We all use technology in our businesses, at least to some degree, but is technology good for your business, or your health?
Nowadays technology influences our lives and businesses in many different and subtle ways. We're so used to using it that it's easy to forget that ten years ago most of it wasn't even invented. You might use DVDs, Podcasts or the Internet for your learning material. You'll probably use spreadsheets to track different aspects of your business and word processors to write documentation.
Then there's email, social networking (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and of course the flat screen monitor you're probably reading this on. All good stuff you might be thinking and it sure makes your life easier, right?
Yes I agree, until it goes wrong and it goes wrong a lot, all the time, but why?
Are You Fighting Bad Technology Too?
I've been involved in the software industry for around 20 years now and I've been using the internet since the early 1990s, well before most people knew it existed. I consider myself reasonably tech savvy as a result.
I think that most (but not all) people will agree that technology has transformed our lives, usually for the better. However, the reason I'm writing this post at all is because I still think it performs badly. I'll give you some examples as to why, going back no more than the last two days.
Yesterday, Excel crashed on me losing half an hours work, auto save failed so it was gone for good. As of last night Facebook no longer lets me post to my own account from my iPod Touch.
I did a little keyword research before writing this post and the tool crashed, taking ages to close properly and restart.
The internet connection I'm using is extremely slow and drops out occasionally losing it altogether for a few minutes at a time. Whilst trying to submit some articles to a website earlier I had to give up because I saw nothing but "timed out" errors and I lost yet more work.
Oh, and my wireless mouse stops working every few days with a flat battery and my spare (with a wire) has a mind of it's own.
I'm sure there's more and there will be by the time I manage to publish this, but I'm sure you get the picture.
This isn't intended to be a rant, because believe it or not the last few days haven't been particularly bad as far as fighting technology is concerned.
But it does feel like a fight sometimes, with more time and effort being taken fighting the tools to make them work than solving the original problem or performing the task at hand.
Why Is Technology So Bad?
Having used computers since they first appeared in the home I'll use them as an example as to why I think technology fails to work much of the time.
I believe it's for two main reasons:
Software - computers (and many other gadgets) run a lot of software nowadays, they run it simultaneously, it's often from different providers and it's very complex.
Technology is young - although we're at the cutting edge with computers and software it's easy to forget that it's still very young, extremely young in fact.
It's these two reasons which cause so many problems with modern technology. Most of it runs software, your phone, your car, your washing machine, your TV. Software by its very nature is complex and very prone to errors.
Most technology around now wasn't even invented ten years ago. We're only at the very very beginning of the Information Age. It may feel like we're well into it sometimes but we're really not.
If this were the Industrial Age (which is long gone now) we wouldn't have even invented steam powered machinery yet, we'd still be peddling the machinery ourselves.
So, is technology good for your business? I still think Yes when it works, but when it breaks it stops being a help and can cause you some immense stress.
Do I think things will improve any time soon? I'm afraid not. While we remain at the cutting edge and on the fast, exciting part of the curve we'll always be a few steps ahead of what we can actually do well.
Technology will continue to advance at an astonishing rate, but it'll continue to fail and cause us problems at a similar rate.
However, unless we plan to live in a cave we just have to live with it because in this day and age it's near impossible to avoid technology, especially in business.