Wednesday June 6, 2012
By Sol Arigós – Head of Technical Support
What with shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory’, movies such as ’The Social Network’ and uber-cool Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, announcing “sometimes geeks can be chic” - being a ‘geek’ has gone mainstream in recent years.
Whether it’s our increasing dependence on and comfort with technology or the prevalent images of former geeks who now successfully own multi-billion dollar technology companies that has sparked this shift; being a geek no longer carries the stigma it once did. Bill Gates’ quote “be nice to geeks, you might end up working for one” has never been so true. It’s now cool to be recognised as one; the USA has even gone as far as celebrating ‘National Geek Pride Day’ on 25th May.
And the figures back up this shift too. According to a survey carried out by Modis, an information technology specialist, more Americans would prefer to be called a geek than a jock. The majority (57%) of the estimated 1000 participants, believe that being called a geek is actually a compliment with favourable attributes such as being extremely intelligent (45%), a reliable source for technology advice (56%) and a first adopter of new technology (45%).
What does this mean for the workplace though? Our reliance on technology is increasing rapidly, with almost all daily activities involving some form of technical input. With this not set to change for the foreseeable future; having an individual who is up to speed with new forms of technology is critical. IT is also an integral part of the drive for business growth, increased innovation and productivity (Epson Business Council). Therefore individuals who are tech-literate, with the ability to discuss technical topics in a clear, jargon-free way and understand how technology fits with the broader business strategy are critical for success. It’s really has never been more important for us to pay more attention to our in-house ‘geek strategy’.
We would suggest there are three core areas to this:
· Are your people ‘geek’ enough?
Are your people IT savvy? That is do they understand the tools available to them in the workplace and use them appropriately. If not, ensure there are adequate opportunities for your people to develop in this area: IT workshops, eLearning and allowing time for technology exploration are all low cost ways of increasing basic technical ability. Understanding IT is now a vital career component; this cannot be ignored. Virgin Media recently surveyed over 5,000 organisations and the top three assets desired in new recruits were: can-do attitude (23%), IT skills (19%) and higher education qualifications (12%). With Government plans to overhaul the teaching of IT in schools and advances in technological solutions storming ahead, having a familiarity with IT is only going to become more important.
- Are your processes technology efficient?
Technology has had a huge impact on many areas within human resources. Recruitment can be carried out online, with the sorting and contacting of candidates automated – ensuring time is saved whilst making sure the right individuals, with the right skills, competencies and behaviours are selected for interview. There’s also been a shift towards online performance reviews and talent management practices; for example our own talenttoolbox™ family of solutions. By moving the previously laborious task of manual appraising annually to an ongoing, far more robust and outcome focused approach supported by technology the entire process is made more efficient – saving vast amounts of time, money and effort. These systems can also be a core input into business strategy. The plethora of management information, such as risk of leaving, learning and development needs analysis, succession planning and identification of talent can move HR from a previously viewed ‘cost’, to one which can clearly demonstrate the benefits of investing in a strong people approach.
- Are your tools improving the quality of life of your organisation?
Living our lives, both work and personal, has been made a whole lot easier through technology. As an example the introduction of mobile phones have ensured communication is fast and efficient, with numerous applications available to help us obtain information (internet), talk to people across the world (Skype) and remain in touch with distant friends and colleagues (Facebook). Plus there’s the added benefit of these devices, along with tablets, being portable. With the majority of organisations planning to increase the numbers of people working remotely in the next ten years it’s vital to ensure you are using the right tools and get the most out of them.
As technology edges closer to taking over our lives, we can’t but help have a bit of geek in us. So embrace the opportunites and claim your inner geek -you’ll be even able to enjoy your special day!
Have you embraced technology in your business? Have you reviewed your ‘geek’ strategy?