Customers’ power today has never been higher due to the increasing number of connected devices and social networks, which empower them to directly influence pricing, share critiques online, and buy anything, anytime, anywhere, from anyone, Forrester CEO George F. Colony told delegates at LeWeb Paris today.

The next generation of customers in Europe watches less TV, listens to less radio, and reads newspapers less than its predecessors — but uses the Internet more and plays more videogames, according to a Forrester survey of more than 22,000 European online consumers. Generation Y consumers in Europe (those ages 22 to 30) already watch TV 18% less, listen to the radio 21% less, read newspapers 37% less, but use the Internet 25% more and play videogames 219% more. This trend is set to intensify among Generation Z — young consumers ages 13 to 21.

“Meet Europe’s new and dynamically changing customer,” Colony said, as he presented Forrester’s vision of how to win in the age of the customer on the main stage at LeWeb. Forrester defines the age of the customer as a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. “In the age of the customer, only companies that are customer-obsessed will survive.”

“To serve these customers, you will have to move from systems of record to systems of engagement. Apps are just a small part of that equation. Instead, we’re talking about re-engineering your entire company to deliver great mobile experiences,” Colony writes in his blog post published at LeWeb. “Software is the new business currency, more important than financial capital. Your brands will compete against Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon in setting the bar for great customer experiences. What it means: In the future, every company will be a software company.”

In the age of the customer, market share and customer satisfaction for corporations will hinge on the quality of the business technology (BT) — the technology, systems, and processes — that these companies deploy to win, serve, and retain this new group of highly demanding customers. Mobile engagement, according to Colony, will need to significantly grow as an area of investment for companies that want to become customer-obsessed. “We are witnessing a global mobile mind shift. Your customers are putting access to companies in their pockets and expect to engage with them as long as they can yield the right content, at just the right time, in the perfect context, with the highest possible convenience.” Other BT areas that are imperative in the age of the customer are customer experience, big data and analytics, and digital disruption.

To help those companies that wish to target global audiences determine how fast they have to act to offer mobile content and experiences, Forrester developed the Mobile Mind Shift Index (MMSI). The index measures how far along a group of consumers are in this change in attitude and behavior on three drivers of mobile engagement: device ownership, frequency of access, and diversity of locations. The MMSI of an audience or target group lets companies know the urgency with which they must deliver mobile content and services.

While online adults around the world are on their way to making the mobile mind shift, the speed and intensity of the shift vary significantly by age, gender, mobile operating system, and region. Globally, Forrester’s MMSI found the following differences, which Colony presented at LeWeb:

— European consumers are the least shifted. Germany, the UK, France, and Italy score lowest on the MMSI, while Turkey, Sweden, and the Netherlands, have the highest portion of shifted consumers.

— North American and metropolitan Latin American consumers are middle of the road. Online adults in the US, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil have MMSI scores between 27 and 30.

 — Emerging Asia Pacific markets are furthest along in the mobile mind shift. More than a third of online consumers in Hong Kong, metropolitan China, and metropolitan India fall into shifted segments.

Colony’s slide deck and a video recording of his LeWeb presentation are available on his blog.