Tablets, mini tablets, smart phones, smart PCs and now even the smart watch. I've probably forgotten some of the most recent names and I've no doubt got more to learn, including some thought up this very night by some computer "geek" at one of the many IT multinationals. Maybe we don't realise how far these IT devices have become an integral part of our daily lives. Back in their day it was probably just the same with the radio and the television although they didn't revolutionise the way we communicate with one another in such a short time. I recently went on a business trip to the USA and after a run-of-the-mill connecting flight from Bologna to Frankfurt I found myself propelled into the Business Lounge of Germany's largest airport where I was to wait for my intercontinental flight. Given the time of day, the lounge was full of people and I straight away looked for a place where I could have one of my first breakfasts of the morning and I didn't fail to make the usual comments on the quality of German cappuccinos. My seat was an ideal viewpoint for watching the other people in the lounge. Everyone was very respectful of their neighbours and nobody disturbed the silent, peaceful atmosphere; everyone was very reserved and the vast majority of them were busy dealing with who knows what kind of multimedia magic on a vast array of IT devices. Incredible!!
From ebook readers to keen users of latest generation smart phones, the entire range was represented. Some of them contemplated their screens with a serious expression, others made strange signals worthy of the most secretive sects with their fingers on touch screens and others still gripped their devices as if it had been a formula one automobile. I took a closer look and saw there were no age limits. The people ranged from a sophisticated woman with ash blonde-grey hair and a leather-bound ebook to the young business hopeful setting out on a first great international opportunity, it's impossible to reduce it to statistics – use of the latest generation IT devices is not restricted by age. But what did people do in airport Business Lounges before all this technology appeared? They read, slept, made notes by hand in notebooks and – incredible but true – some of them even tried to communicate in one language or another with the person sitting next to them. While I was waiting I glanced at the departures monitor – there was nobody standing looking at it. I must admit I only looked at the monitor out of boredom. On my smartphone I have the apps of at least 5 airlines – the ones I usually fly with – and they tell me the state of my flight in real-time, as well as the boarding time, departure time and a whole host of other information. They probably only keep the monitors for the last few people reluctant to embrace the new technologies.
Thinking about it I realise that the old continent is still a place of explorers; not like the Italian and British explorers of past centuries but explorers of the web. And here today in the lounge they join up with Asians and probably Americans, also with technology in their hands, in global unison. Meanwhile, I was still holding my smartphone in my hand. In my briefcase I had a latest generation laptop which I found to be essential while I was working in the USA but just there and then during the long wait for the flight my computer seemed too big and old-fashioned, like the first calculator ever to have been invented, and so I avoided taking it out. All of a sudden I was struck by the great resource I had in front of my eyes and this time I don't mean the technology and its immense potential but real resources of the human kind. If you give a latest generation IT device to a 20-30 year-old the content will appear as if by magic (and that's not to mention the abilities of the under 20s!!!). But also the older generations are hanging in there and keeping in step with the times.
Then I started thinking about the business world and how it will be transformed in the near future with new opportunities that could be developed by making the most of these human resources that are constantly teaching themselves more.
Magnificent human capital... Countless possibilities... all that's needed is to know how best to take advantage of it!
Giorgio Cavassi, Eur. Erg.