Bulletin 29 March 2019: 4G vs broadband, and personal inertia

We are each the elephant in the room

I’m not going to lie, I’m a person of routine. Despite being able to live an essentially freelance lifestyle, I still get up on a weekday morning at a certain time, I go to an office in town (yes, I have an office in town) by 9.00am and I get on with my working day. 

I would also, if I could, subject myself to the vagaries of being subservient to work — at the end of the day, I would struggle to leave on time — were it not for the fact that I share transport, and would therefore find myself short of a lift. 

Based on three decades of working with others, I don’t think I’m unique on either count: what’s fascinating is how our need for consistency often plays against our ability to ignore when we are being taken for a ride (or indeed not, if I miss mine). 

We are stuck in certain models. To whit: the office I from a marketing agency has a broadband line of, well, let’s call it sporadic quality. Despite being in the middle of a town: while my home village now has two fibre options, Cirencester’s main street has none. I know, right? 

More interesting (for the purposes of this bulletin) than this clear failure of service provision, is the fact that we have been going along with it despite the availability of alternatives. For the record, the 4G signal in my second-floor office is both consistent quality and high bandwidth.

I have never had a problem with the mobile data signal, indeed, I have used it when the broadband has been down. So, why have I never thought of, you know, ‘just’ switching over and going fully mobile? It’s a question I, and the agency owner, have been asking ourselves. 

To his credit, Adrian (for that is his name) is currently testing a 4G hub from EE: the prices have dropped to tens of pounds per month, for hundreds of gigabytes, so it would be rude not to. At the same time, we have agreed between us, it makes the “but it’s not a fixed line!” part of us squirm. 

Which is pretty crazy. Whole swathes of the world, particularly what us decadent westerners refer to as ‘developing’, rely entirely on mobile rather than fixed lines. Possibly one of the most disruptive innovations still to happen, that of 5G-powered IoT, is (well, obviously) based around mobile.

And yet, still, part of me feels ‘mobile’ is in some way less adequate than ‘fixed’, even though I am here, day after day dealing with the consequences of dodgy broadband. To repeat, I don’t think it’s just me: indeed, I think this psychological block behind much technological inertia.

The point is that it’s real: one can (by all means) tell me that I’m dumb for being so stuck in my ways, but that doesn’t actually achieve much. There’s an enterprise link to this, in that so many of our corporate decisions, or indeed, lack of them, are going to be psychological.

What to do? I’m not absolutely sure, beyond recognising that people aren’t good at change. If companies accepted this from the outset, they could save a fortune in change consultants, a.k.a. people brought in at vast expense when things turn out to be harder than initially believed. Just a thought. 

 

Smart Shift: Society is dead, right?

Enough about technology: Smart Shift moves its focus onto how tech has impacted what we do (spoiler alert: the following section will be about who we are). First, we cover the technological breakthrough that begat all others: the wood cut

 

Thanks for reading! Jon


Also published on Medium.

Bulletin 29 March 2019: 4G vs broadband, and personal inertia

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