When to Say ‘When’ When it Comes to Technology
Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington invited a panel of business leaders to join her in a discussion of what she calls ‘The Third Metric’ at Advertising Week last Wednesday. The Third Metric is Huffington’s Lean in-esque rallying cry for women in business to redefine success beyond money and power, and start layering in a sense of well-being, wisdom, and wonder.
Huffington asserts that burnout is the disease of our generation. “Men have designed the world where we’re competing now,” she says. “And it is not working. It is not working for men, it’s not working for women and it’s not working for polar bears.”
The frustration of finding balance continued throughout the panel discussion—with each of the panelists, including CEO of IPG Jacki Kelley, Newsroom Actress Olivia Munn, EVP at NBC Universal Lauren Zalaznick and Pat Christen, President & CEO of Hopelab, sharing examples of how they cope with stress and carve out time for their personal lives.
But another theme arose, one that’s becoming increasingly familiar, if not slightly ironic: Technology often enables our success, while also providing the pressure that may be holding us back. Here’s a panel of incredibly driven and successful women talking about finding more balance in their lives, and yet they all admitted they had a terrible time putting technology away in order to connect with the activities or people in their lives who are important. Christen even said she came to a point when she realized that she had stopped looking into her children’s eyes when speaking with them because she was always multi-tasking on her phone.
Christen continued that it’s only recently that people even thought to seek fulfillment from their careers. Even just after World War II, work was something you compartmentalized from 9-5, then came home and made your martini. So constant connectivity also exacerbated by a new generation of women seeking career fulfillment. But the combined factors of device and content proliferation and the shifting expectations of new generations entering the work force (check out more on this from Stephen Kim’s Millennial post here), have created a new sense of urgency—and more than a little slippage between our work and home lives.
This need to ‘turn it off’ on occasion is consistent with what we’re hearing from consumers within our consumer insights research. People want to be connected—except when they don’t. And while to a certain extent, it’s up to us to have the self-discipline to walk away from our devices, brands and technology companies may actually be able to help.
It’s always useful to remember what technology does to help us ‘turn off’—whether that’s getting in a cathartic game of Halo, Skyping with a far-flung family member, or tracking how much sleep you’re getting through a wearable device like Fitbit. And brands play a role here, too. Having a deeper understanding of what your customers want from you and enabling them to interact based on that need is far more valuable to consumers than being inundated with yet another marketing message.
So instead of ‘always on,’ perhaps we need to be thinking about ‘intelligently on.’ We’re going to be exploring this trend in more detail at an upcoming Ad Tech event in New York the first week of November. Stay tuned for more to come!