Many of us get the evil eye from spouses when we can't stop clicking away on our Blackberries or other smart devices. This is particularly vexing at meals or other times that should be family time. None of this is surprising, it's easy to understand how annoying this is and how it interferes with interpersonal relationships. But what about at work? It's okay to show how efficient we are at multitasking by taking our electronic devices everywhere, right?
Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe: "Nothing happens until it gets sold."
The latest Technology Quarterly in the December 12 issue of The Economist profiles the career of Bob Metcalfe, inventor of the Ethernet, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist. Ambitious IT executives would do well to take a thoughtful read, because here is a larger-than-life example of someone who, though not an IT chief, embodies that magical combination of qualities that makes a CIO in demand. A brilliant technologist who invented the Ethernet at the tender age of 27, Metcalfe was enterprising (he founded 3Com Corp.) and adroit in communication. Indeed, he understood that communication was what turned great technology into money. For Metcalfe that money was his personal fortune, but the same concept applies to technology and business profitability. "Nothing happens until it gets sold," he tells The Economist. Even a technology as compelling as the Ethernet didn't make Metcalfe a zillionaire until he got the likes of Digital Equipment, Intel, Xerox, Sun, and even Microsoft behind it. (Incidentally, before settling on "Ethernet," names batted around for the networking technology included "Bulletin Board," "Parliamentary Procedure," and "Lazy Susan.")
The benefits of workforce collaboration have been known for some time; what is more of a mystery is understanding what knowledge workers do and which tools are best suited to boosting their productivity. Even modest improvements in productivity among knowledge workers make a big difference. Especially when you consider that at least 20 percent and as much as 50 percent of collaborative work results in wasted effort, according to a recent survey by McKinsey & Co.