Monday, April 20, 2009

This Week's Career Advice - Technology: Try to Keep Up

As I was telling a colleague and friend of mine over lunch today, I'm amazed at how a new generation that graduates college and goes on to join the workforce still does not know that IE is a browser, that Firefox is an alternative (a much better one too), what a browser is/means, etc.

I expected this younger generation to be on the "up & up" regarding most things internet and online social media. I'm kind of surprised, to be honest.

Then you have the older generation; more specifically, the baby boomers ("the generation born between 1946 and 1964" They are about to become a major force here in the US; very possibly redefining communication, advertising, services and ultimately how we all work and deliver. In 2006, baby boomers turned 60. The State of Utah was the only State "where baby boomers constituted less than 25 percent." (source)

I'm not sure what percentage of the baby boomers are not computer / internet savvy (got a statistic source? Please share in the comments), but according to a recent Sprint commercial, at least 26% of all adults don't know what Twitter is. Whether one should know what Twitter is, or whether Sprint's information is accurate is still up in the air. What it all implies, however, is that there's a lot of opportunity for education on such topics as basic computer use, the internet, email, online social media, etc. And given the convergence of technologies, like phones and laptops for example, I wouldn't be surprised if that education didn't need to cover a slew of other things.

I digress.

Technology is becoming more and more a way of life. The internet specifically, and all it contains, is how we pay bills, check our account balances, communicate, socialize, meet our future spouse, shop, look for jobs and even register for unemployment.

Knowing how to post a blog, do a search, use your email, etc. will no longer be sufficient. One must stay ahead of the curve to compete in the workplace. "But technology is evolving too fast," you might say. That is true. Staying abreast of the trends and knowledge can only help you. There are many ways to do so, one of which is via RSS feeds. Ironically, I had read recently that as little as 3% of us know what and how to use RSS feeds.

Now imagine knowing what you know today, and matching it up with the needs of baby boomers, for example, in as little as 5 years from now. What will you bring to the table at your place of employment?

First, I urge you to watch the below approx. 5-minute video ...

Let's this up a notch, shall we?
I read a year or two ago about research and an experiment that took place where data was stored in the air. Yes, in thin air. That data was retrieved off of an island a few miles away (I want to say close to 100 miles away). I've searched for this source of info. but I cannot seem to find it. Heck, I spent almost 2 hours looking for it. So if you find it, please let me know in the comments. Back to the topic at hand. Data is being stored in thin air. Imagine the possibilities.

The above video talked about how "we are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't yet been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet." It may sound surreal. But take these next two videos into consideration, and think how close to reality it may be.

These videos are of MIT students and how they turn the internet into a sixth human sense. Read more about that here.

Perhaps data in the air and virtual interfaces are still quite a ways from becoming reality. Microsoft's Surface®, Apple's iPhone® and HP 's Touchsmart PC®, however, are current realities. Earlier when I mentioned convergence between a laptop and a phone, I think of exactly the HP Touchsmart PC®.

I've only scratched the surface as you can imagine. And more so on the hardware side. Now think in terms of marketing, design, collection of data & statistics, database administration, email campaigns, TV, print, conversion, coding, usability and QA. Heck, just for QA alone I could write a paper. To give you a glimpse, a Software Quality Assurance team (SQA) usually will test a web site on Windows, Mac and may be even a Linux box. The same site is reviewed under at least 3 browsers with several versions of each. You start adding mobile phones into the mix and you just added several operating systems (the iPhone's, Google's Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, etc.), along with all the mobile versions of the browsers. When you add things like Microsoft's Surface® and HP's Touchsmart PC® and you quickly can see how much more complicated this gets.

To many of you, being equipped with knowledge regarding Technology may not seem at the core of what you do. It will undoubtedly, however, help you do your job better/smarter and faster. It is your responsibility; and some would argue your obligation to yourself, career and family; to try and keep up. offers Tip Tuesdays, which often contains tech. tips. Be sure to subscribe to the site or at least that day (see the side panel).

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