Stop for a second, and imagine what your job would have looked like 150 years ago. Before the telephone, email, internet, video conferencing and all the other tools we now take for granted, how would you have performed your job? People managed!
Without all these technologies, people still performed tasks. Salespeople sold, marketers publicised, speakers presented… all without the resources which we now consider to be indispensable today.
Am I advocating a return to a pre-industrial age when all transactions were performed face-to-face and financial records were made by hand in books? No, but it’s worth thinking about two things:
- If the technology upon which I rely fails, how will I perform my job?
- Are there any preventative measures I can take to minimise the risk of point 1 happening?
Let me tell you two stories…
The first describes an event that took place in 2003, when I was working in an office in Vauxhall, London. There was some major work going on in the road outside, and the workmen cut through a cable leading to our office. This took out the telephones and internet connection for three days.
Personally at the time, I found this rather convenient, as it was the middle of summer and we were sent home, because we could literally do nothing productive.
Our sales database was inaccessible, we could neither send nor receive emails, and even if we’d found some customer contact details written down somewhere, we’d have been unable to call them without a working telephone system. As I say, at the time it was convenient for some of us, but I’m sure that for the company it was a costly situation.
The second story describes an event which took place ten years later, just a couple of weeks ago in fact. I was in church one Sunday morning listening to a presentation by a charity. A lady had come to the church from this charity to present their work and raise some money. She’d given an identical presentation already that day, but at the ten o’clock service, her laptop let her down.
The presentation slides she wanted to show didn’t display properly, and the video files she showed us played in very small windows, with sound that was virtually inaudible.
Unfortunately, she was relying on her slides and the video to get her message across. She lost her way in the presentation yet ploughed on against the odds, but leaving the congregation in the dark about the great work her charity had been doing.
Two different situations, ten years apart, but the same result: wasted time and opportunities due to technical problems, and an over-reliance on technology.
At my company we use a lot of technology: office software, email, Skype, a website and Dropbox to name just a few. These tools make our job easier and more efficient. However, we like to think we’re not slaves to these resources. We use Dropbox as a back-up tool, but I also carry my most critical files on a memory stick in my pocket. We give presentations but I always have the key points sketched out on paper in case the slides fail. I often use a microphone to present, but I’m well practised in projecting my voice without it if there’s a poor connection. You get the picture.
Don’t become a slave to technology
Don’t avoid technology by any means, as it’s there to help us, but don’t become a slave to it either. Ensure everything’s backed up, and try and have another way to access a recent backup of your critical files. Take a piece of paper with the address and phone number on before you go to a meeting, and if you’re giving any type of presentation, make sure you’d be able to get the same message across even if everything failed at the same time. You’ll have your own ideas for your own job if you give it a little creative thought.
In short, ensure that, should your technology let you down, you have another way to perform your job with the minimum of disruption. It could save you a rather large headache one day.
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