Living in an Information-Enabled World

We are more connected than ever.

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay.

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

—T.S. Eliot1

Are you connected? Of course you are. Your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and wearables connect you to the world. Let’s take a peek at what your typical day might look like:

Table 1.1
Daily Schedule
At 6:00 a.m. The alarm on your smartphone goes off. You roll over, turn off your alarm, and glance to see if any “urgent” texts came in while you slept. You check Slack to see what’s up, if anything, at work.
At 6:30 a.m. You check the weather. You sigh; you hate rain! You send your day’s first tweet.
By 7:00 a.m. You’ve checked ESPN and read your Wall Street Journal—both online.
By 7:30 a.m. You’ve double-checked Canvas—your school’s learning management system—to make sure you’re prepared for your classes. You open your logistics e-textbook to review your notes to get ready for your 9:00 a.m. class.
At 8:00 a.m. Your e-calendar notifies you that you have a CSCMP luncheon at 11:45. You enter the address into Google Maps. You need to leave campus by 11:30 to arrive on time.
By 8:30 a.m. You’ve stopped by the bookstore on the way to class to check out the newest AirPods. You like them—a lot. So, you click your ShopSavvy app to see if you can find them for less online. You love showrooming!
At 9:00 a.m. You attend your in-person class on campus. The professor uses a PowerPoint presentation, and you take notes on the Evernote app.
At 10:20 a.m. You take your finance quiz online. Ratio analysis isn’t that hard. Then you go to your 10:30 finance class.
At 11:20 a.m. You update your LinkedIn profile (just in case you meet a potential recruiter at the CSCMP luncheon) before leaving campus.
At 11:45 a.m. You attend the CSCMP luncheon.
At 1:00 p.m. You pay your friend for the ski tickets she bought for you. Online banking is great! While online, you check your Fantasy Football score. Then you head to work.
At 3:30 p.m. You join a Zoom meeting with colleagues across the country. You don’t know how you feel about Zoom. It creates flexibility, but the number of meetings you are invited to has gone up, and you’re not sure you’re any more productive.
At 6:30 p.m. You text a fellow intern to see if she got THE job offer. When you’re done, you Skype your mom, check Disney+ to see if the latest episode of The Book of Boba Fett is available, and send a photo to a friend using Instagram. Finally, you look up a review of a new restaurant in town, update your blog, and check out what your friends have uploaded to TikTok.
At 9:20 p.m. You log a workout on MapMyRun. You can’t believe you’re training for a marathon. When you’re done, you pull up your e-calendar. It is time to plan tomorrow.

You get the idea. Your life revolves around information and the technology that brings it to you. Your connected life isn’t just about convenience and entertainment; you use information to plan your day, juggle your obligations, manage your relationships, and communicate to the world. As important as timely access to information is in your life, have you ever wondered how people made decisions in the old days—before the internet?

Like every generation before you, you use information to make hundreds of daily decisions. But you spend far less time gathering information. Instead, information often finds you. Data—in overwhelming quantities—is at your fingertips. You now live a digital, mobile life. Facts are truly a commodity! To succeed, you need to be able to grasp what the facts mean and how they should influence your decision-making.

Of course, your life is a metaphor for business. Companies are equally connected. Information technology doesn’t just connect people and make information quickly and readily available; it enables companies to conduct business differently, creating value in new ways. We’ll talk about IT’s enabling power in a minute. But for now, let’s ask, “Beyond being cool and convenient, have you ever stopped to think about the downsides of being connected?”

You should be aware of at least the following three concerns:

  1. Information Privacy: Do you realize that everything you do online leaves a trace—a record of your likes and dislikes? Companies use this information to make decisions. A Wall Street Journal tagline highlights this aspect of a digital world: “What groceries you buy, what Facebook posts you ‘like’ and how you use your GPS in your car: Companies are building their entire businesses around the collection and sale of such data.”2

  2. Information Security: It’s not just legitimate companies who seek access to your data. Cyber-mischief in many forms is now a serious threat to your peace of mind, your company’s operations, and global security. You’ve read the headlines about nude photo dumps, data breaches, and WikiLeaks. How you use technology makes you vulnerable to cyber baddies.

  3. Information Dependence: In moments of quiet reflection, have you wondered, “How did people live before the internet?” In truth, modern society is addicted to IT. What if you were suddenly cut off from your information? The world got a glimpse of the pain when AWS, the world’s largest cloud provider, suffered service outages in 2021. And thinking of cyber-mischief, one in three companies experienced a ransomware attack in 2021.3

The bottom line: Modern information technology is the great enabler. IT lets us work together and create value in totally new, and cool, ways. We take IT for granted—a reality that makes us vulnerable. To make the most out of an information-enabled world, we need an information strategy. For most companies, that strategy begins and revolves around enterprise resource planning (ERP)—the company’s central nervous system.