When Technology Only Shifts Work

I’ve been in the computer-related field close to thirty years. In all that time, the biggest lesson learned is nearly everything changes. Or, the one thing that does not change is that everything changes.

I fully believe it made good sense when our town many years ago moved from paper to computerized record keeping for tasks like the town’s general ledger, payroll, and tax collection. However, doing that probably did not eliminate jobs as much as it shifted existing jobs towards tasks like interacting more with the public at the counter, phone, or email, and analyzing the output of computer (amount of information processed, late payments, overdue bills, and so on). And of course, people in those jobs had to learn more about computers and what they can and cannot do.

Moving to a computer accelerated how business gets done, and in the case of paying tax bills on line, made that process easier by making the access to bill payment wider than using U.S. mail or paying in person.

As we get requests from all over town to use social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook, or to put up a WordPress blog so we can say goodbye to our Deputy Town Manager, many people still believe this saves them time. I do not think it does completely.

These technologies allow people to achieve a solution faster. Also, what they want to do can reach a wider audience. However, someone still has to administer and maintain that technology behind the scenes.

For example, if a town agency has a web site, but also wants to announce things on Facebook, Twitter, or both, someone has to be responsible for the care and feeding, the maintenance, of those accounts. A town or state agency does not want a lot of inappropriate comments on their site.

So, I am very much for automation and using social technology. I just wish people would understand the cost to move to a solution and most importantly the cost of owning that solution.

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