Blog 11/20 – Michael Bursik

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About our Blog 2020

After receiving very positive feedback on our blog contributions in the last years, we would like to continue this still young tradition of the Liechtenstein Academy Blog also this year.

Also in 2020, it is important for us to consider very different perspectives in order to offer you the most stimulating possible offer. This year, we have been able to attract six well-known guest authors, who, with no editorial filters, write about their personal thoughts. Look forward to new and surprising insights from Michael Bursik, complex issues, simply explained by Ulrich Schnabel, philosophical insights from Dr. Ina Schmidt, astute thoughts by our language and legal expert Carlos A. Gebauer, exciting topics around the many topics of working in the digital era by Sibylle Mäder as well as constructive considerations of our health expert Christoph von Oldershausen.

We wish you a stimulating read.

Your Liechtenstein Academy team

High tech needs high touch

The figures are impressive proof of this. The second Corona wave is sweeping over Central Europe and some governments are beginning to reintroduce lockdowns. Even the hitherto rather measure-shy British Prime Minister Boris Johnson now sees no alternative to the repeated cutbacks in public life.

But many areas of our lives have long since changed. It would be premature to speak of a «new normal», but many of us were able to gain our first experiences of this exceptional situation in the spring. It is important to discuss the necessity of the restrictions and their impact on basic rights, but it is equally important to adjust to the situation on a personal level. After all, dealing with the virus has presented us with challenges that have completely turned our social interaction upside down. At the same time, we are in the fortunate position of living in an age in which we have technologies that allow us to communicate and cooperate with each other in virtual space, regardless of location.

Virtual worlds are the «new normal»

Modern communication and information technology is the beneficiary of the crisis. For example, the collaboration software MS Teams, published by Microsoft, has almost quadrupled its daily users within the last twelve months. With Microsoft Teams alone, more than 75 million people now use the possibilities of virtual cooperation in their everyday work.

Video service providers also benefit from the restrictions. Zoom, for example, was able to increase its sales by 355 percent in the second quarter (only in German language available) This increase does not only come from the corporate sector, but usage also multiplied in the private sector. I myself was able to attend a birthday party at the end of April, which was held via Zoom. And although the online meeting lasted several hours, it was thoroughly entertaining and amusing. But is a virtual meeting comparable to a real one?

The quality of virtual meetings

In his book High Tech High Touch, the American futurologist John Naisbitt explores the question of what a balance between technological possibilities and human needs might look like. He writes: «The more high technology around us, the more the need for human touch...» because without the human component, something is lost that is immensely important for us humans. It does not recommend the use of technology, but after reading it you start to reflect on your own behavior. Technology should serve people and not the other way around.

But how do you replace high touch at exactly the time when this human exchange is limited? In contrast to Naisbitt, the well-known founder and influencer Gary Vaynerchuck recommends technological upgrading. He praises the positive influence that technology has had on him as a human being. The line between who controls whom can no longer be observed from the outside. [Read more: Our Kids Aren’t Using Too Much Tech. They’re Not Using Enough].

Technology with a human face

However, both Naisbitt and Vaynerchuck agree that high touch is needed. In times of Corona, we may have to do without direct touch, but we can consider how to bring more humanity into our virtual contacts and collaborations. This could be a short warm-up before the actual work meeting or a virtual celebration with friends. This is a field where human creativity and imagination are needed – and this is one in which we humans are far superior to technology.

But we also have to develop ourselves further. The quality of virtual encounters improves the more we are in contact with ourselves. And for this we do not need any technology at all.

About the author: Michael Bursik