When it comes to technology, the mass market for the most part ignores senior citizens. This is a mistake. Despite the common misconception, today’s senior citizens have a greater familiarity with technology and own more devices than ever before.
With over 46 million people aged 65 or older in the U.S. as of 2014, seniors comprise nearly 15% of the total population. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, as of 2013, 59% of seniors reported using the Internet, while 47% had broadband access in their homes. And the senior technology market is expected to exceed $42 billion by 2020.
Despite this rapidly growing and untapped market opportunity, building technology products for older adults isn’t easy. Companies face design and monetization challenges. But if they can overcome these obstacles and start targeting tech products and services to seniors, it will be worth the effort.
The world’s population is expected to increase from 7 billion today to 9 or 10 billion by the end of the century, according to the United Nations. We also can expect more pressure on the food supply as people in the developing world adopt middle class lifestyles, which usually involve eating more meat. To satisfy global demand, we will need to roughly double today’s output, which means getting smarter about how we produce and manage food.
The good news is that innovation is coming to the farm. Advanced information technology, improved communications systems, robotics, drones, and other new technologies have the potential to boost agricultural yields and reduce waste while tempering environmental degradation.
MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst
I recently attended the second annual Internet of Things World Forum in Chicago, IL. In the opening keynote presentation, Wim Elfrink, Cisco’s EVP of Industry Solutions and Chief Globalization Officer, referenced Gartner’s latest version of its“Hype Cycle,” noted that IoT (the Internet of Things) has climbed over the past year to its peak. Yet, on closer inspection, the enviable place IoT is enjoying within this technology-evolution framework is actually named the “peak of inflated expectations,” a precarious high point where individual dazzling success stories of early adopters and visionary speculation are outshining wider market reticence and slow early adoption. In the model, this magical time is usually followed by a “trough of disillusionment,” then — if the market responds favorably to second and third-generation tech — the “slope of enlightenment,” and finally — if wide market adoption takes place — a “plateau of productivity.”
The conference certainly provided many vivid illustrations of success and the potential of IoT, but will this fledgling industry make it through the inevitable coming trough, and climb “high and right” on the chart with predicted tens of billions of connected devices, as was enthusiastically espoused by Elfrink in his opening remarks?