might have using a particular product or service. Products and services are now being sold as lifestyle solutions by companies that understand the deeply rooted desire of these new consumers to control what kind of lives they have.

As customers, Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers are more volatile and high-maintenance than any other generation in history. They are voracious in their desire for immediate information and have sophisticated behavioral approaches to filtering that information, no matter how many sources it comes from.

In a recent study, for example, Yankelovitch found that 63 percent of this group will research products before they consider a purchase. What makes this statistic even more compelling is that these new customers are creating extensive communities to exchange information. Even though nary a handshake occurs, the information swap is trusted?and thus is more powerful than any marketing pitch ever could be. As Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger said in 1999's foresighted book The Cluetrain Manifesto, "When we have questions, we turn to each other for answers."

Want an example? Have you seen Epinions.com? If you go there, you'll see reviews of tens of thousands of products by perhaps millions of people, all of whom are personally interacting to provide more information about the products and services than even the creators of those products can provide. The "wisdom of the masses" helps people know whom to trust and why to trust (or not trust) them. These exchanges are instantaneous, real-time and decisive.

For business tools such as CRM to be considered viable for this new generation, a dramatic facelift is in order. Traditional CRM is no longer suited to the business ecosystem that we now live in. That's because the customer is at the hub of this new ecosystem, not the corporation. Traditional CRM organized internal processes and key performance indicators around providing a presumed value to the customer. But the customers themselves were usually not consulted, nor did companies consider the actual value of these changes from their customers' perspectives.

In contrast, the new generation of CRM tools must involve the customer in the planning of business processes. Skype is an example of a company that gets this. By engaging with its customers as participants, primarily through Internet "word of mouse," Skype fostered more than 238 million downloads (and counting) of its VoIP technology, which provides the company with a customer base of roughly 54 million users. Skype worked with online communities such as the Public Mind to gather up user-suggested features, and then adopted those features that the users wanted and that were also profitable. Skype's new business model has been so successful that the company was recently acquired by eBay for $2.6 billion.

"Collaborative customer experiences" are the watchwords of the new CRM model. That means that a relationship between company and customer provides customers with transparency into corporate thinking, which enables the two parties to craft the customer experience jointly. Today, running a successful business is no longer a matter of producing better products and services, whether or not the customer requests them; CRM should be organized around providing a significantly positive customer experience. Since millions of customers can't each get personal attention, the company must enable its customer to craft her own experience. So, in the current primitive stage of the customer ecosystem, we see BMW providing what can be defined as an innovation toolkit?a set of Web-based templates that aid BMW owners in thinking through ideas that they want to see in future models. This toolkit has led to 13 consumer-driven designs involving online services in cars - la OnStar that will be unveiled in forthcoming BMW models.

CRM is even more important in this new era because the customer defines the value, rather than the corporation. The PC/video game industry understands this. Many of these game companies release their game engines and authoring tools to the public so that game modifications can be made by consumers for every aspect of the game, from the interactions to the graphics. This has spawned what is called the "mod community" where hundreds of thousands of Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers participate in creating entirely personalized versions of any game. For example, a company called Valve Software released the game engine that it used to develop the highly popular sci-fi game Half Life. Consumers then used this engine to create a new game known as CounterStrike, which didn't resemble its parent at all. The game became so wildly popular as a freely downloaded "mod" that Valve acquired the team of young adults who created it and commercialized CounterStrike. The result? Millions of units sold, 30,000 servers dedicated, 85,000 people playing any given second in a 24/7 week totaling 4.5 billion minutes per month, and many of the users paying monthly fees to play this incredible user-created game. It's no coincidence that revenue for the gaming industry was projected by PricewaterhouseCoopers to be more than $25 billion in 2004 and $55 billion by 2009.

To retain customers and fully realize their value, companies will have to restructure their entire value chain - encompassing sales, marketing, customer service, delivery, logistics and supply chain. To paraphrase Hillary Clinton, "it takes a village" to please a single customer. And that means a no-mistakes experience along the entire value chain. Research shows that companies that make customers their focus can generate greater revenue and higher profit margins.

