A friend was at his Spanish class the other night. At the start, everyone has to speak in Spanish about some item of news. One lady spoke about the state of the world economy, basing her talk on her reading of the Economist, the Telegraph and the Guardian. After regaling everyone with the forthcoming economic apocalypse, she admitted she didn’t know anything about economics (she’s a doctor) so while she hoped she hadn’t scared everyone about the global economy’s zillion dollar debt pile, it might actually turn out all right in the end.
It struck me that this was quite like the world of IT as it affects the wider public beyond our world of recruitment and techies. It’s often the bigger picture that matters: specifically, not what impact does any one vacancy have on the economy as a whole (probably, in most instances, none), but instead how the ways in which all jobs we and our competitors fill cumulatively create a new world that we hope will turn out all right in the end.
One of the interesting parts of our job as IT recruiters – and something that we din into our consultants at Be-IT – is having to read the various online journals and news-sites that help us keep up-to-date. Perusing finextra.com the other day, I came across a report of a claim by KPMG that by 2030 banks will have become ‘invisible’ to their customers. They envisage a world without call centres, branches and sales teams (OK, we all know that’s very likely), but where customers have “Siri-like personal assistants that cull data from our connected lives to fulfil daily personal and financial obligations”. These EVAs (Enlightened Virtual Assistants), will help in all sorts of ways, such as when they access your personal data, notice you’re spending more on junk food and then check this against the health data from your ‘wearable device’ before suggesting you attend a yoga class. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a virtual assistant, enlightened or otherwise, to tell me how to live my life. However, as the same article suggests, I might want the same EVA to move my money to different accounts so as to take advantage of a better interest rate (clearly this is going to be some way in the future!) or to correct an error in my favour. But how do we get the good stuff without the Big Brother stuff we don’t want?
Now I’m not suggesting that we stop spending our time hiring people who can create these EVAs, nor am I suggesting that banks should not change (given the events of 2008 onwards it was clear that they have to). However, what I am asking, in a pub philosopher sort-of way, is don’t we need – the ordinary mortals as well as the technical whiz-kids - to have a reasoned debate about how this technology will change our lives and whether we do, in fact, want all the things it might bring. Or, to put it another way, where is George Orwell when you need him?
Stuart Alexander, Be-IT Resourcing