If you accept my line of reasoning then the value of IT and other forms of technology is achieved through knowledge work. It is effectively, the value that it adds to the knowledge worker. In my research I am supposing that the extra “digital” element to knowledge work is the value being added over and above traditional forms of enterprise IT by the application of consumer technologies.
So what are the ways consumer technology adds value? Let’s consider them.
First of all, mobile telephony, and especially the new generation of smart phones, which give a rich Internet experience on the move and in varied locations, allows access to information and contacts 24/7 independent of location. This means that anything I could do from my office, or more recently through my home office, I can technically do anywhere I can get a 3G signal. If I have access to Broadband the experience is so much richer including video conferencing through Skype to more than half the people on the planet.
This allows me to work from anywhere, and even work moving between places, independent of geography and time zone. The technology is always on, and because it gives me access to my personal and professional data, which I use to create value, I can literally work 24/7, which means that potentially I’m always on too.
But it goes further. These same consumer technologies can even give me access to experts and future collaborators whom I don’t yet know. Today, through my 350 personal connections on LinkedIn I can be quickly introduced to any of their 120,000 professional connections and potentially to all 6 million connections in my extended network.
And this is feasible; I don’t have to do that one at a time, I can broadcast a request to all of my 350 connections and they can do the same. Within a few hours 6 million people potentially could hear of my request. People who are, for the most part, in my line of work: my customers, colleagues or providers.
And there is more. For 25 years I have done my best to keep abreast of changes in my industry, new technologies, new cases, M&A, people moving around. This knowledge also helps me to deliver more, quicker and to a higher quality standard. But it has been getting harder. The explosion of information was becoming overwhelming until I discovered curated media.
Curated media, or how I choose what I read, is another example of consumer technology taking my natural ways of working into super drive. Instead of selecting my journals and news media from the newsagent or taking out subscriptions I get 95 percent of it over the Internet, which means I can select and filter for what I’m interested in. And I do this in two ways: I select the subjects I’m interested in and I select the people or experts I am interested in following.
And whether it is articles from the news media, or expert blogs written by people I respect and trust, or increasingly through Tweets, I don’t just read them, I interact with them. I will respond to them adding my views into the developing conversation, receiving reaction from others in my turn. This is leveraging the one to many, many to many nature of the Web 2.0 experience.
This is direct interaction with people in my chosen field, on my chosen subjects, with people I wouldn’t otherwise be able to know or reach. And this is knowledge creation on steroids! Compared with this, reading an article in a journal, no matter how learned, is a pale and one-dimensional experience.