The gospel according to Zoom

Its been astonishing to witness how evangelistic clergy have become about technology most of them didn’t even know existed six weeks ago. Which begs an interesting question, will their appetite for technology continue once things return to normal (whatever normal might look like)?

Both as a practitioner and an academic, I am particularly interested in how an event, such as the Coronavirus pandemic, can change attitudes and behaviours and ‘kick-start’ initiatives previously thought undesirable. An interesting and current example would be the rush towards what euphemistically gets described as ‘Livestreaming’, when most people really do not understand what it means, nor do they understand that is not what they are attempting.

Might this be the time that churches start to take technology seriously and approach it as they do their other deeply held beliefs, and recognise it as a core competency? Quite reasonably, my ‘entry level’ ability to play chopsticks on a keyboard won’t qualify me to accompany the Cathedral Choir on the organ at our next civic service; likewise, we shouldn’t relegate the determination of our Cathedral’s IT infrastructure to enthusiastic amateurs.

Therefore, I urge caution. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This newly acquired technology insight could, if not harnessed appropriately, create a cognitive bias that involves an over-reliance on a familiar tool (Zoom et al). As Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”.

Dr Brad Poulson

Honorary Professor of Operations Management & Information Systems, Nottingham University Business School.