Millennials overrated when it comes to driving disruption

Elizabeth Barry 11 January 2017

older generation and technology

A new report from EY has found the "silver market" (over 60s) are important drivers in multiple industries.

The baby boomer generation may have been undervalued in terms of driving disruption, according to a new report from EY. The report, which includes data from 1,000 senior decision-makers from across three global industries, found that respondents believed in older generations were more open to using new technology. This is especially true in the healthcare space, where 87% of the survey respondents said people over 60 are likely to be the first adopters.

"People in their 40s, 50s or 60s today are largely at ease with technology, which means that each over-60 generation is becoming more digitally astute than its predecessor," the report said.

Millennials are usually placed at the centre of disruption goals as they are recognised as early adopters of technology. However, as the report has shown, innovation in healthcare and other older age-specific industries may have contributed to baby boomers being more open to technology.

Recognising and taking advantage of disruption has become paramount for companies in a range of industries. The report revealed a number of strategies adopted by companies to address disruptive forces, including one-quarter of respondents that have merged with or acquired a competitor in the past year. One fifth of respondents have acquired an innovative startup for the same purpose.

While acquisition and partnerships remain important, consumers remain largely at the centre of disruption overall, which changing customer behaviours and wants found to be the second biggest enabler (26.43%) of disruption in respondent's industries. Enabling regulatory changes was the biggest driver, with almost one-third (29.33%) of respondents citing this.

However, while some of the executives interviewed recognise disruption as an opportunity, six out of ten stated that senior management viewed disruption as a threat. This is in line with the six out of ten respondents that said companies react to disruptive forces rather than drive or stay ahead of them.

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