Satisfying the needs of digital natives

In 2001, the year Wikipedia was launched, there were an estimated 29.2 million websites and 500.6 million internet users worldwide. Last month, Netcraft estimated the number of websites at 1.6 billion, noting that approximately 70% of websites are inactive.

Internet Live Stats provides a constant feed of statistics relating to digital usage and - at the time of writing - calculates that each second, worldwide, there are 75,996 YouTube videos viewed, 8238 Tweets posted, 3,426 Skype calls made, 1,443 posts on Tumblr blogs and 876 photos uploaded on Instagram.  All of these sites have launched in the last 15 years; those born in the 1980s and more recently have grown up with them as part of everyday life.

When it comes to technology, expectations are increasing and tolerance for poor standards reducing. In July 2017, research from YouGov/Fetch reported that as many as 42% of UK consumers admit to being more impatient today than they were five years ago due to their over reliance on technology to complete everyday life activities.

This sense is even stronger among Millennials: ‘almost all Millennials surveyed (85%) admit to feeling frustrated by at least one type of technology service interruption, expecting seamless connectivity when using their smartphone’.

Easy access

Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular means for getting online. 2018 research by Ofcom found that 78% of people in the UK own a smartphone (95% among 16 to 24 year olds) and ‘72% of adults say their smartphone is their most important device for accessing the internet, 71% say they never turn off their phone, and 78% say they could not live without it.’

Technology facilitates working whenever and where ever and, as a result, flexibility in the workplace is expected by many. The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that flexible working arrangements ‘are not simply nice to have, but are strongly linked to improved performance and employee retention.’ 

Access to training and development at work is important to those for whom learning and self-improvement is an innate part of life.  This is facilitated by easy access to vloggers and other ‘gurus’, along with academic, instructional and inspirational resources via sources such as TedEx, iTunesU and FutureLearn. 

How can organisations smooth the digital path for their members?

To improve the membership experience for digital natives, membership organisations need to provide a seamless digital experience from the moment a new member joins.  This includes:  

  • using social networking and communities to help engender a sense of belonging with younger members, where virtual communities and networks are the norm for socialising as well as accessing career information and advice.
  • ensuring resources, products and services are available online and websites are mobile-friendly
  • working with employers to understand the expectations of the younger generation of employees in relation to technology and the ways of working it can facilitate.

 Above all: ensure technology and digital are not viewed as an ‘add-on’ or simply a channel for communications, but are at the heart of the overall business strategy.