A major focus of Southwark’s work with business schools is the applicant experience. We strongly believe that serving MBA applicants requires an increasingly adaptive approach – one that takes into account the evolving preferences and habits of today’s candidates. While we have often discussed the ‘mobile first’ generation (those candidates who first experience a schools’ marketing materials and web presence via a smartphone), we wanted to use this week’s Engage column to discuss another label to consider for young people: the on-demand generation.
Beyond being internet savvy and ‘mobile first’ (with the web at their fingertips 24-7), today’s ‘on-demand’ MBA applicants are used to being able to get anything they want immediately. Want to hear the latest Katy Perry track? Dial it up on YouTube or Spotify. Want to binge-watch an entire season of a brand new show? Netflix releases full seasons of shows at once and can be streamed to a variety of devices.
In short, is there a difference between people who grew up having to wait to hear their favorite song on the radio – or else buy the album by traveling to a bricks and mortar store – versus those who never have to listen to any song that they don’t want to hear, because they can simply fast forward it and pull up whatever song they want?
And, if the on-demand generation is different, what does this mean for an MBA admissions process that remains rooted in long lead times? How can the admissions office adapt to best satisfy this generation without sacrificing the integrity of the selection process?
Meeting the Demands of the On-Demand Generation
While it would be foolish to deliver admissions results instantly, there are tools that the admissions office can put in place to ensure that applicants have instant access to their application’s path through the admissions process – much like one can track a package they have ordered from Amazon. Additionally, the on-demand generation necessitates the need for transparency on the part of the business schools; if an applicant isn’t getting the admissions information they need from your web site, they will go elsewhere and seek out third-party tweets, discussion threads, Facebook posts or blog entries to fill in the gaps. Another aspect of the process that will continue to evolve is the use of technology to facilitate remote interviews via video conferencing – as candidates become increasingly less enthused about jumping through hoops to travel to campus (or to remote hubs) for an interview. And finally, keep in mind that serving the on-demand generation necessitates a mobile strategy; text messaging, SnapChat, WhatsApp, or even a school’s own app that can serve up updates and notifications are going to be increasingly vital channels.
This post is part of Southwark Consulting’s blog series, “Engage”, which examines the new social media and mobile environment and offers case studies and advice on how to navigate this evolving landscape. These stories are published every second Thursday.