Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where every field is a tech field, and every employee is expected to stay on top of the technological changes in their field, even if their job is not directly engaged in developing or maintaining that technology.
As the pace of innovation accelerates, it can feel as if we’re constantly being asked to hit the “refresh” button on our tech skills. Just as we get a handle on the latest platform, app, or gadget, a new one is thrown our way and we’re temporarily thrown off our game again.
Staying out in front of tech trends can help employees stand out and get ahead, while failing to do so can mean getting left behind. So how do you keep up with the latest tech trends and news while still staying on top of your workload? The following strategies and resources can help you keep pace.
Strategies to Up Your Tech Game
- If tech isn’t your primary work function or focus, get to know your co-workers in IT and development.
- Volunteer to be the non-tech member of new technology initiatives, projects, and teams at your company.
- When you interface with vendors or customers, ask them what technology they are using and what tech trends they see coming in their field. Forge good relationships with your tech vendors and ask lots of questions.
- Optimize the tech tools you already have access to, such as your phone or tablet.
- Attend as many free and reduced rate tech training sessions as you can at your workplace, and through professional associations you already belong to.
- Check Meetup.com for local tech seminars you can attend in person. Tech conventions are a great way to meet a “tech buddy,” someone you can network with and learn from.
- Start reading the tech columns in your field’s professional journals.8. Set up alerts through platforms such as Google Read.
- Set up alerts through platforms such as Google Read.
- When you use search engines to look up technical information, limit your search results so that only the most up-to-date results appear—you can do this by limiting results by timeframe.
- Make a habit of listening to podcasts on tech news, especially those in your field.
- Follow tech thought leaders on Twitter, and use a Twitter aggregator like TweetDeck to organize the volume of Tweets into manageable channels.
Resources to Help You Get Started and Keep Pace
- Magazines and blogs: The Next Web, EnGadget, Fast Company, Wired, Harvard Business Review, Business Insider Tech, The New York Times’ Bits (Business of Technology) blog
- Facebook communities: TED, MIT Tech Review, TechCrunch (includes Crunch Report, a daily morning report, and Crunch Base, a tech company profile database)
- Free blogs on consulting sites: Gartner Group’s Gartner Blog Network, McKinsey & Company’s Digital McKinsey Insights, SapienNitro Insights
- Podcasts: NPR’s weekly GeekSpeak, Clockwise, Back to Work
- Aggregators: Slashdot, Techmeme, Hacker News
- For tech novices: Quora, FullStack Academy (includes Stack Overflow Q&A)
Aim to build tech time into work days so you can spend time on one or more of these resources or strategies. Make tech education the task you turn to during the 10 minutes before lunch, or the 10 minutes after you get back, or your go-to palate cleansing activity between larger tasks and projects.
Tech education is a productive activity that you can quickly access and quickly exit. It won’t take long to make this a daily 10-minute habit, and it’s essential that you do.