Has Technology Got a Hold on You?

April 11, 2011

Have you thought recently about how tied we are to technology? You wake up in the morning and reach over to turn off your alarm clock which is playing your favorite tune on your IPOD docked to it. Next your reach over to your nightstand and grab the TV remote and scroll through the numerous cable channels trying to decide which station you want to watch. Your cell phone rings and you grab your Bluetooth wireless headset and head into the bathroom to take care of a few morning “necessities”. As you think about what you are going to wear to work you remember that you wanted to be sure and record Oprah and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen game coming on tonight. So you quickly set your DVR to record both programs as you mentally plan to order a pizza on your iPhone on your way home from work tonight.

You have barely been up for an hour and yet you have already used almost a dozen different types of technology that didn’t even exist 20 years ago! Technology drives our everyday lives and it drives business the same way. When is the last time you wrote a memo at work using a pen and paper? How many times a day at work do you use email, voicemail, instant messaging, teleconferencing, or video conferencing? When was the last time you looked up a definition in a dictionary? Or researched a procedure in a manual that wasn’t online?
I could go on, but I think you get the point. We are inextricably tied to our technology. It improves our efficiency (online calendars and file folders), accuracy (spell checker and auto-correct), and accessibility (Blackberries, laptops, and Skype). Some might even say we are dangerously bound to these tools. Note the operative term here is “tools.” All the various types of technology mentioned here are just tools to help businesses operate better, faster, and maybe even cheaper. They allow people to do more with less, multitask rather than focus and concentrate, and downsize, rightsize, or even outsource yet still maintain the same level of productivity.
But remember the old saying that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! The single most important “tools” in your business are your people. Technology has enabled many businesses to grow at extraordinary rates and achieve advances that may have taken many more years to achieve. But it is the expertise and instincts of the people who make the critical decisions about using technology that determine whether a business will become a model of efficiency and productivity or a haven for a lot of expensive toys. What type of business is yours? What type of business do you want it to be?
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