Technology and its Effect on our Lives and Business
I remember reading a book when I was young which made an attempt to predict the future and how we would be living today. Most of the changes had to do with technology–specifically along the lines of a popular TV show from the 1960s, The Jetsons. I remember the large picture telephones in one of the illustrations that were predicted to be in everyone’s home. And of course there were the gadgets and vehicles that were going to make our lives more convenient and enjoyable. While some of the things were a little “off” (don’t know if we’ll ever live in sky apartments; is it really necessary?), for the most part the representations have become a reality. And I must tell you, most of the developments that I see are pretty wonderful.
I think for most of us, technology is still a bit of a shady character that few want to fully embrace. Books, movies, and TV shows have mostly depicted technology and the future as a cold, soulless world. Some movies even depict the future as a world where technology “takes over” and enslaves the population in some manner. These dystopias do nothing to communicate all the good that technology provides. Technological advances in communication today allow us to connect with virtually anyone in the world instantaneously. For many of us, there is a negative knee-jerk reaction which comes with that. After all, who really wants to hear from that third-grade classmate? My belief is that the good far outweighs the bad.
In spite of our ambivalence, technology and improved communication trudges on. The Pew Research Center says that 74% of American adults now surf the Internet (do I really need to remind you of the ever-increasing Internet usage statistics?). People of all age groups, income ranges and education levels are shedding the fear of “Big Brother” and plugging in. And the prediction for the future–more of the same.
I had the opportunity to speak to a local engineering association. In the audience was an engineer who openly scoffed at the idea of using online sites to communicate and market his services. He knew of the massive number of people who had accepted the Internet as a way to get information quickly and to communicate; yet because of his skepticism, or fear, he has effectively rejected technology (If you can’t see the irony of an engineer rejecting technology, then I haven’t explained it right). But I don’t think he’s alone in his rejection. I think we all continue to hold technology at arm’s length.
Perhaps the best thing to do is to position technology in our lives as a partner rather than a rival–something that makes us more productive, while at the same time allows us to maintain a level of privacy. My guess is that social media sites will continue trying to give you a tremendous level of communication when you want it while shielding you from unwanted contact… in a sense keeping the good and shedding the bad. We’ll see. But in spite of the positioning, technology and improved communication march on, making inroads into every area of our lives. While I’d prefer that you welcome it and make it a partner in your life rather than have it forced upon you (see engineer…what are his options?), technology and improved communication will continue to become a bigger part of our lives.
I’m still amazed by the number of businesses that are “unplugged” today. Granted, I can understand the need for privacy on a personal level, but gaining clients has to do with visibility and promotion. Over time, it’s my estimation that businesses will simply have to plug in to compete. Having a website will be a starting point, along with a business license. Letting others know what you do in mass (social media, etc), will be a routine marketing activity. And the companies that will be the most successful are the ones who harness technology the most effectively.
How is your business, technology-wise? Are you online? Do you have a website? Maintain a blog? Use online advertising? Are you plugged in to the social media world? Have you integrated your offline marketing with online marketing? With all the numbers of people jumping online looking for products and services, is it time to set your business up so that they can find you easily? With the enhanced privacy features of a lot of online tools, is it time to jump on in? I think so…the water’s great!