Agetech needs a joint effort

photo by Cathy SunuChris Valentine

CEO of Adeo InterActive; key member of the SXSW Interactive Team


Chris, we met 2018, what do you see in regards to whether startups are aware of the so called digital skills gap?

As you know, at SXSW we run several pitches regarding different industries, therefore we have a wide range of attendees with very different approaches.

What I like about that is that we don't need to change. The older population has always been included, but also other parts of the population. It’s almost subconscious because it’s what I’ve always been trying to do for 10, 15 years, namely being inclusive.

More and more stakeholders are focused on so called agetech. What’s your view on that vertical?

Different countries define it in different ways. It depends primarily on resources, health and on social security.

In the US for example people have to worry about their social security and the health system is different to other parts of the world, too. Local or national circumstance set bars for seniors in different areas where agetech solutions can help.

And that is something that needs to have more awareness as it's now becoming important to a larger percentage of the population.

One issue I've been thinking is how does the agetech population have a distribution channel in regards to their level of education and skills.

A lot of products and services are meant to serve all, but they don’t. How is the older population thought of and how are they marketed to?

I think you really start to see change as providers start to enter an agetech approach. In addition, you see change with regards to user adoption with older people too and that means we have change all over the market place.

Are you aware of any efforts to get seniors more tech savvy?

I'm not aware of that. But here in the States, with organizations like AARP, there most likely might be some. I don't think there is enough in place to support this part of the population and so I think that often they are unheard, left behind or not addressed.

What is your advice for tech startups regarding the aging of our society?

If you're building a company and you have a certain technology, ask yourself

  • What population do we want to address and can you be very strategic about them?
  • Are there changed customer needs over the life span concerning your solution?
  • What's the comfort level with somebody that's at a different age level?
  • Is the technology a user friendly kind of help?
  • How does it look from a social perspective?

There's all kind of factors that have to have to be incorporated in some way to be "age ready".

In addition we need a joint effort from different types of angles, different types of perspectives, different types of stakeholders, from the government to established brands, to create for an aging society.

With that, all of a sudden business models will become more inclusive as opposed to exclusive as this becomes the common thinking.

What would you recommend older persons, beginners in tech, to stay in touch with the very fast innovating digital world?

First of all, struggling with technology happens in all generations, it is not exclusively with seniors. People need to understand things that are important for them and if there is tech that helps you, buy these kind of things.

Some technology is very complicated and hard to use. The willingness to start dealing with that tech increases when I understand how it benefits the quality of my life.

The quality of life could be access to my family. Maybe to my bank, it could be tied to me or my health. And so understanding that technology can help you. You don't have to know it all. You don't have to have the latest apps, but you just have to say, “I'm going to use certain things that are important to me that can enhance my life”, which is what I hope technology is doing.

Sometimes people see it as a disruption to their lives, and it can be for example when your phone's not working or your computer is not starting. But it also can be kind of an enhancement and I think it has to be seen more from that perspective. The trouble which occurs should not be a reason to deny technology, things go wrong in every part of daily life.

And then you should say, “I'm just going to take baby steps”. Don't immerse yourself in everything. These are the areas that I want. These things are important to me. You don´t need to be master of all kinds of tech, focus on the important.

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