Discussion: Changing Communication Patterns

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Discussion: Changing Communication Patterns

Discussion: Changing Communication Patterns

For those tasks that must be done by people, companies can use information technology to find willing employees at what may seem like bargain rates. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk has created a marketplace site on which an orga- nization can post tasks at specified rates. Willing employees can use this site to find those tasks. For example, a company posted that it wanted employees to enter data from photos of cash register receipts. Another company posted a task offer of transcribing a 25‐second audiotape. Many of these task offers involve very small amounts, often $.05 to $.25. Some tasks take a significant portion of an hour and pay up to $5 or more. Some of the employees do very brief tasks at low pay so they can gain higher status and qualify for higher‐paying tasks. Although this isn’t automating a task inside an organization, from the manager’s perspective, it’s another way to use IT to change the work done by the employees of the organization.

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Changing Communication Patterns All one has to do is observe people walking down a busy downtown street or a college campus to note changes in communication patterns over a period as short as the last decade. Some people are talking on their cell phones, but even more are texting or using apps for all kinds of reasons, such as checking out game scores, specials at nearby restaurants, or movie times. Or observe what happens when a plane lands. It seems that over half the people on the plane whip out their portable devices or cell phones as soon as the plane touches down. They are busy making arrangements to meet the people who are picking them up at the airport or checking to see the calls or e‐mails they missed while in flight. Finally, consider meeting a friend at a busy subway station in Hong Kong. It is virtually impossible without the aid of a cell phone to locate each other. Some may say that we are addicted to our mobile technologies, unable to put them away even when driving or walking, unfortunately sometimes leading to dan- gerous behaviors.

Applications (Apps) such as iMessage, Skype, Twitter, and Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter) have changed how people communicate. Traditionally, people found each other in person to have a conversation in the moment. With the telephone, people called each other and both parties had to participate at the same time to have a conversation. Along came e‐mail, which rapidly became the communication technology of choice because it eliminated the need for those involved in the conversation to participate at the same time. Today, people have an array of communica- tions technologies, and, once again, IT is changing communication patterns. Some rely on texting, others on video conferences, such as Facetime or Skype, and still others on social networks such as Facebook or Renren, for their primary communications channel. The challenge created by the large number of choices is that individuals now must have a presence on numerous platforms to ensure that they can be contacted. Further, one must know how not only to contact someone but also to recognize that the person’s preferred medium might change during the day, week, or month. For example, during normal business hours, an employee might prefer to receive e‐mail or a phone call. But after hours, he or she might prefer a text, and late at night, while surfing the Web, may prefer a message on

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