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The Appetite for Information, Part 3

Last month I left you with a warning. Prior to that I described the downside of technology and couldn’t help but vent about just how “rude” technology can be. Ready or not, here it comes, and no matter where we are, there it is. Yes, it awaits us, oh so impatiently and begging for our attention. Meanwhile we battle to keep our inbox under control, our voicemails up-to-date, answer a text or two, man our cell phones, decide whether to interrupt the call we’ve just taken as call waiting announces itself, or we respond to that incoming email, tweet or linked in notification. The demands are such that it takes a 21st century business superhero to reply in a timely manner, only to find that the never-ending litany boomerangs back to us over and over again. Today’s technology wants what it wants, and it wants it now—and then it wants it again. We are no longer merely responsible for those present; we now have all of cyberspace to deal with.

I followed with a bit of nostalgia as I reminisced about the good old days when life was simpler. Yet, I could not help but mourn the fact that life uninterrupted has been ripped from our grasp, pulled out of reach and swept away by the whirlwind of instant communication. Nevertheless, I still tried to assure you that all of this was indeed progress, even though at times it doesn’t seem like it. At any rate, however you and I or anyone else may feel about technology, one thing is certain: It isn’t going away. We can, and some will pretend that we need not adapt and change with it, but we do so at our own peril.

A Final Cautionary Tale

“He who is not busy being born is busy dying.”—Bob Dylan

Let me be clear: If you don’t realize that you are smack dab in the middle of the information age, you might as well be living in the Stone Age. Like it or not, as information pours in, we had better be prepared to manage and respond to it. Be careful. Businesses that fail to address this issue will go the way of dinosaurs, camera film, record shops and a whole host of other businesses that quickly disappeared and became extinct as technologies changed the business model or simply replaced them.

Resisting technology or even failing to keep pace with it is a major mistake; ask Kodak, who recently filed for bankruptcy after more than a century in business. By the way, take a moment and Google a Wall Street Journal article titled, “The Demise of Kodak.” It’s a must-read that makes this point and some lessons learned, perfectly. Like the Dylan quote indicates, reinvention, adaptation and innovation are essential if we are to endure. Your business better be busy being born, or it will be busy dying.

Some Help Coping

For example: Using “Barracuda Networks,” which provides a top-to-bottom service for those of us early adapters who are inclined to embrace today’s technology. Among other things, it substantially reduces spam and junk mail by filtering out and blocking unwanted content that flows into your organization electronically.

There are also rules to follow that will help, such as devoting your business email to business and using an alternate email for personal use. Early on, one might easily make the mistake of using one email address for both business and personal, cluttering up your work environment as well as compromising privacy rights. Then there’s the simple discipline of using the “block sender” function when you receive unsolicited unwanted emails, thereby reducing the otherwise inevitable accumulation of unnecessary emails. I also recommend the use of folders for various categories of incoming email and avoiding the dreadful mistake of using your inbox as a file.

Recently I encountered an employee who had more than 5,000 emails in his inbox, and he was delighted when I showed him how to create folders. He was relieved to learn that simple alternative. No wonder he always struggled to promptly respond and follow up on email requests; he had no idea how to effectively manage incoming email.

However, this is not the direction I’m heading in this article. I’m much more interested in talking about dealing with the “appetite” for legitimate information that comes our way at an ever-increasing rate.

You will recall that I mentioned early on that the “appetite for information” is not new. It has always existed, and the methods for dealing with it successfully aren’t new either. They are the same methods that have been used in the past, simply modernized. Nowadays we have a different set of tools. Those tools that facilitate dealing with the deluge of information are the same as the ones that produce it. Technology! You and I have to learn to use technology to our advantage. As is often times quoted “the best defense is a good offence.”

So then, if you’re feeling a bit bewildered about now, I can and will fix that. However, the 800 word limit for this article doesn’t allow for that now. But it does help me make the point. We business people don’t like waiting for what we want and need to know, and there definitely is an appetite for information!

Doug Bellamy is president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif., where he is known for his proactive, innovative approach to our changing industry, and use of modern technology and cutting edge products and services.

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