There is a basic truth about the millennial generation that most technology companies and higher education institutions don’t like to hear: they don’t care that much about features. To succeed with millennials on the market and in the classroom, technology must deliver simple connectivity. Period.
The biggest shocker for those who weren’t born between 1982 and 2004 is that expensive, extraneous features aren’t that important to millennial tech natives, as long as its intuitive, relatively inexpensive, and easy-to-use. Quality is great as an addendum, but ultimately, simplicity and familiarity will win every time.
It’s always dangerous to generalize, but, in my experience as a college professor of twenty-somethings, millennials think that much of today’s technology offerings are extraneous. What they don’t want is something expensive with bells and whistles they don’t need. They are a generation who is happy to watch a movie on a tiny iPhone screen rather than on a high-definition, 60-inch television and it’s because they want simple interfaces that allow them to get work done efficiently without a lot of training, or really any training. They want to pop it out of the box and start making calls.
Chucking College and University Bells and Whistles
Higher education institutions often make the mistake of investing in exorbitantly expensive products they don’t need. If the higher ed market really considered the generation it serves, it would make a better cost-benefit analysis.
For example, I use the completely-free Facebook LIVE in all of my classes, while my university has spent thousands of dollars on alternative solutions that are impossible for the average person to use and require an AV tech to launch. My students are familiar with Facebook. They are already on it in their daily lives. It’s free. And, let’s face it, sometimes college students don’t want to get out of bed and get dressed for class. So, Facebook LIVE allows them to never miss a class. As a professor, I am using the technology to adapt to them, instead of having them adapt to me. Remember, I’m the old person in the room, not them.
Millennials don’t want to have to learn something new that doesn’t feel instinctive–nor should they have to. And, ideally, technology shouldn’t need to come with instructions.
Today, if I were the CEO of a tech company, I would immediately buy every engineer an Amazon Dot and tell them to figure it out with no instructions. Even those who are much older wouldn’t have trouble operating it, then, I would say, “That’s how all our tech should operate if we want to meet the demands of the millennial and up-and-coming Generation-Z markets, simultaneously.”
(Next page: The technology that will keeping millennials engaged in class)