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The Human Side of Connectivity

September 29, 2006 By: Tom Kevan

E-mail Tom Kevan

Technology, moving at blinding speed, is redefining the way we live, work, and play. A lot of time and effort are spent trying to discern how the new tools will impact the way the existing infrastructure will perform. I think a more important question is: How will they impact the way people function?

The Connected World

This week, the Computer Sciences Corporation released a report issued by its Leading Edge Forum (LEF) that detailed how technological developments are changing peoples' lives. Specifically, the forum looked at how the increasingly complex web of technologies is binding us closer together.

Speaking about LEF's research report "Connected World: Redefining the Geography of Business and How We Work and Play," Paul Gustafson, director of LEF, stated, "Advances in connectivity and mobility are changing everything. The technology has advanced to the point that it's really not about technology. It's about imagination and reengineering to adapt to a new reality."

It was the "adapting to a new reality" that caught my attention. Although the report discusses the "All-IP Enterprise," the proliferation of mobile broadband networks, and how organizations are "bringing dormant environments to life," the real challenge will be adapting human nature to the new "connected" world.

The Disconnected World

LEF's report does address the human side of this transformation. It states, "In the connected world, employees may be yours, but they are also part of the global skill pool and the partnership team. It is important to facilitate team building across the connected business, bringing people with varying organizational goals together to deliver on big-picture goals. The connected world, and its virtual work force, elevates the importance of shared vision and trust."

Therein lies the greatest hurdle. For all the new capabilities that technology brings, vision and trust are human creations. And these are built only with truly effective communications.

Tools such as email and video conferencing are no substitute for face-to-face interactions, no matter how much "actionable data" is available. As technology makes it possible for people physically detached from one another to work on common projects and enterprises, we increasingly rely on mechanisms that preclude our use of sight and sound to know and understand colleagues. Lost are the opportunities to weigh the subtleties of human expression.

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