To sell cameras in that era, the customer had to feel confident that they could master the operating instructions. Today’s photographers are comfortable with the fact that technology makes most of the operating decisions. Then, it was all manual. The trick was getting the customer to the point that they felt comfortable with moment to moment decision making.
It was life changing.
In short order, I fell in love with technology and joined the Defense Industry. Over the years, I learned to code software (with punch cards at the beginning), taught introductory computing courses as the PC entered the workplace, became a certified engineer (in lieu of a degree) and began to run Research and Development projects.
I got my first PC in late 1981, the 68th machine off the IBM assembly line. I got my first email account in 1982 and was working in online communities around the defense industry by 1983. In those days, PCs were for business and mainframes were for real technology.
In large scale technology, I was involved with the first interactive video disc project (a hyper-linked training program for aircraft maintenance in 1984), high density decision making display architecture, hardware-software integration and the design of logistics systems for frigates. I organized, wrote the spec and managed the team that built the first multi-facility supply chain management tool in the mid 1980s.
In the early 1990s, I left corporate life to move to California to run a struggling non-profit called the Point Foundation, home of the Whole Earth Catalog (the print precursor of the web). Point was involved with the push to make the Internet (a Defense Industry initiative) into a part of daily existence. It was home to the WeLL, a pioneering online community. Point was a mecca for futurists, science writers, culture expanders and explorers.
While at the Point Foundation, I saw the very first copy X-Mosaic, the first web browser. My reaction, embarrassingly, was to ask “Who would ever want a graphic interface to the internet?” A few months later, in an early conversation with the founders of Yahoo, I famously said, “You can’t possibly make money with a web index.”
In my first project after the Point Foundation, I started to document the emerging job board market. My company, interbiznet, produced the first reports offering market and technology analysis of any form of HR on the net. We expanded rapidly into Applicant Tracking Systems and the related data associated with the Talent Acquisition process.
Over the intervening years, I’ve worked the bleeding edge of technology and data in the HR environment. From demographics and compensation databases to a variety of Peoplesoft projects, I’ve been monitoring the full spectrum of HR Tech.
I chose to focus in HR for a number of reasons. While in the Defense Industry, I spent many evenings in a Master’s program in Organizational Development dropping out at the thesis phase. It turns out that the real cost of technology is never the technology itself. The learning curve and relative fit of the solution to the organization are the primary drivers of Technology cost.
That means that the companies who produce the solutions are at least as important as the solutions themselves. Any competent analysis of solutions has to include an assessment of the fit between customer and supplier. To say that this is missing from the game today is to engage in dramatic understatement.
I’d love to hear your Tech story and I bet HRExaminer readers would as well. Please post a link to your own tech story or just write a quick one up right here in the comments area.