Web 2.0, as it's called, has taken our culture by storm and has brought about a level of social collaboration that we really haven't seen before. Even as I write this, my nine year old daughter is learning the Soulja Boy dance from YouTube.com. The primary properties of Web 2.0, as I understand them, are Internet environments that are both collaborative and creative, while having a strong social component as that gives publishing control to users. The big name Web 2.0 properties, Blogger, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr, represent the Web 2.0 environment: Social and collaborative, while at the same time users are creating the web content. (Updated June 30, 2008 - Social Media has exploded in the U.S. but other countries have embraced Social Media at a quicker rate. eMarketer released an article that supports the same data.)
It's no surprise that the Gen Y age group (born between 1985 - 1992) is driving demand for this environment. This group has unique characteristics:
THEY ARE INFORMATION JUNKIES
They're used to having millions of web sites and 500 cable channels at their fingertips. They do extensive research before making major purchases. They will visit multiple websites in their research.
THEY ARE TOTALLY WIRED
They are the first generation to grow up with the Internet, Email, cell phones, digital media players, and digital cameras. They are completely comfortable with technology of all kinds. They spend triple the time on the Internet vs. newspapers and magazines.
THEY HATE TO WAIT
They expect immediate feedback. Websites, Computer programs, Music downloads, Ringtone downloads are immediate, and they have no patience for a slow-loading Web site. If they send an e-mail asking for information, they expect a response.
This group represents about 75 Million people and they are turning 21 years old at the rate of 4 million per year.
Many high tech businesses have at least some experience with collaborative software, particularly where employees work remotely. NewHomesDirectory.com has been using Microsoft Office Groove which is part of the Microsoft Office 2007 software suite for a little over a year now. Groove, though it is a desktop application, has Web 2.0 properties and brings Internet Messaging (IM), a Chat Room, and most powerful of all, the ability to create software applications on the fly with little to no programming experience. These applications then are synced with everyone connected in this Groove. Sarah Cook, our Arizona Representative, with no programming experience, has created six different software applications that NewHomesDirectory.com uses on a daily basis to track some of our most important business properties. And of course, Sarah is NewHomesDirectory.com's youngest representative as well as a Gen Y.
This collaborative software brings us together daily in spite of rarely seeing each other. It allows us to connect, get on the same page, and drive forward with the most important commerce issues of the day, week, month, quarter, without missing a beat. If you really want to step it up a notch, ACN (acninc.com) produces a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) Video Phone that is the best I've seen ever. I use this daily to connect to our remote people that I need to have the strongest connections with.
At four million potential buyers and employees turning 21 each year, businesses are wise to pay attention to Gen Y and their way of doing things. The Internet has changed our world as much as any invention the world has ever seen. Consequently we must take into serious consideration the way we market products, the way we sell our products, and the way we run our companies. The Internet has many undeniable benefits but for the purpose of this article we need to open our eyes, if we haven't already, to what it takes to market, to sell, and to employ this new generation.
Jim Adams - CEO