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A little too connected?

October 02, 2015 By Tom Holmes - Cloud Solution
As we zoom towards December, I have no doubt my children and family members will ask Father Christmas for some popular digital device. For good or bad, we live in a world where electronic devices outnumber people.  We create more data and information than we could possibly consume.
  • 3 billion people with internet-connected devices
  • 212 billion sensors, devices and things by 2020
  • 90% of world’s data created in the last two years

A long time ago (2-3 years) we talked technology trends as if they were in silos: “Consumerization of IT”, “Bring Your Own Device, “Internet of Things” etc.  These trends are still important and may have some impact themselves, but together, their combined impact is far greater.  We need to re-imagine productivity in order to remain successful as individuals and as organizations.  

We are productive when we make things, and make things happen. Sometimes on our own, but more often together.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Does being more connected and more available make us more productive?   I’m not sure it does.  Undoubtedly, connected and available are integral parts of collaboration.  Collaboration is most certainly a key ingredient for productivity and allowing us to connect to people instantaneously gives us the opportunity to work together no matter geographic location, what device is being used or what time of day (or night) it is.

But I fear a nasty byproduct of this could be a complete disengagement from real - I’m going to say it - face-to-face interaction.  This isn’t a new thought, nor some ingenious epiphany, it’s a reflection of what I see, and how I see this unfolding in my own life.

Today's graduates and those still in school, millennials, paint a vivid picture of what it looks like in the mobile-first, cloud-first world.  By 2020, this generation will make up the majority of the workforce.  They have grown up not knowing a world without social networks.

My eldest daughter is 6.  What will her world look like when she graduates?

They approach collaboration and sharing very differently.  They are much more inclined to put an early spark of an idea out there and crowd-source the process of iteration. That is in contrast to the behavior of the past where knowledge was power; it was hoarded, protected, and not necessarily shared willingly.

This change is a good thing.

With the explosion of devices and the plethora of social networks it has fundamentally changed the way we all relate to each other - how we interact. Fleeting messages on Snapchat and group chats on WhatsApp have replaced email and instant messaging as their tools of choice and we have been reconditioned and expect our conversations to follow us.

What does this mean for productivity?

Making things and being productive has always required having the right tool at the right time. Our tool(s) today is software. And with the right software any device can become “the right tool” and any time can become “the right time”.

The fantastic ecosystem of tools out there certainly enables productivity - but its consequence is real social interaction. As we become more engaged online, we are becoming less engaged in reality.  Is it too far-fetched to believe that my daughters could go through an entire day without speaking to anyone in person?

Don’t get me wrong, technology enables so much and has, for the most part, made our world better.  But an idea starts in our minds, gets communicated through our mouths and becomes a reality through our collective actions.  Technology may assist with that journey but it shouldn’t replace it.

Perhaps, we are not connected enough.

I could very well continue lamenting the loss of a physical connection; but it’s not the only way I connect anymore. Actual collaboration through the "cloud" with the right tools will help organize that information.  It's no longer about having access to information.  It's what you do with that information you access.



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