The Technology of Nations

In 1776, Scottish economist and philosopher, Adam Smith wrote the masterpiece, ‘The Wealth of Nations’- actually ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”. By coincidence, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted the same year, making the American colonies independent and thus no longer a part of the British Empire.

America has since evolved to dominate the old British Empire in virtually every aspect of human endeavors, except perhaps, social welfare. The Yankees figuratively were discipled by Dr. Smith who believed in free market and made his argument that ‘capitalism’ will benefit mankind than any other economic structure. He laid this foundation at the onset of industrial revolution and provided the basics for modern economics.

Smith made his case about the ‘invisible hand’ and why monopoly and undue and unfettered government regulations or interference in market and industry must be discouraged. He was of the opinion that prudent allocation of resources cannot happen when states dominate and over interfere.

In that old time, America farmers could grow cotton, but would not process it. It has to be sent to England where it would later be imported into U.S as a finished product. Understanding that this decision was not due to lack of processing ability, you will appreciate Smith’s argument that market must be free.

His theses were clear and were very influential; they provided the same level of fulcrum to Economics as Isaac Newton’s Mathematica Prinicipia to Physics. Or in modern times, Bill Gates’ Windows to the information economy.

While reading Smith’s book and understanding the time frame it was written, one cannot but appreciate the intellectual rigor in that piece. Before technology was penetrated in en mass across the regions of the world, he noted that all nations could compete at par in agricultural productivity. The reason was absence of division of labor in any subsistence farming system in the world. A farmer does everything in the farm and is not an expert in most.

Discounting fertile land, rain and other factors that could help farmers, all the farmers, from Africa to plantations in Alabama, the level of productivity was similar. Why? No specialization was employed in farming business at the time.

Fast track forward when the industrial revolution set forth. The British Empire became an engine of wealth creation through automation. It was a quintessential period of unrivalled human productivity which resulted to enormous wealth created in the empire. Technology not only helped speed process execution, it helped in division of labor.

Interestingly, Dr Smith had noted that except agriculture where productivity was flat because of lack of division of labor, other industries were doing just fine. And in those industries, there were organized structures which enabled division of labor. For instance in the construction industry, there were bricklayers, carpenters, painters, and so on; but a farmer was a farmer.

As you read through Wealth of Nations and observe the 21st century, it becomes evident that technology was so influential in the last few centuries. It has changed our structures and created a new business adaptation rules like outsourcing which is indeed a new breed of division of labor.

From accumulation of stock and pricing, as explained by Dr. Smith, we see today a world where technology is shaping everything in very fundamental ways for wealth creation. In this era, it has become technology as technology translates to wealth. So, nations that focus on creating, diffusing and penetrating technology will do well.

Why? It is about national technology DNA. The more passionate and innovative nations are triumphing at the global business scene. Give me Japan and I will give you electronics. Talk about United States, I will share biotechnology and pharmaceutical technologies, and indeed every major technology. Give me China, and I will give you green technologies.

So, as nations continue to compete on the technology paradigm, we see at the highest level of success measurement an embodiment captured by technology capability. When nations are understood from the lens of their Technology Readiness Index, Knowledge Economic Index, we see that countries have become technology competing nodes. In some really poor countries with no (effectual) technology, they do not have a node and are unplugged in the sphere of global wealth creation.

Simply, it will be difficult to separate the health of any modern economy from its technology. It goes beyond the wealth of that nation to its survivability. The most advanced nations are the technology juggernauts while the least developing economics barely record any technology penetration impact. For the latter, it is like still living in the pre-industrial age Dr. Smith discussed on agriculture and division of labor where processes were inefficient.

Perhaps, this explains the efficiency in developed world in both the public and private arenas. The more technologies they diffuse, the more productive they become. In other words, show me the technology and I will tell you where the nation stands in the league of countries. Interestingly, the invention of steam engine changed the world and powered the industrial revolution. The invention of transistor transformed the 20th century and is fuelling the new innovation century.

It seems that major scientific breakthroughs bring major great countries. Let me emphasize here that some old kingdoms that ruled the world such as the old Babylon, Roman Empire, and Pharaoh’s Egypt; there have been associated knowledge base that put them ahead. You cannot disassociate good crop production in River Nile to the mastery of Egyptians in inventing some sections of geometry for farming. Some of the old wars had been won by developing constructs that enabled efficient transportation of soldiers to battleground. There was science and nations were winning by using that knowledge.

In conclusion, the world has been living on technology and it is indeed defining our competitive space. As nations compete, it is technology that shapes the world with wealth as the major byproducts, in some cases. I make this case because some of the best technologies had been invented for non-wealth reasons (yes, directly). Examples include Internet and radar technologies which have created wealth and spurred commercial innovations but have military origins.

There could not be any more powerful way of examining national competitiveness than understanding the technology of nations. Yes, wealth has since morphed to technology and all competitions and wealth creation could as well be seen from technology viewpoint. And in this piece, I aptly replace Dr. Smith’s ‘wealth’ with ‘technology’ to have The Technology of Nations.

The Importance of Technology

Technology refers to the collection of tools that make it easier to use, create, manage and exchange information.

In the earlier times, the use of tools by human beings was for the process of discovery and evolution. Tools remained the same for a long time in the earlier part of the history of mankind but it was also the complex human behaviors and tools of this era that modern language began as believed by many archeologists.

Technology refers the knowledge and utilization of tools, techniques and systems in order to serve a bigger purpose like solving problems or making life easier and better. Its significance on humans is tremendous because technology helps them adapt to the environment. The development of high technology including computer technology’s Internet and the telephone has helped conquer communication barriers and bridge the gap between people all over the world. While there are advantages to constant evolution of technology, their evolution has also seen the increase of its destructive power as apparent in the creation of weapons of all kinds.

In a broader sense, technology affects societies in the development of advanced economies, making life more convenient to more people that have access to such technology. But while it continues to offer better means to man’s day to day living, it also has unwanted results such as pollution, depletion of natural resources to the great disadvantage of the planet. Its influence on society can also be seen in how people use technology and its ethical significance in the society. Debates on the advantages and disadvantages of technology constantly arise questioning the impact of technology on the improvement or worsening of human condition. Some movements have even risen to criticize its harmful effects on the environment and its ways of alienating people. Still, there are others that view technology as beneficial to progress and the human condition. In fact, technology has evolved to serve not just human beings but also other members of the animal species as well.

