Small changes in technology can have huge impacts. Back in the late 1980’s Americans were spending 24 percent more minutes on the telephone. The root cause to the Pew Internet and American Life Project was the introduction of the answering machine. Although less than three in 10 homes had one of those big boxes in 1987, they were responsible for the increase call-backs and additional calls.
If the answering machine can do that, what does the mobile Internet do to and for us today? Fortunately, the Pew Internet Project also released a study on their findings. I’ve tried to share enough information so you can identify business segments and perhaps gain insight on how to work with these segments, be it for sales, or just working with people who fall within each category.
I’ve been vocal in my belief that mobile devices are a significant game changer. It is a fast-growing access method for Facebook and Twitter. Even Flickr now supports photo upload with mobile devices. That people are motivated into the digital world by mobile devices is now the cornerstone of the Pew Internet Project’s second typology of information and communication technology (ICT) users.
Thirty-nine percent of adults have seen their online use grow as their mobile device dependence increases. While I am going to focus on this group, it bears noting that the report shows 61 percent of adults “… do not feel the pull of mobility – or anything else – [leading them] further into the digital world.” It is this number that I find staggering, as they keep emerging technology, entertainment, and communications at a distance.
Mobile devices afford a great number of platforms to their users. Collaboration, social networking, texting and other forms of communication make each device almost as unique as the needs of the person with the device. Not surprisingly, the study revealed a wide variation in attitudes and opinions of what the mobile technology means to them, and it wasn’t always positive.
You probably know people in each of the five groups that the report identified:
Digital Collaborators use information gadgets to collaborate with others and share their creativity with the world. Making up eight percent of the adult the general population, this group had the widest scope of online activities, greatest collaborative efforts and to quote the report, “the greatest number of information gadgets of any group.” They have a voice and are most likely to share that voice on their own blogs and commenting on others. They prefer to watch TV programs on non-TV devices, and 82 percent of this group frequently gets news and music from online sources. They appear as the early adopters who are at the forefront of both the technology and behavioral changes. While not in the report, advertising to this group is a bear, but they are loyal when you get them. Other research shows they want the one-on-one communication with a company through social media networks.
Ambivalent Networkers, and you have to love the name, are heavy users of mobile devices to connect with others and entertain themselves. With seven percent of the adult general population, this group doesn’t always like it when their cell phone rings. This is the “on the go” crowd, text heavily, been online for nine years and own an above-average number of communications tools, and almost all for portable use. While 91 percent of this group makes most of their calls on their mobile devices, they do not associate those devices with either personal or professional productivity.
Media Movers use their online access to seek out and share information nuggets. These nuggets make their way through these users’ social networks via desktop and mobile access. This group, seven percent of the adult general population, views mobile connectivity as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, rather than a productivity tool. They are more likely to welcome a call than most groups, especially to discuss an information nugget that they shared.
Roving Nodes users, nine percent of the adult general population, are similar in number and some characteristics to Media Movers, but they are much more mobile. They use their mobile devices to connect with others and share information and e-mail is their central tool. They are not particularly comfortable in sharing content, using social networks or taking traditional media in new directions. They are comfortable purchasing in cyberspace with 83 percent having done so.
Mobile Newbies lack robust access to the Internet, but they like their cell phones. Eight percent of the adult general population, only 39 percent of the group has Internet access on their phone. Most have not ventured further than dialing the phone and really border on the group that does not feel the need to be involved in collaboration, information finding nor sharing.
Our customers and employees come from each of these groups. The question becomes how you bridge communicating with these diverse groups. Specifically, how do you get them talking to each other.
As more people continue to get motivated by mobility, late adopters will join the party and the bridge building will be easier. For now, training, sharing and collaboration with a good dose of fun is always a good place to start.