Since technology, from the printing press to the mobile phone, has entered our lives, there has been someone to remind us that it is slowly ruining it, especially when it comes to Enterprise 2.0.
Distraction, Dysfunction and Dysphoria
Recently, much coverage has been given to how much emerging technologies are distracting us from our families, reducing our brains to mush and generally disconnecting us from reality. Multitasking is no longer regarded as a talent, but rather as a deficit, the result of an over-active brain. Living in a constant state of information overload, those of us who have become immersed technologically will soon fall victim to distraction, dysfunction and dysphoria.
Books like The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working and The Shallows argue that multitasking, compulsive tweeting, Facebook status updating and information sharing is undermining our lives and culture. By taking in so much information, we are essentially missing out on the little details that make life so precious.
Lest it was just our personal habits that were subject to indictment, the persecution has entered the enterprise. Making the rounds at conferences, Greg Lowe and Kathleen Culver, collaboration and social media strategists, have been warning about the Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0.
The Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0
Employees of the enterprise were promised flexibility and convenience by the integration of email, instant messaging, mobile platforms and the numerous communication platforms that we let influence our workflow. Yet, Lowe and Culver argue that these tools have made us more inefficient and overworked.
These tools may keep us from traveling, cutting costs and saving time, but they are prohibiting close relationships and undermining our interpersonal skills. Ultimately, these enterprise tools are making us less sympathetic and empathetic to the needs of others.
Our seemingly infinite access to information is making us unproductive, wasting our time and that of our employers. Too much information affects the decisions we make and impairs our ability to be effective leaders.
While Lowe and Culver are quite alarmist about the role of technology in the modern workplace, it is very interesting that they do not call for us to retreat to carbon paper and rotary phones. Instead, they advocate moderation, health and wellness; and gentle behavior modifications as the antidote to the so-called technology hysteria.
The Bright Side of Adaptation
In Sam Anderson’s article In Defense of Distraction, he writes
This doomsaying strikes me as silly for two reasons. First, conservative social critics have been blowing the apocalyptic bugle at every large-scale tech-driven social change since Socrates’ famous complaint about the memory-destroying properties of that newfangled technology called “writing.” (A complaint we remember, not incidentally, because it was written down.) And, more practically, the virtual horse has already left the digital barn. It’s too late to just retreat to a quieter time. Our jobs depend on connectivity. Our pleasure-cycles—no trivial matter—are increasingly tied to it. Information rains down faster and thicker every day, and there are plenty of non-moronic reasons for it to do so. The question, now, is how successfully we can adapt.
CMSWire and other similar venues were borne out of a need to educate professionals about emerging technologies and strategies designed to alleviate risk, save money and increase viability in the marketplace. By choosing to ignore, censor and dismiss relevant technologies, it is argued, companies become more prone to security breaches and litigation.
The Balance Between Productivity and Technology
While companies should allow their employees to strike the right balance between technology and productivity, they should be as concerned (if not more) that they are employing the right technologies to ensure that the data produced by their multitasking employees is secure. Having the right systems in place can help keep records properly managed, archived and automated so that they can catch errors and other oversights so as to diminish risk and protect reputations.
Like television and rock n’ roll, new technology and media can be scary because they bring unknowns. The enterprise should work to provide its employees with the proper training and tools needed to be their best. Understanding how your workforce works best is not dependent upon the technology you employ, but how your employees use the technology to which they are given access.
As companies integrate more advanced mobile workforce management strategies, alarmist attitudes towards technology will only hinder their efforts. As technology becomes more important to our work culture, we are better off learning to how to embrace and adapt it rather than resisting it. With information comes curiosity, which feeds innovation, upon which the enterprise thrives.