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Monday, February 7, 2011

Top 5 Tech Mistakes Organizations Make Today

Technology is not only changing individual lives with things like social networking, social media, mobile apps, etc.; it's been seeping into companies and organizations more and more.  Some companies and organizations have been slow to adopt beneficial services while others seem to be fully engaged.  Some employees and members even find themselves frustrated when they see the benefits of trying out a new tech idea, but the response is dismissed because leaders are not understanding the services.  Here's some of the common mistakes companies and organizations make today in regards to technology and how to avoid them.
  1. "It's too expensive and we just don't have the funds for that." - Many of the tech things that are providing huge payoffs actually cost very little (or nothing at all), use existing equipment, and increase revenue.  In the past, yes, most tech initiatives could be very costly in terms of equipment and/or software. Take for example creating a Facebook page for your organization; it's free, easy to maintain, and when done correctly can increase exposure to your brand.  And . . . all you need is an internet connection.
  2. "We have seen others run into issues and we need to develop clear policies first." - Here's the funny thing about the 'policy' issue, the policies most often already exist within these companies and organizations but they just don't see it.  These are your organization property policies and public relations policies.  Whether it's physical equipment, a website, a social networking service, social media . . . those same policies apply.  All of those things are property of the organization of the company and you simply need to tweak the policy to include digital media.  The issues many organizations run into are because the internet is regarded as something entirely different.  Stop thinking that way.  If an employee plasters all over their social networking profile or blog that they work for a company or organization and are constantly misrepresenting the organization through false or derogatory information publicly, they can be held accountable.  Likewise, using the company's email system and the address provided is not considered an invasion of privacy if the company checks those messages and it's use.  That email address and the system it the messages travel through are property of the company.
  3. "Things can go viral these days." - Yes they can!  The marketing term 'viral' sounds negative because it derives from the behavior of viruses in terms of the ability to spread quickly.  Yes, you can spread a negative message very quickly.  BUT you can also spread a positive message very quickly.  Viral can be a very very good thing.  If you are focused on your mission and sending out messages that provide beneficial services, you want it to go 'viral'.  Why wouldn't you?  This comes down to a fear, and allowing fear to guide your decisions is a great way to be unsuccessful.  It's like launching a great new product but not wanting to tell anybody because someone might use it and sue you.  Sounds silly right? That's because it is, but it's the same way people are approaching the concept of 'viral' on the internet today.
  4. "Nobody's doing that other than kids." - I particularly love this one.  This total denial of what real customers and the adult public is actually doing.  Let's take Facebook for example.  They currently have 500 million  users in the world and 200 million of those use the service on mobile devices (according to Facebook).  Over 60% of users are over the age of 25 according to in the US alone which has about 1.5 million users.  Likewise, companies are seeing huge traffic generated from promotions through services like Groupon.   Barnes and Noble just launched a Groupon in which you pay $10 and get a $20 e-gift certificate to use in store or online.  The Jacksonville and Daytona areas saw about 3,000 participants combined and major cities such as New York City and Philadelphia saw as much as 22,000+ participants in each city. 
  5. "It's just a fad." - Some tech things have been 'fads' in the past.  Google searches were considered to be a 'fad'.  eBooks initially were considered to be a 'fad' over 10 years ago.  The difference today in the explosion that we are seeing with tech developments is that they are taking hold beyond being a 'fad' because the infrastructure is now in place to make these developments mainstream.  With things like readily available WiFi and cellular data transmissions, connections are no longer tethering users to their wall in their home.  Doing the things that were spoken about just 10 years ago but were difficult are now easy and becoming mainstream.  Want an eBook?  Simply shop on an eReader or mobile app, select your ebook, and download it immediately. Yes, some things will be 'just a fad' as they always have in society.  But be careful not to confuse fads with things that are truly taking hold as long-term consumer behaviors and demands.  Likewise, so as not to get caught off-guard later like many have today; look at those teen and young-adult generations because they are the next generations of large consumers that these tech things are normal parts of their live.  Yes, I'm of the generation that can say we didn't have the internet when I was in college or we had to watch things at the time they were one TV on one of the 6 channels we had or that we had phones tethered to our wall in our house for phone calls.
I find many of these items usually come up as a means for the person whatever tech initiative is being presented to is somewhat embarrassed to say they do not understand.  When it comes to tech these days, be open-minded at all times and never be afraid to say 'I don't understand' and ask for clarification.  I can tell you first hand that many tech professionals have a difficult time explaining in layman's terms.  They speak in languages they know.  It's important for presenters to make connections to what people already know.  For example, Groupon is like finding out about a great coupon deal and calling your friends to tell them to check their papers for it.  Only instead of getting the 'coupon' offer from the newspaper, you 'clip it' from the website by signing up and it's delivered to your email box.  You can also tell all of your friends very easily by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, or email rather than making a bunch of phone calls.  QR Codes are the same as putting a link on a website for people to click.  The difference is they scan the code with their phone's camera using an app that directs them where/whatever the QR code is generated to do.  
    Have fun.  What tech initiatives are you considering but just not understanding?
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