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Come on Grandpa, you need to take your tablet!

Used a payphone lately? Unplugged the house phone to put the internet on? When did you last send a fax? When was the last time you didn’t put a leaflet straight in the bin because, well, it’s a leaflet?

Technological evolution (or ‘Digitalisation’) has well and truly wrapped its arms around our daily lives, primarily to make them easier and paperless. However we soon reach a point where we just can’t make anything else better? Perhaps we draw the line when we go paperless in the bathroom? All joking aside, is there a line we don’t want to cross? Is there a split-camp between Generation X and Generation Y so profound that we will never see eye-to-eye on what should be left alone? 

I guess we move too quickly, and consequently our parents are robbed of analogue comforts, like reading a physical newspaper or turning the leafy pages of a book. Move too slowly and we deliberately clip the wings of what is possible. Essentially, the world has become a massive Change/Transformation programme: multiple stakeholders, conflicting agendas and cultural misalignment, with an entire generation unprepared to accept a future consisting purely of downloading bug-fixes and upgrading software from version 9.2 to 9.2.1? So what’s the answer?

Well if it’s any comfort, the media & tech companies behind all this are themselves struggling to decipher what it is we want and how to deliver it.  

Take newspapers, for example: print sales are in decline. Tabloids perhaps have it mildly easier as they cater to a younger demographic; whereas some of the more iconic institutions face a much more precarious dilemma of how to move with the times, while staying loyal to their subscribers, who cherish the pleasure of reading a 44”x22” newspaper. Do providers move fearlessly into the digital age, making content available exclusively on tablets, potentially alienating their faithful readers? Doesn’t sound like the right move, does it?

The telecoms space is in a similar predicament. We’ve gone from mobile phone tariffs with some free minutes and inevitable bartering for unlimited texts to WhatsApp, FaceTime, Snapchat - and all are free. Now, whilst this may confuse some generation X constituents as they question “just what the hell is WhatsApp”, it is undeniable that making communication ‘free’ is a positive thing. Yet, how do we bring the technophobes into the fold? Is it just a case of educating them or are they a populous much more influential than we give them credit? The bookshops aren’t closing down in any great hurry and I can’t see The Metro or City A.M. disappearing from the tube stations just yet. 

The answer clearly isn’t simple and whilst I am very active in the transformation space, I’m no change delivery expert with a magic answer. Undeniably, change is upon us and every business is battling to condition themselves in a way to deliver it properly. One thing I can offer testament to is that the market is certainly buoyant with high demand for interim change practitioners. It would be good to hear from such champions within Change & Transformation to add some colour to just how digital evolution should be tackled and what we can expect.

Richard Lindsay is the Principal for TMT at Interim Partners. 

Comments

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Jackie Keefe

02 Dec 2015 11:09 AM

Interesting read Richard and, as you say, we are in the middle of a massive, worldwide, change and transformation programme. So, first principles: who are the stakeholders and what is their change readiness? This would elicit some complex answers for each business Doesn't this lead to business segmentation - leading to individual marketing campaigns? Aren't we seeing this already with the combination of media ranging from smart phones with the capacity of a laptop (almost!) to traditional newspapers and magazines? So, perhaps the question for businesses is - how can we make it sustainable to provide 'something for everyone'? Once that question is answered by the number-crunchers, the Change Practitioners can facilitate the change by supporting marketing campaigns of considerable size. And, in answer to your question "how do we bring the technophobes into the fold?" - I think you got it right when you referred to our parents. Surely the marketing teams can think of a way to encourage generation Y (and X) to teach their parents? Any ageing hippie will recall the maxim expounded by CSNY - "Teach your Parents Well!"
Looking forward to the views of my more experienced contemporaries.