Technology is often seen as a consequence of science and engineering. Through the years, new technologies and methods have been developed through research and development. The advancements of both science and technology have resulted to incremental development and disruptive technology. An example of incremental development is the gradual replacement of compact discs with DVD. While disruptive developments are automobiles replacing horse carriages. The evolution of technologies marks the significant development of other technologies in different fields, like nano technology, biotechnology, robotics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence and information technology.

The rise of technologies is a result of present day innovations in the varied fields of technology. Some of these technologies combine power to achieve the same goals. This is referred to as converging technologies. Convergence is the process of combining separate technologies and merging resources to be more interactive and user friendly. An example of this would be high technology with telephony features as well as data productivity and video combined features. Today technical innovations representing progressive developments are emerging to make use of technology’s competitive advantage. Through convergence of technologies, different fields combine together to produce similar goals.

Technology and Literacy Learning Through the Eyes of Students

The age of modern day learning has arrived. It is no longer a matter of whether we want to integrate technology and education; it is a necessity. The reality poses an immense problem and threat to the longstanding educational institutions that have for the most part remained unchanged for nearly a century. Who would have imagined that the alphabet’s letter “E” would forever transform the face of education to E-Ducation?

Technology in education has progressed from basic tools such as the abacus, pencil, ruler, paper and calculator to computers, laptops, iPads, tablets, software and apps. The technological advancements alone are forcing the manner in which teachers teach, how students learn, the ways schools are structured and breaking the barriers between home and school life. At its core, technology is impacting the very essence of the future of humanity.

Digital Natives: A Generation Dedicated to Learning with Technology

The prominence and rise of technology in the world applies to all aspects of life including how we learn. It appears that the days of “open your textbook, read the following pages and answer the questions” will be for the most part a thing of the past.

As educational institutions resist and make attempts to adapt, it is crucial to keep in mind the learning needs of today’s digital natives. The digital natives are those that were born during or thereafter the inception and introduction of digital technology.

This generation is not only accustomed to technological advancements and devices they expect it. As such, drastic measures will have to be implemented to meet the student’s expectations for learning. The key will be to adapt to an uncertain, modern, changing and dynamic global world.

Pivotal Technologies and Learning Portals

Technological advancements will allow education to be universally accessible, customized, individualized and highly adaptive. In essence, learning with technology is propelling independent learning to the forefront.

Now more than ever, students will have the opportunity to individualize and navigate the knowledge portals through pivotal technologies such as the Internet, Open Sources, Virtual Learning Environments and Mobile Learning Devices. Open Sources includes MOOCs and Web 2.0.

Massive Open Online Courses will allow students the autonomy and flexibility to choose what they want to learn independently. The Web 2.0 is simply the way new web pages are designed and used. Students will have a multitude of options by virtue of using Open Sources through a variety of Mobile Learning Devices.

Virtual Learning Environments will only enhance the learning experience by making it fun and interactive. Students will have a wide selection of learning mediums to complete assignments and receive feedback. Hence, the learning would be more interactive and engaging.

Individualized Learning and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The role of the teacher would alter to monitor and provide feedback at an unparalleled level. Technology would of course also help the teacher with the many independent learning assignments, projects, presentations etc. of the student’s through the use of Learning Analytics. Learning Analytics is the accumulated of created data to continually evaluate and precisely guide student learning.

The digital natives are choosing their own devices to learn in a world that has cloud computing and the Internet. They are living in a digital information literacy online world. Their reality encompasses learning through educational games and virtual learning platforms. They are living in a world where the physical and virtual have amalgamated.

Learning with Technology from Students’ Perspectives

As such, what do kids think about technology and learning? How often do we really ask for their thoughts and opinions? Do we really take into consideration how and what they want to learn? Should what they have to say really matter how we as educators make decisions? Personally, I do believe that they do bring value to the decision-making table.

My sister in law is an eighth grade social studies teacher at a middle school. In a conversation with her, she mentioned to me the various ways she integrates technology in the learning. What I found especially of import was her comment on how the students use technology as easily as breathing.

She explained to me that now only do students expect it but that they demand it. She further informed me that it is a necessity and it brings lots of fun to the learning. As an educator, I firmly believe that learning should be continuous, fun, engaging, inquisitive, and ongoing.

Students are Right at Home with Technology

Humanity should be learning something new each and every day. It should be viewed from a window looking out into the horizon of each new day. It seems logical to catch a glimpse of learning through the eyes of children.

I often reflect on how my 7 year old niece sees the world and how through her eyes I learn something new every day. As Digital Natives do, she carries an iPad with her and frequently shares videos, cartoons, games, songs, etc. with me. I can literally say that I am learning things that a 7 year old child is learning.

Wow, the whole idea seems to put me in awe. What she has learned through the use of technology can be only termed as amazing. The ease, comfort and curiosity that impel her to learn independently without her parents or teachers imposing “because you have to” are truly remarkable.

Learning with Technology: A Necessity

Never in the history of our world has the trajectory of technology education been a certainty to create a better global society where one and all will have the opportunity and accessibility to be literate.

A view from a student’s perspective about learning with technology as mentioned above is a 6 part series that will include technology and students, learning with technology, student’s and iPads, learning with games and virtual learning. Stay tuned to next week’s blog article on students learning with technology.

The time has come when student learning has gone beyond the classroom because the use of technology. Now, student can engage in a much more interactive way to increase learning.

Technological Innovation Through Tech Mining For Market Dominance

Innovation means technological change. The technology change results in practical implication or commercialization, it does not mean just generation of ideas. The importance of technological innovation in today’s competitive economy is very clear, as today the worldwide economy depends on technology and technological innovation to an extraordinary degree.

Technological innovation plays important role in the economical growth of any country. Us, Japan, and other European countries are developed only due to there technological progress. In recent years, Singapore, India, China and many other countries are advancing dramatically due to technological innovations and progress. High technology companies are a significant and growing component of the economy. The competitive of these companies depends on technological innovations. Innovations improves standard of living. Developments in medical and pharmaceutical technologies have delivered extensive returns in health and life span.

