Emily Nagle Green (Hardcover, 2010)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This book hits the pluses and provides an optimistic view of emerging
connectivity, but it's weak on addressing the downsides and reality of
it. So, I'll begin by pointing out a few things this book overlooks.
Then I'll sum up what it addresses.
What the author doesn't tell you
First, there's the productivity cost. It's huge. I used to carry a
cell phone everywhere. Now, I don't use one. In fact, I rarely answer my
regular telephone. Sometimes, I unplug it for hours at a time.
I don't like being interrupted, especially when I'm trying to do
something productive. A business that inflicts constant connectivity on
its employees has a highly distracted workforce. Ms. Green makes it
sound as though the Twitter-averse among us are like the e-mail-averse
of times past. But this is an apples to oranges comparison.
Second, there's the attention cost. E-mail is asynchronous. Texting
and tweeting are "immediate response" activities. Can anyone who's
chained to a frequently-interrupting device really pay attention to any
worthwhile activity? Any technology that interrupts you simply because
it can is just too costly, unless you aren't the kind of person who does
anything that matters.
Third, there's the subscription cost. If you have a mobile data plan,
ask yourself what you are really getting for all that money. If it's
just interruptions and the ability to send/receive throwaway photos,
then it might not be all that good. For a business, a mobile data plan
may be essential. But how many people are paying $99 a month or more for
something that they probably would not miss if they stopped using it? If
you have one of these plans, is it making your life better or is it an
A fourth problem is the devices are insanely small. It's not
convenient to carry around a pair of reading glasses just so you can
take a phone call. I have a PocketPC that I don't use because I can't
read the screen in daylight at all, and indoors I need reading glasses
to read it. The manufacturer's solution to this problem was to make the
next generation even smaller.
Ms. Green also indicates that older folks just don't get it and will
eventually be replaced by their hipper, more tech-savvy younger
counterparts through retirement. What she overlooks is the reason older
people are far less adoptive of this technology than younger people is
presbyopia. We have reams of data showing that humans need larger fonts
as we age. That's just the way it is. When the devices are explicitly
designed for people under 25 and consequently exclude people beyond a
certain age, the adoption rates by age are quite predictable.
So, we have some huge barriers to "anywhere" connectivity. For the
vast majority of us, it just isn't workable. Does that mean we aren't
going to see vastly increased connectivity that is far more mobile than
today? No. But it does mean the connectivity needs to serve the users
rather than make them servile to it, and it must not rely on unreadable
screens or gadgets that seem designed expressly to annoy the users.
Until those requirements are met, connectivity will fall far short of
What the author does tell you
Ms. Green addresses this topic of ubiquitous connectivity in 250
pages. The book consists of four Parts:
Part I: Welcome to Anywhere. This consists of three chapters, and in
these she outlines and describes the "Anywhere Revolution." I think
these three chapters give the reader a good feel for where we're
eventually heading and why.
Part II: The Anywhere Consumer. This consists of three chapters, and
in these she presents four basic category of consumer. I'm not sure
about these categories. I have fit into three of them at one time or
another, and don't see where I fit presently.
I don't have her research data, but it seems to me there is a fifth
category that has a higher population than the other four combined. I
call it "Annoyed Consumer." We get tired of Windows memory problems,
crap that pops up when you're trying to type, screens we can't read,
interruptions we don't want, high bills from service providers, and just
a host of usability issues. We are not amused.
Part III: The Anywhere Enterprise. This consists of two chapters. I
think it needs a third. Ask hiring managers about what bugs them today,
and you are going to hear "Kids texting during interviews." There is a
difference between productive connectivity and counterproductive
connectivity. The author doesn't explore this, at all. A chapter on how
businesses can properly address this difference seems essential to me.
For example, do you really want your sales people texting during a
sales call instead of focusing on that customer? Of course not. But at
the same time, it would be wonderful for a sales person to be able to
answer a question for the customer to close the sale. Shortening the
sales cycle can accelerate revenue, and that's generally a good thing.
Insulting a customer through rude behavior, however, is generally not
advantageous. The rudeness factor is a big problem with today's
so-called "hip generation" and it's something business needs to be able
to rechannel into positive behaviors.
Part IV: Profiting from Anywhere consists of four chapters. In these
chapters, the author basically says you need to max out your anywhere
quotient as fast as you can. This isn't quite the way things really are.
Companies that still operate on paper processes and/or have very low
connectivity do need to modernize. And some companies that are current
with technology, processes, and connectivity do need to be working on
upgrading as the bar rises. But these are the outliers on the bell
Most of us would do well to assess, based on the information
presented here, and plan for staying reasonably current. I think this
book is helpful toward this purpose, because it gives a good view of
what is coming. But the real challenge for profit-minded businesses is
going to be properly restraining connectivity to the scope of the
A couple of years ago, we were in the midst of blogomania. The big
advice was that businesses must blog or die. Following this advice has
proven to be a colossal waste of resources for most businesses, and in
2010 this realization even dawned on some business journalists. Blogs
and banality have come to be synonymous, with few exceptions.
Facebook appears to have peaked out and to now be declining in its
influence and popularity. People can take only so much blather,
meaningless detail, and banality before wanting to have a life.
Similarly, companies can divert only so many resources to
nonproductive activities before seeing their customer service,
productivity, and profitability slide. The issue isn't one of having
enough connectivity. It's one of having the right
A solution seeking a problem generally does more harm than good to a
business. If a business has a problem that specific types of
connectivity can solve, then it needs to look at adopting those kinds of
connectivity. And quickly, before the problems metastasize. But a
business must also look at the potential risks involved with that
adoption and develop a plan that properly addresses those risks.
Otherwise, the cure might be worse than the disease.
The SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
is a core business tool for evaluating new ventures, proposed projects,
and other things a business might wish to evaluate. I think if the
author had used this framework for Part III and Part IV, the book would
have been far more useful.
An important point the author drives at again and again is every
business must look at the connectivity issues that are here now and the
ones that are emerging. I think this book definitely helps identify and
define many key issues in that arena.