Generational Divide: Age Matters When It Comes to Small Business Owners' Attitudes Toward Office Technology

    New research from HP Canada uncovers generational differences among small
    business owners when it comes to how they learn about, purchase and use
    office technology

    MISSISSAUGA, ON, Oct. 3 /CNW/ - Forget the instruction manual. Generation
Y entrepreneurs prefer to take a "do it yourself" attitude when learning how
to use new technology. This is just one of the generational differences among
small business owners uncovered in new research released today by HP Canada.
    When it comes to learning how to use technology, 46 per cent of
entrepreneurs under the age of 30 (Gen Y) are most likely to "just try to
figure it out themselves." On the other hand, small business owners aged 62
years and over (Veterans) prefer to read a manual or talk to friends or
family; only 26 per cent of this group say they learn how to use new
technology on their own.
    "HP's survey unveils some interesting differences - and similarities -
among small business owners based on age," said Dr. Linda Duxbury, professor,
Carleton University School of Business, Ottawa. "From how they learn about
technology to what technologies are considered critical, each generation is
motivated by different factors in terms of how they view technology. Vendors
selling to this market must be cognizant of these differences in order to be
successful in meeting the needs of these customers."
    The results of the survey, which was conducted by Ipsos Reid for HP
Canada, did unveil some similarities between generations. According to the
survey, 63 per cent of small business owners say they are very "confident"
that they are using the right type of computer (desktop, laptop, workstation,
etc.) for their business. When it comes to purchasing new technology, 94 per
cent said speed is an important feature when it comes to making technology
purchasing decisions, ahead of a product's security features (88 per cent) and
energy efficiency (75 per cent).
    "HP is committed to providing small business customers with the
technology, services and online resources that help them be as successful and
capable as any competitor, big or small," said Jean-Paul Desmarais, senior
marketing manager, Business Printing, HP Canada. "We commissioned this
research as a way to gain insight into whether age matters when it comes to
our customers' attitudes toward how they learn about, purchase and use
technology in their businesses. The results show that there are some distinct
differences in attitude based on age."
    The following are the top five generational differences uncovered by the
survey. For the survey, generations are defined as the following: Gen Y (under
age 30); Gen X (aged 30 to 42); Baby Boomers (aged 42 to 61); and Veterans
(age 62 or older).

    1. Perception of "critical technology" for their business

    The results indicate that the importance of fixed computers and
printer/copiers increases according to the age of the respondent, while the
importance of laptops and handheld devices decreases with that age. Baby
Boomers and Veterans are more likely to insist that it is a priority to spend
their technology budget on desktops or PCs and printers or copiers, rather
than wireless technology.
    According to the survey, Boomers prefer traditional devices such as fixed
computers as opposed to laptop computers. Boomers (84 per cent) say that fixed
computers are critical to their business compared to just 65 per cent of Gen Y
respondents. Instead, Gen Y entrepreneurs (55 per cent) say laptops are
critical to their business, while only 46 per cent of those aged 43 and older
agree with this position.

    2. How small business owners use the Internet

    When it comes to deciding which technologies to purchase, Gen X does their
homework before buying. The survey indicates that 41 per cent of Gen X conduct
research online and read online reviews. Similarly, 39 per cent of Gen X say
they use the Internet to find online marketing tools that help them develop
their own marketing collateral. Only 25 per cent of Veterans use the Internet
to find online marketing resources to help them develop their own marketing

     3. Spending priorities when it comes to technology

    When it comes to their technology budget, the priority given to mobility
decreases with the age of the respondent. For instance, 32 per cent of Gen Y
say that mobile technology is a priority in terms of how they spend their
technology budget. In comparison, 18 per cent of Gen X, 10 per cent of Boomers
and only 8 per cent of Veterans give priority to mobile technology.

    4. What features are important when deciding to purchase new technology

    Gen Y (75 per cent) are more likely than Gen X (72 per cent) or Boomers
(68 per cent) to say that the technology's footprint (size) is an important
consideration when buying technology products. Interestingly, brand is more
important to Veterans (64 per cent) than it is to Boomers (60 per cent), Gen X
(57 per cent) or Gen Y (55 per cent).

    5. How they learn to use new technology

    When it comes to learning how to use technology, older small business
owners are much more likely to read the manual, with 34 per cent of Veterans
admitting that they prefer to learn in this way. Only 19 per cent of Gen Y
read the manual.

    "This survey brought some interesting insights into the influence age has
on a small business owner's attitudes and perceptions towards technology,"
said Michael McAvoy, Director, Small and Mid-Sized Business, HP Canada. "HP is
a global organization that believes simplifying technology is key when
tailoring products, solutions and services to the SMB space. Our goal is to
continue to provide a seamless, simple and comprehensive package to small
businesses including reliable technologies, superior customer support and a
global ecosystem of partners."

    About Ipsos Reid

    Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader and the country's
leading provider of public opinion research. With operations in eight cities,
Ipsos Reid employs more than 300 research professionals and support staff in
Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centers in
Canada, as well as the largest prerecruited household and online panels. Ipsos
Reid's Canadian marketing research and public affairs practices are staffed
with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific
backgrounds, offering the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada -
including the Ipsos Trend Report, the leading source of public opinion in the
country - all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant
information. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based
market research group. To learn more, visit

    About HP

    HP, the world's largest technology company, provides printing and
personal computing products and IT services, software and solutions that
simplify the technology experience for consumers and businesses. HP completed
its acquisition of EDS on Aug. 26, 2008. More information about HP (NYSE:   HPQ)
is available at

    (1) Survey methodology: These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll
    conducted on behalf of HP from Sept. 3 to Sept. 10, 2008. This online
    survey of 1,000 Canadian small business owners and operators was
    conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online
    panel. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and
    weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the
    sample's composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population
    according to census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos
    online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a
    probability sample. An unweighted probability sample of this size, with a
    100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of
    +/- 3.1 per centage points, 19 times out of 20.

    (C) 2008 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information
    contained herein is subject to change without notice. HP shall not be
    liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.

For further information:

For further information: Editorial contacts: Caroline Hester, HP Canada,
(905) 206-4301,; Michelle Mullins, Hill & Knowlton for
HP, (416) 413-4656,; Hewlett-Packard
Company, 5150 Spectrum Way, Mississauga, ON, L4W 5G1,

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