Technological innovation involves tech mining. Tech mining includes understanding the technological innovation processes to track them more effectively and get informed about latest happenings and make valuable business decisions about R&D and subsequent implementation and adoption choices.

Innovation is defined as the process by which technological ideas are generated, developed and transformed into new business products, process and services that are used to make a profit and establish marketplace advantage. A better understanding of the innovation process is essential to figure out empirical measures deriving from innovation activities to generate actionable technological intelligence.

Tech mining is done through data or information extraction from multiple data sources, compilation and analyzing the results and represents key findings in actionable visual representation for easy understanding to what is happening now and predicting the future technologies.

Various types of technology analysis that can be aided by tech mining is as follows:

(A) Technology Monitoring (technology watch) – cataloguing, characterizing, identifying and interpreting technology development activities

(B) Competitive Technological Intelligence (CTI) -exploring out “Who is doing what?”

(C) Technology Forecasting-anticipating possible future development paths for particular technology domains

(D) Technology Road mapping – tracking evolutionary steps in related technologies and, sometimes, product families, technology diversification and technology tree

(E) Technology Assessment – anticipating the possible unintended, direct, indirect, and delayed consequences of particular technological changes

(F) Technology Foresight – strategic planning (especially national) with emphasis on technology roles and priorities

(G) Technology Process Management – getting people involved to make decisions about technology

(H) Science and Technology Indicators – time series that track advances in national (or other) technological capabilities

Reasons to Do Tech Mining

Forecast likely development paths for emerging technologies – identify new products, research or service opportunity
Identify competitors, or collaborators, at the “fuzzy front end” of new product development – keep tract of your competitor’s activity for market dominance.
Identify potential customers for your intellectual property (“IP”) – new licensing, collaboration, acquisition and merger opportunities.
Discover additional application arenas for the outputs of your R&D – identify how to develop new products and services from your existing business processes, without inventing more.
Gauge market potential for prospective technology-based products and services
Be a wiser consumer of others’ science and technology
Manage the risks of technology development and implementation based on better information.

March of the Green Technology

Technology has been defined in several ways. The simplest is the knowledge of using tools and techniques to improve the working condition, organizational management and artistic perspective in order to improve the efficiency of product, machine or human efforts. The primitive man is known for intelligent use of stone to convert it into weapon and shelter houses. The use of animal skin and bark of trees for covering body was a step towards fabric technology. The knowledge of technology to control the fire radically changed the status of man learning to add new items in his food menu and getting warmth in a cold climate. The wheel has brought us to the present state of global conveyance Flinging of leg bones into the space after a good and hefty meal inspired space odyssey. Information technology spear headed by internet has its origin in smoke signals and more recently to printing presses. Now we have industrial, educational, information, medical, visual, micro, nano, and domestic technology to name a few.

Technology is not singularly applied by human kind to give impetus to his objectives. The animals and birds have also excelled in carving out technological wonders comparable and sometimes better than us. The nest of the weaving birds, signals from dolphins, breaking of coconut shells by monkeys, domestic technology of ants, technology of descent from an acute slope by elephants, migration of birds to places akin to their need and requirements, waiting for air to become hot before taking to a flight by kites and other heavy size birds and dropping of stone pallets to raise the water level in a narrow necked pitcher by crows are some to refresh the memory. Look towards the sky in the evening. You shall find ducks flying in inverted V formation, giving others the advantage of vacuum and stream line motion.

There is a difference in how the primates of yester years behaved, how animals and birds around us make use of the technology and how we are using it. The difference is great. Their efforts were and are always in improving their living condition compatible to the environment. Our efforts are diversified in many ways. Some are good, some are bad and some are ugly. Lately, with the onset of industrial revolution, we have mostly added to pollution load of the environment or developed weapons of mass destruction. Technology which used to improve machine efficiency has focused its attention to human efficiency. We call it productivity. We pretend to exploit it as outsourcing. Green technology had no option but to introduce it and take charge of the entire state of affairs created by the human kind.

Green technology targets for an appropriate, equitable and sustainable environment by interlacing all known technologies and human involvement with environmental science to conserve and upgrade the environment and bringing it back to the quality available some 300 years back. Green technology could be termed as a refinement in the available technology in as much as, it helps in managing pollution of all kinds in such a way that these turn out to be ecological and economically friendly.

Technologies that are green are rated by their carbon footprints. A competitive and successful green technology has a low set of greenhouse gas emissions from persons, product, process, event or organization. There are two ways to achieve the objective. The first which may be termed as green acts, is to recycle the waste, reuse through reconditioning and other alternatives, reduce resource consumption and to conserve available natural resources. The second which is creating a green conditions, is to evolve technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions thus reducing carbon footprint. These measures have proven effect on global warming reduction.

The first category of green technology is to encourage and redefine the conventional ways of keeping carbon footprints at a low level. These are recycling and its extension to water and air purification, solid waste treatment including sewage treatment.

Recycling defines environment by conservation at its best. Used materials generally thrown as waste is recycled into new products. Composting is an age old concept of recycling green waste into manure. Recycling plastic waste into new plastic products is most prevalent now. Recycling reduces fresh raw material consumption by utilizing middling and scraps. It reduces wastage of energy that is required to convert fresh raw material into end products It reduces air pollution as waste is now recycled instead of incineration. It reduces water pollution as there is less land filling thus reducing leachate reaching water bodies.

Waste water is purified by chemical, mechanical and biological processes to convert it into drinking and other usage. Air is purified both in industries as well as places of human habitation in closed spaces. Industrial air pollutant such as Sulfur oxides gives back Sulfuric acid, particulates such as fire ash is converted into cement and bricks. Solid waste generation from human habitat is segregated into bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable waste. Bio-degradable waste is composted into manure and bio-fuel. Non-bio-degradable waste is further separated into metal, glass, plastic etc. The first three are used as intermediate raw material and recycled into the production pipeline to get useful products. Hazardous waste materials are suitably treated to non-hazardous entity and then most of these are also recycled. Sewage treatment has acquired a state of the art technology. It is treated to make it free from parasites, bacteria, fungi, algae and viruses. Treated solid waste is used as manure and the treated waste water is either used for irrigation or further treated to make it fit for domestic use.

