The dreaded technology issue…I had to bring it up sooner or later so it might as well be now.
I don’t pretend to be a tech geek but I am confident finding information online, manage to juggle three email accounts, a website, social networking sites and enjoy reading blogs or the NYT on my fancy iPhone. I am not afraid of technology, but I know several folks who are and it is hurting the non-profit and public sectors.
A good friend (and very technically savvy boomer I might add) sent me an interesting article in the NYT yesterday. It describes an online textbook business model like Netflix, offering greater access to expensive textbooks at a cheaper price for students. Essentially using technology to increase access to information and cut cost. It is a business model making technology work for the student.
What was even more interesting was a reader comment.
“Technology is big business, so technology needs to be a workhorse, not a game. Another example are school boards – in California we have 1,000 or so school districts. Each district has 5-7 board members. In my 4 year term, it requires a full 48-feet of bookshelf space to house the materials I wade through each month to do my job. The binders, printing, assembling costs are absurd. 48-feet of information is useless. I need a computer to help me wade through the information and make use of it. A paperless board would save our district $200k per year.…. but, but, but we have board members who can barely figure out how to use email, let alone download a document. The old refuse to learn, dictating how the young will learn – oh my.
…I watch our young and older administrators. The older ones have a secretary and staff. The younger ones have a blackberry, apple this or that in their pockets. The older ones take forever to respond to anything. The young are johnny on the spot, responsive and informed. Will somebody do an analysis and get this under control?”
Here is your analysis...people use age as an excuse NOT to use technology. In the spirit of the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall…it’s over, find a new show. Age is not a valid excuse for not using a tool that will increase efficacy and reducing the cost of business. Some of the most tech savvy people I know are boomers or traditionalists. They have embraced the unknown of technology like the rest of us and have made it work for them, as it should be.
My tolerance for looking at technology as an add on or game that you can either play or not play is waning. Technology is here, lets work together to figure out how to use it to our advantage for the sake of our non-profit mission and services. If you are fearful and want to change, its cool, just ask the Gen X’er sitting next to you with an iPhone in her hand, I’d be glad to help you out.