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Exploiting The Promise Of Computers

Exploiting The Promise Of Computers

Authors James Cooper and Kathlean Madigan suggest that there is no technology payoff without the proper training in the new information technology era. They suggest that in our current economy, learning at work is becoming a continuous process.

This article starts by emphasizing a point that many companies are having a hard time adapting to the fact that “computers are changing the way we work and produce”. The article suggests this is a larger problem in small businesses. Where computers and software used to be extremely expensive, small businesses can new afford large amounts of technology hardware and software. However the article suggests the problem is that small businesses are not seeing the large returns as they had hoped by such an investment. The authors believe this is because companies are not investing enough time or money to train their employees to use these new tools.

The article notes that a study by Coopers and Lybrand claim, “companies spend less than 2% of their technology budgets on training”. The authors than note several companies that have experienced problems in their training for new technologies. Instron Corp., for example, had spent millions of dollars in new computers and software but still uses ledger books for its record keeping. The article also notes a Bureau of Labor Statistics study that shows only 52% of businesses with fewer than 50 workers provide training to upgrade employee technology skills vs. 78% of businesses with 250+ employees. The article also suggests that most businesses are aware of these problems and are aware of these problems and are taking corrective measures such as on-line training, training software, training consultants and more popular training through local community colleges. Finally the article suggests that manufactures of these technologies see this problem as a great opportunity for greater profits. During times of business “down-sizing” businesses are welcoming outside training and development. Fewer businesses are hiring workers to develop their technology needs and the training of their workers. This opens the door for their vendors to provide such a service.

The article is not new news to most of us but does shed some light on Corporate Americas unwillingness to change. More surprisingly is the Bureau of Labor Statistics study. These smaller businesses want to jump on the “band-wagon” and increase sales via the Internet or increase productivity with new software but seem to do this in stages or worse installments. The company I work at, for example, has spent millions of dollars to develop and maintain its websites and production technologies but has not changed its sales operations software since they stopped using index card files for inventory tracking. I believe many companies believe that new technologies can be introduced to their organization and than left to work like a robot. I believe many companies do not understand the full potienal of new technologies in every aspect of their business. Businesses are starting to see that new software technologies can greatly improve their productivity but have to be tailored to their organization.

The largest problem is that many companies’s technology budgets are the first to be reduced during times of declining profits. I believe businesses today are so reluctant to change that they do not see their declines as a problem with new information technologies but a problem of increased expenses such as that new technology engineer’s salary. I also believe that many small businesses feel that technologies are changing so rapidly they are reluctant to invest the dollars needed to be competitive in their markets.

More importantly, as the article suggests, if companies do take the plunge and invest in new technologies they fail to finish the project with proper training or development. Without this important training workers are first unfamiliar with the new software and are unproductive or worse use the new technologies for activities unrelated to the overall goal of the organization. Training for these new technologies is not just to understand how to use them but also to set guidelines for their uses.

Finally, I agree with the authors that vendors of these new technologies have the largest opportunity for training for their new customers. Sales of equipment and software should include personal training and support in their quotes. Rather than training manuals or on-line training, many vendors will have a great opportunity to provide consultants to their customers for the best results. It is no secret that many companies are contracting individuals they have already retired from their organization to work on projects with the advantage of not having to pay for their benefits or similar fulltime expenses. I believe, for this same reason, businesses will welcome part-time consultants for their training. I also agree that companies should also continue or invest in the training of its workers through local community colleges to develop a more knowledgeable worker.

“Exploiting the Promise of Computers’


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