How Wide is the Technology Gap in Your Organization?
There are two potential dangers associated with this widening gap. First and foremost, if we don’t begin to close this gap, the younger crowd will begin to take advantage of, if not control, the older crowd. This will happen even though the wealth of the older crowd is paying for all of the neat toys (the technological infrastructure if you want to sound professional).
The second danger presents an even greater downside however. By failing to acquire a digital acumen, we are also failing to learn how to save a lot of time and money. More and more people are feeling stressed out because of their workloads. Americans, at least, are working more and more hours per week on average, Because of poor technology use, we are missing out on the potential to reduce our workloads significantly. We want to say it is the capital cost of new technology that is keeping us ‘as we are’, but that is just an excuse. We just can’t comprehend the potential value of technology itself.
Think about it. We have managers who do pretty well with their cell phones, texts, and e-mails. These same people still struggle with programming the VCR or creating a Powerpoint presentation. The cost of slow typing alone would pay for the typing classes. The cost of continuing to use paper would pay for the well-developed intranets that all too few companies have.
Are you thinking digitally?
Where are Your Data Mines?
I can remember what it was like to do work without the aid of a computer. Armed with a calculator and white out tape, I would crank out version after version of cost estimates for the process engineers at the pen plant. In hindsight, having a PC to work with probably would have meant that I had one less IE peer to hang out with. It also would have made things a lot easier, faster, and less frustrating.
Today, we have the means to both collect and crunch data very easily. That said, we also have too many people who don’t know how to even use the pivot table feature in Excel. Bill Gates himself said that the pivot table was the most important and powerful feature of the Excel package. This indicator, along with others, leads me to believe two things. First, we fail to effectively analyze the important data that we are collecting. Second, we don’t effectively use the volumes of data we capture.
The database has played a key role in my own process improvement efforts over the years. In addition to capturing waste events as they occur (such as material loss, downtime, or accidents), databases allow us to capture the details, and in particular the causes, of such events. Before computers, we might have filled out a form each time one of these events occurred. No one wanted to be the person who had to sort through all of those forms looking for possible problem causes. Opinion ruled in the problem solving arena to a much greater degree that it should have. Back then, what cost effective options did we have?
Where’s the Gold in Your Data Mines?
There’s a lot of gold in them there data mines. Our failure to understand queries and the software features for creating them however is keeping us from finding that gold. Additionally, bar coding, RFID, and wearable technology has gotten so cheap that it is almost archaic to be hand entering anything! Maybe the problem is not a lack of understanding as much as it is remaining locked in our ‘before computers’ mindsets. Are you getting the most out of your data mines? How much gold are you leaving in the ground each day?
In the digital world, things are actually pretty simple. We enter things into the fields of a database. The data is crunched, and reports capture the results. When we fill out a web form (entry screen), we are filling in the fields of a new database record. The same thing occurs when we fill in the blanks on any computer-based form.