• Adam Walter

When Did Technology Lose Focus?

Listen: Humanize IT Podcast Episode 117

In this day and age, it’s easy to slip into habits with technology. We often get so caught up in the anecdotal purpose of our gadgets that we forget why we’re using them in the first place. By thinking about the bigger picture, we can stop solving the same problems over and over and start working proactively, instead.

To make this happen, practicality needs to take precedence over corporate policy, or doing something just because that’s how it’s always been done. It takes more than simply implementing the best technology — you have to apply that technology in a way that actually helps the business succeed.

Next time you’re in a situation like this, ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of this technology?

  • Why are we using it in the company?

  • Is there a better way to use it?

This thought process, along with the Lessons Learned method, will help you find the root cause of your issues and solve them before they arise. When you spend less time firefighting — or finding hasty solutions for a never-ending pile of problems that inevitably repeat themselves — you can spend more time thinking about the future success of a business.

For example, Skip recounted a time in the mid-90s when cellular data packet data modems, or CDPDs, were all the rage. As a young IT professional, he set these phones up within a local police department because he thought they were cool, unaware that this would end up doubling the department’s productivity. The lesson here for Skip was that he lost focus — he was so enamored by the sparkle and glitter of the new devices he forgot that, in a practical sense, this technology could literally save lives.

So, how can you avoid being blinded by technology in your career? Whether you’re caught up in your old ways or insisting on using the newest stuff just because it’s the “next big thing”, it’s easy to get distracted. Always ask, “why are we doing this?” and “how does this help us?”

Another way to prevent getting caught up in bad technology habits is to encourage close collaboration between both business and technology executives. Get together with different department heads to ask questions, start a conversation, and work together to merge these two fields in a way that better serves the company.

Keep in mind that most of your work should not be troubleshooting, but rather forecasting, strategizing and maintaining operations. Imagine mechanics were constantly working on your car, but never able to fix it. You’d get rid of the car, right? Hold that same standard to IT. Of course, things are bound to break occasionally, but that should not be the focus of the job.

Finally, don’t miss this week’s Fail of the Week, where we learn why sometimes it’s best to ditch the fancy PowerPoint and go back to your whiteboard marker roots.

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