The Unintended Consequence of Efficiency

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The Internet along with our iPads, Kindles, Androids, iPhones, laptops, etc. have made our lives infinitely more efficient over the last several years.  Twitter and Facebook give us access to information we didn’t even know we needed.  And who needs an encyclopedia when we have Google search and Wikipedia. We can do almost EVERYTHING virtually through technology – communicate, shop, learn, bank, pay bills, manage investments, etc. and the list goes ON and ON.  Our lives have been made immeasurably easier by our access to technology, almost to the point that we cannot function without it.  Most would agree that this has been a positive step forward and the “intended consequence” of creating efficiency has been accomplished.  BUT I would argue that the unintended consequence of having our entire lives exposed to the world is one that is rarely discussed and can have some serious and even devastating implications.

In an article titled “Google Defends New Privacy Policy” by The Wall Street Journal, it is apparent that we are being constantly monitored and followed when we use any Google product (and don’t we all?).  According to Google, this is being done to make our lives easier, not to mention making Google infinitely richer through increased advertising dollars.  What many users translate this into is receiving targeted ads every time you go to the internet – annoying but not necessarily devastating.  Right?  Wrong!  You are clearly being followed just as if someone was stalking you in a shopping mall.  It is an invasion of privacy and is pretty darn scary.

An article came out yesterday in Business Week entitled “Microsoft Ads Bid to Capitalize on Google Privacy Backlash”.  In the article, Microsoft Corp. is aiming to take advantage of a backlash against Google’s privacy policy changes by rolling out new ads that say its rival is risking users’ privacy to squeeze more revenue out of them.  Will Microsoft really be any better?

Facebook, by the way, may soon be facing the same issue.  In an article in the Daily Caller entitled “Facebook Surrenders Its Privacy In IPO Documents”,  Facebook  openly admits that it has concerns that both the U.S.  and Europe may impose tougher privacy rules that would make it more difficult for the company to stockpile information about its users.  Everyone is doing it!!!

So what does all this mean for the user?  Be careful!!!  In our eagerness to share excessive amounts of personal information from our daily/hourly goings-on in Facebook to our everyday (don’t even think about it anymore) transactions, we are opening ourselves to Trouble (yes, with a capital T).   Many negative unintended consequences such as cyber bullying, robberies, cheating, identity theft, reputation bashing, etc. are all a result of making our lives more “efficient”.  As a recent victim of one of these unintended consequences, identity theft, I can tell you that trying to fix the problem FAR exceeds the efficiency that was initially created.  By the way, my problems were not caused by a local hooligan but by a VERY sharp hacker (most likely tens of thousands of miles away) that helped himself to ALL my personal informationBut for the internet, I would never have crossed paths with this individual (this is an assumption since this person will most likely never be caught).  As a result, I have fallen back to the good old U.S. mail, writing checks that actually require a signature and no longer do any “transactions” on-line.  Inefficient maybe, safer YES!

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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