Digital media opportunities – Part 9: Pragmatic reality

Last but not least, I want to conclude the series on a super-pragmatic note.

Most businesses are well and truly behind the cutting-edge curve in terms of leveraging what web and information technology can do for them. Not that I am advocating the cutting edge at all – most businesses should not be on this edge as the risks can be high.

But lagging too far behind is not smart either. I am referring to businesses who still unnecessarily do things manually. They stick to handwritten ledgers when a spreadsheet will save hours and countless errors. Or they struggle on with clumsy, unreliable and overly complex spreadsheets when a database is what they truly need.

Like a writer who persists in never learning the more useful “pro” functions of their wordprocessor – like using paragraph spacing instead of pressing enter twice, using stylesheets to simplify formatting, or even customised dictionaries and auto-substitution of words and phrases. I am not even going anywhere near macros. The human resistance to change, to keep doing things the same way, is very strong indeed!

And yet, mastering the next little step up in technology use can return disproportionately huge benefits. A simple, well-designed, and distributed database can shorten a process from days to minutes. A well-deployed OCR system can reduce paperwork processing from weeks to a few days. A simple WordPress-based content management system can give many a small business direct control over their information publishing needs. These are all very practicable and established technologies.

For those developers and designers who are not mesmerised by the bleeding edge, offering consulting and development services that employ established technologies can be a good source of consistent work. And the market does not look at all like diminishing any time soon.

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