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Millennials: the Driving Force Behind IoT Change in the 21st Century

Learn more about how the Internet of Things and trends in automation is being influenced by a modern, connected generation.

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We’re getting closer and closer to a time in which everything is connected. Technologies are becoming increasingly smart, with washers, dryers, phones, watches, and everything in between now having automated features. While technology is always improving and becoming more sophisticated, is there another driving force behind this incredible level of automation? The answer is yes.

The IoT and Millennials

The Internet of Things (IoT) sounds like a mysterious, hard-to-grasp concept from a sci-fi movie with sophisticated robots and flying cars; however, it’s nothing more than reality in the 21st century.

“Simply put this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other), writes Jacob Morgan, Forbes.com contributor. “This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.” Essentially, anything that can be connected via the internet, will be connected.

But aside from the steady evolution of technology itself, what – or who – is directing the market to inevitable and total connectivity? It’s those young folks that baby boomers like to call millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000). Millennials are triggering the progression of the IoT and everyone else is essentially appeasing this demand.

First Generation with Total Connectivity

While the oldest millennials may remember a time when technology was still rather rudimentary, most of this generation has been raised with impressive technology from the days they were old enough to walk. Personal computers, cell phones, smart phones, MP3 players, tablets, video game systems, and wearable devices come natural. Millennials don’t know a world without technological connectivity and have to come to expect it.

Millennials Don’t ‘Shut Off’

Whereas baby boomers are totally fine with using technology periods of time and then shutting it off when the time is right, millennials have a hard time transitioning from ‘connected’ to ‘off.’ In their minds, there’s nothing wrong with being connected 24-7-365. That’s what’s led many homeowners and renters to seek out smart home automation. When they retreat to their living spaces, millennials don’t want connectivity to cease – they want it to be enhanced.

Connected by Choice

Millennials also make a conscious effort to stay connected, though. The average member of Generation Y – another name for millennials – spends hours online each day. Furthermore, 90 percent say their phones never leave their sides. Roughly 80 percent say they reach for their smartphone first thing in the morning, while 78 percent spend more than two hours each day texting, talking, tweeting, and surfing the web. They’re choosing – either by peer pressure or perceived need – to stay connected.

  • Harsh impact of the recession. Millennials approach the consumer marketplace much differently than their parent’s generation. This is a result of the 2008 recession that had a harsh impact on many millennials during their formative years. With harsh real estate prices and greatly inflated student debt, members of Generation Y have been forced to get creative. The result is the sharing economy. In other words, millennials are more comfortable renting, borrowing, and sharing than they are placing large down payments on costly assets. This sharing economy has led to the creation of thousands of unique websites and technological innovations.
  • Business leaders and entrepreneurial mindset. Many older millennials are at a point in their careers where they are poised to take over leadership positions. As a result, their IoT mindsets are permeating corporations that were more hesitant to evolve in the past. Additionally, millennials have a pervasive entrepreneurial spirit, which has led many young professionals to start their own tech-based companies. With so many millennials holding powerful positions in the marketplace, the perpetuation of the IoT is only natural.

Future IoT Predictions

Inevitably, this leads us to a question: What does the future of the IoT look like? If millennials are only growing in power, how much more connected will society be in 5, 10, or 20 years?

According to a Gartner study on the IoT, the total number of connected devices in operation will reach 1.1 billion by the end of this year. By 2020, this number will grow to 9.7 billion. With that many talking to each other, we’ll be talking about much more than smart homes. In all likelihood, the world will be made up of smart cities, states, and countries.

Industry leaders have their eyes on things like sensors, wearables, and paperless communication. While there already have been significant developments in each of these areas, these technologies have the most room to grow.

The Changing Technological Landscape

The technological landscape is developing at an incredible rate. While much of the evolution is a result of time, it’s evident that millennials are accelerating this progression at a much faster rate than anyone ever anticipated. Whether you’re a millennial pushing technology forward or a baby boomer responding to the demand for innovation, keeping an eye on the future benefits everyone.

The IoT Zone is brought to you in partnership with GE Digital.  Discover how IoT developers are using Predix to disrupt traditional industrial development models.

Topics:
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