The employment and economic development areas of human resources in manufacturing have been targeted by a recent White House task force, with the result that many in the public have become concerned about what is technological advancement and how it may impact the job performance of current workers. Many people are very anxious to find out what is meant by the term; particularly in light of President Obama’s oft used description that the task force was looking into “how technology can improve the workplace”. In both his presidential campaign as well as in the job’s speech he delivered shortly after winning the presidential election, President Obama has frequently cited the need to create more jobs, a mantra that has been adopted by his entire administration.
As a consequence of these comments, it is understandable that many in the general public would be wondering what is technological advancement and what is it that is behind the seemingly endless stream of new gadgets, gizmos, and software products that continually appear on store shelves and on websites across the world. It is also understandable that many in the public would be interested in obtaining some sort of explanation as to what is technological advancement and what is behind this so-called “recession.” Fortunately for those looking for such explanations, the author below offers an explanation as to what is technological advancement – and why the public is not exactly clamoring for such explanation.
Technological progress is described by Max Kiehne in his paper “The Economic Benefits of New Technology: Employment, Productivity, Knowledge creation, and Labor Effectiveness” as the” aggregation of improved techniques for acquiring and utilizing information.” The technology Kiehne identifies includes both hardware and information. One may assume that technology pertains to hardware, and that such technological factors include computers, telecommunications, and other such equipment. However, Kiehne goes on to describe new technologies as being those which are associated with new tools and devices, and which are produced in a manner that allows for the easy transfer of information from one location to another. Such information or devices are used to either enhance job performance or to make the process of acquiring knowledge easier.
Technological advancements can either have a positive or negative impact on employees job performance. According to researchers Susan memo and David Norton, “benefits derived from new technologies for employees come mostly from the way they help people do what they usually do – use the Internet, for example, or use digital cameras,” while other benefits come from the way that new technologies enable workers to get more out of their work. The authors further note that although there are negative aspects of technological change, like increased competition, this can also lead to higher levels of productivity, a reduction in employee turnover, and a positive impact on corporate profits. Unfortunately, there is still often little discussion as to what is technological advancement and what is the impact of technological factors on employees job performance. Unfortunately, the impact of technological factor on employees job performance is often dismissed as irrelevant and perhaps even a fabrication of corporate marketers.
Technological advancement typically refers to the development of new technologies. This could be in the areas of computer systems and software, electronic information systems, digital assets management, digital imaging and visual media, communications and networks, digital signage, computer network and Internet solutions, devices and appliances, personal digital assistants, networking and technology, handheld and mobile devices, video and film development, and other areas. Technological advancement may have a short term impact, such as the creation of new products, or a longer term impact such as increased workplace productivity, but could have both positive and negative consequences. For example, the creation of a better digital camera may produce increased ability to take quality images and therefore create more jobs, but the impact could be decreased when the same camera is used by someone else, resulting in the loss of a job.
One of the major areas where technological advancement has had the greatest effect on employment is in the business/employment relationships between commercial vendors and suppliers. The computerization of manufacturing processes and the digital imaging of data have created an “inverted pyramid” structure where those at the top to benefit from the system, while those at the bottom are left out in the cold. In many cases, there is little or no change in the relationship between the vendors and suppliers. However, this trend may impact the supply chain and indirectly affect employment in the retail sector, which in turn affects the consumer.
The impact of technological change can also impact the relationship between employees and the companies they work for. For example, new technology has resulted in many companies reorganizing their call center work forces. This reorganization does not necessarily impact the employee’s job performance. However, the new needs and expectations of the employees will play a major role in the employer’s assessment of the employee’s capabilities. If the employee fails to meet these new needs and expectations, the employer may evaluate the employee based upon outdated standards that do not accurately reflect current company requirements.
Technology is changing every day. The question of what is technological advancement? remains as relevant today as it ever was. Companies must consider the effect that new technologies will have on their operations and how those changes will impact the workforce, the company, and the society as a whole.