CAP Gemini has released an outstanding paper, "Digital Natives: How Is the Younger Generation Reshaping the Telecom and Media Landscape?" dealing with the powerful forces exerted by the rising generation on business and technology.
The article points out how difficult it is to guess what will succeed in the marketplace. Years ago the buzz was that video calling would take off and dominate phone communications, but customers have shied away from it, partly because of privacy concerns when calling (and fear of bad hair days). And who anticipated just how popular SMS would be? Communicating by typing text onto a tiny keyboard - that's going to be popular? But what the interface lacks is more than made up by the convenience inherent to the business model. Simple, fast communications that are good enough for what many people want - just staying in touch with a lot of people.
The lesson here is that you must learn from the market and never think you have it figured out. Explore your business model iteratively and learn from your early forays and mistakes.
This report explores some of the learnings from the marketplace that might be used to guide future business development. A key theme for the "digital natives" - those who have grown up immersed in technology, especially the bracket of 15- to 24-year-olds, is impatience. They want to get things done quickly, using multitasking and "media snacking," with community interactions playing a central role. Yeah, social networking - it has a long ways to go yet. And users need to have control over the technology, allowing it to express their originality.
Product developers need to understand these currents, develop closer ties to the rising generation and their needs, and provide experiences that can be tailored and satisfying in an increasingly impatient world. That will be a key theme in future innovations in technology.