Green technology that creates and sustains green condition has focused its attention primarily on renewable energy resources. Renewable energy such as solar, wind, tidal, nuclear and geothermal have been identified as having minimum greenhouse gas emission and has tremendous potential to replace the conventional energy providers such as fossil fuel and petroleum. The latter are non renewable energy resources that are major pollutants and major reasons for greenhouse gas emissions.

Green products are a category in itself as it has both the properties of reducing greenhouse gases and replacing highly polluting non-renewable energy resources. Fuel cells are one example. It eliminates air pollution from automobiles and it replaces hydrocarbon fuel. Plastic cement manufactured from waste plastic bottles is another example. This product takes less energy for its preparation than the conventional cement manufactured from iron slag, lime and sand. Moreover, this plastic cement has more permeability and hence can breathe better. Rain water can filter through surfaces prepared from it and hence enrich the water table beneath.

These days, market is getting flooded with toxic plastic toys which are highly injurious to the delicate and tender toddlers. These are being replaced by toys made from recycled plastic bottles. The latest innovation in this segment is fabric made from used plastic bottles material. Dress material for Cricket India members are made from this fabric.

Green technology is catching fast the computer software segment too. Now there is software which shall alarm you from wastage of electricity while you are in your home or at the other side of the globe.

There has been a lame excuse floating around that shifting to green technology requires too much research and development and the cost of implementation is very high. It may be appropriate for some such endeavors such as technology for geothermal energy usage. It is also argued that it takes lot of time to break even. Here, people fail to compare such logic with technologies that are in use and later revised to green technology. An instance in case is the steam engine which saw transition to diesel engine and now almost replaced by electric engines and in near future with electromagnetic induction forces and magnetic forces. A time cycle would show that invention and commissioning of coal driven steam engine took a far longer maturing time than electric engine or the future versions. All such transformations are far too profit friendly. Break-even time has also been quite low.

You may expect wonders in the future with the advent of nano technology. Imagine a chip grafted in your brain to replace computers which are one of the major consumers of electric energy and are generating huge electronic waste. You should start dreaming of recharging your space vehicle with universally available solar energy replacing high cost, highly pollutant and heavy weight, cryogenic fuel. You may have the pleasure of travelling in identified flying objects to several light year distant part of the universe.

Technology Management Graduate Studies

The increasing importance of technology in every industry continues to drive the need for a diverse group of qualified professionals to manage the implementation and changes in technology. Pursuing a degree at a technology management graduate school can be the right step for beginning a rewarding career in the management of everything from computer hardware to information security within an organization.

Overview of Technology Management

Technology management professionals are in high demand because of the unique set of skills they possess. In this field, professionals are able to make leadership and management based decisions, develop solutions to technology issues, and approach the management of technology from a systems thinking perspective.

For any management professionals, some of the skills that are required include being able to manage personnel, organizational design and communication, and financial analysis and decision making. Technology management professionals combine this knowledge with specific information technology and systems technology skills and knowledge to effectively lead and make decisions for the assessment, forecasting, strategies, and decision making with a number of different information technology departments.

Technology Management Graduate Degree Curriculum

There are a number of technology_management graduate school choices for prospective students. While there are differences depending on the individual program and school, students most often complete a set of core courses, electives, and a graduate program in order to complete the graduate degree. This combination helps to prepare graduates to transfer relevant, useful skills into the workforce.

From graduate level courses in technology to business, students are able to learn a variety of skills and gain valuable knowledge. Some courses in technology often included information technology_management, operations, emerging technologies, and ethics. Additionally, students will take business and management courses such as supply chain management, sales and marketing, and accounting for technology.

These courses give students the opportunity to gain a broad foundation to develop an understanding of the basic fundamentals of technology management. The electives and the master’s project build on that foundation to help students begin to focus their education on a specific area of technology_management. Some examples of electives include knowledge management and relationship management. The master’s level project combines the knowledge, theory, and skill a graduate student has gained though academic coursework to examine how that ability can be transferred to a real-world, challenging business issue or problem in order to find a solution or manage a specific scenario.

Career Development with a Technology Management Graduate Degree

Technology professionals must develop a variety of skills. In addition to understanding information technology, professionals in this field must also be able to manage change with technology and technology systems, integrate functional areas of business, leveraging technology, and business management principles to effectively lead the technology driven functions of a business.

These skills are needed in many different types of positions across all types of workplaces, from the federal government to non-profit and educational organizations to private corporations. From the chief information officer to information technology manager, a degree in technology_management is a helpful tool to gain the experience and skills needed for all types of management positions of technology-driven departments.

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Managing Technology Within An Organization

When it comes to technology solutions for your business it is easy to get carried away with the latest-and-greatest gadgets and solutions. Everyone wants to have the latest shiny thing. In larger organizations, managing technology can become burdensome due to competing and duplicative technology requests. Left unfettered, the company technology platform can resemble a “spaghetti bowl” over time. Often is the case, new technology requests are submitted without any business case to support their investment.

I am a big proponent of having non-technology business leaders play an active role in the determination of the technology solutions utilized at an organization. While it is critical to include an IT perspective from a technical interface standpoint, having non-IT personnel drive technology solutions often lead to decisions based on thebusiness needs of the organization. As such, any technology request would require a business plan to support the investment.

Form A Technology Committee: This is the start of your technology approval process. Create a technology committee that represents various personnel from cross-functional departments. Consider selecting an operations, marketing, accounting, technology and finance member to this team. This committee is charged with creating the process for submitting technology solution requests for the organization as well as providing the prioritization and ultimately, approval of the requests.

Develop A Submittal Process: Inherent in a well-thought through technology strategy for an organization is developing a process for the submission of ideas. Following the “garbage-in, garbage-out” mindset, developing a detailed process for submission will help weed out the “nice to haves” and focus the committee on real, tangible solutions. This process should not only include the technology solution identified, but as importantly, the business case for its justification. For approved projects in the queue, a monthly communication should be sent to the organization recapping the activity of the committee.

Focus Your Projects: A technology committee creates focus throughout the organization. While it would be great to have every new iteration of technology that gets released, that is impractical and costly. The committee can help with providing a high-level perspective on the entire enterprise since it is considering all requests. All to often, departmental requests have a tendency to be created in a silo, with only the impact on that department considered.