A note of interest: The architecture that supports the new customer experience is much more akin to the on-demand architecture as represented by companies like Salesforce.com, NetSuite and RightNow because of its "multichannel, anytime, anywhere" availability and ease of use. The willingness of the on-demand vendors to provide the code needed to develop valuable additional applications and extensions to the original services they provide (see the AppsExchange website from Salesforce.com, for example) gives the new generation a more flexible set of tools to work with in providing customized services.

This profound shift creates enormous opportunities for CIOs. The business models and tools that will allow the technology-savvy Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers to control their own experiences have to be created one company at a time. CIOs can reassert their strategic role by explaining this new directionto other C-level executives and then working with them to provide the tools this new breed of customers so determinedly wants. This will be a challenge, but a necessary one if your company is to stay alive in the coming years. And you, as the CIO, are one of the best-equipped executives to get the ball rolling.

This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ Albert Einstein who travels from Ulm, Germany. Albert is available for Professional Speaking Work both Virtually and In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.

Comments
Your thoughts matter - more than you can imagine.

More Articles by Albert
54 Free | Ad-Free | Full-Text Business Papers

More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Employee Retention

The War For Talent

US Recruiting, Retaining & Developing Talent Statistics & Best Practises
4 min
50
7.37 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Finance, Financial Tools

The 'Unprofitability' Of Modern Technology

Of all the findings on business strategy yielded by the study of the businesses in the PIMS? database, the following is one of the most controversial: ...
13 min
109
6.24 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
IT - Information Technology

What It Leaders Do

Companies that rely on IT governance systems alone will come up short.
12 min
50
4.12 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Strategic Planning

Growth And Size

"Size is no guarantee of future success." What is strategically important is strength not size. Speed is more important than physical mass and flexibility ...
4 min
50
5.11 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Management

Management -The Handling Of Complexity

Complexity has been one of the most frequently used words for some years now. People talk about complex systems, complex interrelationships, complex problems ...
9 min
50
4.88 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Presentation Skills

Slipping Up

Trying to perfect a flawless presentation can result in disaster...
6 min
50
4.84 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Management

Games Managers Should Play

The success of strategic investments depends largely on the subsequent moves of competitors. Uncertainty about competitive conduct can lead executives ...
9 min
50
5.21 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Customer Experience Management

Foresee The Future

Foresee the future, that's what your customers expect, that's what you need to deliver.
8 min
65
4.35 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Knowledge Management

Best Practice And Beyond: Knowledge Strategies

Value created by knowledge is often not captured. Five accounts of knowledge strategies.
12 min
50
4.94 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Conventions, Conferences

Speakers Don't Always Have To Be Famous

Plenty are the professionals who are on the "front lines" of the industry, knowledgeable of the countless changes, and who are willing and able to speak ...
6 min
60
4.71 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Internet

15 Seconds On The Web: Ten Writing Tips To Improve Sales

In 15 seconds, a visitor to your site determines whether or not they are interested in your product or service. Web usability experts can provide all sorts ...
8 min
50
5.03 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Inspirational

The Parkland Way - Never Thought You Could Learn From A Hospital?

Looking for inspired leadership, passionate employees, unsurpassed productivity, and grateful customers? Forget the dispirited corridors of corporate ...
18 min
212
29.85 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Facilitation

Strategy Session: What To Look For When Hiring A Professional Speaker

How do you know if the speaker fits? How do you avoid embarrassing mismatches?
4 min
50
4.53 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Lean Management

TRIZ As A Lean Thinking Tool

Lean Thinking is a highly evolved method of managing an organization to improve the productivity, efficiency and quality of its products or services. The ...
11 min
51
6.8 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Internet

Organic SEO Or Pay-Per-Click Advertising - Which Should You Choose?

