Feeds

The 'Funky Business' consultants want to poke you

Back to work, back to Facebook?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

To some extent, the assurances of innovation to shareholders are only mood music and unlikely to be tested one way or the other. The only information that these stakeholders really scrutinise is the quarterly report. The question of whether or not the CEO wears a tie or not is of secondary importance.

That said, capitalism requires productivity growth, which in turn depends upon innovation. Investors can never afford to be too oblivious to new technology.

The promise of innovation to consumers is an equally sensitive issue. Often a veneer will do, but where the product becomes locked into an outdated technological paradigm, the consequences can be drastic – just ask the music industry.

For this reason, the way we consume has changed in a number of important ways, as retailers have exploited the potential of the internet. The creation of new online-only business models removes the inefficiency of running high-street stores, and introduces a far more 'personalised' customer experience.

Which leaves us with the promises made to employees.

There was a period around the turn of the millennium during which predictions were made that the very nature of work was about to change unrecognisably. Hierarchical organisations would be replaced by loose networks of freelancers. Offices were to become play-grounds in which creative entrepreneurs would sell their own human capital.

Books like Funky Business by Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom, The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin and Happy Mondays by Richard Reeves proclaimed that business success was now dependent upon a liberated and happy workforce. Managers that misunderstood this would suffer the consequences.

Phenomena such as the growth of teleworking indicate certain changes in the nature of work have indeed materialised. But the Facebook-at-work debate demonstrates that there is a limit to how much innovation this realm of the economy can accommodate. Work must remain work.

"Never trust a hippy"

In Karl Marx’s world-changing analysis, capitalism is defined by the fact that workers produce more value for their employers than they receive in their pay-packet. The difference between the two (‘surplus value’) is what becomes capital.

There can be endless varieties of capitalism, built around any manner of production techniques, creating and satisfying an ever-growing variety of consumer needs, but one thing must remain constant – surplus value must be extracted.

The fact that many employees are technologically blocked from accessing social networking sites shouldn’t surprise us in the least. Contrary to the hippy philosophy of the New Economy prophets, obedience of workers to managers is the defining fact of capitalism. If they want to change that, it will take more than a reinvention of corporate culture.

It takes a particularly intoxicating digital exuberance to believe that new technologies are automatically beneficial to the economy in general or to productivity in particular. Those who believe that social networking sites should be embraced by managers generally fail to acknowledge one glaring fact: a social networking site is not enjoyable in spite of its damage to productivity, but because of it. ®

William Davies is a sociologist and policy analyst. His weblog is at Potlatch.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.