What Technology? 21st Century Answers to 21st Century Questions

Every generation has its own string of technologies that best define it. From Alexander Bells’ telephone in the 19th century to the 20th century automobile (which we pretty much can’t live without), there’s always that unique piece of innovation that helped change or shape the lives of billions of people world-over.

I recently had a thrilling conversation with a specialist in instrumentation. He described how industry automation had gotten to epic levels of advancement, enabling even the least learned of workmen to control and monitor their industrial machinery remotely. The instrumentation fundi described how machinery can now be controlled “on-the-go” via different mobility apps and how the gap between hands-on control and the need for mobility has been bridged gracefully by what he called “21st century tools”. Needless to say, I fervidly slapped him with my SAP elevator pitch, hammering on the beautiful integration and mobility functions it has to offer. We may as well have built a time machine and travelled into year 2050, the conversation was every ICT enthusiasts’ cup of tea.

US Secretary of State John Kerry in addressing Russia made a thought provoking statement, “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion…”. His words are powerful when applied to the local information technology climate. The 21st century has begun to ask new questions that unfortunately cannot be answered by even the best answers that the 20th century and its predecessors had to offer. It could be said that every generation has its own set of questions that cannot be addressed by the last generations’ responses.

In this light, it becomes apparent that staying on top in business demands that organizations strive to continuously stay up to date in terms of technology and methodology. The current business environment is very different from the environment that prevailed in the last century. In fact, Bill Gates predicted in 1999 that business was going to change more in the first 10 years of the 21st Century than in the last 50 years. In such a fast paced, ever changing business environment, staying on top most definitely demands that businesses make good use of current technology.

The risk of continuously putting off new technology and running with last generation tech can bend any business out of shape. The volumes of data generated in today’s business environment most definitely cannot be handled by a basic Excel spreadsheet with a couple of simple formulas; there has to be a concordant technological change within the business for every change that occurs in the external environment of the business.

As logical as the need to stay ahead with technology appears, there are still quite a few organizations running on very outdated technology. Pile upon pile of printed paperwork, heavily bureaucratic processes and little room for innovation; this is still the story of some organizations. The good news of ICT still needs to reach a few file-cabinet laden offices. The following top 3 misinformed assumptions are common amongst most of these tech-shy firms;

Technology is too expensive
Businesses can no longer justifiably defend their lack of technology on high costs of adoption. If anything, today it costs more to go without technology than it would to embrace it. For one, the introduction of cloud computing and EaaS (Everything as a Service) has drastically reduced the cost that businesses have to face in order to access world-class ICT services. Technology hasn’t only gotten cheaper in itself, but it has also become more energy efficient; if that’s not affordable enough then nothing is.

Technology is hard to use
The 21st century has ushered in a whole new era of simplicity in technology. In the past, technology was synonymous with complexity, sophistication, learnedness, intelligence and many other intimidating words. Today however, simplicity is a defining feature of almost all technologies. The least sophisticated of people must be able to productively use high-end technology. Simple solution designs are key to ensuring that businesses are able to glean maximum benefit from the technologies they choose to adopt.

Technology will take my job
Most people feel as though technology will replace them if adopted. However, the truth of the matter is technology will not only make ones’ job easier, but in turn create more employment as well as create opportunities for employees to develop their skills.

All things being equal, an organizations ICT policy can easily become the heartbeat of the company. 21st century questions must be processed by 21st century minds and remedied with 21st century solutions to produce 21st century results.

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