I’m at a red light. Instinctively, I take a quick glance at my phone and press the home button (it’s almost primal — I can barely control the urge). So what’s behind this urge? Simple. I need to know, at all times, if there’s someone trying to reach me, or if there’s been a huge signing by the New York Yankees that could change the face of our franchise (you know being a diehard Yankees fan, and all).

Of course, after checking my phone for those couple of seconds, a sense of satisfaction takes over. It's a very subtle, yet palpable feeling.

This sense of satisfaction is derived from knowing that I’m on top of everything, (communication-wise at least). You may call me an information-hungry millennial, but my point here isn't so much that I’m addicted to my phone. It’s something even more basic, and it’s at the core of everything I do in this digitally driven society.

It’s about my expectations for this piece of technology, as well as my need for instant gratification (i.e., I know that by pressing this home button, I’ll be informed of any texts, calls, or messages I've received while driving).

My generation (and especially those coming after mine): We know what we want. And we want it now. With smartphones becoming even more intuitive to use, and WiFi networks continuing to spring up left and right, my generation has accordingly established a new benchmark for what’s acceptable and unacceptable, as far as the efficiency of modern technology goes. For example, it’s unacceptable to be waiting in the lobby of a doctor’s office with bad cell phone reception. The benchmark established by this person shortly thereafter: “Hmm, maybe its time to find a more dependable phone service provider.”

Its even becoming more and more difficult to impress our generation, never mind incoming generations, which will grow up in an even more tech-driven world. At least my particular generation, those born between 1990 and 2000, caught a fading glimpse of good ol’ dial-up internet, or those beeping things people wore on their waists. We know how far technology has come, but our more recent generations are operating under a whole new pretense, a whole new set of technological expectations.

Consider this. Huffington Post suggests by 2020, millennials such as myself will account for 50 percent of the global workforce. So what does this mean for the managed print services industry?

It means very demanding generations of people will assume business positions of high impact and importance over the next several decades. These generations have grown up being conditioned and accustomed to having information available at their fingertips, and it's only raising the bar for business-related devices such as multi-function and desktop printers.

Most industry analysts would tend to say, future market competition is the ultimate fuel for innovation, and they're right, but then there’s the consumer’s or buyer’s psyche to think about. This “customer psyche” is heavily influenced by the devices and software being used by a person on a daily basis. A perfect example of this would be today’s smartphone. Most smartphones these days are touch-operated, and similarly a great deal of multi-function printers are also built with touch sensitive screens. I’ve seen fellow co-workers finish replying to a message on their touch screen phones, then approach an MFP touch screen to complete an office task, only to be met with a poorly responsive screen. That is an example of a user’s technological expectation not being met, and the same is true from a software perspective.

Research and development departments, on both the hardware and software sides of managed print services, should pay close attention to millennial tech trends. Whether it’s tech developments related to personal communication, or new ways to access information on-the-go, these advancements should be used as a barometer to create user-friendly, dependable print technology. Customers of the future will sub-consciously judge the value of print hardware and software by relating to their experiences with other types of technology.

Alan Leal
Alan Leal

is a Product Marketing Specialist for FabSoft, a software manufacturer specialized in the automation of document-driven workflows.