Every day about 10,000 Americans reach retirement age. This data point sits at the heart of why The Local Search Association made the decision to launch the Tech Adoption Index last year.
While not every one of the 10,000 American turning 65 each day is a business owner. Nor is every one of them actually retiring. But it suggests a wave of transition in the economy. And small business represents a lion’s share of the U.S. economy. As older small business owners retire they will sell, transfer or close their businesses. And inevitably another owner takes their place.
This new business owners is likely to be much younger. And all the evidence tells us that younger businesses owners do things differently, in particular as it relates to technology. Younger business owners will be digitally native, mobile first and will demand the same customer experience as a giant enterprise.
One of the sources cited in the paper is Jenn Allen, principal of Cisco’s SMB segment. She cites Cisco’s internal research in making the case that “could native’ SMBs will insist on a high service, bundled approach to acquiring technology. In the paper, she describes the cloud natives this way.
“They behave differently. They look at products differently. They care about things differently.”
The Local Search Association and Vendasta have just released a white paper, “The Full Stack, Tech First Future” that lays out the case for why those selling digital marketing services (or really any software) to small businesses need to fundamentally transform how they go to market. And the leading reason is the generational shift that is taking place is small business ownership.
The report, citing data from both TAI and Vendasta, the makes the case that cloud natives will be cloud and mobile centric in how they approach their business operations. These cloud natives prefer tech-first brands (like Internet service or cloud software providers) and they prefer to buy multiple apps from a single provider, as long as the apps are of high quality and are well integrated.
The importance of being “tech first” is a profound finding for legacy SMB sellers, many of which have more of a media or lead generation orientation. Small businesses still want leads, but they also want software to help them organize how they serve their customers and run their businesses. This shift may explain why a company like DexYP is now going to market as a cloud software company using its newer, tech-first brand Thryv.
Figure 1 below, which is taken from the report, cites data from the Tech Adoption Index shows just have dramatic the difference in cloud tools adoption between businesses with younger vs. older decision makers. Decision makers 18-34 are more than 2X more likely to adopt cloud tech for their businesses than a decision maker ages 55-64 and more than 4X more likely than a decision maker age 65 or older.
These are dramatic if intuitive findings, and the implications for those selling marketing technology to SMBs are profound.