Keeping up to date with technology

Keeping up to date with technology is essential for every business owner, even those that aren’t considered “technology” companies.

You deal with technology in your office productivity software, security system, air conditioning, computers and networks, phone systems, and much more. Whether it’s a simple cash register program that tracks inventory and daily purchases or a sophisticated network that links people and places around the globe, technology helps organizations maintain a competitive edge and build a strong presence in today’s business world.

In today’s experience

If you want to compete in today’s business world, then, it’s important to keep up to date with technology in order to get the most out of the technology you have, to keep abreast of emerging new technology, and to find the information that will help you make the right buying decisions.

The strategy outlined below will cost very little, if anything, because it’s based on resources that you already have access to. And once you get the system down, the time required to keep up with technology — just minutes a day — will be a fraction of it’s worth to your business.

 Keeping Up to Date With Technology: An Awareness Strategy

A good technology awareness strategy boils down to four simple steps:

  1. Determine your needs.
  2. Assess the resources available to you.
  3. Rank the resources in order of usefulness to you.
  4. Make or allow the time to use the resources.

Let’s take a closer look at each step.

 Step 1: Determine Your Needs 

You’ll determine your needs from the type of technology you live and work with, your existing knowledge base, and your learning style.

First, regardless of the technology in question, we all need a better handle on the fundamentals, like electricity, magnetism, light, sound, fluid behavior, and other fundamentals as you need them. These are the building blocks. Knowing these basics will help you understand how electric motors work, why air conditioning cools, and so forth.

Next, you’ll need to learn more about the specific devices you use. It may seem simplistic at first, but knowing how your cell phone works really can help you.

Step 2: Assess the Resources Available to You ​

From books to magazines to the Internet to formal training sessions, you can find technology-related information in a variety of sources. In the next section, we’ll discuss the major categories you can look into. Explore your options and figure out which resources work for you.

Step 3: Rank the Resources in Order of Usefulness to You

The good news is that there are a lot of resources. The bad news is that there are a lot of resources. Now you have to weed them out. Choose those resources that have even a small chance of working for you, and then rank them in terms of the subject matter (some will be more important than others), your learning style, and your lifestyle (do you prefer the Internet to the library?).

 Step 4. Make the Time to Use the Resources ​

This is where the rubber meets the road. I promise that it won’t be a big burden, but you must do it! Some resources you’ll read only once and then you’ll move on. Other resources you’ll want to keep for future reference. If you truly integrate your technology education into your daily routine, it will only take a few minutes a day.

Resources

It’s impossible to list all the resources available to you, but the following should give you a good start.

Television/Radio

Both media have numerous shows dedicated to technology — documentaries, regular series, call-in Q&A shows, news items, and more. Encourage your team to find the programs they like and that deliver the best information so they can slip them into their schedule and stay informed.

Newspapers

All the major newspapers cover technology issues in some way.

In them, you’ll find listings of useful websites, Q&A columns, user tips, and product reviews. Such regular features enable people to learn a lot from a quick glance. Make it a habit to look for them, and when you or a member of your staff run across a useful item, cut it out and post it on the company bulletin board.

Magazines

Numerous magazines cater to the technology market. Browse through some of them to determine which ones meet your company’s needs. Initiate a business subscription to the magazines your employees find most useful and encourage them to read the articles every month. For those magazines you don’t subscribe to, visit your local library every two or three months and skim the back issues.

Books

An entire “this-is-how-things-work” genre of books exists, and they are certainly worth the effort and time. Purchase a few for general reference and keep them in a location all your employees can access. Not only do such books tell you how various technologies work, but most of them also have useful glossaries and appendices that explain the basic principles I mentioned above. For information on specific technologies, check out the very popular “Dummies” and “Complete Idiot’s Guides” type of books. They’re an excellent way to get quickly up to speed on a technology that’s new to you.

Internet

Find a good search engine and learn how to use it, especially the advanced search features. This will allow you and your staff to find manufacturer’s sites, user’s groups, bulletin boards, purchasing guides, and online magazines.

People

Let’s not forget that we can learn from each other. Here are some ways you can get help from people (and maybe give some, too).

  • networking: formal or informal
  • Seminars: a good way to quickly get up to speed on a technology that is important to your business (but in which you have little direct experience).
  • Super Users: the individuals who have forgotten more than most of us will ever know about a given technology. Find out who the super users are in your organization and treat them as a resource.

Taking Control

Keeping up with technology is important because of its central role in our lives and work. Keeping up with technology is possible because of the strategy outlined above. Practice using this strategy and soon it will be as much a part of your life as your morning coffee.

It’s impossible to list all the resources available to you, but the following should give you a good start.

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