Changing Aging Blog

Elder Technology: 5 Tips for Tech Companies Seeking to Meaningfully Connect With Seniors
Date: Dec 22nd, 2010 8:22am

Author:

Eric Schubert

L: Ecumen customer enjoying Wii by Nintendo

Yesterday we shared an example of how technology this week benefitted one of our home care customers. At Ecumen we get approached from a variety of companies wanting to “sell” the next big thing or technology that really isn’t very useful but the company feels just “because someone is older” they’ll want or use this technology.
We love working with technology companies in piloting new products. It’s those pilots that led to our widespread use of sensor technology and other new approaches. But we want technologies that truly make life better for our customers, not just a “cool” thing.

Ecumen Chief Information Officer Larry Jorgensen oversees our technology ventures and partnerships. Here Larry shares 5 tips for companies that are looking to effectively partner with senior services provider to serve the senior market with technology:

5 Tips for Technology Companies Seeking to Work With Seniors

1) Understand Senior Diversity: Just as with any age group, there is a great deal of diversity within the senior sector. Understand that our senior population is made up of a wide range of skills and interests as it relates to technology. A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t likely going to work. Show how your technology meets multiple people’s needs.

2) Define the Value: Whatever the technology is, it must demonstrate value. Does it make life easier, safer or more enjoyable and in a cost effective manner. If the technology can't show value, just as with any age cohort, seniors will not use it.

3) Respect the Customer:
There can be an increasing need as individuals age for assistive technology or devices such as larger font sizes that are easier to read, larger keys that are easier to handle, etc. But I’ve seen too many companies who equate aging with a lack of sophistication or ability to learn. That’s a big mistake. Honor and respect the customer with a product that honors and respect them.

4) Be There to Help: Provide readily-available technical support for your product, especially if you’re going to serve customers who live in senior housing. In an assisted living community, for example, customers are used to getting answers to their problems right away. They also want those answers right away when they’re purchasing technology. Word travels fast in a senior community when things don’t work right. And Facebook and other social media tools make it travel even faster.

5) Show How You’ll Adapt: Technology changes fast. Actually it changes faster than that. If you’re going to approach the senior market with technology, show us how you’re going to change to stay ahead of it and keep your product relevant.We’ve seen technology make lives better for seniors.

By better understanding seniors’ needs and wants as people, technology companies will not only make a great device, but they’ll get people to actually want to use it.

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