Need To Have Vs. Nice To Have: This is a biggie. It is easy to feel that an iPhone 3 becomes obsolete as soon as the iPhone 4 is released, but when the technology is run by the committee, the “nice to haves” usually fail due to a lack of business case. The committee allows the organization to run with an unbiased interference with respect to technology. The committee is charged with improving ROI on technology solutions and since it is comprised cross-departmentally, there should be no “pet” projects.

One Project, Big Picture: I have headed a technology committee in the past and the greatest “aha” moment for me was the amount of similar technology solutions that were being presented from different departments. Had all of these requests been accepted, the organization would have overspent IT dollars as well as created duplicative solutions to the same issues. The committee allows for its members to “rise above” the fray of the organization and view the technology requests in the big picture. The committee’s goal was to ensure that any approved request was accretive to the overall company.

Create A Business Case: This is the best way to clear out the clutter. Ask employees what they need from a technology solution and the committee will be inundated with ideas. Ask them to submit in a business case (cost justification for the investment) along with their solution and ideas are significantly reduced. The business case for a technology solution not only helps in identifying whether the investment is worth it, but also forces the author to think about how this solution interfaces within the existing platform.

Post Analysis: Lastly, carefully measuring the business case proforma against the actual cost/return of the projects not only holds the submitter responsible, but also the committee. The goal with the post analysis isn’t to “call people out”, but rather provide an unbiased financial review of the project. Without this type of post analysis measurement to hold this team accountable, the committee eventually will serve no purpose.

History of Wireless Technologies

The development of Wireless technology owes it all to Michael Faraday – for discovering the principle of electromagnetic induction, to James Maxwell – for the Maxwell’s equations and to Guglielmo Marconi – for transmitting a wireless signal over one and a half miles. The sole purpose of Wi-Fi technology is wireless communication, through which information can be transferred between two or more points that are not connected by electrical conductors.

Wireless technologies were in use since the advent of radios, which use electromagnetic transmissions. Eventually, consumer electronics manufacturers started thinking about the possibilities of automating domestic microcontroller based devices. Timely and reliable relay of sensor data and controller commands were soon achieved, which led to the discovery of Wireless communications that we see everywhere now.


With the radios being used for wireless communications in the World war era, scientists and inventors started focusing on means to developing wireless phones. The radio soon became available for consumers and by mid 1980s, wireless phones or mobile phones started to appear. In the late 1990s, mobile phones gained huge prominence with over 50 million users worldwide. Then the concept of wireless internet and its possibilities were taken into account. Eventually, the wireless internet technology came into existence. This gave a boost to the growth of wireless technology, which comes in many forms at present.

Applications of Wireless Technology

The rapid progress of wireless technology led to the invention of mobile phones which uses radio waves to enable communication from different locations around the world. The application of wireless tech now ranges from wireless data communications in various fields including medicine, military etc to wireless energy transfers and wireless interface of computer peripherals. Point to point, point to multipoint, broadcasting etc are all possible and easy now with the use of wireless.

The most widely used Wi-Fi tech is the Bluetooth, which uses short wavelength radio transmissions to connect and communicate with other compatible electronic devices. This technology has grown to a phase where wireless keyboards, mouse and other peripherals can be connected to a computer. Wireless technologies are used:

· While traveling

· In Hotels

· In Business

· In Mobile and voice communication

· In Home networking

· In Navigation systems

· In Video game consoles

· In quality control systems

The greatest benefit of Wireless like Wi-Fi is the portability. For distances between devices where cabling isn’t an option, technologies like Wi-Fi can be used. Wi-fi communications can also provide as a backup communications link in case of network failures. One can even use wireless technologies to use data services even if he’s stuck in the middle of the ocean. However, Wireless still have slower response times compared to wired communications and interfaces. But this gap is getting narrower with each passing year.

Progress of Wireless technology

Wireless data communications now come in technologies namely Wi-Fi (a wireless local area network), cellular data services such as GPRS, EDGE and 3G, and mobile satellite communications. Point-to-point communication was a big deal decades ago. But now, point-to-multipoint and wireless data streaming to multiple wirelessly connected devices are possible. Personal network of computers can now be created using Wi-Fi, which also allows data services to be shared by multiple systems connected to the network.

Wireless technologies with faster speeds at 5 ghz and transmission capabilities were quite expensive when they were invented. But now, almost all mobile handsets and mini computers come with technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, although with variable data transfer speeds. Wireless have grown to such a level, where even mobile handsets can act as Wi-Fi hotspots, enabling other handsets or computers connected to a particular Wi-Fi hotspot enabled handset, can share cellular data services and other information. Streaming audio and video data wirelessly from the cell phone to a TV or computer is a walk in the park now.

Wireless Technology today, are robust, easy to use, and are portable as there are no cables involved. Apart from local area networks, even Metropolitan Area networks have started using Wi-fi tech (WMAN) and Customer Premises Equipment ( CPE ). Aviation, Transportation and the Military use wireless technologies in the form of Satellite communications. Without using interconnecting wires, wireless technologies are also used in transferring energy from a power source to a load, given that the load doesn’t have a built-in power source.

However, the fact that ‘nothing comes without a drawback’ or ‘nothing is perfect’ also applies to Wi-fi technology. Wireless technologies still have limitations, but scientists are currently working on it to remove the drawbacks and add to the benefits. The main limitation is that Wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can only be used in a limited area. The wireless signals can be broadcasted only to a particular distance. Devices outside of this range won’t be able to use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But the distance limitation is becoming reduced every year. There are also a few security limitations which hackers can exploit to cause harm in a wireless network. But Wireless technologies with better security features have started to come out. So this is not going to be a problem for long.

Speaking of progress, Wi-Fi technology is not limited to powerful computers and mobile handsets. The technology has progressed enough that Wi-Fi enabled TVs and microwaves have started appearing in the markets. The latest and the most talked-about wireless technology is the NFC or Near Field Communication, which lets users exchange data by tapping their devices together. Using wireless technologies are not as expensive as it used to be in the last decade. With each passing year, newer and better wireless technologies arrive with greater benefits.

