The following is the 9th part of an exclusive Impact Lab series called the Twelve Trends of Christmas by Thomas Frey.  Title:  The On-Demand Generation

As the metronome of life continually forces the tempo of business to pulse to a faster heartbeat, a new generation of young people are entering the workforce that believe the word “now” is the only answer to the question “when?”

We can download movies on-demand, find information on-demand, check our bank balances on-demand, and talk to our friends on demand.  Getting products shipped to us over night is old school and it’s becoming all too easy to apply this on-demand mentality to the rest of life.
Half of today’s workforce is made up of Generation X and Millennial Generation workers. Among the many differences between these workers and their older counterparts is their unwillingness to stay put. Recent research reveals that nearly 40 percent of workers plan to look for a new job within the next year. The contrast with the "lifer" ethic of previous generations could not be more startling, and the challenges for employers are enormous as most HR offices turn into a fast-moving revolving door.

While traditionalists argue the accelerating pace of life doesn’t allow us time to savor the precious moments or reflect on the here and now, a variety of new products are being introduced that will continue to change individual expectations from “soon” to “now”.
Difference between YouTube & TIVO

When television first came out we tended to watch everything that was on the air.  As programming expanded we were faced with making a choice, but the choices were usually not all that difficult.  When VCRs came onto the scene in the 70s, people started experimenting with time-shifting programs, recording their favorite sitcom for a later time.  TIVO pushed the envelope of time-shifting programs, making it convenient to track multiple shows simultaneously, giving us greater control of our lives and our entertainment.

But while time-shifting seemed to be what everyone wanted, it was somewhat of a rude awakening to find out that when people record a show to watch at their convenience, it somehow moves from the "pleasure" category onto the "chore" list.

Most TIVO owners have huge archives of shows that seemed like a good idea to record but never get watched.

YouTube, on the other hand, has never been about time-shifting for delayed gratification.  It has always been about spontaneous, impulse viewing, and the fine art of being surprised when a magically right video clip shows up at just the right time.

The on-demand generation isn’t interested in formulaic programs with laugh tracks and the same old cast members.  Rather, they are interested in discovering new dimensions of humor, ideas, and talent, and they want it on-demand.
Difference between Podcasting and Radio
Radio stations are finding themselves in the same boat as TIVO.  Products designed around the ability to time-shift radio are of little interest.  And channel surfing radio stations either on the public spectrum or on satellite stations like XM or Sirrius ends up being a painful exercise.

People want to hear music that makes them feel good and as a verbal medium, they want information that is timely, insightful, and spontaneously discovered.

Podcasting, while slower to catch on because of interface issues, will soon compete directly with the radio industry.  It fits well with the on-demand lifestyle and has all the marking of a revolutionary medium primed for greatness.
Using On-Demand to Battle Piracy

The music industry has been very vocal in casting blame on online piracy for ravaging sales.  However, television producers are now trying to make legal downloading so easy that few will want to steal.

Disney was the first major media company to strike a deal to sell some of its most popular shows through Apple’s iTunes Store. NBC Universal and Viacom Inc.’s Comedy Central and MTV quickly followed suit. CBS distributes its shows through Google Video and its own website.

The On-Demand Influence
Over the coming months, along with the installation of WiMax and its promise of blanket high-speed wireless everywhere, we will see many new products being designed to meet the needs of the on-demand marketplace.  In addition to our computers and cell phones, huge information streams will be piped into our cars, boats, airlines, and buses.  We will be able to instantly track the whereabouts of our kids, dogs, car, and those things in the bottom of women’s purses that most couples argue about.

Along with the technology will come a significant shift in our expectations.  Being informed will no longer be a luxury for the gifted few.  Being informed will be on-demand.


ABOUT:  Thomas Frey is currently Google’s Top Rated Futurist Speaker.  He serves as the Senior Futurist and Executive Director of the DaVinci Institute.  For more information click here.