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Business, Op-ed - Written by on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 7:22 - 3 Comments

Steve Guengerich
“Information bad for you,” says older generation.

I just turned 50 years old. So that officially qualifies me to be recognized as an “older American,” at least according to the good folks in the AARP membership department.

As I’ve come to learn with age, you are certainly as young as you feel, act, and – I would add – as you think. Invariably, with age comes experience and with experience comes the tendency to recognize patterns – or what one interprets as patterns.

This can be a good thing when it comes to mitigating risks and maximizing returns. However, it can be a bad thing when it stifles innovation. At the half century mark, I’ve seen the upside and downside of this dynamic tension between innovation risk and return.

A couple of recent articles reminded me of how this drama plays out every day in the tech industry, often outside of the typical consumer’s eyesight. For example, with respect to iPhone adoption in large corporations, ZDNet recently published the results of one of their CIO Jury surveys announcing “The iPhone has no place in business.”

The essence of the article is that it costs too much to support the iPhone, relative to other smartphones, like the latest Blackberry. No doubt, many of the chief information officers are relying on their years of experience summed up in the adage: avoid buying version 1.0 of any new product.

However, what avoiding the iPhone also means is missing the upside of applying an innovative free market of mobile applications. In some cases, these apps have the potential to be game-changing in the promotion of a company’s brand or potentially opening up an additional channel of revenue.

In another article, entitled “Doctors try to stifle online patient reviews,” CNET blogger Chris Matyszczyk describes an effort by a physicians advocacy enterprise to promote the signing of a “Mutual Privacy Agreement” between doctors and their patients which prevents the latter from reviewing the former online.

As one commentator to the article noted: “Good luck stifling the internet. These doctors are showing their age or ignorance. It’s only a matter of time before younger more open minded doctors embrace services like HealthcareReviews.com and start referring patients there, or even offer a computer in the lobby while they wait!”

He concludes: “Once they start encouraging reviews they will get the positive endorsement they probably deserve, otherwise the results will be skewed by a few cranky patients. These sites work both ways, they can be a positive marketing and advertising tool for the doctor as well as a negative one.”

By taking these conservative stands, the CIOs and physicians in these examples are sending a message that “information is bad for you” even though they might argue that’s not the case and that they have very sound reasons for their approach. Nonetheless, it’s a good reminder to keep a youthful attitude of experimentation towards new technologies, so you are ready to catch the next wave when it comes.


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Aug 19, 2009 13:27

I just watched Happy Feet again with the five year old. I guess CIOs, Drs, and Penguins are not that much different.

Aug 20, 2009 13:30

Another inconvenient truth?

Afternoon Reading 8 20 09 « State of the Fourth Estate
Aug 20, 2009 15:41

[...] “Information bad for you,” says older generation. [Wikinomics] [...]

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