You’re not the boss of me, young man

On the → Forrester Blog for Technology Product Management & Marketing Professionals, Tom Grant writes an interesting post about the role of privacy, age, and thier importance for social media (see → You’re not the boss of me, young man). Asuming that Generation Y represents young people, and Generation X older persons, he states the following:

„Which is why it’s important to note that Generation X’s willingness to share personal information is less than Generation Y’s. This cohort is hardly a group of fuddy-duddies, but they are the first step in a curve of increasing sensitivity to privacy, by age group.“

Overall, these differences in the usage patterns might limit the use of Web 2.0 technologies. I particular cases (he uses the example of geo-spatial apps), such differnces might limit the potential success of a particular software product.

I would like to add the following aspects:

  • The requirements in terms of privacy differ between countries: What works in one country might not work in a different country
  • We need to take care to design our products in a way that we do not discriminate certain age groups

You have certainly read it in the press that the EU Government did not approve the use of European SWIFT data in the USA (see → EU Lawmakers Reject Bank Data Deal With US). SWIFT collects information about banks transfers and facilitates international payments. This database was considered as a very good source for information to prevent and fight crime. In spite of all potential advantages, the denial of the EU to allow the US to use this data is just one example for the general fact that European countries have a different view in terms of privacy. In general Europeans are more cautious in terms of their personal data, and privacy. What works in the US might not work in Europe. In many countries this has historic reasons, like for example in Germany.

As Tom Grant indirectly shows, many companies in particular in the software space often unwantedly discriminate older people. Often Product Managers are young, and have a certain customer type in mind. It is only natural that they design their products for these young people. To prevent you from jumping into this trapp, I suggest that you do the following:

  • Test your product before launch with few customers
  • Make sure that your tester’s group consists of different age groups, men/woman, etc, and thus, that it is very diverse.
  • Support your Product Managers with experiences from customers
  • If it is your task to design the visual appearance of your application, make sure to use devices that help you simulate i.e. the visual capabilities of older people.

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