Don’t Cross That Data Line: How a Lack of Knowledge About Modern Business Technology Can Be a Death Sentence

From sorting spreadsheets to simple statistical analysis of a data set to basic knowledge of what occurs in the back-end functions of the average business “server,” a functional understanding of everyday technology systems is paramount in today’s world. Don’t get me wrong––expecting the average person involved in a complex business process to understand all aspects of that global process is inefficient. Regardless of where you stand regarding division of labor and the ideas of Adam Smith versus Karl Marx, specialization is part of today’s world and is, and will continue to be, a deciding factor in the expansion and penetration of mobile technology into our lives.

No, this is not a post on human resources, talent management, or anything related to job-placement skills. My goal is to pose a question to anyone who interacts with new technology, whether at home or in the workplace. My simple question: Are we ready for mobile? Mobile today means far more than “mobile” ten years ago––heck, even five years ago. Mobile today means access to documents––anywhere, anytime––access to applications that drive business processes and integration, with a wide array of devices. We have seen mobile technology expand our personal lives, but a functional understanding of what powers this technology tips businesses toward success or failure.

In any job, there is an existing process, defined as a set of procedures or steps that take something from one form to another. Each process has a set of inputs and outputs that feed into a sequential order, creating an increasingly larger system. Often, knowledge of the previous and next steps in the process is critical for someone to complete his or her given assignment efficiently.

All the business processes interact with other systems constantly. The buzzword du jour is “cloud,” which implies reliance on a robust and stable network as well as some “special sauce.” This sauce is knowledge of what powers the cloud, an understanding of what occurs behind the browser or touchscreen. Compared to the mechanical systems of the last century, where pulling a lever or turning a knob had an effect on a mechanical device, the black-box concept of digital systems today hinders a user’s ability to understand. These days, simple, practical knowledge of the back end separates the mice from the men tablets.

Why, damn it, why doesn’t it just work?

Hmm, let’s see. Storage of electronic assets is not intuitive to start. Day to day, we can let documents pile up in a drawer or inbox. If the need to retrieve a document or piece of information from a physical document arises, you use the efficient (sometimes inefficient) query  engine known as the human brain and its accompanying visual system to locate the physical document. This applies to the digital world, but the physical (eye-based) portion of the retrieval process is made far more difficult in an electronic environment given the limited viewing options. If the electronic document was poorly stored, lacking the proper references for searching, or was stored in a repository not possessing the right functions, the document is lost in the digital file cabinet. Tagged electronic resources may be common on many websites and familiar to everyday Internet users, but the implications of what that information means in the context of a larger system is often lost.

What needs to be known?

It is important to understand the business process and the rules associated with it as well as how the data points from this process are used within the larger global scale of the organization. Ultimately our modern technology makes us curators of information, whether pertinent to our personal or professional duties. The better we are at data stewardship, the better we can support the existing processes in all aspects of our lives. Being stewards means knowing about modern networking, the basics of what powers the Internet, document management skills, and what can be done with the data that are added to any given process.

Are you ready for this change? Are your team and company on the same page when it comes to your systems and data? Tell us what you think.

Author: John Carew

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