With the progress of technology moving so fast, changing everything around us, it can be easy to think it’s all too complicated and confusing. It can leave us wondering whether it’s actually worthwhile in the first place, or whether it’s just a distraction.
A report from The Telegraph looks at why almost a third of British business leaders admit to being technical laggards, and finds that many small, sole-trader businesses don’t even have websites, let alone actively invest in technology to improve their competitive position, enhance productivity or drive new sales.
In this article, I take a brief look at why people and businesses shun technology, share some tips on how to get started, and overcome your own inertia and recommend a couple of upcoming events on the topic.
Why do people and companies resist adopting new technology?
I marked today in my calendar as an important milestone. Why? Well …
Today I had my first ever FaceTime video call with my father.
He’s an intelligent, successful man but for one reason or another he actively decided to abstain from “all this new fangled technology stuff“.
This is not the first time my brother and I have tried to get him more connected, but I hope this time it will stick. Last time we hit many roadblocks, like “click what?“, when presented with the opening “Welcome to Windows, click to get started” screen, and that made me realise something important about the problem with keeping up with technology.
Technology is advancing, lowering barriers, becoming more pervasive and easier to use, but only if you’ve been keeping up. If you haven’t kept up, the advanced technology of today assumes you know things you probably don’t know and in doing so actually raises the barriers, putting people off.
Resistance to change
In this respect, individuals and companies often behave in a similar way, after all, a company is a collection of individuals. Doing something new requires investment in people, time and resources to make it successful, and this is often considered a risk that can’t be justified at this time.
The trouble is that the the longer you put it off, the harder it becomes to get back on track, let alone ahead of the competitors. The longer you leave it, the further behind you slip.
Personal and professional experience
Beyond acting as technical evangelist and frontline support for my father, in my other business, InnovationScouts.tech, we help companies be smarter at finding and engaging with new technologies from start-ups and established technology providers. We speak with large and mid-sized businesses about their challenges in working with smaller companies, and we speak with smaller companies about their challenges engaging with large organisations. Our role there is to help facilitate a productive working relationship.
During that we encounter the fear of change on a daily basis and the reluctance to stop doing the right thing, or in other words, “we’ve always done it this way and it’s worked before, so why change?”
How to keep up with technology changes
It can be hard enough choosing which mobile phone you want to use, even harder to work out which price plan is going to give you the best value – and this is a relatively small decision (but I have an answer for that too, if you’re interested get in touch). Harder decisions create bigger barriers, promote more procrastination.
But it needn’t be this way.
The recent, huge technology shifts like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things can be daunting and seem too big to take a bite at, but here’s the trick – you don’t need to do it all at once and you absolutely shouldn’t try to find a problem to apply the technology too. You should identify the problem, then work out what technology can solve it.
My tips are:
- Look for pains, problems or opportunities that you encounter on a regular basis.
- Sift out those that have similar characteristics and can be dealt with in similar ways.
- Identify the smallest of these that could be replicated.
- Look for technology to solve the problem (let me know if you you need a partner to help you with this).
- Solve the problem, learn what worked, what didn’t.
- Repeat and scale.
Partnering to make this possible
Whether you call it collaboration or partnership, the future of technology advancement is going to come about from companies working together to achieve great things. In this spirit, I’ve partnered with AutomationSquared on they events programme, EventsSquared.
The premise of Events Squared is to help businesses understand enough about the emerging technologies to be able to identify and address a small, yet significant problem or opportunity.
Their first event focuses on Change and Innovation, with an amazing guest speaker, Rob Wilmot.
“Rob will be talking about creativity, innovation and change – notably digital transformation. But there’ll be no theory. Instead, he’ll be sharing personal stories and lessons learned from his varied and eventful career where he’s taken advantage of every paradigm shift in technology. From the rise of the personal computer and multimedia to kick-starting the internet industry in the UK, to building cloud-based services that are literally helping to change the world one idea at a time. You’ll be entertained and will leave thinking that anything is possible!”
You can find out more about their upcoming events here.