Organic search engine optimization has some distinct advantages over pay-per-click advertising. However, there are undoubtedly certain situations and scenarios ...
8 min
66
4.48 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Success Building

Branding, Recruiting And Learning Through Public Speaking And Conference Attendance

Reasons Why You Should Speak at and Attend Professional Seminars
11 min
50
4.57 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Finance, Financial Tools

Living With The Limitations Of Success

Once companies reach a certain size, setting realistic performance aspirations gets a bit trickier.
6 min
50
4.3 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Globalisation

How Gulf Companies Can Build Global Businesses

Companies based in the GCC states are using their petrodollars to expand into global markets. But in the long run, these companies will have to develop distinctive capabilities and skills.
8 min
67
6.57 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Organisational Development

How Executives Grow

Talent can be bought, but the best companies develop their own.
13 min
50
6.21 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
IT - Information Technology

Eight Business Technology Trends To Watch

Eight emerging trends are transforming many markets and businesses. Executives should learn to shape the outcome rather than just react to it.
19 min
50
15.18 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Strategic Planning

Strength Inspite Of Size

Growth is necessary, but size is no guarantee of a successful future! Nevertheless, growth is needed. Without growth there is no life. In a certain sense, ...
11 min
50
6.39 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Marketing - General

A New Model For Marketing

The proliferation of brands and channels is forcing companies to restructure their marketing efforts significantly.
4 min
50
5.39 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Governance

A Guide For The Ceo-Elect

The days, weeks, or months between taking the job and assuming power are precious. Put them to good use.
13 min
50
4.06 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Human Resources

Pros & Cons Of Pay For Performance

Somewhere in Corporate America, a human resources manager is tweaking her company's employee-incentive program. Maybe she's dumping last year's customized ...
11 min
60
21.15 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Outsourcing

What Procurement Areas Should Be Outsourced

Few companies have the skills to effectively manage procurement across all spending categories. Smart enterprises should examine their procure-ment strategies ...
4 min
50
5.29 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Productivity

Getting Labor Policy To Work In The Gulf

For GCC states, liberalizing the labor market and developing the local workforce are the keys to moving beyond a reliance on foreign workers.
16 min
66
6.47 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Project Management

Project Success And Failure

What is success, what is failure, and how can you improve your odds for success?
20 min
60
23.92 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Customer Care, Service

The Top Ten Things Customers Want

Over the last two years of working with hundreds of clients from all walks of life, I have noticed trends of what my clients want and need. This top ten ...
3 min
50
6.17 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Facilitation

Finding Facilitators That Fit!

The aim of this guide is to prepare you for discussions with a bureau, and to get you thinking about all the factors that affect your Facilitator choice.
3 min
50
5.79 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Workplace Related

Must Work Be Fun?

Should work be fun? Must it be fun? Today, the answer to these questions is mostly yes. What else should it be? Yet however plausible this answer might ...
5 min
50
6.83 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Media

Dwindling Readership: Are Tabloids The Answer?

Newspapers have tried a host of measures to halt the long-term decline in their readership, but they haven't stopped consumers from turning to TV and the ...
14 min
60
17.31 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Relationships

7 Ways To Stop Selling - And To Start Building Relationships!

Sometimes we can all use a friendly reminder to keep us from backsliding into old ways of thinking about selling that lead us down the wrong path with potential clients.
7 min
50
4.7 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Corporate Social Responsibility

A Good Look At Corporate Social Responsibility

There appears to be plenty of room for much greater effort and involvement by companies and organizations around the world. Here a few thoughts and pointers.
31 min
60
841
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Negotiation Skills, Techniques

New Tools For Negotiators

Five easy-to-use tools help negotiators in complex deals arrive at a negotiating position that is not only acceptable to them but also palatable to other ...
15 min
50
4.57 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Success Building

Limits To Achievement

What can Man achieve? What are the limits?
5 min
50
4.96 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Knowledge Management

Who Knows Whom, And Who Knows What?

