Technology: Slave, Master, or Savior?
by Phil Hanson
In many ways we are slaves to technology. We suppose that technology simplifies our lives when, in reality, it makes them vastly more complicated. We spend so much of our time and energy trying to make a living or be competitive in business that we scarcely notice. Sometimes, the technology we think will become our savior turns out to be our nemesis, instead.
Conducting business in our technology-driven society demands a certain level of dependence on technology. Thereís no escaping it. Telephone answering machines, pagers, faxes, copiers, printers, computers, word processors and Internet connections are now considered essential by many, if not most, businesses.
Web sites, too, are growing in popularity and continue to be one of businessís fastest-growing trends. Thereís no question that a properly exploited Web site is among the least expensive, most cost-effective methods of advertising and promoting a business.
Businesses in highly competitive or specialized fields place themselves at risk when they become too dependent on one particular kind of technology. If your business depends on a certain technology in its daily operations, can you afford to upgrade if the technology changes? Will you still be competitive if you donít?
Communications, electronics and medicine are highly volatile fields, and are subject to frequent technological changes. If your business derives most or all of its income from wholesaling or retailing a specific kind of widget, do you have a fallback widget to sell if your primary widget suddenly goes out of style?
Before you put all your eggs in one technological basket, itís wise to investigate the technology in question. Ask the really tough questions. Has the technology proven itself in real-world circumstances? Has it been around for awhile? Is it likely to be around for a few more years? Or is it one of those fad things that makes a big splash, then quickly becomes a footnote in the history books?
Investing in technology that you donít need ties up your investment capital for no useful purpose. Investing in technology that might become obsolete within a few months is a total waste if obsolescence comes before your business begins to show a profit.
When youíre first starting out in a business of your own, buy (or lease) as much technology as you can logically afford, but donít squander your precious investment capital on ďbells and whistlesĒ technology you donít need or canít use.
We donít have to let technology be our master. There are choices we can make that donít include succumbing to the appealing charms and irresistible lure of The Next Great Gadget. We can be the masters of technology if we but resist the impulse to overindulge our fantasies.