Technology is Disruptive – And Empowering

Technology changes the way we work, live our lives, and have fun. Technology can empower businesses with improvements in productivity, faster development and production cycles, superior decision making by employees, and enhanced customer service. But deriving these benefits from incorporating new technology is not always a smooth process. Technology is often, at first, disruptive before it becomes empowering.

Although the ideas developed in this article may have general applicability, they are mainly intended to relate to the incorporation of new information and communications technologies into business processes. Information technologies involve computers and their peripheral equipment as well as the data flow across local area networks. Communications involve any voice and video activity including the telephone system and related equipment as well as the communications pathways creating the wide area networks.

Technology Changes Business Processes

Every action conducted within a business is part of one process or another. Sometimes the processes are easily defined and readily observable, as in the path of a purchase order. At other times, the process is not so clear but nevertheless it still exists even if by default.

New technologies are introduced into business to:

Speed up existing processes
Extend the capabilities of existing processes
Change the processes

In changing the processes, the new technologies will often allow new ways of conducting business that were not previously possible.

Other than simply speeding up existing processes, new technologies will be disruptive when first introduced. This results from having to change patterns of behavior and/or relationships with others. When disruption occurs, productivity often suffers at first, until such time as the new processes become as familiar as the old ones. At this point, hopefully, the goal has been achieved of reaching a higher level of productivity than the level at which it started before the introduction of the new technology.

Therefore a common cycle that occurs with the introduction of new technologies includes:

Lower productivity, and, finally,
A higher plateau of productivity than the starting point

The obvious goals for introducing new technologies are to:

Minimize the disruption
Minimize the time it takes to increase productivity
Maximize the gain in productivity

In achieving these goals it is helpful to understand the:

Context in which the processes operate, that is, who will be impacted by changes in the specific processes affected
Democratizing potential of technology
Types of people that will react in very different ways to new technologies

The processes by which a company operates and the introduction of new technologies do not exist in isolation. Both of these exist within a context that may be a part of and affect:

The social relationships within an organization and possibly with companies with whom you conduct business
Political (power) structures within an organization
How individuals view themselves and their abilities

Technology can be democratizing. If it is used to create and disseminate information useful to the mission and goals of the business, it can be a great equalizer between “levels” of management and staff. The key word is “disseminate.” If access to the information is decentralized, and easy communication of the information is allowed, then “front line” workers can improve the quantity and quality of decisions they make without having to involve layers of management.

Types of People from a Technology Perspective

From a perspective of introducing new technology into your company, you may find it helpful to understand the following four types of people:


Innovators/embracers will investigate new technologies on their own. They will sometimes be helpful to introducing new technologies that would otherwise not have been known to the company. They will sometimes be a “thorn” in pushing for new technologies they think will be useful (or just “neat” to have) but do not fit the company’s agenda or objectives. These people will embrace new technologies when introduced by others, will often be the first ones to fully incorporate and make use of it, and could help others to fully utilize new technologies.

Enthusiasts will accept new technology enthusiastically. They won’t usually seek it out but will be eager to incorporate it into their processes where appropriate. As a result of their openness, they will often readily learn how to use the new technology and may also be useful in assisting others through the learning process.

Acceptors will accept new technology because it is required. They will not seek it out. In fact, they will often try to avoid it at first until they are forced to accept it. Once they understand the new technology is here to stay, they will willingly learn how to benefit from it or, at least, live with it.

Naysayers habitually oppose new technologies and often are very vocal about their opposition. They often gripe about any changes and will often never change if they don’t have to or they quit before they are made to change “the way they do things.”

The productivity vs. time curve will look different for each of these types of people. Think of how each person in your own organization fits into these four types. Think of how that impacts deriving the full benefits that you’ve carefully targeted. Think of how that impacts your ability to discover additional benefits once the technologies are implemented. Understanding the differences can help smooth out the rough spots during and after the implementation process.

Lessen the Disruption; Increase the Empowerment

Understanding the context in which processes exist, the democratizing potential of technology, and the types of people will help you achieve the goals stated above for a more rapid payoff from a smoother introduction of new technologies.

In addition, make the new technologies transparent to the user or, at least, make them as intuitive to operate as possible. Extra time in pre-planning the introduction of new technologies and training employees in the use of the technologies can provide a return many times greater than the hours spent in planning and training. You can achieve faster increases in productivity, reduced impact on customers, and lower burdens on support staff.

With proper planning and training, the productivity curve will increase at a faster rate and to a higher level than it might otherwise have achieved

Ed Mass is President of Mass Strategic Communications, Inc., a telecommunications consulting firm since 1993. Visit [] and [] for more information. We specialize in Transforming Telecommunications from a Tactical Tool To a Strategic Business Resource. We Integrate Business Strategies with Technology Opportunities.

We act as an extension of your staff. We are business strategists to increase the performance of your company through intelligent and cost effective use of technology.

Specifically, we consult on IP Telephone System Decisions, Service Provider Decisions for Voice and Data Services, and Services Audits to Inventory All Services and Discover Unused Services. We do all this within a framework of Vendor-Neutral Consulting.

Technology Enhances Wine, Spirits and Beer Labels

What’s the purpose of a wine label; or for that matter a label on spirits and beer? Obviously, the first response to that question is: to satisfy the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) regulations. Once that is accomplished, the label space remaining may be used for branding and marketing copy. The fact is, there is very little space on bottle labels to get creative with messages. Now technology is helping solve the limited space on labels by way of RFID (radio frequency identification/ID) technology. Tap a smartphone on a NFC (Near Field Communications) tag embedded on a bottle and see what comes up on your smartphone; assuming there is currently a tag on the label.

Depending on a winery’s budget and the number of smartphones enabled with RFID tag readers (newer smartphones have built-in reader capability), wine, beer and spirits producers can communicate directly with the consumer while they are standing in front of the bottle or can. These electronic tags can impart information in any format. The information can be audio, a message or automatically opening a website page; the choice is up to the winery or craft beverage company. The most economical tag option is to use NFC tags embedded in a label or a very thin flexible film adhered to a bottle.

