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User Education is Critical

Perhaps on one of the biggest misconceptions about technology use is that anyone born after 1990 is well versed with technology. While true that this generation has been exposed to technology longer, and uses it daily, it is not true that they necessarily understand how it works or leverage it to the best of their ability. To draw a corollary, it’s like saying that anyone born after 1918 is well versed with the workings of an automobile; sure you can drive, but are you able to customize or repair your vehicle? Drivers are expected to know to do rudimentary maintenance: take your car in for repairs, oil change, etc.
This perceived notion of technology literacy creates a productivity drain in the enterprise. Whether in the form of increased help desk tickets, abandoning of products, or performing manual tasks due to ignorance of what is available. Take for instance the tale of three employees who for two years drafted over 1,000 form letters a month, manually inserting addresses into each letter. When asked why they did not use mail merge, the response was predictably “what is mail merge?” To further highlight, the application of record was capable of printing the letters with addresses without even having to touch mail merge. Keep in mind these employees were in their mid-30’s, well within the “technology savvy generation.” If these employees had technical curiosity then days of productivity would have been saved.
So we have identified that our assumptions are incorrect, what should we do about it? The easy answer is to say schools should teach more about technology. But, what about the workforce in place? Companies must adopt a culture that stresses the importance of technical sophistication. Companies have embraced the use of technology in the workforce, but have largely ignored education, pushing the responsibility of maintenance onto the IT function. While the IT helpdesk is a vital function, many tickets that reach its technicians should have been solved by the end user. Indeed quite a few tickets are repeats.
Too often we hear “I’m not very good at technology,” or “I do not have time.” But, how much time is lost remedying these problems? This is why I urge technicians to educate users when they fix an issue – utilizing common language – so that users gain more insight into technology. The more they hear terms, the more it will sink in and the magic box that is technology becomes less mysticism and more common knowledge. Not to mention, frustration between IT staff and business users will reduce.
Key Takeaways:
  • Do not assume that consumer technology use translates to technology literacy
  • Young does not translate to tech savvy
  • Corporations must embrace a culture of technology education
  • Learning through repetition is key

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