Post by Laura Thompson, contributing Women On Business writer
For Christmas, my father-in-law bought be a new computer for work, a much faster PC than the one I’d been using for the previous five years. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, unwrapping a new toy that would provide me with endless hours of entertainment.
The problem? I discovered when I got home and booted it up for the first time that my brand new computer was equipped with Windows Vista. It shouldn’t have been a shock, as XP is slowly becoming obsolete, but I realized in that moment that I was terrified of Vista.
What if I couldn’t navigate the hard drive? Would I be able to transfer my documents successfully? Might I break the computer in a moment of Vista ignorance?
Technology is a major issue for women in business, and according to the Center for Women’s Business Research, women business owners are most concerned about the “protection and security of data” when it comes to technology. I can certainly vouch for that, as I refuse to try out a new software product until it has spent at least two years on the market. Tech companies are far too quick to release new programs in their efforts to keep up with the Joneses.
So how can women in business keep up with technology without making their work vulnerable to the shortcomings of technological failure?
Rule #1: Do Your Research
The Internet has provided us with a valuable tool for discovering everything that is known about a particular technological product. Before trying out a new technology at your place of business, read everything you can about it. Search for reviews, read blog posts written by current users and identify any common problems or issues that seem to crop up often. Your best defense against technology failure is knowing when it is likely to occur.
Rule #2: Back Up Your Data
It is no longer necessary to keep a treasure trove of 3.5-inch floppies in your file cabinet at work. You can back up your business data on a flash drive, a CD, hard copy or database. These days, you can even purchase storage space online, much like you would rent a storage unit for your Aunt Thelma’s collection of porcelain elephants that you can’t bear to sell or give away.
Rule #3: Look for Advantages
One of the main problems associated with technology is the tendency to overuse it. Don’t purchase a new software program just because the packaging is pretty. Instead, look for technology that will make your business better. For example, many entrepreneurs are discovering that technology helps them to let employees telecommute, which saves money on office space and materials.
Rule #4: Separate Business from Pleasure
Your son’s copy of World of Warcraft doesn’t belong on the same computer where you type up business documents and communicate with clients. Mixing business technology with personal technology is a terrible move because it makes you vulnerable to more problems. So buy your son a laptop for his birthday and reserve your computer for your work.
Rule #5: Get Comfortable
Being terrified of Vista, I am 100 times more likely to commit a technology sin and lose my data than someone who feels comfortable with the operating system. As long as you are afraid of technology, it will find a way to trip you up, so invest time in increasing your comfort level.
If you’ve just adopted a new software program at work, for example, take it home in the evenings and spend a few minutes getting to know it better. Furthering your education will make all future technology changes and additions easier.
Women are no less capable than men of adopting new technology and making it work for them. In fact, the CWBR claims that women business owners are just as likely as male business owners to welcome new technology into their professional environment. It is simply a matter of recognizing your fears and confronting them. Once you have a system for dealing with any problems that might crop up, your confidence will soar.