What happens when a physician, a funder of product development, and media guy get on stage to discuss mobility and the ghettoization of age? In Stockholm this past August, it was a lively discussion of the similarities and overlaps of patient-centered medicine, the ridiculousness of age stereotyping, and the humiliating customer buying experience of a simple set of crutches. The conversation revolved around the theme of serving people and customers what they really need in the best possible way.
It was clear that there are tremendous business opportunities in a sector where technology, design and demographics overlap. Some companies are starting to get it, but most still assume that everyone over 55 is a special needs group looking for the next big button cell phone. What are the commonalities that a 25-year-old snowboarder with a broken tibia has with a 63-year-old with the same injury? It’s pretty much the same thing, except one heals more quickly than the other. Everyone values good design, and no one likes to be treated as someone less than they feel they are.
As with so much in our age group, solutions will be cross disciplinary, which is what I very much enjoyed about this panel. It was not just me with two other age-related experts, it was me with two people completely outside my sphere discussing the overlaps.
One of the wonderful things about being invited to speak at conferences is the discussions one has with one’s fellow speakers at the dinners and events. The ME conference, sponsored by Mercedes Benz and SXSW, seemed to understand that, and rather than have these chats at a dark dinner party, they put them up on stage for everyone to see and hear.
This is something other conventions can learn from. We on stage tend to be highly curious about all manner of things, not just our own stuff. Let’s mix it up more, make the panels less obvious and see what happens.