Todd Nielsen’s article The Perfect Storm For Cloud Computing (Wired Magazine) is exciting and alarming at the same time. The excitement comes from the opportunities this technology affords us. The alarm is from the implications it will have on our collective health particularly for frequent fliers. I am in no way suggesting we abandon technology or advances made from inventions like the Cloud but I do seek to raise awareness in the business community of its perils for a number of reasons.
- The wholesale shift of doing business in the Cloud has a pre-requisite, the availability of WiFi.
- Technology as an enabler of business plays a central role for many frequent fliers in the business community.
- The mantra of successful businesses has always been that its people are its most valuable asset.
- As intrinsic value in a business is provided by people and not technology, the health of these people matter while in pursuit of business objectives and beyond.
The undesirable aspect of Cloud technology is that the more we are wedded to the Cloud and other technology that rely on WiFi, the more we are exposed to the perils of Electro-smog and Electro-sensitivity. The global nature of doing business today dictates that business fliers are well informed, well travelled and well equipped. More often than not they are laden with gadgets to help them perform well.
The October 2011 Wired article New Age Traveller tracked a sample of business frequent fliers for 460 days across the globe, showing how hectic travel itineraries can be. The stressful nature of excelling in a global economy means personal health is a premium. When technology affects the health of those it is meant to serve it becomes a burden rather than an asset. This distinction seems to be lost on the majority of business frequent fliers at a time when it is needed most. Round the clock access to your business via the Cloud may be great for your business’s bottom line, but the increasing burden of Electro-smog from such technologies needs to be addressed too.
The general focus of fliers has been on short term solutions to a perennial problem. These solutions have been initiated by individuals, showing that there is a distinct lack of a corporate strategy. Gone are the days when it was sufficient to book employees into business class as a deterrent to the stresses of business travel. The choice of tools individuals pick do not directly address the question of stress or the challenges of Electro-smog or Electro-sensitivity. When the challenges of frequent business flying are seen in a broader context, technologies like the Cloud will cease to be part of the problem and more of the solution for frequent business fliers.
In closing I would agree with Todd Nielsen’s parting comment, the storm is full of opportunities for some and dangers for others, but I refer to a different kind of danger! In the context of health Cloud type technology may reduce productivity rather than increase it for business frequent fliers.