Technology at Warp Speed

Embracing new technology involves riskā€”but so does the avoidance of new tools.

September 10, 2012

This week I leapt into the present with acquisition of a smartphone.  I am not a Luddite but it seemed the device was more of a luxury than a necessity, so I hesitated to make the investment.  Would there be that many benefits to such “space age” technology?

After a few days of experimentation, I find it is becoming one of those “necessities” after all.  I enjoy the many features that not only facilitate communication, but also ready access to music, photography, Internet access, and so on.

Acquiring new technologies can be challenging, not only for consumers but also for service providers as considerations of usefulness, potential adoption, resistance to change, and cost/benefit analysis all come into play.

“To boldly go where no man has gone before” with technology may require taking a risk. But avoidance of such amenities may also be risky as consumers may have unmet expectations, or you may deprive your operations of cost and time efficiencies.

Consider how you might strike a technological balance with this week’s research findings.  Do you see any trends where technological innovation might be advantageous?

Technology at warp speed

See how consumers feel about smartphone privacy issues in “Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices”  by Pew Research: “More than half of mobile application users have uninstalled or avoided certain apps due to concerns about the way personal information is shared or collected by the app.”

Plus, “57% of all app users have either uninstalled an app over concerns about having to share their personal information, or declined to install an app in the first place.”

Privacy remains an important concern in reaching members through this channel.

Are QR codes already becoming old news?  “Last year, QR codes were the go-to technology that marketers used to connect with tech-savvy consumers.  While the medium is still a big force in mobile, augmented reality is increasingly making a name for itself and marketers are embracing all forms of technology to offer a new type of engagement,” according to Mobile Marketer.  

Meanwhile, “As mobile and local continue to collide, we’re seeing lots of evidence that localized content boosts user engagement.  That also translates to higher performance and monetization for mobile ads,” according to a Search Engine Watch article, “Mobile & Local Join the Big Data Movement.”

Is space really the final frontier?  Social media is unexplored territory for some.

If you’re considering  the services of a social media consultant, see Fast Company’s “7 Things Your Social Media Consultant Should Tell You.”  Among the tips:

·         Social strategies should not conclude with creation of online communications;

·         Consultants need to be able to produce and interpret quantifiable data; and

·         Your website also needs to be a social platform.

Email is still relevant on our planet, so you’ll want to know “How Is Email Changing in 2012.” 

Here again, mobile devices are making an impact: “The biggest change is in the influence of mobile.  In May…16% of emails were read on a mobile device.  In October, 2011 mobile was used to read 23% of emails…a conservative estimate is that one-third of all emails are (now) viewed on mobile.”

This article explores the ongoing importance of this communication channel and suggests how marketers can incorporate email in accord with other available strategies.

To expand upon this thought, a survey outlined in “Consumer Email Behavior: The Impact of Relevance and Frequency” provides four strategies to “engage your audience in the inbox:”

·         Segment your audience;

·         Test often and make sure marketing mailings focus on goals;

·         Target subscriber behavior; and

·         “Leverage dynamic content.”

All hands on deck

Captain James T. Kirk ran a tight Spaceship Enterprise, and it seemed all of his employees had good incomes and secure futures under his expert command.  Unfortunately, employment opportunities and ensuing benefits may not be as ideal in our galaxy.

See “Education, Job Openings, and Unemployment in Metropolitan America” by Brookings.  This study “aims to provide metro, state, and national policy makers with a better sense of the specific problems facing metropolitan labor markets.”

Learn that “In the short-term, unemployment rates are unlikely to come down to their pre-recession levels without improvements in housing markets and consumer demand.  Yet high educational attainment is essential for the health of metropolitan labor markets before, during, and after recessions.  Educational attainment makes workers more employable, creates demand for complementary less educated workers, and facilitates entrepreneurship.”

We discover that wage inequalities persist in “New Report: The Low-Wage Recover and Growing Inequality” by the National Employment Law Project.  The recession has made an impact: “The good jobs deficit is now deeper than it was at the start of the century,”

Employment has grown 8.7% in lower-income positions, compared to a 6.6% hike for those earning higher wages.  Mid-range earning occupations have decreased by 7.3%.

Retirement income is threatened also, as outlined by a Boston College study, “The Pension Coverage Problem in the Private Sector.”  

A mere 42% of private sector workers enjoy pension coverage in their present positions, resulting in two problems:  more than one-third of households retire with only Social Security, and workers moving in and out of coverage make small gains in 401(k)s.  This paper indicates that a new tier of retirement income is necessary for many to enjoy secure retirements.

Perhaps in our contemplations of technological innovations and implementations, we should embrace the nonemotional demeanor of Mr. Spock.  Neither paranoia nor unbridled enthusiasm is prudent, but rather a calm examination of relevancy and acceptance of technological change and its potential benefits might lead to better outcomes.

 I know that my own deliberate examinations of technological implementation have been quite effective as I incorporate lifestyle changes as a result, a very happy circumstance.

“Beam me up, Scotty!”


LORA BRAY is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.