This NFC technology has different names such as Smart Labels, Tags, and OpenSense Tags; the moniker I use is “Tap Tags”. Smart Labels (originated in the consumer products industry) are starting to appear on food, personal care and pharma items. Although extremely limited, spirits, beer and wine are recent joiners. In fact, companies using smart label tags are not just the big players in the food and personal care space but are also used by small start-ups. Basically, tags are a means for producers of products to give the consumer more information than is possible to print on a label. But, the benefits of such tags aren’t just in dispensing more information, it is also about branding, loyalty, increased sales, etc.

QR codes have been around for decades. They can do some of the operations a NFC tag can perform but are limited. More on QR code versus NFC follows.

Twenty years ago, I was involved with a gentleman who is an expert integrator of RFID (radio frequency identification/ID) tag technologies for casinos. His patented technology is used today in allowing casinos to authenticate and track their gaming chips within a casino. Ken Smith, writing for on November 5, 2012 reported that Wynn/Encore Casino’s in Las Vegas starting using chips embedded with RFID tags in 2005. Point being: the level of sophistication offered by “tag” technologies allow companies to communicate with consumers, even before they buy the product.

Decades ago barcodes started allowing companies the means to track inventory, monitor parts and adjust pricing instantly. Then RFID tags came along which expanded the capabilities of product monitoring passively and actively; reading and writing information to a RFID tag. Depending on the capabilities of an RFID tag, information can not only be read from a tag, but that tag can also be written to; adding more/different/updated information on the tag. We don’t want to forget the QR (Quick Response Code) that most smart phones can read optically and provide an on-screen response via a link to a landing page. The QR code, invented in 1994 has a similar application as the barcode. Smartphones today come with QR reading capabilities and more recently antenna to communicate with NFC tags.

A derivative of RFID technology that is gaining acceptance rapidly is the NFC tag. A strong proponent of NFC technology is coming from Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute-the SmartLabel™ group. They formed an alliance called Trade Partners Alliance to explore ways to be transparent with quick, reliable, actionable, in-depth product information for the consumer. One of their applications involves NFC tags which takes the consumer, via their smartphone, to a navigational landing page. All the consumer is required to do is tap their smartphone on the NFC tag on the product packaging.

Noted previously, most product packaging has limited space for details. The real estate available on a printed wine label may not be enough to provide a plethora of information options various consumers are interested in and/or need. Solution: why not make it possible for a consumer to tap their smartphone against a “tap tag” on a product and instantly be taken to a URL/website/landing page that allows the producer to communicate (in print, video or audio) with a potential customer concerning the product. An adage I hear a lot: You can do anything with enough time and money. Same adage applies to NFC technology. For our discussion I am taking the quickest and most creatively flexible approach to new label technologies; the NFC tag, while not totally forgetting QR codes.

This brings us to the “here and now” concerning new technologies that allow producers of wine, spirits and beer to communicate directly with their customer. I am talking about NFC (Near Field Communications), a technology application already being explored by Diageo, Coronado Brewing, and a winemaker in Spain (Barbadillo Wines). In December 2017 Astral Tequila will feature NFC technologies to promote in-store consumer interactions. It has been reported by one integrator/manufacturer of NFC applications, an alcohol product company realized a 30% increase in conversion rates when testing their foray into NFC label tags. Yes, NFC is part of many label options that can be very transparent to the consumer.

A NFC type smart label is actually a RFID tag that is about as thin as 3 sheets of printer paper or.0002 inches. When labels, with embedded NFC tags, are tapped by a NFC enabled smartphone, the phone receives pre-programmed information. For example, the user may be directed to a predetermined site. The website/landing page the consumer is directed to can be designed as a winery, brewer or distillery deems appropriate. The information in the NFC tag can be approximately 7K in size. Again, larger and more capable RFID tags can offer greater capabilities and much more capabilities, but at more expense and involved integration.

One manufacturer of this technology that demonstrated the NFC options for me was Metal Craft. “The options for NFC to communicate with customers in the beverage industry is mind boggling,” said Austin Elling, Marketing Manager-Metal Craft. “Here are some examples of what can be programmed into one of our NFC tags: vCard to import data into the address book, URL to open a given web address, plain text to display simple messages on a smartphone, telephone numbers to initiate a call, geo location to open a specific destination,” says Elling. “For alcoholic beverage business, my experience says that branding and creating direct communications with a customer is in the NFC sweet-spot. A winery may decide to use NFC capabilities for a loyalty program, announcements, promotional trials, initial trials, wine clubs, etc.”

Digressing for a moment. Recently, Anheuser-Busch launched a new Tequila flavored beer branded as Oculto Beer. The label on the beer was embedded with a tag and battery that lit up the eyes on the skull logo on the label. They positioned the switch where most people would gab the bottle. Obviously, it was creative and very expensive. Unfortunately, consumers bought the beer for the novelty of the label technology; consumers did not like the Tequila flavor and it failed.

Relatively inexpensive, NFC tags can only be read at extremely close range, which is why the label area containing the tag needs to be tapped with the enabled smartphone. Some more expensive and capable RFID tags can have a read/write range of approximately 200 feet. However, at approximately $0.10 each, NFC tags are affordable. The price however does not include set-up costs and integration with the back-end landing page. Nathan Chandler writing in “How Stuff Works” reports, “Memory capacity and speed dictate tag cost, which is a critical consideration for companies that want to spread information far and wide through smart posters or flyers… labels. Right now, tags cost around 30 cents apiece even in bulk, but the price should continue to drop until they’re only a few pennies each [source: NFC Rumors].”

Why would a winery, craft brewery or craft spirits company invest in a new label endeavor? Here are some immediate marketing applications that come to mind:

· Protect the integrity of their brands

· Build a comprehensive loyalty program and brand awareness

· Source for consumers to obtain product reviews

· Detailed product information-tasting notes, retail locations, AVA’s, information about winemaker, DtC (Direct to Consumer) pricing

· E-commerce centric efforts

· Customer surveys

· Encourage wine club and newsletter sign-ups

Coronado Brewing in Coronado, CA found consumers were intrigued with their use of NFC technology (tap tags) embedded in their coasters; “consumers were keeping the coasters to show friends,” reported Coronado Brewing’s Marketing Dept. press release. Coasters are a unique use of NFC tags, because the craft beer industry is all about building brand trials, positioning the beer as being handcrafted and artisanal, and explaining quality. The coaster application certainly achieved the greater objectives. Coronado Brewing know they must be real, accessible, authentic, and back it up by delivering the message with and experience of being new. Once a brand wins loyalty, the brand wins, states the company’s marketing material.

