How Well Are You Keeping Up?

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How Well Are You Keeping Up?

The fast-paced world of technology maintains a single, steadfast constant — change. Do you like that laptop you’re using today? Too bad. After the new operating system upgrade, it’ll be dog slow. How about that cool, new smart phone? Forget about it. The technology that makes it obsolete was released last week.

computer-dumpLet’s face it: In the world of consumer electronics, it’s too much. Every day there are one or more new start-ups releasing new shiny widgets destined to change the world. Needless to say, the vast majority of these start-ups succeed in doing nothing more than generating a headline. While most of us just read the headline and move on to the next widget, some folks believe they can keep up with this craziness.

Here’s a trick — Do you want to know how to spot them? It’s easy. Look for the folks “wearing” technology as an accessory to be complemented. Granted this was easier when we had Palm Pilots and cell phones hanging on our belts, but they are still out there. Casually ask someone about his or her new Rufus Cuff, then stand back. There’s a danger you might be quickly sucked into their vortex of techno-cool, oblivious to the fact that their 15 minutes of living on technology’s bleeding edge is already over.

Believe it or not, IT professionals in the business world have it a little bit easier. Due to the realities associated with meeting investor expectations (i.e., creating revenue surpluses), businesses sanction technology steering committees and the like to plan and regulate technology expenditures. Most industries have generally agreed that an appropriate lifespan for a business computer system is about five years. This rule-of-thumb provides IT professionals the information they need to plan their technology education.

refreshIn short, IT professionals must completely erase and relearn everything they have ever known about technology every five years. To accomplish this mental reprogramming, I highly recommend that IT professionals initiate a Personal Technology Refresh cycle. Just like with hardware and software refresh cycles, the purpose of the Personal Technology Refresh is to purge out all the mental junk that has accumulated through creating the one-offs and custom-fit solutions needed to make the so-called “integrated architecture” work.

My Personal Technology Refresh usually begins with a blank sheet of paper and a question — “If I could start all over with the newest technology, what would I do?” The first step is to get up to speed with the new technologies, so I’ll usually spend a week on pluralsight.com seeing what’s relevant and then a week or so in the lab seeing what actually works. BTW — Don’t skip the lab time. Ask any IT professional about a bad experience in their past, and at some point in the conversation, you’ll hear the phrase, “It should have worked.”

It’s worth noting that the Personal Technology Refresh cycle is exactly that — personal. Oftentimes, folks look to others to determine their training and growth path. That’s a bad approach to take. Why would anyone want to delegate the responsibility for his or her career over to someone else? Remember the saying — “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’re part of someone else’s.” Here’s another way to putting it — If you don’t ensure your own Personal Technology Refresh, everyone else will be planning for your Personal Obsolescence.

Until next time, I’m off the grid @gregory_a_baker.

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