Call Me Maybe: A Technology Metaphor

Your stare was holdin’,

Ripped jeans, skin was showin’

Hot night, wind was blowin’

Where do you think you’re going, baby?

Hey, I just met you,

And this is crazy,

But here’s my number,

So call me, maybe!


Carly Rae Jepson – Call Me Maybe

Although this song is almost two years old (an eternity in pop culture) it is still receiving air time. Everyone from Colin Powell to the Muppets were singing this. It has staying power I think because it reflects something very basic about our culture.

The song is about instant attraction, and the awkwardness that follows. The person is not sure if the attraction is reciprocal, so they leave the opportunity out there for response (call me maybe). This is metaphor for the way we are affected by technology trends and consumerism. This song is a metaphor for technology in our lives. After all, pop culture really does act as a reflection of some of us, as well a catalyst for change.

We live in an instant-on culture. We have a 24 x 7 news cycle and expect immediacy in all things. Our IT customers at work have increasingly shorter attention spans and suffer from what I call BSO syndrome (bright shiny object). If a human resources manager doesn’t have an iPad to use in the office, they feel held back from their true potential by the lack of technology. The consumerization of IT regularly brings hastily acquired technology to the doorstep of the IT department.

I worked for Circuit City for many years. I learned many valuable lessons there, including the role that technology turnover plays in corporate profit. Companies have to bring you new products, services, features and capabilities to keep you spending your money! The technology turnover cycles are becoming shorter and shorter, as Moore’s law predicts.

As a metaphor the song, as with technology, begins …

Hey, I just met you…

You see the new smartphone advertised on ESPN. Bigger screen, faster processor, 4G broadband, 15 MP camera.There is lightening. There is thunder. And you are instantly drawn to it. “That would be sooo cool” you think. “I could text my boss back faster. I could see the screen easier. Use it for work too I bet, the IT guys can figure that out…”

And we know it is somewhat irrational ….

And this is crazy,

A 4K TV? What? You recognize that your current TV is just fine, and the lack of 4K programming makes this a stretch. You could give your old TV away, and the potential act of philanthropy makes the decision a bit easier. What? It has a USB port? I can use it for teleworking! Nirvana! The neighbors can come over and watch TV too!

But we can’t help ourselves ….

But here’s my number,

Hook me up, lets do it. I’ve justified it. I’m a bit nervous perhaps, not knowing what my husband will say. My compulsion got the better of me, the new cable service has internet that is so much faster and on-demand for the kids plus I get 2 years of HBO, Cinemax and Showtime for FREE!!!

And we hope it works out ….

So call me, maybe!

At the end of it all, we have succumbed to the lure of technology, influenced by our instant on society and our attraction to shiny objects. Are we still happy with the decision the next day? Does that technology still look shiny the next week? Any regrets? On to the next technology distraction.

So what is there to be done about this? Some hints for you, and for you to share with your customers:

Research – Check things out, do your research. This will delay the impulsive decision to buy, and allow you to process the need. Buy nothing expensive in the store if you haven’t looked into it beforehand. Be aware, many consumer technologies are not designed to be used in an office environment 8-12 hours a day and extending the corporate network to consumer devices is almost always a bad idea.

Commitments – Beware technology that comes with long term commitments! Almost no technology outlives any agreements that are used to subsidize it. What will it cost to continue to use the technology? Does the paper for that photo printer cost more than the printer itself? Are you committing to a 2 year smartphone contract on a phone that is going to be outdated in 6 months?

Quality of Life – If you are trying to make your life easier, better, more efficient, then good for you. But don’t fool yourself. All technology comes with a price, an investment you must make to be effective with it. Be prepared to make the investment of time and get to know the new camera, social network or whatever.

Carly Rae is doing us all a favor by providing this opportunity to examine the lure of technology through the lens of pop culture. Any questions? Just call me. Maybe.

Barry Condrey is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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