Tech Insights: What Can Technology Really Do for Us?

Ryan Barton

We all know not to bring a knife to a gun fight.

What happened?

Revolver beat sword (thanks to better technology).

In the best-selling business book Good to Great, Jim Collins coined the phrase "technology accelerators." He attempted to clearly identify the role of technology in great organizations. He recognized that technology is not an end, in and of itself. Technology accelerates the organization's goals—helping them be achieved more quickly and with greater ease. Indiana Jones' goal of survival was clear. Businesses' goals of profit are typically clear. Technology clearly aids in those goals. But what does it do for the business of local government and school administration?

If your town, city or school is like most, then your goals include being be able to support growth in your community, adapt to the rapidly evolving world, make your community a better place and do it all with an ever-tighter budget!

Technology is one of the most powerful tools you have to achieve these goals, especially in strained economic times. Wisely leveraging technology means doing more with less. It means supporting more growth and more services, without having to add staff. It means collaborating and communicating in new ways, to pioneer more effective 21st century local government and education. It means having instant access to accurate information, presented in the right way, to make the wisest decisions. It means staying relevant, staying on budget and staying effective. While it may mean spending money initially, it means reaping long-term cost savings and tremendous efficiencies.

Introducing New Tech Insights Column
The goal of this new monthly column will be to help answer the questions that so many organizations are asking today—how do we use technology, in New Hampshire, in today's economy, in our size municipal and education offices? How does it fit in the budget? How do we know we are on the right path?

Each month, the column will focus on a different challenge or question, with recommendations for implementing and supporting technology effectively. There's a lot to cover. If you have a suggestion for something you would like to see covered, please let us know.

Let's innovate together and use technology wisely!

What's Next? Action Items

  • Challenge basic assumptions about technology at your municipality/school. Encourage all staff to be engaged in a process of learning more about technology and identifying ways it can be used better and more fully.
  • Ask each department to fill in a short survey of how they currently use technology and in what ways it impacts their jobs.
  • Spend some time with each department to watch personnel performing their jobs and see how they interact with technology first-hand.
  • Schedule a brainstorming session with each department, and with the organization as a whole, to generate ideas for using technology more effectively. Give a case for technology, and ask personnel to generate ideas.
  • Meet with colleagues from other municipalities/schools and share technology plans, ideas and both success and failure stories.
  • Make sure all personnel are receiving enough training in specific technology functions that relate to their jobs.
  • Make technology a priority when budgeting, planning and hiring.

Ryan Barton is president of Mainstay Technologies, an IT firm that specializes in providing technology support and implementation services for municipalities and other organizations throughout NH. Please send us an email with any article suggestions for the Tech Insights column or feedback.

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