I spend a lot of time learning about and discussing how people use technology, especially mobile. Recently, I was having a conversation with a colleague in his late 50s who mentioned being "too old" to understand how to use technology. This was the same conversation I had with a friend in their late 30s who claimed they were "too old" for social media. From these conversations, one would think technology is just for the young. However, the numbers tell a different story. I discovered a survey that was conducted by Experian Marketing Services that covered how people of different age ranges are using mobile. Would you guess that the experiences of a 25-year-old are different from that of a 65-year-old? The truth is that in 2014, people of all ages and demographics are using smartphones on a regular basis to read email, text, take photos, browse the web, use social media, play games, and more. Interestingly enough, the numbers from this study show that the use varies only slightly as you move through the generations.. The thing I found surprising was how often people said they actually used their phone to talk. Personally, my phone gets used a lot more for texting and apps than for actually speaking to people. Looking at these statistics and considering that more than a billion smartphones will be shipped in 2014, it's safe to say that we live in a mobile world and that is not changing anytime soon. What you should be thinking about is how does this trend relate to how we are adopting mobile technology for meetings and events? Here are some things to consider:
- Don't make assumptions based on one person. Different industries use technology differently. You know your group best. Make educated decisions and think about what will be, not what has been.
- Don't assume because they weren't using mobile at a meeting last year that they won't be using it this year. I have seen planners get burned by this thinking.
- Communicate in multiple mediums. Not everyone has the same preference when it comes to how they consume information. Providing information in different formats helps you reach people with your message and make different demographics and personality types happy.
- Help people understand the benefit of the technology that you are implementing. People respond and adopt much better when know the "what's in it for me."
- Accept that things will change. Many organizations hold off on implementing a new technology because they know something else will come along. Build change into your budget.
- Get comfortable with technology. If you don't understand the technology, that's OK. You don't have to be a programmer to be able to buy and suggest a tool. Don't think of mobile apps or any event technology as the enemy. These are simply tools that help you better connect people. If you don't understand something, ask enough questions until you feel prepared to make a decision.
- Arm yourself with data. The internet is filled with lots of solid information about trends. Educate yourself about the market and use that data in your planning.