“Nowadays, being so connected makes it hard to switch off.”
On the 11th of May, we had the pleasure of organising a panel discussion about “The Impact of Technology on the Business World” and garden party kindly sponsored by Ernst and Young. The panel discussion covered a few interesting topics including how technology has changed the way we do business in the 21st century, the impact of a sharing economy where companies who own almost 0 of their assets such as Uber and AirBnb gradually overtake traditional businesses and how this trend will progress over the years and lastly, the pros and cons of using technology in the work place.
Almost all the speakers agreed that business models have changed drastically since their student days. Where they used to visit travel agencies to book trips abroad, now we primarily rely on websites such as Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, AirBnb etc. to book our flights, accommodation and even decide on which attractions to visit! Where they used to flag taxis down from the sidewalk, we now rely on mobile apps such as Uber to ensure a private car is at our disposal regardless of when and where we happen to be. All these changes reflect the rise of technology and the sharing economy we currently inhabit. The sharing of information, property and opinions has shaped our perspectives, shifting our demands and spending habits. Traditional companies have had to regroup and rethink their strategies in order to survive amidst increasing competition from companies with business models that never even existed 10 years ago.
As the speakers rightly pointed out, this sharing economy is largely the result of the public’s increasing distrust of large corporations. Instead, they welcome the abundance of choices offered by various startups, showing the gradual shift towards the reinstatement of the notion that consumer is king. Furthermore, apps such as TripAdvisor, AirBnb and Uber operate on a ratings basis, giving consumers greater power to influence others with their opinions, indirectly exerting greater pressure upon businesses to perform better lest they garner poor ratings and lose potential customers.
Nevertheless, technology has allowed for many beneficial changes in the workplace as well, allowing individuals to work from home and minimising travel costs for global corporations due to the ease of having conference calls. As most women will consider the prospect of having a family during the course of their career, the speakers agreed that Ernst & Young provided great flexibility in allowing them to achieve an optimum work life balance without sacrificing one for the other. However, due to the ubiquity of technology, it has become more difficult to completely disconnect and I believe almost everyone would agree that in this age of Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Gmail etc, we are expected to be constantly reachable even during vacations or our supposedly ‘downtime’. Over a long period of time, this may lead to social media fatigue so perhaps we would all benefit from disconnecting ourselves every once in a while? Relax, take a break and reply those emails a day later, it probably won’t hurt anybody to wait 24 hours for once.