by Julius WiedemannSep 07, 2021
In almost every debate now, regardless of the topic, from anthropology to history, from food to entertainment, from astrology and pseudoscience to space travel, the older generations always mention how youngsters in particular understand that subject. How they are tuned on other channels and how they think. The anxiety about the generation gap we see is not only apparent, it is now most of the times nerve-wracking. The inability, and the unavailability to confront this new world of the generation below has become an existential saga.
Sixty-year-old CEOs and CMOs are now undertaking courses about data analysis so that they can keep up with the conversation in the tech room. No one can rest on their laurels anymore. Technology has changed the language game among many other things. To be in certain circles you need to have a certain vocabulary. The technicalities of certain working environments are not going to allow people to be in the same room with the ones who cannot understand this new world; most of the times this new language will be directly connected to data and data analytics. But it’s more than that.
To understand the mechanics of a dynamic marketing system, professionals need to sit down and take decisions every day. Not once a week, not once a month, not every quarter. Assortment of products, the location of clients, the demographics, the consumer behaviour, the patterns, all need to be understood by everyone in order to take wise decisions for the next day. Because the competition is just around the corner and they are probably doing much better than you are. A normal conversation with a prospect investor in your company can lead to the statement: put someone senior to run the company and someone very young to run marketing and data.
Companies are changing and professionals needs to follow suit. Survival is not necessarily something for the brightest, but more often for the ones who understood that new times are ahead and adaptation is required. With that we will never be allowed to stop learning. The days of finishing your university and complementing that with an MBA to make sure your career would be brilliant, is long gone. It is also gone for younger people. Maybe this model wasn’t even available to them. The difference is that they are growing up in this fluid and liquid business environment, whereas all the older generations still have to adapt to it. From 12 hours in office, the long-complicated meetings, to the lack of time to have a lunch, all professions are on the same page these days. Regardless of the age.
Ageing has disadvantages. Systems are becoming more intuitive and easier to use because they need to reach out to a wider audience. This is a great advantage for the older generations, who need to adapt to new tools as companies become building blocks of digital resources. Many researchers today scratch their heads to understand how to make reliable research if it is to be displayed online. How to have a sense of balance between accessibility and results also depend on some sensibility on how to understand some subjects, deeply, and not superficially. Older people will have more experience and will probably be able to ask more difficult questions. Maybe this is really our greatest advantage. To ask complex questions.
Saying that older times were better is a common thread among us humans. This is kind of nostalgia. We always feel that previous times were sometimes better and that now we cannot do the same things we did before. But that’s just an illusion, because things just move on and the world and nature don’t care. It’s been like that for our parents, grandparents and for our great-grandparents. Human beings tend to end their lives thinking that the past was much better than the present. And that is logical, from the point of view that the past was the time when we were young. Getting older means very frequently having to leave the party. But when life is good, leaving the party is really painful.
Thankfully, healthy life expectancy is also on the rise, even though it’s not increasing as much as life expectation. The other news is that digital technology has been there for about 30 years now. And it means that a lot of the people we think have magical powers in tech, are the people who created a lot of the resources we use. My advice is to look for someone who has been there for a long time. Will make you feel younger.
Read more from the series Digital Legacies where our columnist Julius Wiedemann investigates the many aspects of digital life.