The Connected Generation
Paul Richer, 28 Mar 2013 16:31
At a recent conference I was chairing about social media, the subject came around to discussing where we are today and where we are heading in the future. We got to talking about the consumers who are just coming into the market with their spending power. These are Generation Y and Generation Z.
These are consumers who were born from the late 1990s onwards. They are people who have never known what it is like not to be online, not to have information, products and services at their fingertips. They are the Connected Generation. The oldest of these are already our customers. The younger ones will be very soon.
To the Connected Generation, the interchange of information via electronic devices is nothing special – it’s just life. We, running our travel businesses are concerned about social media, mobile apps and websites, XML connectivity and so on. All new disciplines with which we are having to get to grips. To the Connected Generation, sharing thoughts on Twitter, posting pictures on Facebook, reading peer reviews, shopping online, it is just what one does as part of everyday living. It is no more special than switching on a light or turning on a tap. The Connected Generation simply expects information to flow whenever it is needed.
If you are one of the Connected Generation, you couldn’t imagine that a business would need a “social media executive” or a “mobile development” department. Why would you have these special people? It’s just business. Surely, social and mobile just pervade the whole organisation? If you are one of the Connected Generation you would be thinking, “What is social media? I just connect with my friends? What is e-commerce? I just shop on any device that I am holding in my hand.”
This is the technological and organisational challenge facing the travel industry right now. With travel’s enduring need to pass electronic information between industry players and consumers, we should be at the forefront of the seamless connectivity taken granted by the Connected Generation. We are not. Many travel companies put up a good face with a slick online presence but we are the ducks that are calm on the surface whilst paddling like mad under water. We are hamstrung by legacy systems. They have served the industry so well in the past but are now threatening to hold us back. We need to win the battle to move on.
Organisationally, we don’t need the online marketing department, we don’t need the social media executives, we don’t need the mobile development team. Siloed departments such as these are from the last Millenium. We need to completely re-configure our businesses to embrace all these disciplines and areas of expertise as part of all our activities across all departments. The Connected Generation is expecting nothing less.