Managing Technology Within An Organization

“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” – From the HAL 9000 computer, 2001: A Space Odyssey

When it comes to technology solutions for your business it is easy to get carried away with the latest-and-greatest gadgets and solutions. Everyone wants to have the latest shiny thing. In larger organizations, managing technology can become burdensome due to competing and duplicative technology requests. Left unfettered, the company technology platform can resemble a “spaghetti bowl” over time. Often is the case, new technology requests are submitted without any business case to support their investment.

I am a big proponent of having non-technology business leaders play an active role in the determination of the technology solutions utilized at an organization. While it is critical to include an IT perspective from a technical interface standpoint, having non-IT personnel drive technology solutions often lead to decisions based on thebusiness needs of the organization. As such, any technology request would require a business plan to support the investment.

Form A Technology Committee: This is the start of your technology approval process. Create a technology committee that represents various personnel from cross-functional departments. Consider selecting an operations, marketing, accounting, technology and finance member to this team. This committee is charged with creating the process for submitting technology solution requests for the organization as well as providing the prioritization and ultimately, approval of the requests.

Develop A Submittal Process: Inherent in a well-thought through technology strategy for an organization is developing a process for the submission of ideas. Following the “garbage-in, garbage-out” mindset, developing a detailed process for submission will help weed out the “nice to haves” and focus the committee on real, tangible solutions. This process should not only include the technology solution identified, but as importantly, the business case for its justification. For approved projects in the queue, a monthly communication should be sent to the organization recapping the activity of the committee.

Focus Your Projects: A technology committee creates focus throughout the organization. While it would be great to have every new iteration of technology that gets released, that is impractical and costly. The committee can help with providing a high-level perspective on the entire enterprise since it is considering all requests. All to often, departmental requests have a tendency to be created in a silo, with only the impact on that department considered.

Need To Have Vs. Nice To Have: This is a biggie. It is easy to feel that an iPhone 3 becomes obsolete as soon as the iPhone 4 is released, but when the technology is run by the committee, the “nice to haves” usually fail due to a lack of business case. The committee allows the organization to run with an unbiased interference with respect to technology. The committee is charged with improving ROI on technology solutions and since it is comprised cross-departmentally, there should be no “pet” projects.

One Project, Big Picture: I have headed a technology committee in the past and the greatest “aha” moment for me was the amount of similar technology solutions that were being presented from different departments. Had all of these requests been accepted, the organization would have overspent IT dollars as well as created duplicative solutions to the same issues. The committee allows for its members to “rise above” the fray of the organization and view the technology requests in the big picture. The committee’s goal was to ensure that any approved request was accretive to the overall company.

Create A Business Case: This is the best way to clear out the clutter. Ask employees what they need from a technology solution and the committee will be inundated with ideas. Ask them to submit in a business case (cost justification for the investment) along with their solution and ideas are significantly reduced. The business case for a technology solution not only helps in identifying whether the investment is worth it, but also forces the author to think about how this solution interfaces within the existing platform.

Post Analysis: Lastly, carefully measuring the business case proforma against the actual cost/return of the projects not only holds the submitter responsible, but also the committee. The goal with the post analysis isn’t to “call people out”, but rather provide an unbiased financial review of the project. Without this type of post analysis measurement to hold this team accountable, the committee eventually will serve no purpose.

The Importance of Technology

Technology refers to the collection of tools that make it easier to use, create, manage and exchange information.

In the earlier times, the use of tools by human beings was for the process of discovery and evolution. Tools remained the same for a long time in the earlier part of the history of mankind but it was also the complex human behaviors and tools of this era that modern language began as believed by many archeologists.

Technology refers the knowledge and utilization of tools, techniques and systems in order to serve a bigger purpose like solving problems or making life easier and better. Its significance on humans is tremendous because technology helps them adapt to the environment. The development of high technology including computer technology’s Internet and the telephone has helped conquer communication barriers and bridge the gap between people all over the world. While there are advantages to constant evolution of technology, their evolution has also seen the increase of its destructive power as apparent in the creation of weapons of all kinds.

