When the recessions first started the media got very excited about the profile of business reporters; Stephanie Flanders, Robert Peston, these were reporters who had usually been forced further down the bulletin or towards the back of the newspaper. Now they were front and centre, leading the agenda.
The same is starting to be true of gadget reporters. The story of gadgets is an increasingly important one. We want to know where and how Apple and Samsung are doing battle. Whereas, five years ago, a new credit-card sized computer would barely have raised a flicker outside of the tech-specialist magazines, now it’s a lead story. We want to know more.
Does it mean we’re getting geekier? No probably not. Does it mean we know more about technology than we did a few years ago? Possibly. Instead it’s more likely that it represents a fundamental shift in how we view the role of technology in our lives.
People who are starting to get a foothold for themselves in business remember what it was like before. If you’re retiring this year then you’ll remember an office before everyone had a PC. Look around you now and think how different it looks. A decade ago a mobile phone was seen as a badge of success of having made a bit of money. Now a mobile is a human right, it’s seen as a basic tenant of society. You can’t expect someone to function without a mobile unless it’s through choice.
Gadget manufacturers say not only are their products more high profile than they used to be, but they’re also resisting the recession. Cameras, laptops and smartphones; people are not always upgrading to the very latest model but they are still spending money. That supports the argument that gadgets are increasingly being seen as part and parcel of our way of life, rather than an addition or badge of success.
Our business life is more virtualised and perhaps the growing acceptance of technology and gadgets as a basic need, and right, is part of that. The shift in working behaviour hasn’t just been in the gadgets sitting on your desk at work but also the ones “out there” – our shift towards technology that helps us to work wherever and whenever. Be it Hosted Exchange email, SharePoint file sharing for business collaboration or investing in a Cloud Server, we’re adopting technology and gadgetry solutions that help us to shape our own working lives.
And ultimately that’s a much bigger shift.