By Anne Boysen

Does Your Business Leverage Generational Foresight?
20 September 2017 | 10:55 am

Does your Business Leverage Generational Foresight?

You just wrapped your head around Millennials. You’ve digested countless articles and books about how they use technology, defy traditional business norms and how they allegedly expect trophies without merit.

And just after investing in open office landscapes, ping-pong tables and Friday beer bashes, there is a spanking brand new generation knocking on your door. And this generation has other wishes and priorities!

By 2020 Generation Z will constitute 20% of the workforce and 40% of customers in the United States.

And they will disrupt your business. Understanding how they are emerging as customers, employees, students and citizens will be the crucial distinction between successful and less successful businesses.

While it is easy to scoff at the sometimes gimmicky claims made about generational differences, attitudes and behaviors of peer groups do in fact tend to congregate based on which life stage they experience certain historic moments.

While a plethora of variables causes people to differ from one another, the generational dimension is becoming increasingly prominent. This is mainly due to two contemporary driving forces; globalization on the one hand and on the other, accelerated change driven by rapid technological development. Globalization diminishes social differences. In a digital age humans build relations across oceans and borders which give rise to common interests, cultures and even worldviews. Acceleration of technological change increases the speed at which society moves forward even though human life phases remain about the same. So while the life of a 18-year-old in the 1960s didn’t differ much from a 18 year in 1980s (except that they argue who listened to the best music!), the world inherited by today’s 18 year olds looks vastly different from the world teens in the 1990s prepared for.

Millennials grew up alongside reality TV, the internet and the early days of social media. Generation Z, and their younger siblings in Generation Alpha, are inheriting a world where technologies such as AI, augmented reality, synthetic biology and the blockchain will exert profound influence on how we live, work and relate to one another. Companies that can harness the disruptive force and nascent trajectory of Generation Z will have unique access to a market that is $44 billion strong and growing.

During my 15 years of generational research I have developed and honed a cross-disciplinary method that helps reverse engineer the Generation Z zeitgeist and foresee opportunities that are likely to results from disruptive change. As a business advisor and speaker I have helped companies and non-profits embrace transformational change to target the emerging wants and desires of their target groups, not only today but tomorrow. Because if we can proactively meet the future with generational foresight, we can also rest better today.

 

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