Man with technological devices floating around his head photo credit:
The amount of technology and its uses can be a bit overwhelming. How does one lead staff through the communication technology maze? Excitement about new technology (List of Emerging Technologies, 2013) can quickly develop into feelings of being overwhelmed by the amount of new technology to learn. Davis (2013) suggested that companies do an inventory and assessment of communication technology. Davis at Charter Software (2013) proposed eight recommendations:
- “Evaluate. In looking at your technological assets, try to objectively evaluate what the software/hardware is doing, and what it can do. Oftentimes we have lots of capacity and even more capability, but we might only be utilizing a small portion of our assets. Understanding what you have and what it can do can save lots of expense in the future. A subjective evaluation—how your employees feel about the tools they have been given—is also important. If they feel their tools are too difficult or not meeting needs, they will not utilize them. Most often there is a lack of training and accountability for consistent utilization of tools.
- Integration. What system talks to the other? Frequently, we have disparate systems, none of which are communicating with each other. If we were to single out one issue that is prevalent in most businesses, it would be that the different systems do not communicate with one another. Today’s technology allows for integration and should allow your inventory system, customer relationship management (CRM) system and billing systems to speak with one another. The number of companies that have spent thousands of dollars on a new system only to find out that it does not easily integrate with other systems in place at the company is innumerable.
- Consider Mobile Technology. As we move forward with more and more mobile technology, our systems, like our companies, need to be agile and flexible to include the ability for mobile interfaces. Sales departments should be able to add leads and create quotes via their smartphones. Customers should be able to access a mobile optimized web platform.
- Plan. Create a technology plan that is tied to your strategic business plan. Often dealers forget the importance of assessing their technological capacities when considering strategic objectives. For example, if rentals were a new focus of your business, does your current system support the business model? This plan needs to focus both on short-term and long-term needs of the business. Take into consideration future growth and new technologies that will give your business an edge in the marketplace. Also, plan the development of the capabilities of your internal staff, including training opportunities to enhance capabilities that are missed by department managers. Do all employees have a technology capabilities development plan?
- Get independent Advice. Most of the information we receive comes from vendors whose main purpose is selling the latest and greatest technology. Although there is a wealth of knowledge available through these vendors, there is also a bias based to their own particular product strengths.
- Learn Best Practices. Take advantage of the opportunities that technology brings your company to grow by paying attention to best practices in our industry. Suffice it to say that someone is utilizing the new and emergent technologies to gain a market advantage. Remember that those who lead will have a window of opportunity to maximize the opportunity these technologies provide” (Davis, 2013).
I underlined the phrase above that struck me the most: “A subjective evaluation—how your employees feel about the tools they have been given” (Davis, 2013). Let us not forget the human factor. Just because new technology exists, does not mean that it meets the needs of the staff in the work that they do for the organization. Coxon (2013) reinforced the importance of this statement when she noted that “people who felt in control of their use of communications technology were more likely to be more satisfied with life” and thus their job. She noted in the article that “there are examples where people are not managing usage as well as they could be – it is not necessarily the amount but the way in which it is used.” This article went on to compare the use of technology to that of the human diet . . . “To stay healthy, you need to eat a balanced diet. The same is true when it comes to using technology; you need to find a balance which works for you . . . (such as) the Balanced Communications Diet, our equivalent of the five a day you need to help maintain a healthy relationship with technology.” (Coxon, 2013).
Another article I found by Bedell (2013, February 25), mentioned the guilt that some experience when receiving assistance in using technology. He shared five points that should assuage any guilt one feels for being on the receiving end of learning technology:
- “The fact that you are feeling guilty shows that you care and still are trying to improve your practice. This is important and to your credit.
- There is no need to try to keep up or try every idea that your tech person or administrator sends your way. There is a reason that technology coaches/facilitators/coordinators and library media specialists make keeping up with technology trends a major part of their job. They can help. Lean on them.
- Stick with what fits. When we are integrating new technology, always start with the learning objective. What do you want the students to learn and do? This should guide your decision making. A lot of resources are out there, but not all tools will fit all purposes. If you try to force something that does not fit, it will not work to its full potential.
- In a given time period, try to pick a tool or a technique and go more deeply with it. For example, we’ve been focusing a lot on digital storytelling at my school in the elementary grades. It started out just as another means of creative writing, but now students are also using it as a means to explain science concepts. Train students in how to use a tool and then explore the different applications of it with them. Using a tool deeply is arguably much more beneficial to students than using many superficially.
- As you master a tool, consider offering to share how you use it or even co-teach a lesson (if your school allows for this). Teachers rightfully are much more likely to accept the utility of something when they see a colleague having success using it to help his/her students learn” (Bedell, 2013, February 25).
Bedell (2013, February 25) wisely pointed out that an important goal with technology is its thoughtful use by leaders and followers in order to improve the greater good. As I reflect back on the two “A Day Made of Glass” videos on YouTube, I could not help but think that that type of living will be done only by the rich. I suspect the gap between the rich and the poor will only continue to grow wider if these videos are predicting the future.
As for Kevin Kelly’s (2011, July 22) keynote, one of the statements that stood out for me is “If it’s not in real time, it doesn’t count.” That is a scary statement to me. How will this type of impatience affect our world? Humans are emotional and impulsive, and are highly affected by stress. It would seem that this could place our world leaders in a sort of tinderbox related to foreign policy. If one country does not get what they want, can they no longer take a few hours or days to think about how to respond to a crisis? Must they react in “real time?”
Lastly, the Google Glasses, sort of made me experience motion sickness. I think that it would also make one a target to get robbed (or run over by a car) as a person would be less likely to be paying attention to their surroundings. I have a fear that using Google glasses would be like my grandmother used to say, “Your eyes are going to get stuck if you keep crossing them like that!”
Bedell, J. T. (2013, February 25). Overwhelmed by new tech? You’re not alone. JTB
Consulting. Retrieved from
Corning, Inc. A day made of glass: Corning’s vision for the future with specialty glass at
the heart of it video. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com
Coxon, R. (2013). Overwhelming technology disrupting life and causing stress new
Mental Healthy. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/news/568-
Davis, J. M. (2013). Overwhelmed by technology? Charter Software, Inc. Retrieved from
Google Glasses Project. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSnB06um5r4
Kelly, K. (2011, July 22). NExTWORK: Kevin Kelly. Retrieved from
Wikipedia (2013). List of emerging technologies. Retrieved from