The BlackBerry Outage : An Opportunity to Reflect ?

I’ve seen a few comments flying around that show how “attached” people are to their BlackBerrys, and it struck me that this is an ideal opportunity to reflect on how much value such devices actually give us. Are they an essential tool for modern commerce and business, are they at best convenient or at worst  just a distraction to the work people could have been doing instead ?

I suspect the answer lies somewhere in between, but I think people should look at their use of these devices use in their daily life and business. I had company Blackberry for 7 years or so (until end of May). Here are some of my thoughts :

– I found it useful for responding quickly to customers’ queries and demands, when not at the desk, even if it was just an acknowledgement of the mail. Letting your customers know that you care and are engaged with their issues is important – so, a big “tick” here

– Great for “in the field” observations, where a phone would not suffice.

– General email business chatter – could probably have done most of this back at base, so more of a distraction, unless deep “in the field”.

– Emergencies: Phones and texts better.

– Addiction : great tendency to addictively “just have a quick look”, so a distraction and potentially anti-social behaviour here (though not as bad as some I’d seen)

– Thumb-ache : a BB form of repetitive strain injury ?

– Need to be disciplined on what you respond to and what you don’t. Like most emails.

I had a interesting Twitter Chat with Lucy Marcus as she prompted the subject:

LPM: One thing I notice w/ the Blackberry outage is that people email/tweet a lot less – we have gotten used to communicating on the go…
JAH: A chance to reflect on whether constant communication is, on balance, more of a distraction than aid to commerce & business.
LPM: Perhaps yes… It really hit home how much I work on the go, though. Snatching moments of time to get things done…
JAH: Out of curiosity, are you now employing that “snatched time” effectively on something else or is it now “lost opportunity time”?
LPM: now making notes on paper and writing them up late – if I don’t write it down when I think of it it is lost forever 🙂

I think that this final point is telling. These devices have replaced somewhat the handwritten account. Definately not as quick as the pen, but do they also constrain the the process of thought capture as they (for me) are still not as immediate or versatile as a pencil and paper ?

Any thoughts ?

PS. For the physicists,

Radius of a non-rotating BlackBerry Hole :

r = 2 B(a+i.b)n / c²
B: BlackBerry constant,
a : real use of device,
b: imagined use of device,
n: number of users and
c : speed of communication in an customer information vacuum.


About Dr_JAH

Independent Researcher
This entry was posted in Business, Communication, Decision-making, Human Behaviour and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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