Future of Technology May Be Determined by Millennial Malaise, Female Fans and Affluent Data Altruists
A new study commissioned by Intel and conducted by Penn Schoen Berland examining global attitudes toward technology innovation challenges existing perceptions on technology champions and hotspots. The research reveals millennials (ages 18 to 24) are the least enthusiastic about technology today yet are optimistic for future technology that delivers a more personalized experience, while women in emerging markets are the most optimistic about innovations in technology.
The "Intel Innovation Barometer" reveals millennials globally show a stark contrast to their reputation as digital natives who can't get enough technology in their lives. A majority of millennials agree that technology makes people less human and that society relies on technology too much.
However, millennials also believe technology enhances their personal relationships (69 percent) and have great hope that innovations will positively impact education (57 percent), transportation (52 percent) and healthcare (49 percent). This generation is also slightly more willing than their oldest cohorts to anonymously share birth dates, GPS records and online shopping history if it helps to improve experiences.
"At first glance it seems millennials are rejecting technology, but I suspect the reality is more complicated and interesting," said Dr. Genevieve Bell, anthropologist and director of Interaction and Experience Research at Intel Labs. "A different way to read this might be that millennials want technology to do more for them, and we have work to do to make it much more personal and less burdensome."
Millennials want future technology to make life better, more simple and fun. Eighty-six percent believe technology innovation makes life simpler, and more than one-third think technology should know them by learning about their behavior and preferences. They want experiences that help them stay in the moment and be their best selves.
Women Carry the Tech Torch
The survey revealed that older women and those living in emerging markets are enthusiastic about the role of technology in their lives. Globally, women over 45 years of age are slightly more likely than younger women to say that people don't use enough technology. They also are more likely to say that technology makes people more human, helping to deepen their relationships.
These female tech fans are even more pronounced in emerging markets such as China, where more than 7 out of 10 women over the age of 45 believe people don't use technology enough. Women in emerging markets across ages believe innovations will drive better education (66 percent), transportation (58 percent), work (57 percent) and healthcare (56 percent). Women in emerging markets would be willing to embrace technologies others may consider to be too personal to improve their experiences: software that watches their work habits (86 percent), students' study habits (88 percent) and even smart toilets that monitor their health (77 percent).
"Women historically have become avid users of technology when that technology solves a problem, helps us organize our lives and that of our families as well as aids us in saving time and time shifting," added Bell. "I have to wonder whether this data is showing that women are optimistic because they see technology innovation that is starting to deliver on the promise of better fitting into the rhythms of our days, helping with our specific concerns and needs, and creating new compelling experiences that women and men alike will find valuable."
Digital Affluence and Data Sharing
The research revealed that individuals with high incomes are the most willing to anonymously share personal data, such as results of lab tests and travel information. They are also the most likely to own technology devices and engage with technology on a regular basis.
However, the research revealed that it is possible to incentivize sharing by showing the specific benefits. For example, when asked if they would share personal information to lower costs of medications, the number of low-income consumers previously unwilling to share their data dramatically increases from 66 to 80 percent.
While showing personal benefits is the most compelling way to close the gap between those who will share and those who won't, even showing societal benefits such as improved health treatments or lower costs of commuting helps to make the case for sharing.
"The need for us to show personal meaning and relevance has never been more important for the technology industry," Bell said. "Listening to what people really want and creating technologies that adapt to a wide variety of personal experiences is the future of technology."