“Minority Business” A New Term For The Digital Age
The term “Minority Business” (a business, regardless of size, which is owned, operated and controlled by minority group members. "Minority group members" are United States citizens who are African-American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian”) Google.com. This is a misnomer in referencing in this digital age where businesses that do not integrate technology and apply the use of technical protocols are a minority in this global digital economy. No longer does the term “minority business” relate to the business run by anyone of color or gender, but those who do not allow themselves to close the digital divide in business technology integration. This has nothing to do with color or gender, but how a business embraces technology and applies it to production and customer service.
All businesses, especially small businesses have been transformed in the past five years where technology has allowed those who are not fortune 100 businesses to compete on such a scale that it requires them to change their vision in utilizing technology in its current dimension. Despite the current volatility of economic conditions within our socio-economic system these are times for those with vision and a passion for business and an entrepreneurial spirit to thrive and connect with potentially new customers in unexplored digital environments and markets that transcend geopolitical borders. Gone is the absolute need to physically be “connected” to your clients, with digital tools that do not sleep, eat nor go to the bathroom there is always a connection. Digital connectivity in business is created by the use of email, PDA’s, text messaging, video conferencing and other forms of communication.
Because of the advancements in technology in the business arena Bill Gates states, “business will be done in a new way, in Innovation and Adaption”, Business @ The Speed of Thought (2001). Innovation in the area of communication alone has expanded from the hip hugging pagers of the eighties/nineties to the multifunctional devices that possess GPS capabilities, web browsing, voice recognition, and digital recording capabilities in devices that literally fit in the palm of your hand. These digital communication tools can potentially empower and energize any business if used to its potential by motivated and creative employers. Employers and employees must both buy into the essential concept of staying in contact with customers and connecting with potential clients.
Before technology can be implemented; computers, printers, servers, etc; the infrastructure must be built to support all the components. Infrastructure serves as the building blocks of creating a technology presence. The capability to expand and upgrade must be built in so that as the needs of the company grows, the capability of the technology grows and the infrastructure expands and adapts to the needs of the business. If there is no growth or the vision to grow then a business will find that it will start to lag behind and loose connection with its customers and opportunities for revenue.
In the office environment basic levels of technology should be established and mastered in a productive means before the integration of higher levels of technology can be considered. The capability of the end user needs to be taken into consideration. If training is needed it should be provided only at the level that is required and relevant to the employees needs. Building blocks have been mentioned by Bill Gates several times in public appearances and writings when Mr. Gates has spoken on how business can get into the digital environment to compete. These “building blocks” are composed of a PC (personal computer), networks (connecting computer(s) to a server), Internet access (high speed data lines not dialup) and Email (electronic mail) this can be accessed through Yahoo/MSN/Gmail or a dedicated exchange server allowing the user to employ SMTP (protocols) to access their email from a server environment. The building blocks allow the employee to learn at progressive stages to apply applications to their skill level serve the business efficiently.
Communicating @ The Speed of Thought
The ability to communicate with the world necessitates continuing to keep in touch with clients to provide services and customer support. In this digital age it is about moving information at the “Speed of Thought”, Gates, B. Slower forms of technology still serve a purpose; fax, snail mail, etc. To be competitive in an ever changing environment with commerce and technology the appropriate tools must be utilized. The initial communication method is by personal contact and phone, but subsequent contact is performed by email where digital attachments are performed or uploading/downloading information to digital devices that contain data for business purposes. Access to web sites allows 24hour access to data, customer support resources and FAQ’s (frequently asked questions).
“Ninety percent of the businesses worldwide uses Microsoft Office as their business productivity tools” (Gates, B. 2001). Using these tools produces and allow for production that aids in accomplishing the goals of a business.
This is why training is so crucial and fundamental to the increased productivity of the office user. The end users needs should always be monitored and addressed so that there is not a slow down productivity loss.
M.S. Word - M.S. PowerPoint - M.S. Excel - M.S. Access
M.S. Outlook - M.S. Publisher - M.S. Project - M.S. FrontPage
These are just a few of the productivity tools available that work seamlessly and interconnected together in an office suite.
Ignorance of Technology is not Bliss
The ignorance of digital tools and how they relate to a successful business can stifle production and development. The interpretation of data that is gained can tell you much about your clients nuances, overseeing product development and being able to change product information as R&D finds new uses or possible hazards of a product or service. Data in numeric or nonnumeric form can be shared particularly if you are working with demographics. This data can be integrated into Excel spreadsheets, referenced in Access databases to be distributed in a M.S. Word document to be shared with other departments. Digital tools can allow this information to be put in hard copy (printed) or soft copy (digital) and emailed any where in the world or stored on a server for later use.
“Minority businesses” are only limited by their lack of vision of using technology and their fear of allowing technology to promote efficiency and creativity in its workers. Just as the saying goes, "if you continue to do the same thing, you will get the same results”. The 21st century is about vision, growth, prosperity, using technology to create a new business model. Open digital channels to create virtual partnerships allowing knowledge and history to be shared. No longer do businesses want to keep information to themselves, but share it with others for the benefit of all. The sharing of information use to be taboo, but with the change in markets, stocks, banking, etc. more businesses are sharing information. Statements such as, “business networking websites allow for more relevant contacts and more private communications. They allow business people to share their network of contacts with others and share their contacts in return” (Joe Bel Bruno, Associated Press 2008).
Business Networking Online:
The Virtual Chamber of Commerce Network
Entertainment/Business and Christian Networking
Your business just as the human body has a life blood. Humans have blood in a state of fluidity; businesses have life blood comprised of information a binary digital state. Information flow is the life blood of a business. If the flow is to slow the body becomes weak and slowly dies. If the flow is steady and strong the body stays strong and grows. Businesses need to address their lifeblood digitally to see the state and future state of their success. The flow of information will change the type of business you have; energetic and full of vigour and strength or weak and slowly dying if the information is not utilized in a manner conducive to economic growth and prosperity for a company. Where do you want your business to grow? Utilize the best technology that meets the needs of your business and allow the flow of information to take you and your business into the 21st century.
William Jackson, M.Ed.
"Copyright William Jackson, All Rights Reserved 2008."