CRN From the Coal Face

CRN From the Coal Face

12.1.2014 Winning the hearts and minds of the platform-agnostic


Under-30s do things their own way. The rest of us can either work out how to do business with them – or miss out


Regular readers of my column will know that I spurn the concept of creating a list of resolutions for the New Year, with statistics revealing that 92 percent of people will be unsuccessful with their resolution. I also believe that business change should be continual and gradual rather than a binary experience.

On the other hand, the holiday season in Australia gives you an opportunity to sit back and watch the cricket and take some time to think. While watching Australia take to the Poms in the Ashes, I started thinking about the ages of some of the Test cricketers. George Bailey, the 436th Test cricketer to represent Australia, has been described as an old and experienced player who has a mature approach to life and shows great maturity. He has served a long apprenticeship before making his Test debut this season.

If you heard the descriptions, you would think he was in his fifties.

He is 31.

I then started thinking about our society and what the modern consumer looks like. As I said, cricket is a great sport for thinking...

Two technology dates are significant in shaping our modern society. At 10.42am on 23 February 1987, the then Minister for Communications, Michael Duffy, made the first official mobile phone call in this country. On 23 June 1989, the University of Melbourne connected to the University of Hawaii via a 2400bps satellite connection giving the first internet connection in this country.

That will mean that this year, Australia will celebrate 25 years of internet connectivity and 27 years of mobile phones.

Let’s assume we don’t remember a lot before the age of five: that means that all of those people in our society aged 30 or below have only ever known a world where we have had the mobiles and the internet.

Granted, mobiles and the internet were not ubiquitous in the mid to late-80s, but you see my point. If you draw a line in the sand at age 31, you effectively have a group who have grown up in a new world.

It is crucial that we understand how to do business with this group.

Selfies and showrooming

The Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year for 2013 was ‘selfie’ but one notable finalist was ‘showrooming’: the act of looking at products in a physical showroom, such as a bricks-and-mortar store, then buying online.

A related word that didn’t quite make the finalist list – but is my early tip for Word of Year for 2014 – is ‘webrooming’: the act of researching online but then purchasing from a physical store.

While only 2 percent of people say they regularly showroom, 86 percent of people say they regularly webroom. I don’t have the data to support this, but I would argue that the percentage in the sub-31-year-old category would be closer to 100 percent. That group have incredible trust in the information they find on the internet.

My children, all of whom are under 17, have never opened a physical encyclopaedia for school assignments because they have such intrinsic trust in the information they glean from the internet. Most people over 30 are a little circumspect with internet ‘facts’.

All of this means that you need to learn how to deal with the group under the age of 31. Some 89 percent of this group believes that the best thing a business can do to improve the shopping experience it to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping experiences. They don’t see a difference among different shopping methods – it is all just shopping. They just want to shop in the method most convenient to them.

So forget about New Year’s resolutions. Focus some energy on this group of sub-31-year-olds. Your business future depends on it.

Mathew Dickerson is a technology professional who has started a total of six small businesses