This is a guest post by Fusion-io’s Trip Hunter
When many of us, baby boomers and non-baby boomers alike, envision our new data-driven world, we see young adults, tethered to their mobile devices for texting, gaming and surfing the web.
This younger demographic certainly epitomizes the most connected generation to date, but surprisingly, baby boomers — aged 46 to 64 — represent possibly the largest generation driving rapid growth in data demand.
The connected generation with purchasing power
Just how big are we boomers? One recent study reported that baby boomers make up one quarter of the U.S. population. Of that group, 81 percent own desktop computers, 61 percent use laptops, another 30 percent have smartphones and twenty percent of the boomer population use tablets to conduct online transactions.
That might seem like a small population segment, but with boomers likely to have more disposable income than your average teen or young adult working through college, the market potential in servicing the older online shopper is clear. Like shoppers of all ages, baby boomers want a responsive, delay-free online shopping experience, making data center infrastructure like that of leading online retailer Zappos a crucial part of each sale.
Understandably social network usage is also on the rise among the boomer generation. According to istrategy.com, a website that tracks Facebook data, 47 percent of internet users aged 46 to 64 use social media, an 88 percent growth over the previous year. Facebook certainly plays an integral part of my family life. We use it to keep grandparents in three different states up-to-date on every facet of our kids’ lives, by sharing news, photos and videos.
Connecting families in the digital age
Even just 10 years ago, the sharing of social information, like photos, videos and experiences, was not instantaneous as it is today. By simply joining Facebook or Twitter and connecting with a family member, parents or grandparents can immediately access thousands of photos from around the world. Others are realizing Skype can deliver video calls live across the country.
Today, families don’t have to wait a week for a letter to cross the country, or pay for long distance phone calls. With video chat, email, social networks and many other tools, parents and grandparents are using technology to keep in touch in ways they could have never envisioned.
Through each of these tools, baby boomers are contributing to the massive amounts of big data that influences the way they are viewed by the world. This creates a powerful opportunity for companies to better understand this often overlooked generation and build market strength in a variety of spaces, including online shopping, services and entertainment.
Healthcare influencing digital adoption
Healthcare is also driving baby boomer data demands, and as the demographic ages, our healthcare system must find innovative ways to scale services with boomers’ needs. Throughout the country, integrated patient care systems are emerging that allow doctors and nurses to speed the collection of patient data and make it available to everyone instantaneously.
For example, the Apple website features a story about RehabCare, which uses the iPad and iPhone to power patient care in facilities at over 1200 hospitals across 43 states. The data center infrastructure behind these mobile applications must be secure for patient confidentiality, but also fast enough to quickly deliver important information to point-of-care devices.
Medical practitioners themselves impact data demands by influencing application adoption among older adults. A survey of 600 baby boomers conducted earlier this year reported that five percent would download an app recommended by a family member. That number skyrocketed to 60 percent if recommended by a doctor, pointing to the potential for doctors to tilt the scale for application adoption.
As these trends indicate, all population segments are driving data demands, not just digital natives that have grown up taking the Internet for granted. From commerce to healthcare, we are only just beginning to see the way this is changing how companies handle data responsiveness.
Trip Hunter serves as the Vice President of Corporate Marketing for Fusion-io, overseeing the company’s worldwide marketing efforts. Prior to Fusion-io, he was a partner at Renegade, a New York based guerrilla marketing agency where he led the event marketing and business development teams.
A native New Yorker, Trip and his family have recently made the transition to Fusion-io’s home state of Utah, where he enjoys pretty much every outdoor activity the state has to offer.