Connected and Clicking...
Image by RSNY via Flickr
A recent article from strategy+business (magazine by booz&co) added another generation to the already crowded room that includes Gen Y, Gen X, Generation Jones, Boomers, and Gen Z.
They are coining the term Gen "C."
Gen C is (to steal shamelessly from the article):
"We call them Generation C — connected, communicating, content-centric, computerized, community-oriented, always clicking. As a rule, they were born after 1990 and lived their adolescent years after 2000. In the developed world, Generation C encompasses everyone in this age group; in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), they are primarily urban and suburban. By 2020, they will make up 40 percent of the population in the U.S., Europe, and the BRIC countries, and 10 percent of the rest of the world — and by then, they will constitute the largest single cohort of consumers worldwide.
This is the first generation that has never known any reality other than that defined and enabled by the Internet, mobile devices, and social networking. They have owned various handheld devices all their lives, so they are intimately familiar with them and use them for as much as six hours a day. They all have mobile phones, yet they prefer sending text messages to talking with people. More than 95 percent of them have computers, and more than half use instant messaging to communicate, have Facebook pages, and watch videos on YouTube. Their familiarity with technology; reliance on mobile communications; and desire to remain in contact with large networks of family members, friends, business contacts, and people with common interests will transform how we work and how we consume."
So there you have it... a new generation, a new problem, a new opportunity.
The s+b article goes on to highlight the various impacts Gen C will have on the world but they left out the most important impact IMHO – the impact they might have on incentive and reward programs.
So here’s my prediction (and please remember – predictions are tough, especially about the future):
Impact of Gen C on Incentive and Reward Programs
Go Mobile or Go Home:
By 2020 80% of the world will be on mobile phones. Running an incentive and reward program – better have a mobile format ready to go. Or an app. You choose, but yesterday’s big, slow, lumbering website won’t cut it.
Travel Awards Become More Valuable:
As we connect more and more on the wires, face to face will be more and more scarce. The increasing costs of travel will also make it less attractive than virtual meetings. When things get scarce they get desireable.
Awards with No Internet:
Travel awards featuring internet disconnect may be popular. Since Gen C will always be connected, time spent unconnected will also be scarce. Awards that provide a disconnected experience may be more important to Gen C.
Award Redemption will Need to Mirror Retail Activity:
From the article... “Ubiquitous connectivity will continue to transform the retail industry, seamlessly integrating the online and offline worlds, and ultimately leading to a form of augmented reality that allows a more elaborate presentation of retail goods.”
Will your reward options be ubiquitous? Will the fit the expectations Gen C has of their “shopping” experience requirements? If you are 2000 and they are 2020 – will they even stop by your store?
Recognition and Reward Networks Go Social:
The article states that ... "Even within the family, the need for physical proximity will be reduced through increased digital interaction. Just as Facebook’s “Connect” buttons are already distributed across 80,000 websites and devices, social networks will accompany people throughout their daily activities.”
How are you integrating your reward and recognition efforts into your participant’s ever-expanding social web? (for a sneak peak check out my webinar tomorrow on Recognition 3.0)
More Digital Information:
As our participants interact more and more online, with and through the channels incentive companies create, what will you do with that information? How will you use that information to design better programs with better results with more connection to the individual? If you’re not thinking about the information that exists in your programs you’ll be thinking about closing your doors.
Less Hierarchy – More Virtual Teams:
Designing incentives for teams has always been difficult. But if the future is close to what the articles says it is – team-based will be the predominate form for incentives ... “As 24/7 connectivity, social networking, and increased demands for personal freedom further penetrate the walls of the corporation, corporate life will continue to move away from traditional hierarchical structures. Instead, workers, mixing business and personal matters over the course of the day, will self-organize into agile communities of interest. By 2020, more than half of all employees at large corporations will work in virtual project groups.”
Not to mention that top-down objectives may go the way of a screaming AOL connection if the teams are setting their own goals and objectives. How do you design for that?
The Future Isn’t Written
While I find this interesting stuff, I also don’t think it will all come to pass. The future has a habit of being different than we think, plan and expect.
I do know this... it will be different and incentives and reward programs will need to adapt... to pull the closing paragraph from the article:
“Executives must begin now to develop an agenda that includes an analysis of the capabilities and workforces they will need in the next decade and beyond. A critical step will be to make sure that the organization as a whole understands the coming changes, and that there are already people within the organization who are living these changes now, who don’t perceive them as a threat, and who can help integrate them into the organization’s business plan.”
I agree – start asking people how to do this stuff and be prepared.