Employees' personal connections can be as valuable as their individual knowledge base. Social network analysis, or SNA, helps maximize a company's collective smarts.
13 min
50
5.05 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Finance, Financial Tools

Better Operational-Risk Management For Banks

Operational risks are costly, but they can be conquered when high-ranking executives join the battle.
15 min
50
9.3 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Team Building

We Need Teamwork - But Is It The Only Useful Form Of Work?

Two of today's buzzwords are Team and Teamwork. Those with a particular desire to conform to the spirit of the age portray them as the polar opposite of ...
6 min
50
9.34 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Productivity

Tracking The Growth Of India'S Middle Class

Over the next two decades, the country's middle class will grow from about 5 percent of the population to more than 40 percent and create the world's fifth-largest consumer market.
17 min
55
16.26 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Strategy

Managing Your Organization By The Evidence

An organization is much more likely to improve its current performance and underlying health by using a combination of complementary practices rather than ...
17 min
50
4.31 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Performance Management

Measuring Performance In Services

Services are more difficult to measure and monitor than manufacturing processes are but executives can rein in variance and boost productivity - if they implement rigorous metrics.
16 min
60
4.87 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Facilitation

Value Talk: Getting The Most Out Of Your Speaker

Valuable insights on using your speaker to maximise the success of your event
6 min
50
5.82 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Risk Management

Enterprise Risk Management - Risk's Rewards

Are you on board with enterprise risk management? You had better be. It's the future of how businesses will be run.
21 min
50
7.44 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Customer Experience Management

Defining Customer Touchpoints

Improving the customer-centricity of your organization isn't just good business, it's also good marketing.
5 min
50
6.67 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Succession Planning

Succession Planning: Often Requested, Rarely Delivered

Surprisingly, many organizations lack a proper succession plan. One reason is that they do not have an effective succession planning process. This author ...
28 min
50
8.06 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Personal Development

Intrapreneurship: Leveraging Organisational Talent

The global talent war has seen organisational leaders scratching their heads to understand how they can attract and retain the very best talent that is ...
9 min
50
5.23 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Transformation

The CEO's Role In Leading Transformation

The CEO helps a transformation succeed by communicating its significance, modeling the desired changes, building a strong top team, and getting personally involved.
15 min
50
5.98 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Strategic Planning

What Is The Business Of Business?

By building social issues into strategy, big companies can recast the debate about their role in society.
15 min
79
25.07 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Transformation

Corporate Transformation Without A Crisis

The art of leading deep corporate change can be learned. The trick is to help each member of the company discover a new reality...
19 min
60
27.82 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Ethics

The Hacker's Code Of Ethics!

Recently, I came across a code of ethics for hackers (yes, it really does exist) that I'd like to share with you, because I think it really hits home with ...
4 min
65
11.14 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Customer Care, Service

So This Is What Communication Can Do?

Everything that we do for our clients is based on the idea that improved communications will improve an organisation's performance and contribute to the ...
13 min
50
5.76 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Trends, Future

The Next Generation Of In-House Software Development

How leading-edge companies are streamlining applications development.
17 min
50
5.19 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Leadership

Beyond Oil: Reappraising The Gulf States

Further reform will be essential if one of the world?s fastest-growing regions is to seize a broader role in the global economy
15 min
50
6.18 K
More Articles written / submitted by Albert Einstein
Sales - General

Sales Person Or Customer Advocate - Who Do You Need To Be?

To get beyond survival and to grow both profits and margins, the successful companies of the future will be forced to become true customer experts.
10 min
52
5.93 K

More 'Trends, Future' Articles
1 more Article that may interest you, too...

Albert Einstein (Expertbase) : The Next Generation Of In-House Software Development
Trends, Future

The Next Generation Of In-House Software Development

By Albert Einstein (Expertbase)
PRO+ Profile
How leading-edge companies are streamlining applications development.
17 min
50
5.19 K
50
Back to top