With a 'connected world' well and truly on the horizon, few can argue that technology has not impacted the human race to an unreal extent.
The real question is whether we are making the most of what’s at our fingertips in such a crucial period of adoption, because although our working and personal lives are becoming increasingly driven by the technology we use, fears over productivity and a ‘digital deluge’ rage on.
But things can get better, argues Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer at Microsoft UK, who will use his keynote session at PMI: London to explain why humans as a whole must change their attitude towards tech in order to realise the full potential at hand.
Ahead of his keynote on day one of the conference (October 29) we caught up with Dave to find a little bit more about the session and its overarching message.
Hi, Dave. Your talk centers around the repercussions of devices and data becoming a more important part of our lives both inside and outside of work. How would you define our relationship with them at present?
Dave Coplin: Well, at present I think the real issue is that we tend to drift into using technology without really thinking about whether it can actually help what we are doing at the time.
We sit in meetings in front of our laptops, not taking notes but catching up on email. We watch television in the evening with one eye on the big screen at the end of the room and another on the small screen on our laps. In both instances technology isn’t actually helping: it’s getting in the way.
Would you say that at least some of the issues with our under-utilisation of technology has come as a result of the sheer volume of information flooding in, and the range of devices at our disposal? Lots of studies point to marketers, for one, being overwhelmed by what’s in front of them.
DC: I’d be foolish to say that the explosion in information that bombards us every day isn’t part of the problem, but actually our perception of this is as much of the barrier.
We have always been surrounded by too much information. From the invention of the printing press, our society has access to more content than any one individual could consume in an entire lifetime, so the concept of the deluge is nothing new.
What matters now is our ability to filter the signal from the noise and for us to make positive, conscious choices about what we choose to “listen” to and what we ignore.
From a business perspective, can you touch on some of the mistakes our companies have made in embracing the connected world…
DC: I think the key mistake we all make with technology and the connected world is simply that we still tend to use new systems to replicate old ways of working. We are essentially trying to apply ways of working that were forged in our “analogue” past to a digital world, which actually offers us very different choices in what we do and how we do it.
By simply using technology to make those old-fashioned ways of working a bit quicker or a bit cheaper, we are fundamentally missing the point of the gift that technology brings to a digital society. We no longer need to work like Victorians, but instead can start to adapt to a way of working (and living) that is fit for purpose for the 21st century.
What are you hoping to demonstrate to the audience once PMI: London comes around?
DC: The key thrust of my message is to help people see the incredible potential that technology has to offer all of us, both inside and outside of work, and then start to work towards ways of thinking about how to change what we do today in order to live up to that potential.
Is there a good outlet for where people should be taking in these lessons, whether that’s in the workplace or even at school? We recognise that people like yourself can’t do all the work.
DC: The best outlet is actually our everyday lives. Just by thinking about the experiences that work for you, and looking around at how others are using technology to transform how they live, work and play, you can start to make your own positive, conscious choices to only use technology when it actually adds value to what you are trying to achieve.
Finally, Dave, as a chief envisioning officer at one of the biggest names in technology, is there any one thing you’re really keen for businesses to realise the potential of, aside from technology in general?
DC: I think it’s time we really started to understand the incredible opportunity that data and machine learning (how algorithms are made) offers in every aspect of what businesses do.
The ability to spot patterns in lots of data will transform what we do, how we do it and also why we might want to do it (or not). It’s going to be disruptive, it’s going to be challenging, but the prize on offer is just too great to ignore.
Performance Marketing Insights: London will grace the capital's Westminster Park Plaza between October 29 -30, primed to deliver a host of content dedicated to the measurable side of digital marketing. For more information on tickets, the agenda and networking opportunities, head over to the official page.