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The Boomer Paradox.
In this week’s newsletter: Discussing Baby Boomers' lasting impact on technology innovation.
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Despite the fact that your mom may still have trouble with today’s tech - like getting her full face showing on camera when you’re doing a video chat with her (Love you, Mom!) - there is no doubt the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) has had a massive influence on the modern world.
I’ve spent time researching the lives of my family and their fellow Baby Boomers recently and found it interesting to think about their impact on the tech world. There are both recent and potential long-term implications, and as we push further into the AI and tech space, I believe it’s important to reflect on these and factor them into how we approach innovation.
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How has the Baby Boomer generation influenced tech in the modern (now-ish) era?
If you’re around my age, you probably started to play around on the family computer in the early stages of those fun tech startups in the 90s, such as AOL and CompuServe. We’ve come a long way since the AOL Instant Messanger days (RIP), and as the practice of product and UI/UX has evolved, there have been some major focuses.
Here are some of my favorites that have seen a heavy influence from the Baby Boomer generation:
Baby boomers drive the demand for senior-friendly technology and products, pushing companies to create accessible designs with features like larger buttons, easy-to-read fonts, and voice command capabilities.
We often think of accessibility in web or mobile app design. Still, now more than ever, we are in a place where product design (digital and physical) should continually make accessibility a focus.
Telehealth (and related services) Expansion
Baby boomers contribute to the growth in telehealth services, spurring advancements in remote healthcare technology such as better video conferencing tools, virtual doctor visits, and remote monitoring devices.
This saw an even larger boom during the pandemic time. As our interest in going to an office full of sick people continually wains, this industry will continue to expand with more awesome tech.
Security and Privacy
As a generation that witnessed the rise of the digital age, baby boomers are particularly concerned about security and privacy. Tech companies are responding by prioritizing these concerns and developing products with more robust security features.
In addition to empathizing with security concerns, we must also keep in mind how easy fraud can be - especially with a demographic who may not understand emerging capabilities, such as deep fakes. Being able to build products that offer a better sense of security will continually grow in importance in the coming years.
What are the long-term impacts Baby Boomers will have on tech?
As this generation continues to move into their golden years, the model and approach towards innovation and how we include their needs into the mix will continue to evolve. However, we will have some long-term gains from what we’ve been learning to build tech with them in mind.
Here are a few:
The desire to age in place has led to a surge in home automation and smart home technology, such as voice-activated appliances, fall detection sensors, and remote caregiving solutions.
User adoption and education are incredibly important here and the companies that thrive now and in the future will understand how to embrace these.
Baby boomers will continue to shape technological advancements through collaboration with younger generations in the workplace, sharing ideas, and mentoring the leaders of tomorrow.
Although I would emphasize this more heavily proceeding generation, there should be a focus for companies today/tomorrow to tap into the 30-40+ years of industry experience many of the people in this generation have. We don’t have to keep it all, but we can use so many core concepts and not have to re-invent.
Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Solutions
The rapid growth and industrialization experienced by the baby boomer generation have contributed to concerns about global warming (assuming you believe in it, of course).
Recognizing the need for change, we continue to see a push globally for eco-friendly products, energy-efficient technologies, and sustainable practices in manufacturing will continue to expand in the coming years.
The baby boomer generation has undeniably left its mark on modern technology, influencing the development of various products and services tailored to their unique needs and preferences.
As we continue to push the boundaries of AI and technology, it is crucial to reflect on these influences and consider how they will shape the future.
How can the tech industry strike a balance between meeting the needs of an aging population while still fostering innovation that appeals to younger generations?
Share your perspectives and insights in the comments below.
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