We can’t survive without technology. Are we too dependent on it? When the computer network is down in our office, it’s a pretty wasted day because we are paperless. Yet, you won’t find many modern organizations that can operate when their technology malfunctions.
This week we will focus on technology relevancy as part of the three practical applications (i.e. value modeling, technology relevancy, and human factor buy-in) in socio-technical systems.
Organizations must understand that technology needs to be relevant as it relates to benefiting the whole socio-technical system. Technology relates to the combination of skills and equipment that managers use in the design, production, and distribution of goods and services.
Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, argue the significance of technology forces on organizations: “Technological forces can have profound implications for managers and organizations. Technological change can make established products obsolete….” The graveyard of many businesses is littered with numerous failed opportunities of senior executives to understand market shifts and technology opportunities.
As an engineer myself, we are taught to use theory in order to build, design, and operate technical systems, whether mechanical, digital, or otherwise. Sometimes this creates a technical superiority over the other components of this socio-technical system.
Organizations should obtain input from employees to ensure that the organization has not only the best technology for its operations but the right technology. This sharing of information can only come with mutual trust of leaders and followers. Gary Yukl, author of Leadership in Organizations, notes, “Empowerment is more feasible when there is a high level of mutual trust…Leaders can affect the psychological employment of followers in many ways, and participative leadership and delegation are only two of the relevant behaviors .”
There have been numerous cases where organizations have purchased new technology to solve a problem or to become more efficient when a simple conversation with impacted employees would have produced better results at a lower cost. Therefore, organizations should invest their time in identifying the relevant technologies for their socio-technical system in a participatory manner.
Discuss the concept of technology relevancy for today’s organizations.
© 2013 by Daryl D. Green
5 thoughts on “Technology Relevancy”
One particularly well publicized mass adoption of new technology in the workplace was the original iPad. As I recall, a few years ago when the iPad was initially released many businesses small and large jumped on board the new technology fad band wagon and invested in the purchasing of these tablets for IT employees in some cases and for all employees in others. There was nothing like tablets on the market and the thought was that these devices would make employees more mobile. The problem with the early adoption of these devices was their incredibly high total cost of ownership (Mouritsen, 2013). These early tablets resulted in costs related to deployment, training, support, and development of apps in order to be functional. As a result, early adopters found that by the time the iPad was becoming a usable tool it was blown out of the water by the much improved second-generation iPad.
Management should be weary when deploying new technology. The iPad lesson take away is that development teams should always be given adequate time with new technology before its potential implementation.
Mouritsen, M. (2013). Is Your Organization Managing or Mangling Its Technology Assets?. Strategic Finance, 95(1), 35-41.
“The technology that runs today’s businesses is so pervasive and so interdependent that things like standardization and integration are no longer just nice things to have—they’re essential to competitiveness and innovation. When top managers have a broad understanding of digital data, they can identify the synergies that enable the company to develop new products and services” (Shinn, 2012, p.1).
Managers use technology to fine-tune their business processes. However with a lack of communication it can also lead to wasted time money and expertise. In a company I recently worked for they knew this all too well. As long as departments had money within their budgets the purchase of new software was often allowed without consulting the IT department. This resulted in many wasted hours of trying to at least make this new software functional within the department but the rest of the company was at a loss.
SHINN, S. (2012). The Intersection of BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY. Bized, 11(6), 18-23.
Technology relevance in today’s organizations can be summed up into one word, efficiency. The types of technologies that have been released over the last 10-20 years have made several facets of business more efficient. Technology in business has been moving so quickly, a portion of workers are having to go back to school so they can stay up on the latest technologies in their prospective professions so they don’t get passed up. For example Shaila Dewan, a writer for the New York Times, did a story on staying relevant in a career. “Mr. Moss, a car mechanic, was used to be able to work on anything vehicle he wanted with very little problem, not the diagnostics are getting so complicated that his company has to pay $4,000 to send him back to school to be trained on the new technology” (Dewan, 2012).
Technology is causing things to be more and more efficient everyday in organizations. The technology has come available for organizations with global ties to be able to work very closely with virtual conferences, etc.
Dewan, S. (2012, September 21). To stay relevant in a career, workers train nonstop. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/22/business/to-stay-relevant-in-a-career-workers-train-nonstop.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Gordon, I wanted to follow up on your points regarding technology, efficiency and education. Technology is indeed a great driver of efficiencies. If a process, system, or company as a whole needs to become more efficient, technology is often the answer. It is true that sometimes the advances in technology outdo the capabilities of an organization. As a result, some companies respond by further educating their employees, as you pointed out. Other companies choose to outsource. While the goal of outsourcing for a company is to meet technological standards and improve efficiencies, it sometimes has a negative effect. According to Carmen Weigelt, a strategy professor at Tulane University, outsourcing can sometimes hinder a company’s ability to be adaptable to technological changes, especially as the technology is in its emergent stage. This leads me to say that while technology offers great strategic advantages for companies, they should carefully consider how they intend to adapt to the change and not act rashly.
Weigelt, C., & Sarkar, M. (2012). Performance implications of outsourcing for technological innovations: managing the efficiency and adaptability trade-off. Strategic Management Journal, 33(2), 189-216. doi:10.1002/smj.951
At times taking a new leap into technology may seem like a risk, but it is also a necessary step in growing any business. The tough decision that many companies face is will the cost benefits of upgrading technology out weigh the cost of the upgrading. They must also take in to account the time period before they feel the technology will become obsolete, which currently is happening very rapidly in many instances. Technological upgrades also come with new user interfaces which can slow down or cause a gap in production because employees often need training and time to learn these things. Powell (1997) discusses these difficulties and making the tough choice of moving forward technologically in an age riddled with technology. I personally believe with an intelligent and quick learning workforce, most company can use technological advancements to their benefit. Of course this technology must all be applied effectively.
Powell, Thomas. Information Technology as Competitive advantage. Bryant College, Rhode Island. 1997