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Keeping Up With Technology

Four Steps and Some Resources

By

Brian J. Nichelson, Ph.D.

Brian J. Nichelson, Ph.D., Founder, TechMatters Institute, and author of "Taming Technology"

Technology is essential to every business, 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, 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.

If you want to compete in today’s business world, then, it’s important to keep up 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.

“Oh, no,” you sigh, “I can’t possibly add one more thing to my to-do list.” Well, the truth is that it’s already on your to-do list, whether you know it or not—technology is an unavoidable and critical element of life today. The problem is that you’re most likely not keeping up with technology in a systematic, efficient way. Let’s change that.

Below are some simple techniques that will allow you to integrate technology awareness into your work and life smoothly and efficiently. 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.

A Technology 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 an electric motor works, 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.

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