Psychologists say human beings reveal most about themselves either while eating or during sex. It’s a little different for CIOs, of course, who simply don’t have time to indulge in such frivolous pursuits. For insights into the hearts and minds of the men and women who live and breathe IT, we are best served by examining their choice of tech toys.
iPhone, Blackberry, digital video recorder, noise cancelling headphones, high definition television. . . where might we be without the gadgets and gizmos we all know and love -- sometimes a little too much? Here then, from a random sampling of Australian CIOs, is their seven favourite pieces of personal technology.
1. The ever-so-humble mobile phone
For many, simplicity is still best. Put Mark Settle, CIO of BMC Software, in that group. While Mark’s day-to-day is filled with the unique merriment that comes with keeping the technology of a technology company running smoothly, it’s the mundane mobile phone for which he is prepared to publicly declare his love. Which is a bit like a Michelin chef admitting bangers and mash is his favourite meal.
“I’ve tried using smartphones, but I keep coming back to the basic device because it helps me separate my work and personal life and keep me in touch with my family,” Settle says.
“Text messaging has become my main form of communication with my family, especially since I have three children in college who are constantly in class or socialising. My children have converted my wife and me into text messaging advocates!”
2. The even-more-humble USB stick
Also prepared to admit his longing for one of the homeliest girls at the dance is Angus McDonald, Technical Director at Elcom.
“It is humble, but for me one of the greatest personal technological innovations was the USB stick,” says McDonald. “They started as small replacements for floppy disks. Remember those? But their real beauty is that they have scaled as data storage technology has improved. Now they are an indispensable part of my toolset.
“Of course, they were enabled by the Universal Serial Bus (USB) specification, which has also gone on to enable boot-less peripheral swapping, cubical wars via USB-powered missile launchers and the USB-fridge for the technologist who really needs a cold one at their fingertips.”
3. The ever-so-sexy iPhone
Difficult to impress, Chris Stevens, COO and the man in charge of IT at Vanguard Investments, says he is another who has always been attracted to a life more austere and unadorned -- until he met you-know-what.
“I've been in IT for a long time and to be honest, for the majority of my career, other than the PC, there haven’t been many things that would rate as a favourite,” Stevens says. “That was until recently when I acquired an iPhone.”
You pretty much know the story from here. Apple built an empire on technology that mere mortals cannot resist. With the iPhone the company created more a lifestyle than a product. Time magazine’s Invention of The Year for 2007 -- rarified air it shares with the Polaroid camera (1972) and the artificial heart (2001) -- has Stevens evangelical in his praise.
“The richness of functionality and ease of use cause me to see this as a portable means to access the world and manage my life -- it just happens to also be a phone! As a piece of technology, it is truly human-centric, whereas many personal technologies require a level of technological insight to use them.”
You’d be a fool, or the CEO of Research In Motion, LG or HTC to argue.
And there’s a hard edge to mankind’s love affair with the iPhone. Recent announcements from the soothsayers at Forrester Research and Barclays Capital Research predict that, having charmed consumers, the iPhone will soon seduce the corporate world. Forrester says the iPhone will grab 35 per cent of the business market, as mobile decision-makers expect the number of devices in their companies to triple over the next three years.
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