The monkey and the typewriter
MARKING a fundamental shift in the universe, after 50 iconic years the Yellow Pages will no longer have pride of place in desk drawers nationwide as it goes digital, ceasing print runs across the UK as of this year.
We all know someone, J.R. Hartley himself perhaps, who will always prefer leafing through pages of listings to find a business, contact or number for that one service or item we need.
However, the modern workplace is not one that can generally afford to have precious minutes wasted poring over small print when a company or individual might not even be listed. The simplicity and efficiency of Google for example means we can have millions of possible links at our fingertips within seconds.
Of course, the world wide web is only one of a myriad of innovations and inventions that are revolutionising offices in the 21st century. Video conferencing, ‘the cloud' and an ever-mobile workforce continue to present challenges to older team members or those less tech-savvy.
Businesses and corporations worldwide must adopt new technologies to limit the risk of falling behind the competition. Yet this introduction must also include the necessary training and immersion for all staff members to ensure they are comfortable and confident using it.
Sandra at reception may have been there since the company was founded, when everything was typed – or written in shorthand – and no one could touch the filing cabinet. Yet the time has come when she needs to transfer and manage six calls at a time and be able to source, provide and send digital files, folders and data across the team or to a client.
A never-ending influx of deals, developments and devices creates both confusion and panic for company bosses and IT departments as they shoot fish in a barrel trying to make the right tech investment.
A vital component of introducing new tech is justification. Is the new system or app being introduced for the sake of it or will it actually provide a tangible benefit to your staff? The latter will allow your staff to invest their time and energy in implementation rather than it being perceived as a waste of time and money.
Just as vital is the proper training. There is little point in putting the latest computer and voice activated system in front of Sandra if she will spend hours cursing its name, deleting mails and hanging up on the client dialling in from India.
Easily digestible information, step by step training sessions and ‘how to' guides for software and hardware are vital for team members to adapt and feel comfortable in their capabilities.
As previously hinted, if the team understands the importance of this new technology and how it will allow the company to work more efficiently and competitively in the marketplace, they are more likely to accept and even be enthusiastic about it.
Change can't and won't happen overnight. People also avoid change as much as possible, especially those of a certain age. Through careful planning and strategic buy in from management, the adoption and adaptation to new tech can be a much smoother process.
The end of the print Yellow Pages in favour of total digitisation is but one step in a new direction of how businesses will have to operate in this modern era. As the future accelerates towards us at a fast rate of knots it is up to businesses to modernise in order to keep up, and ensure their workforce comes with them.
:: Eric Carson is director of Northern Ireland's largest independent telecom providers Rainbow (www.rainbowcomms.com) and has been a pioneer of the local telecoms industry for 20 years.