In several forums on digital transformations that I attended in the last two years, I would ask the panelists on whether they are incorporating Generation Z millennials into their product development strategy. In such forums you never get a yes or no answer and that is understandably ok, but the silence prior to saying anything makes it clear. It takes an effort to think about it when it should not be. Digital first or mobile first strategy should begin by clustering customers (and employees because they can influence your customers) by generation (silent gen, boomers, X, Y, and Z). Spend more research in determining differences in behavior toward your current or future products. The Z generation could ultimately drop your product altogether, so it important to maintain such outlook and strategize accordingly.
The corporate world should seriously embrace Generation Z into their workforce. Those born after 1997 are entering the workforce this year. Their approach in IT is to build applications with immediate real-world implications. Check what two GenZ engineers Nisha and Clarisse have to say at a HackerRank interview. Also two completely unrelated companies, BBVA Compass, a financial bank, and Skratch, a platform for teenagers, partnered together in Dallas to let teenagers use a mobile app to make money from community activities such as scooping ice cream at school fairs and teaching kids how to mix music like DJs. (Read more about it.)
Generation Z is on track to be the best educated and most diverse generation yet. (Check Pew Research article). 48% of them are racial or ethnic minorities and have similar liberal-leaning political as well as social views as Millennials (born between 1980–1995). (See Pew Research article.) However, similar to Nisha and Clarisse, Generation Z has its take on society and the workplace. SalesForce updated their blog post on “Millennials vs. Gen Z: How Are They Different?“. I quote from the article:
- More millennials than Gen Zers will pay extra for customer experience
- Gen Z sets a higher bar for expecting innovation from companies
- Gen Z is less likely than the millennial generation to trust companies — but can be swayed
- Gen Z is pragmatic; millennials are idealistic
- Gen Z focuses on saving money; millennials are more focused on the experience
- Millennials liked authenticity, but Gen Z takes it to a new level
- Gen Z prefers in-store shopping; millennials shop online
- Millennials cozy up to brands; Gen Z wants to be independently themselves
I recommend to check the SalesForce article since each of the bullets above is described in detail.
I think that for companies to be more successful in the digital world, it is essential that their products and services are not assuming all generation of customers (and employees) as one or as merely dividing in half between old vs. new. Having a clear understanding of the differences between millennial and post-millennials who is about to form the largest workforce can make a huge difference in not only companies’ bottom line but for the positive social change across the world. The latter is what all generations should be caring about except that Gen Z is actively caring more about it than everyone else.
I am showcasing today AI gadgets to Grade 8 midddle schoolers at Lamar Middle School (Lewisville ISD) next to my house. The students have a career fair event, and I hope to encourage future programmers to the field of technology. I am taking with me Amazon DeepLens and built-it-yourself Google AIY Voice. I plan to show them real time object classification with DeepLens/pretrained MXNet neural network followed by audio response to facial expression (smiling or frowning) with Google AIY/Raspberry Pi Zero/PiCamera. Hopefully it would do the trick and get students excited with AI just like us adults.