Technogy Strategies – Preface
Managing Technology, Value, and Change in the New Economy
First edition; 300 pages
( by:Cooper Smith )
Technology as the Strategic Advantage
When I began writing this book I struggled with the direction I wanted it to take. Is this book to be about business, technology, or even the business of technology? I found it was hard to choose a particular direction because so much of business is now tied to technology, and so much of the interest in technology is provided by business. It finally dawned on me that if this was something I was struggling with, then other must be too.
Technology, like it or not, is more a part of our daily lives than ever before, whether we are “technical” or not. Technology is inescapable, but how many of us really understand it, or more importantly, understand how to use it to our own best advantage?
Let’s start with the basics. Just what is technology? The word itself takes on a transcendental meaning in our culture, as do terms like politics or religion. We use the term technology to express intangible concepts, much like the words talent, skill, and insight. Technology today is gadgets, mostly electronics, and we also recognize mechanics as a form of technology. But few of us look at technology as something much more than doodads and gimmicks. According to the following definition, technology is less defined by the items it produces than by the body of knowledge it comprises.
Main Entry: tech.no.lo.gy
Etymology: Greek technologia systematic treatment of an art, from technE
Art, skill + -o- + -logia -logy
1. a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: ENGINEERING 2 <medical technology> b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge <‘a car’s fuel-saving technology>
2. : a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge
3. : the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor educational technology
People frequently lament, “My life is controlled by technology,” as they struggle to unlock their car door with a keyless entry device while simultaneously attempting to respond to the pager vibrating on their hip. Technology is the body of knowledge that is required to first implement useful tools and then to put them to practical use. Technology transcends gadgets by giving meaning to the processes that make these tools a reality and give then their value.
Which leads me to the purpose of this book: to give you a strategic advantage in your personal and professional life by providing you with insight to and instruction on the use and effects of technology, knowledge, and innovation. More specifically, its purpose is to identify and develop the concept of digital technology and the intelligence that it introduces to your complex communication and computing devices, in addition to your mundane household appliances, such as your dishwasher, toaster, and microwave.
My goal is to help you become a technologist (or at least to sound like one)-someone who understands technology. Now, there are many people who will read this, myself included, who would immediately claim no understanding of technology whatever! Few of us can sit and tell someone else just how a cellular phone works. However, it is not the role of the technologist to understand how a piece of technology actually works. That is left for the designer, the architect, and the engineer. It is the technologist’s job to understand the purpose and use of specific technologies and how they can either be used separately or in combination to satisfy a particular need or set of needs. In other words, the technologist, given a specific task to accomplish, must decide not on how a cellular phone works, but if the cellular phone can help accomplish his or her goal, either entirely or in part.
But I’m Not an Engineer!
Often, people assume the term technologist is synonymous with scientist or engineer, and indeed there are times when these terms can be used interchangeably. But technologist can also be just as easily interchanged with businessman, artist, playwright, or homemaker. A technologist, essentially, is anybody who uses a tool for a specific purpose. Tools and technology are almost synonymous. However, tools are concrete objects, such as hammers, shovels, and computers, while technology is not only the tools themselves, but also the knowledge of how to use them. Let me illustrate this point with a well-known example.
Leonardo da Vinci was technologist as much as he was an artist. There is little doubt that da Vinci was greatly gifted in a number of areas, painting being foremost among them. But it wasn’t the canvas and paintbrush that made da Vinci the extraordinary artist he was; it was his God-given ability to see a subject or a view in his mind’s eye and to recreate it, in detail, with the tools of his trade. In other words, anybody can put paint to a canvas, but it is vision, insight, and talent that determine whether or not that person is an artist.
The same can be said for da Vinci’s insight into mechanical devices. Da Vinci was responsible for hundreds of mechanical designs, if not actual implementations, from airplanes to tanks. He dabbled in architecture, anatomy, sculpture, engineering, geology, hydraulics, and the military arts, all with success, and in his spare time he doodled with parachutes and flying machines that resembled inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries. He made detailed drawings of human anatomy, which are still highly regarded today.
These achievements are even more remarkable because the extension of his imagination redefined sources from nature (birds and tortoises) into man-made inventions-or early technologies. Since models of these technologies existed only in nature, it was left to da Vinci’s imagination to just “dream up” his own mechanical versions. All the more astounding is the fact that although most of these imaginative creations have been realized in the present, such as the tank, the helicopter, and the transportable crane, hardly any were actually realized in da Vinci’s own lifetime or for several generations afterward.