MT Workplace Technology Visions: The Human Factor, with Reading Room's Margaret Manning

The digital marketing agency's founder explains how the Cloud and Web 2.0 are changing our behaviour.

by Andrew Saunders
Last Updated: 01 Oct 2010
‘Making predictions’, the famous New York Yankees player and coach Yogi Berra once opined, ‘is difficult. Especially when they are about the future’. In this edition of MT Workplace Technology Visions, award-winning digital marketer Margaret Manning reminds us that what is true of baseball is also true of technology.

Those of a certain age will recall the late 20th Century concept of the leisure society, in which the rise of computer technology was going to leave us all with so much time on our hands we wouldn’t know what to do with it. Hmm. Instead she says, we’re all glued to our BlackBerries and iPhones, working evenings and weekends because we just can’t leave it alone.

So what went wrong? What derails so many visions of the techno-future, says Manning, is their failure to take the human factor into account. Knowing where the technology is going is one thing; knowing how people will choose to use it is quite another. ‘We’re very social beings,’ she says. ‘We love to communicate.’ Even if that means we end up answering work emails in bed or on the beach, we can’t help it. It’s in our nature.

How can businesses make the most of the Cloud and web 2.0? Technology alone isn’t the answer, she says. Instead, bosses have to learn something much harder - to trust their employees. ‘All our employees have access to the Reading Room Twitter account, although I faced a lot of internal resistance to that. People said, how can you let everyone talk to your clients?’

And however the future does end up panning out (although sadly we’re pretty sure the leisure society thing is a dead duck), this is one trend that does seem set to continue. More and more people will be talking to more and more other people. ‘Technology will continue to make communication cheaper for everyone,’ says Manning. ‘We’ll be communicating with more people, more cheaply and more quickly, that will be the real change.’ Businesses can choose to either embrace the new order or get left behind.

Other highlights in this MT exclusive video include:

- Why so many companies get technology choice and implementation so badly wrong.
- Why it’s muddle-headed to ban the use of Twitter and Facebook at work.
- Why no amount of flashy technology is a substitute for a solid understanding of business fundamentals.

For more exclusive videos, visit our microsite at

Coming up tomorrow in MT Workplace Technology Visions: Rick Vlemmiks, commercial director of British Gas

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