Technology Adoption & the Age Myth

As I evangelize around the upcoming surge in innovation driven by technology and globalism one topic that is often raised is the issue of how older people are unable or unwilling to adapt to the change brought on by technologies. Hence, the rapid states of change I predict are unlikely because of this "age" phenomenon.

Focus on the 50 and over crowd regarding technology was explored in a recent marketing research project sponsored by AARP and Microsoft. 60 people in total gathered for dinner and after-dinner discussions about their attitudes toward, use of and expectations for technology. The focus group sessions were in four cities: San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago and New York. Participants ranged in age from 50 to 60. See the video recap below.

The conversations have been consolidated and published in a report  “Boomers and Technology: An Extended Conversation.” The project was directed by Michael Rogers, formerly the vice president for the Washington Post Company's new media division. Innovation and technological advacements are coming and in ways and in places that aren't about the young. They will meet real needs of an aging population as the video explains.

Mr. Rogers had some interesting findings, as disclosed in a recent NYT's article on the rearch. It included the following excerpt (please note the emphasis on medical records and health care):

“It surprised me how much boomer technology habits are still in flux.” In the past, he said, studies have shown that as people reach 60, “technology adoption falls off a cliff.” Not so with the boomers. They grew up with technology, he noted — they were in their teens to early 30s when the first Apple computers and IBM PCs appeared.

The dinner conversations, he said, suggested enthusiasm for cutting-edge gadgets with practical uses like microprojectors (also known as pico projectors) — pocket-sized devices that can take video and play it on any surface, turning a wall into a 50-inch screen.

Boomers, Mr. Rogers predicted, are also going to be the driving force behind the use of information technology in health care. The dinner attendees who had access to electronic health records, he said, were “just ecstatic” about the benefits of setting up appointments online, e-mailing doctors and reviewing their records over the Web. As they age themselves, the incentive for using technology tools to manage health and wellness programs grows as well.

The boomer's won't be an impediment to technology adoption. They'll be the significant drivers, as this research reflects. Innovation: bring it on. Us old folks are truly ready.