Mike Murphy

“My Generation” is an old song from the 1965 debut album of the same name by the aging rock band The Who. The lyrics of the song say at one point, “I hope I die before I get old.” They didn’t, but The Who is still on iPod Shuffle playlists around the world.

I barely know what an iPod Shuffle is, don’t know how to operate one, and the technology is probably so surely passé that this admittance will come as an embarrassment to my teenage daughters. However, long before the band sound-tracked at halftime of Super Bowl XLIV, my own pre-adolescent children had rocked with Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend along with millions of other youngsters around the globe.

I barely knew what good rock-n-roll was at their age, and had it not been for a gaudy yellow transistor radio that I carried with me until it broke when I was 12 years old, I would likely be even more out of touch with my offspring and their sense of connectivity to the world - old and new.

A transistor radio was my technology. Their technology is iPods and apps, cell phones and laptops, and the choice between AT&T and Verizon. The world has always been about being connected. In 1965, it was just connected very slowly.


Today, it is not uncommon for youngsters to send up to 1,000 text messages a day to all corners of their universe. Having an immediate connection with their friends is not the only thing desired by perhaps the newest generation of future HVAC customers. According to a recent article inUSA Today, a new generation is being identified that is even difficult for older siblings to completely understand. This latest demographic group - dubbed the iGeneration by some - is so early in its development that it is difficult to know if that moniker will even stick. It stands to reason that perhaps a more mature generation of business owners might not be ready for all that these latest users of information technology have in store. It is so early that no one really knows for sure. But, suffice it to say, change is always afoot.

The “i” in iGeneration might represent information, but more likely will stand for “individualized,” according to psychologist Larry Rosen of California State University-Dominguez Hills. In theUSA Todayarticle, Rosen identifies a few distinct iGeneration traits including: “Early introduction to technology, adeptness at multitasking, desire for immediacy, and an ability to use technology to create a vast array of content.”


In recent years, industry manufacturer surveys have already identified a shift in the way consumers make buying decisions. Word-of-mouth referrals have always been a strong influence, and still are. However, information gathering has made startling jumps - consumers are even more prepared and armed with more knowledge about their purchase before a salesman cast a shadow in the doorway. The technology of the Internet has enabled interested buyers to develop a bank of content information that was not available in years past - and, this is today’s buyer.

The buyer of the future does not remember a time when they were not connected to information, and usually in the palm of their hand. They don’t remember a time when they could not customize their own social interactions and customize the way that information comes to them. Their music, their TV, their computer screen, their RSS feed - everything is customizable.

The iGeneration may be a number of years away from purchasing HVAC systems, but here are a few ideas that you might pass on to your next generation of ownership as they prepare for the future:

• Individualized comfort systems that include very specific residential zoning will become as common as zoned comfort in automobiles.

• Individualized thermostat controls family members carry with them will become as common as cell phones.

• Individualized energy monitoring will become as common as a utility company’s metering system.

• Individualized HVAC system service alerts will become as common as home surveillance systems.

In the big picture, future buyers will want to be more connected with everything that touches them; they will want every solution, every piece of information to be customized for them. As if people weren’t individualistic enough already; as if HVAC customers weren’t demanding enough already; just wait until the iGeneration grows up.

Publication date:02/22/2010