Millennials have a special relationship with technology. It affects almost every aspect of their lives, not just what they bring to the workspace. It affects how they interact with each other, both as friends and as communities. It also affects how they interact with brands, events and locations.
“Millennials in the workplace are a benefit for any employer because of their innate ability to adapt to change, especially as it relates to technology,” says Amy Nichol Smith at Business.com.
But their “innate ability” to “adapt to change” does not mean they will be able to interact with just any piece of technology. And this includes AV systems.
Many AV integrators don’t understand just how millennials relate to technology, what they value and what they expect. This leads to integrators pitching the wrong equipment, or pitching the right equipment incorrectly.
“In this era of quickly changing technology, it is important to understand how technology has become an integral part of millennials’ goals to impact and change the world,” says Jeff York, chief sales officer at Paycom.
And for AV integrators, understanding this begins with understanding just what millennials expect from their technology, and how pro AV systems can meet those expectations.
What Millennials Expect From Technology
“Investing in the latest technology is becoming critical to attracting and retaining top talent,” says Steve West, CEO of Project Insight. But this goes beyond the workplace.
The fact is, high-performing technology is no longer a bonus or a nice-to-have. It’s a requirement for the largest generation alive.
So, what kinds of features do millennials value, when it comes to technology?
As PlanNet notes, technology mobility is particularly important. “They view technology as a tool critical to do their job more efficiently.” As consumers or guests, digital native millennials may feel that a business with low technology mobility is inefficient or difficult to work with.
An Intuitive Interface
Another consideration that may surprise some integrators is user interface. There’s an idea that millennials are inherently better with technology, and able to figure out things that their older counterparts cannot. However, Kate Moran, user experience specialist at the Nielsen Norman Group, says that this is a myth. “We frequently see Millennial users getting stumped in usability testing when they encounter difficult user interfaces.”
And once they’re stumped, it is unlikely that they’ll stick around. Millennials have little patience for things that waste their time. If the interface is too slow or clumsy, they won’t want to interact with it. Finding a system that is easy to learn and even easier to interact with is critical to winning over the millennial audience.
But “up-to-date” and “easy to use” are just the baseline for what millennials expect from technology like pro AV systems. In order for an AV set up to be really successful with millennials, it needs to engage them.
The team at Ingram Micro Advisor notes the importance of social media in pro AV. “Not only does social media integration add interesting and dynamic content during a live event, it also helps audience members stay engaged,” they write. “And your customers will love the fact that it’s a highly affordable way to reinforce their messaging.”
Integrated Building Systems’ Tim Carlson agrees. “I think that there can be some clichés around Millennials spending all day on social media, but really phones are where a lot of the productivity is happening as well, from emailing to editing documents. Work can happen on all platforms.”
Social media colors how millennials interact with a space. Integrating this into your AV can really help to engage with them on their level. For event planners, it can make things memorable and exciting. For businesses with millennial employees, it can keep operations running smoothly. And for millennial customers, it can show a care and understanding that increases brand loyalty.
For social media to be effective, of course, there needs to be equipment that has the bandwidth and ability to interact with the network.
This is why, once you understand what millennials want, you need to be able to find the right equipment to pitch to them.
Finding Pro AV Equipment to Match Those Expectations
AV expert Christopher Maione notes that interface design is key when interacting with millenials. “There is nothing worse than digging for the HDMI plug in a table cubby only to find one broken RGB and one with 2 colors working.”
Pitch an AV system that is easy to work with. Minimize the amount of cabling needed, and make things as simple as possible.
When pitching AV, it is important to note what your client’s goals are. “Companies pursuing a path of digital transformation often note that, among other goals, they hope to retain talented staff by strategically leveraging technology to make the business more efficient,” says Mobile Business Insights contributor Rose de Fremery.
This is just one potential goal, but knowing what the client hopes to achieve can help you tailor your pitch to match.
Flexible Schedules, Flexible Tech
That said, there are some things that remain true across most businesses.
For example, as Teem notes, displays that can handle videoconferencing are a must for most modern businesses. “In a culture where 37% of workers telecommute at least part of the time, it’s critical for employees to be able to easily and effectively connect with coworkers who are working from someplace other than the office.”
There are some features that are good for all pitches, too. Kate Prince at Business Insider notes that millennials value flexibility in the workplace. And this is something that applies to other aspects of their lives, as well. No matter where you’re pitching, finding a system that is flexible and easy to update can greatly appeal to the millennial generation.
This is why AV integrators are turning to AV over IP.
The Rise of Networked AV
“AV over IP solutions from the right vendor provides flexibility to manage multiple displays remotely,” Mario Avila at Black Box Network Services notes. This combines the modern approach to remote work with the millennial need for flexibility. Pitching this kind of system shows a care for millennial needs, but also the needs of a modern business in general.
Networked AV is also easy to update, meaning that it will stay up-to-date and up to millennial standards.
AV over IP is becoming more popular. At the rate things are going, “it would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2021,” according to a Cisco report published in 2017.
In addition, networked AV is easy to work with. Bob Michaels, CEO of ZeeVee, notes that AV over IP products are “designed to save time and eliminate multiple points of failure by having the intelligence to self-discover on the network. Compared to having to program every single endpoint and every single switch point into the process this makes both installation and expansion easier.”
This goes back to the user interface and ease of use discussed earlier. The faster and easier things are, the more likely it will be that millennials will respond to it.
Accommodating the Biggest Generation for Years to Come
Some may question how big of an impact millennials actually have on the final decisions made regarding AV equipment. But the truth is millennials are a key factor when it comes to deciding on technology.
“Research shows that workplaces are starting to change how they handle technology and millennials’ desire for technology in their everyday lives and workplace environments,” note a team of researchers at St. Olaf College who were studying communication technology in the workplace.
And as workplaces change to accommodate the needs of millennials, so will the rest of the world. By keeping millennials in mind, integrators can improve their chances of creating a successful pitch that will meet the needs and expectations of their clients.