Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Do You Want It Or Do You need It?

As I just finished the 2nd of what are 3 out of 4 weekends without cell phones, the internet, TV, email, Facebook or Twitter for that matter due to holidays, an interesting discussion popped up.

Why do we need technology? Or rather as it was stated, how do you live without it?!

In all seriousness, I don't personally need it and only mildly want it and really could live without it, the technology side that is of phones, email et al. In fact I, as do many other people throughout the world, every week for 25 hours(18 of which I am awake usually) do without all these items, some even more so. And it is a great feeling. Although the message light on the office line is never a good thing to see come Saturday or in this case Sunday night.

Business of course is different. Our business is technology and managing others infrastructures so certain items become a need for business.

We all love new gadgets and toys or games or whatever excites you, but when it comes down to it, is it really what you need?

No denying our lives have all been enriched by technology in various forms, from medicines to machinery to communications, not denying any of that is helpful and needed and always will be.

But there are people who really can not live without "knowing" what is happening someplace, somewhere or every email or every Facebook entry. This can't be healthy...or can it? Does it produce more information to make better choices or better consulting to your clients? Does it help provide you ideas or dreams?

The Social Networking/Media side of life has some people feeling left out or ignorant of situations because they do not have regular access or know how to use some of these tools or in other cases refuse to be part of this culture change.

Some friends refuse to join Facebook, yet ask me what happens all the time in our community. I tell them to ask someone else, I don't really go into Facebook. My Facebook is 85% automated or uses bots to update reply to various things. Now one of these peers works in IT has the latest HTC phone and yet no time for Facebook but can stay up all night watching TV, to each their own is all I could tell him.

If we can have someone listen to a conference call for us and give us the notes from it, is it like we were there? Executive summaries of executive summaries? Do we need to be on every phone call or do we want to? While I agree if one doesn't hear it, one may not see it and thus miss some opportunity, there is also the reality that we all have less time to get work done as well. So if I need to be at a client, someone else should be telling me what I missed on a call, but the problem is they may not know what is or isn't important. So do I need this call or do I want this call? Usually one doesn't need every call, but wants to be part of them because hearing what a client or vendor says is important to business.

While on phones, what do you do?
When your phone rings, do you always answer it?
Do you check the caller ID before answering it?
Do you let all your calls go to voice mail?
How do you want people to contact you?
Do you even want them to?

Some businesses, believe it or not, never answer their phone and prefer people to be told they are busy or in a meeting. My feeling is if it is a client, SOMEONE should be answering their call live if at all possible, by design. Never brush your client off since you need them so you can keep your business, which you want to grow, in existence.

Luis Suarez of IBM has been on a mission(this is my interpretation of part of it) for the better part of 2 years now to curb his reliance on email, and thus others reliance. While using more Social Media tools and sharing methods to reduce the inbox clutter he has, in his own way, set out to prove that what is important or needed comes from the individual and how one reacts is just as important. In doing so he has not only influenced his fellow IBMers, but customers, vendors and followers of his blog, tweets as well as others in the IT world.

In the end, I am happy for the day every week and some extra days a year where the only thing I need is to enjoy my holiday and being with my wife, my kids, family and friends. Without that break, one surely can get lost in the world of what you need vs what you want and impose that on one's clients as well.