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Distributor's Link Magazine Spring 2021 / Vol 44 No 2


36 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Jim Truesdell James Truesdell is President of Brauer Supply Company, a distributor of specialty fasteners, insulation, air filtration, and air conditioning with headquarters in St. Louis. Mr. Truesdell is adjunct professor at Saint Louis University and Webster University. An attorney and frequently published writer, he is the author of “Total Quality Management: Reports From the Front Lines”. TECHNOLOGY AND MEETINGS OF THE FUTURE The demands of doing business during the pandemic have helped us all become more comfortable with gatherings using remote meeting software. Adoption of new technologies has certainly taken a leap forward due to the special circumstances of social distancing and enforced isolation. People who had questioned their ability to handle business through electronic interface have become quite used to talking with their associates and customers through little electronic pictures on a screen. As with all such advances, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg as new wrinkles and nuances are added to the capability of those systems. There is no doubt that management’s ability to effectively control meetings will be increasing greatly. This may be a good thing when it comes to cost control and achievement of corporate objectives, but some of the new anticipated features seem downright scary when we consider the “Big Brother is watching you” characteristics of these tools. Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a special section with a series of articles looking at the “Office of the Future” (January 14, 2021). Among the series was an article titled “Tech That Aims to Improve Meetings” which talked about the bells and whistles coming down the line to help meeting hosts and company managers pitch their information more effectively to recipients. They also have features to “manage” those participants. These are designed to see who is paying attention so the leader can direct questions to and wake up those whose minds might be wandering. Clearly this would have to be used carefully with customers and outsiders, but a control freak manager might be attracted to this as a means of keeping his or her employees on their toes. Among some of the features foreseen are: CONTRIBUTOR ARTICLE [1] Heart rate monitors for meeting participants to measure engagement. [2] Video tools to analyze facial expressions and posture to measure engagement [3] Artificial intelligence which would speak up to give feedback or note who hasn’t spoken up and invite them to comment. [4] Monitoring speakers who have gone over their allotted time or pointing out if someone is being cut off or talked over. [5] Reports generated showing relative performance of meeting attendees when it comes to engagement and contributions to the discussion These features could be used by the host in real time to tailor remarks to the group’s responses and to determine when to take breaks or change the subject That is all well and good, but I wonder if most of us are not ready for such intimate monitoring of our behavior! Who would want their career progress or job security to be impacted by electronic surveillance of their personal behaviors while sitting in a meeting? Would this lead to artificially engaged people making useless and time wasting observations just to rack up the participation points? It seems eerily similar to the reports of “social credit” scores which we read are being used in China to provide incentive or disincentive to tow the government line or support government policy. Some things on the horizon which may be more appealing are designed to make the virtual meeting experience even closer to an in person meeting. Consider the use of “avatars which would mimic real time facial expressions and body movements, allowing casual conversations among certain participants and spontaneous small group meetings to spring up. CONTINUED ON PAGE 116

THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 37 PACIFIC-WEST FASTENER ASSOCIATION 3020 Old Ranch Parkway #300, Seal Beach CA 90740 TEL 562-799-5509 FAX 562-684-0695 EMAIL WEB JOINT CONFERENCE WITH SFA IS SET FOR FALL by Vickie Lester Save the Date for Pac-West’s joint conference with the Southwestern Fastener Association, October 20-23, 2021 at the Hilton Palacio del Rio in San Antonio, Texas. More details will be available shortly, but you can be sure it will contain relevant education and great social and networking events. Pac-West Members Eligible for Discounts on IFI Technology Connection Subscriptions and Manuals Now there are even more reasons to be a member of Pac-West. Exclusive discounts on the following programs offered by the Industrial Fasteners Institute are now offered to Pac-West members: ¤ 10% discount on subscription renewals for IFI Technology Connection ASSOCIATION ARTICLE ¤ 20% discount on new subscriptions to the IFI Technology Connection ¤ 20% discount off the print edition of the IFI Inch Fastener Standards book Details can be found at the association website, www. Random Threads Be sure to check out the latest issue of Pac-West’s Random Threads newsletter, The Rise of the Automated Warehouse, at www. For more information about Pac-West contact Amy Nijjar at 562-799-5509 PACIFIC-WEST FASTENER ASSOCIATION


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