In a broader sense, technology affects societies in the development of advanced economies, making life more convenient to more people that have access to such technology. But while it continues to offer better means to man’s day to day living, it also has unwanted results such as pollution, depletion of natural resources to the great disadvantage of the planet. Its influence on society can also be seen in how people use technology and its ethical significance in the society. Debates on the advantages and disadvantages of technology constantly arise questioning the impact of technology on the improvement or worsening of human condition. Some movements have even risen to criticize its harmful effects on the environment and its ways of alienating people. Still, there are others that view technology as beneficial to progress and the human condition. In fact, technology has evolved to serve not just human beings but also other members of the animal species as well.

Technology is often seen as a consequence of science and engineering. Through the years, new technologies and methods have been developed through research and development. The advancements of both science and technology have resulted to incremental development and disruptive technology. An example of incremental development is the gradual replacement of compact discs with DVD. While disruptive developments are automobiles replacing horse carriages. The evolution of technologies marks the significant development of other technologies in different fields, like nano technology, biotechnology, robotics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence and information technology.

The rise of technologies is a result of present day innovations in the varied fields of technology. Some of these technologies combine power to achieve the same goals. This is referred to as converging technologies. Convergence is the process of combining separate technologies and merging resources to be more interactive and user friendly. An example of this would be high technology with telephony features as well as data productivity and video combined features. Today technical innovations representing progressive developments are emerging to make use of technology’s competitive advantage. Through convergence of technologies, different fields combine together to produce similar goals.

The Impact Of Shift Work On Health

The health and motivation for shift work has been known to have its own peculiar demands. This has set it apart from jobs that have traditional hours of work. Shift work has its own health merits. The shift work has been created to aid workflow processes between employer, employee and tasks at hand. Over the years, it has been noticed that workers identified in shift work often receive better health plans, health products and remuneration and by this, give shift workers time to do other tasks or personal chores while being watchful of individual mental health.

However, the scientific and medical communities report continually that shift workers concerned stand an increased risk of certain health disorders and mental health challenges that have severe negative impact on the general well-being of work shift staff which may not be achieved until the right health products are used.

There is a concern for the 9 to 5ers, as one sees a case of the health of those who barely get by with the hard life of routine which most times is viewed to compensate only the boss at the top. Furthermore, we sought to consider those who work less conventional hours that include working shifts at night. Any way it is looked at, an adequate welfare plan should be in place for them while introducing supplements of health products.

Researchers have discovered that those more at risk of suffering certain mental health challenges and chronic ailments or diseases, are shift workers, such as flight attendants, police officers, doctors, bartenders, nurses, and the like. Shift work can be classified as any type of work schedule that involves hours that are uncommon, or unusual when comparing this type of work schedule with the traditional work schedule that occurs within the day between 6 am and 6 pm.

For clarity, the term shift work can refer to rotating shifts, working overnight, evening shifts and other flexible shift patterns desired or arranged by the employer that also addresses the challenge of mental health in shift work platforms. In other to assist shift workers, first aid boxes can be kept handy and filled with health products for shift workers.

It’s been recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), that over 16.8% salary workers and full-time wage workers are employed to work alternative shifts. Another interesting discovery made is that evening shifts are the most common alternative shifts, which have their working hours starting at between 2 pm and midnight. Work schedules may also constantly change as a result of irregular work shifts that also result in mental health and hormonal imbalances.

In this article, we take a look at what the resultant effects of what shift work are, what shift workers can potentially do in other to lower their risks of diverse health problems and what salient reasons could possibly be behind these findings. The mental health and prescribed health products of shift workers should not be left unaddressed as this plays an important role in the health and total well-being of the workers.

At first glance, it appears as though shift workers have and work different hours compared to the regular workers’ typical 9-to-5 routine. Reports also show that this is not the only underlying factor, as one key factor also is an increased risk of some diseases.

Some medical associations such as the Medical News Today have reported on studies that relate lack of usage of health products and increased risk of certain health problems with shift work. These relationships have seen discoveries ranging from the predictable to the most amazing jaw-dropping situations.

A reputable medical journal published a meta-analysis in 2014 which suggested that shift workers face an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. This is a red flag. Taking into consideration, shift workers rotating shifts also face an increased risk of 42%. So we see a need for the inclusion of health products as ready supplements for shift workers.

Interestingly, shift workers who rotate night shifts for 15 years and above were found to potentially increase the health risk of lung cancer mortality and poor mental health. The use of health products will aid these situations enhance longevity and maintenance.

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.