The personal sphere

Enrique Dans. Professor. Instituto de Empresa

18 May 2005

Just when you think you’ve mastered the latest technological gizmo, they come out with another one. How’s one to keep up?

The current technology scenario has gone crazy. New devices and possibilities appear on the scene when many of us haven’t even had time to learn to use the ones they replace. When you’re still struggling to get the hang of writing an SMS, they come up with a gadget you can use to send and receive e-mails in real time (and you wonder what unreal time might be). There’s no doubt about the generations of mobile phones: given the evident sexual abstinence of yours since you bought it, you come to the conclusion that it’s a first-generation model. But with what it cost, it might have one of those UMTS with GPRS. After a period of peace and quiet, the technology world now reminds me of a time not too many years ago when a friend told me he’d heard someone in a shop ask for a computer “with lots of mouses of memory.” Nowadays science is rocketing forward like never before.

One matter of interest is the dual nature of personal and corporate spheres. Which moves faster in your case? Are you one of the so-called early adopters, who buys everything and tries it out for themselves? Or do you just use what your company gives you without much resistance or asking for more? The first case, the Enthusiasts or Tech-savvy persons, includes people with certain concerns and frustrations, with better means at home than at work. These means are a more powerful computer, a more modern operating system, wireless connections and multimedia options not available in the corporate sphere, due to their non-applicability or because they are technologically behind. It is the Systems Department nightmare. In mobile communications, the two spheres blend together and produce people with the latest in mobile phones by corporate decree, but who use only the most basic capacities, turning a technological artefact into some kind of status symbol. Or we have consumers who buy and use their ultramodern personal mobile for all kinds of professional calls, stoically paying the cost because the company has a strict policy of “not paying for that kind of luxury.”

Technophobes and technophiles

Are you one of those who pressures your company to get up to date, or do you suffer and adapt to the technology they impose? The answer probably holds one of the keys to today’s job market. We see more and more offers where development of the technological capacity is a factor worthy of consideration. Being a Ludddite, a technophobe, or spouting things like “Oh, I don’t know the first thing about that,” is no longer hip. Companies quite rightly insist that workers be up to date in the use of the tools they need, that they know how to search the Internet and access the unlimited wealth of information it holds. They insist on having workers who do not think a blog is some sort of bloated toad, or who don’t confuse the letters RSS with a top-of-the range automobile.

The truth is that most of these capacities - these increasingly necessary and important skills for the corporate sphere - are often developed in the personal sphere. Using a computer, wireless network or PDA, or making good use of a mobile phone, are not longer luxuries or whims anymore, they are no longer pure consumer electronics. Nowadays, they are training requirements, necessary skills in an ever-changing world. Companies need that profile. From now on, before you give them a job, ask them what they got for Christmas.


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