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Embracing Technology: 4 Steps To Boost Your IT Knowledge — And Your Business

(This article originally appeared in the July 9, 2012 edition of the Worcester Business Journal. You can read the original article by clicking here.)

The adoption of new technology is key to a competitive business model. What if you, as a business owner, are not tech savvy? Then you have three choices:

  1. Hire an outside contractor to handle your technology needs;
  2. Rely on an employee; or
  3. Familiarize yourself with technology options.

Option one is costly. While many successful businesses choose option two, you already understand the risks involved in trusting one or just a few employees with a key component of your business that you don't understand. At first, option three may seem daunting. But with this four-step process, your business can remain competitive by getting the most from information technology (IT) training.

Understanding technology is similar to an exercise routine: Build on what you have. Your exercise routine builds muscle you already have. So, Step 1 is to take what you know and build on it. You already understand some level of technology; for example, you know how to use a calculator, a computer and the Internet. So, simply add new technology concepts to what you already understand.

To get the most from your exercise routine, you need to know the context of an exercise — which muscle group it targets. Step 2 is understand the context of the technology. For example, if you want to know which technology would help your business increase its customer base, learn how to create a website. If you'd like more efficient project collaboration among employees, research cloud computing options. The important thing is to understand which areas of technology you want to target and research your options.

Once you understand the context of your exercise routine, it's time to put it in practice — do the workout. Step 3 is to apply what you've learned. A new technology can carry a steep learning curve, so block off a couple hours when you know you won't be distracted. Sit down with your notes and dive in. Did you research how to create a website? Did you research cloud computing? Sign up for an account and start registering your employees. Learn from your mistakes and don't be discouraged. As long as you understand the concepts of the technology you researched, you're on your way.

After finishing your exercise routine, review what you did right and what you did wrong. Step 4 is to look at your work and review what you could have done differently. Do you feel as if you're still in over your head? Then you may want to go back to Step 1 and choose a different starting point, building on another area of technology with which you're more familiar. Did you understand the concepts of your research and application? If so, you're in a better position to either apply the new technology yourself or delegate to employees or contractors.