Candidate Question #3 (Techie Gadget)
What is the newest “techie” gadget that you have/would like to have, and how do/would you use it to improve the work relationship that you have with your primary clientele?
(Kama Siegel, candidate for Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect)
As interested as I am in the latest gadgets, I work in a fairly low-tech industry. More accurately, it's not the industry itself that is so low-tech, but rather the tools that our employees use to accomplish day-to-day tasks. As an example, our ERP system — which shall remain nameless — does not work on smartphones or tablets, nor does it work natively with Apple products (much to the chagrin of our planners and designers, who almost uniformly have Macs at home). The people I work with are happy when I can promptly answer their e-mails by smartphone, or train them by webinar — both of which technologies are pretty ho-hum. As much as I might personally be interested in them, cool gadgets are not going to make me a more effective employee in an industry that isn't super interested in being on the cutting edge.
Basically, I would answer this question with a plea to software designers: please assume that the users for whom you are designing will access the software on any available platform. That's the techie ability — not gadget — I'd like to see, which seems like a no-brainer. I assume, of course, that I don't have full knowledge about every available tool out there, but I also do my best to stay informed. It's possible that there are other transportation planning companies that are far outpacing their competitors by using a magical* spreadsheet that reads the minds of all planners and designers on a project, and are therefore able to complete far more projects than their peers.
The people who make up my clientele are far more interested in learning industry news and collaborating with their peers (on Twitter, for example), and staying within their budgets, than in learning a new technology. But as with any population, there is a range of users, from early adopters to Luddites. Many of them balk at using their valuable (billable!) time learning use a new one, but that doesn't stop me from discussing tools that would make their work more efficient. Perhaps someday soon we'll agree on a new gadget that makes all of our lives better.
* "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." — Arthur C. Clarke
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