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Hype cycles: IDC can predict last week, the world ignores the present
Press releases propagate predictive thought. Most wearables and health-related predictions reflect the universe of themselves, that is, gadget press releases and press hype about the rise in wearables, for example, among consumers. Per IDC, in 2014 "wearables and embedded sensors will become mainstream." What is mainstream, considering that only 32% of consumers are even aware of fitness trackers? Or consider that low-risk prediction: "Certain health care organizations will experiment with Google Glass." Well, maybe not so much this year -- two months before, a Fast Company article interviewed a surgeon who was experimenting, concluding that the device has a 'long way to go.'
Predict what has already happened. Sometimes predictions looks surprisingly like press releases that may have happened within the past week. IDC’s Top 10 predictions for 2014 include: "Smartphones will become biosensors." That’s interesting -- last week Samsung announced that the Galaxy S5 would have a heart rate monitor. And "retail clinics will become a disruptive force in US Healthcare." Well, it is true that they were predicted in 2013 to be a disruptive force, but early 2014 hasn’t quite turned out that way – growth and demand are slumping, and one week after the IDC prediction was published, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents not to take their children to them.
Ignoring the basic reality of older adults, especially the real senior. So will aged 75+, that is the Real Senior, benefit from press release hype? Even when surveying just those connected to the Internet -- as Nielsen’s new Report on Global Aging does – the world of hype does not match the world of people. More than half of the 30,000 surveyed, including 38% of those in North America, say that advertising does not reflect older consumers and 43% globally say that it is difficult to find packages that are easy to open. This is despite the $15 trillion that these consumers have to spend worldwide. On the list of 'difficult to find' -- online shopping alternatives.
Where do older adults fit in the world of consumer health hype? The Nielsen survey is reminder of how a ballooning global population of ONLINE older consumers feels ignored by marketers in their world -- never mind about the offline and non-surveyed. And the IDC predictions reflect the reality gap between what is hyped right now -- and the world of real users. Never mind whether real seniors might benefit from or actually use a wearable sensor. And despite well-intentioned government agencies and a plethora of non-profit missions, if we were to survey seniors in the US, including a sample set of Real Seniors (age 75+) about whether they feel the missions of those that serve them match their needs, perhaps they might identify (as with the loss of land lines) more gaps. But then, whose job is it, anyway -- in a world where marketers want to make money and governments want to save money -- to understand and address these gaps?