Coronado Brewing tested the NFC tag concept with ThinFilm of San Jose, CA and concluded: “A brand can do the following without the interference of search engines or social media platforms: Communicate directly with the consumer; provide a unique digital experience; and, surprise and delight customers on their terms,” commented Bill Cummings, Senior Vice President-ThinFilms Electronics ASA.

Barbadillo Wines, using ThinFilm NFC tags promoted a contest for consumers on their website form NFC generated visits, by using a series of uniquely generated entry numbers printed on each cork. Basically, they were promoting wine sales at the retail level and at home when the wine was opened. “With SpeedTap (ThinFilm brand name) tags applied, consumers are able to interact instantly with products and the brand by tapping the product tag with their smartphones (no app required). The tap launches the brand’s customized landing page video or other digital asset on the smartphone,” said Cummings. “The ThinFilm application was not on the label, although it could have been, but rather on a bottleneck collar.”

Immediate benefits of the ThinFilm effort was a 10-fold increase in traffic versus social media and a 2.8x increase in average time spent on the site. Further, Barbadillo sold significantly more wine.

In the alcohol related product business, the TTB dictates the requirement of wine labels and it is a rather complex approval process to get a label designed that meets TTB requirements. That fact notwithstanding, there is important information, to me, not currently on a wine label that I would appreciate, especially when I look for a new wine.

From a nice-to-know vantage point there are other bits of information I would find interesting that would probably push me to become a brand loyalist. Looking at a 3.5-inch diameter bottle, it simply doesn’t lend itself to a great deal of copy about the product; small print doesn’t work for me because I always forget to wear glasses. NFC could come to my rescue when looking for more information about a wine.

Here is a potential scenario to illustrate my point.

Assume you walk into your favorite wine store to look for a nice wine as a hostess gift and you are interested in getting more information about the wine than is on the label; such information as suggested food pairings, information about the winemaker, past wine awards, how big is the winery, comments about the wine from other consumers. This is important information you might like before you buy the wine. Maybe it isn’t information that is life-saving, but it certainly would be nice-to-know. Further, I would probably become a loyal customer and maybe join their wine club.

Today what are my options to get ancillary information? I have long learned that large discount retailers are not a reliable source of information. Maybe you come home and do some research on-line. But there is an easy way to get more information. The easiest, and most economical would be the NFC tag on the bottle; the label or a stick-on tag would allow the consumer to tap their smartphone on the bottle. Once the consumer taps the NFC tag their smartphone would pull up a website where all ancillary information about the wine would be available instantly. The information format can be anything.

Any winery or consumer can easily experiment with NFC tags. In fact, by going to Amazon you can find many manufacturers who will sell 6 NFC tags for $8.00. These are thin flexible tags about 1-inch square, although NFC tags can come in various sizes. Then go to YouTube and learn the easy task of writing (programming) to the tag. As a consumer you will start to wonder why the wine, beer and distillery industry isn’t running to this technology for their new labels.

Before rushing into this technology wineries need to understand that there are back-end costs associated with finding the best alternative to integrating the NFC technology into labels. Then there is the issue setting up the tag with the information desired to be on the tag. Then there is the issue of integrating the tag, customer and product interface.

Thus far we have explored NFC tags in general, highlighting myriad applications for the wine, spirits and beer industries and have mentioned QR codes. It is important to understand, there are similarities between NFC technologies and the ubiquitous QR code. Any smartphone with a camera and a QR reader app can retrieve information from this code. NFC is the newest label technology to retrieve information via programmed coding. Google and Apple use NFC technologies for their payment systems. Most smartphones currently produced are equipped with NFC tag readers.

To use a QR code, a business decides what they want the QR code to link to and uses a computer program to generate the image.

Anyone can generate a QR code for free. I have generated 2 QR symbols, one for my vCard and another was another that was a graphic image and text about Image of Wine, LLC. These were relatively simple to generate; just fill in an on-line form. After generating one QR code I needed to change an e-mail address and phone number. The problem was that I had already printed a new brochure and business cards with the now obsolete QR code. I had to re-order all the promotional material.

After experimenting with NXT’s NFC tag’s, I found I could re-program the tag with my smartphone; granted it was only one tag.

A static image of the code must be printed on advertising or product packaging. AS I found out, if anything changes about the product or information, a new QR code must be generated and printed on new material and old materials must be removed from the market. Further, QR codes are read by a smartphone camera and the success of reading a code can be contingent on ambient lighting, quality of image, colors used and the camera itself. One good thing about QR codes, they can be generated for free and NFC tags require creating a design and encode the tag. In the end NFC tags are more reliable and versatile than QR codes. For large volume information both options require a landing page.

QR codes can take a consumer to specific information on a website and provide static information; however, the security and convenience of a QR code is not equal to that of NFC tags. Further, information directly retrieved from the QR label really depends on the size of the QR image; the larger the image the more information. NFC tags do not need to be visible to work.

If customization is going to be an issue with bottles of wine, a QR code must be visible for scanning and the colors used must be dark enough for the smartphone camera to read. Further the consumer must open a QR code reader to scan the image. Conversely, NFC tags offer complete freedom of design options because the tag can be hidden and not compromise the integrity of the label image/branding.

In 2015 Mr. Tony Rosati of Trust Point Innovations wrote about QR code and NFC tags. He said, “NFC tags are more expensive (on the order of $0.10) than printed QR codes printed on a label. The verdict: QR codes could be replaced with the more convenient NFC tags; however, there is an additional cost. It is reasonable to assume that product manufacturers would want to take advantage of consumer convenience and security.” Further, “NFC tags are really easy to use – just tap the tag. No special application to open, it’s built into the smartphone, and NFC tags are much more secure than QR codes.”

The intent in this article is to explain a new technology the alcohol industry should be exploring as NFC technology is becoming mainstream; it is a relevant marketing tool embraced by today’s consumers.

Consumers seem to love technology when it really can work for them. That same thought is transferrable to the winery, distillery and brewer. With all the conversations surrounding labels in the wine business, consumers must wonder, why not NFC tags-convenient, quick, flexible, leading edge method to distribute information and build loyalty.