How technology knowledge has become a basic requirement

2013-10-06T00:00:00Z How technology knowledge has become a basic requirementBy Ranjan B. Kini
October 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Is there an app for it? This is the question you often hear lately from all types of industry workers, students and educators.

Most organizations, regardless of the industry they belong to, scan for opportunities to gain efficiencies, competitive edge, innovations while increasing the scale and scope of their operations. Prudent use of technology has been delivering some of these opportunities.

However, in the recent past, the explosive growth of connectedness through Internet and content delivery through a gamut of devices has delivered a fertile ground for even more opportunities.

Even after its existence as a premier Internet retailer for over a decade, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, who recently purchased The Washington Post, still says that we have not even leveraged 5 percent of the Internet’s capability. Being aware of these possibilities organizations are continuing to seek novel ways to leverage the newer breed of technologies.

Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine in most organizations and governments a touch point without encountering some type of technology. Thus, it is a valid point to ask how much does one need to know about the technology to do their jobs in the future.

Once in a while in my classes a student would ask me, “Why would I need to know lot about technology? We don’t need to know much about car’s intricacies yet drive around and do all that we need and take it to maintenance when we need it fixed.”

I normally respond, “We don’t need to know a lot about how computer works internally either, but we definitely need to know about all possible ways a computer is and can be useful to us, which is far more ways—to do information and knowledge based tasks.”

Currently, most of us in the U.S. carry a device (smartphone) which has the equivalent computing power approximately of a mainframe or large computer of 1970s, and is useful for communication, coordination and collaboration. We carry a tablet or a notebook for data access, analysis and decision making support at anytime from anywhere. We expect the Internet (or cloud) access from the middle of the ocean to mountaintop.

In the process, we create so much (volume) data from image to video (variety), and at a rate that is unbelievable (velocity) that we have created new challenges. We need newer processes for going through this big data to make sense of it. This culture of changing technology and organizations trying to gain an edge to meet their customer’s (or user’s or partner’s) needs is creating waves of new ideas, new devices and new processes through creative destruction of existing technologies and processes. Every organization may not need to adopt these changes immediately, but to survive they may have to—sooner than later.

Regardless of the profession everyone is in—retail, manufacturing, service or education—we all need to work with technology to perform their tasks. And the quality and the intensity of use of technology in each of these professions have been changing rapidly in ways that were not possible before. The rate of change in the adoption and diffusion will necessarily demand a need for professionals to gain skills to adapt to these changing technologies so they can effectively and efficiently deliver results.

Most millennials who were born with Internet, by adopting smartphones, tablets and social media at adolescence, further affect the process changes in most task situations. These changes drive the need for technology skill base for above mentioned professionals and others. This need would require them to be highly knowledgeable at these most advanced technologies. The change in technology has been such lately that even the senior citizens, many who have never touched a computer before, are encouraged by their financial institutions and governments to get connected to this new world. Technology is here to stay, empowering people to remain connected through smarter devices and social media.

Ranjan B. Kini is a professor at Indiana University Northwest.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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