Review: ‘The Rise of Generation C: Implications for the World of 2020’

This report, published in 2010 by Booz&Co the ‘oldest continually existing management consultancy in the world’ sets out what the world could look like by the end of this decade, thanks to the rise of this permanently-connected generation.The Rise of Generation C

The Rise of Generation C defines Gen C as that which was born after 1990 and lived its adolescent years after 2000 (I just about scrape in there!) and discusses exensively the implications of this new generation’s behaviour on the ICT industry. Whether you’re in ICT or not, the report makes a powerful case for sitting up and taking notice of this important demographic that according to the report by 2020 will make up to 40% of the polulation in the US, Europe and BRIC countries and 10% in the rest of the world.

I’ve picked out some highlights:

  • The pace of innovation will create an ever more digital world as digital devices confirm their emerging role as the dominant tool for trade, entrepreneurship and internet access for the masses.
  • Being connected will be the norm in 2020 – indeed a prerequisite for participation in society.
  • The average person in 2020 will live in a web of 200-300 contacts maintained through a variety of channels.
  • Healthcare, retail and travel are likely to be the most affected by the revolution in ICT.

What does the report say about travel?

  • A decline in business travel is expected as costs rise, digital communication is more widespread. Face-time will become a valued luxury.
  • The role of the travel agent as an intermediary will be cut out.
  • Peer reviews will become the dominant factor in deciding on the next vacation.
  • Online advice and information will dictate peoples’ travel plans in real time.
  • The distinction between travel and home will become a blur.
  • Off-the-grid time will become a luxury.

My take:

Though only three years have passed since the report was released, it’s worth considering how far down the road we’ve already travelled. Arguably, peer reviews of everything from airline seats to hotel beds to the little bar on the corner have already become the dominant factor as social networks chart travellers’ dreaming, deciding and booking process in ever greater numbers.

Real-time dictation and management of holiday plans is making its breakthrough as the mainstream tour operators like Tui have launched their own app to stay in close contact with the customer during their journey and sell ancillary services such as last minute tours and activities. With travellers often sharing every waking hour of their trip live on Facebook, instant feedback from peers is already commonplace. Expect it to grow.

For me, the most interesting of the observations about travel is the final point; that ‘off-the-grid time will become a luxury’. Traditionalists would argue that young people already spend too much time glued to their phones and tablets, so how will this look in 2020? Having grown up with digital devices representing ‘an essential tool for participation in society’ how will young travellers feel about disconnection? To what point will holiday packages promising disconnection actually allow travellers to remain disconnected? What do you think?


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