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ON: Technology Adoption by the Retired Generation

Posted 03-19-2014 at 01:30 PM by Blondebaerde
Updated 03-28-2014 at 11:40 PM by Blondebaerde


(Inspired by a C-D thread, March 2014)

My late father (d. 2011) was not terribly fond of technology. But he did what he had to, and used what he was comfortable with until his departure at age 81.

c. 2001 I gave him a tolerable desktop computer. He dealt with it. Later he upgraded, on his own. Lather, rinse, repeat. He got himself on the Internet for email, and later for news surfing. When sorting his accounts, after he was gone, I found most of his accounts and PWs well-organized on a Rolodex. While not "secure" it did make sense after a fashion. I had no trouble with any of that, my dad was super-organized despite being not fond of tech. Not that the two go together, necessarily, but point being "he made do."

Most people don't like being pushed into things. Americans hate it more than many around the world, we are raised to be independent thinkers! When I pushed my dad (on tech matters), he'd lash out or go passive-aggressive. So, I stopped. I don't think he necessarily liked going online with accounts, or communicating hunt-and-peck via email, but he did because he had to.

Point of the story: even though I do tech for a living, the change management aspect...getting customers onto new stuff...is at least half the battle. Sometimes more. The 'nice' way to do it at a place like Chili's (automated, table-checkout) is to make such payment systems optional, at-first. Then give half the booths systems. Two years later, all the booths have the systems. Not Day 0 -> End-state. Very irritating.

The survey thing (required to complete checkout) is a convenience for Chili's, and not the way to handle it either. They are gathering data from YOU to help THEIR JIT and other Operations and customer relations improvements. I don't have an answer how to slow that down, other than voting with feet and wallet. They'll get the message eventually when revenues are down.

As for the rest, here is the deal:

- As a mid-career senior manager, at one of the main players in software, answer is: yes, that sort of thing (tableside checkout) is an inexorable march to keep costs down for all, improve security, and other both nefarious and non-nefarious (helpful) purposes. Older people will simple have to adjust. It will be uncomfortable. If you don't, you'll be even more uncomfortable. That's definitely not 'fair', but there are only two kinds of fair in life: State, and County. End of story.

- As a human being who compassionately enjoyed helping his elderly dad adjust, I personally have enormous patience and believe absolutely this sort of stuff needs to be done *gradually, with plenty of tiered-assistance to ease the transition*. Sometimes that is done right, others not.
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