Can I Get a Balcony Cheer for Technology?

By Chris Ogden

The other day I found myself humming R.E.M.’s song, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.” I had just received photos on my phone of the devastation Hurricane Harold had wreaked on the Pacific Islands. My niece lives in Tonga, and the photos she sent were very sobering. The same day, I received reports from dear industry friends impacted by the tornados. The damage and loss were simply terrible. Amid all of this news, I experienced a 4.2 aftershock from a larger earthquake that had hit my region a few weeks earlier. When added to the ongoing global pandemic of COVID-19, I was starting to wonder if locusts were next.

It’s a lot to process. And the anxiety is real.

However, the next stanza of the REM song continues, “And I feel fine.” And I do. Why? Because there is much to give us hope.

In this surreal state of affairs, several heroes have emerged. For instance, the weary-to-the-bone, self-sacrificing healthcare workers have been heralded throughout the world. Their dedicated, unflagging efforts have been incredible, and worth every bit of applause-from-the-balconies, and more.

But if health care workers are the superheroes of the pandemic (and they are), technology is the nexus, linking us all together.

Technology is HOW we know to cheer from our balconies. It’s how we are staying abreast of the latest developments, not only in our state or province, but in China, Italy, or Spain. We brainstorm solutions and celebrate progress in the fight against the pandemic together, as a world community.

I believe that the indomitable human spirit is how we are successfully navigating the crisis, but technology is the tool we are using to do so. And it’s how we will eventually emerge triumphantly from the chaos.

Think about how things would be different, had this event occurred 20 years ago. Or even 5-10 years ago. We’d still have computers and the internet, but our abilities to engage remotely would be significantly limited.

I suspect that over the past month, almost every one of us has participated in a Zoom™ or Skype™ meeting, videochatted with a family member, watched movies over a streaming service, and sent and received various types of electronic messages checking on one other. We watch the news and turn off the news. We view funny or inspiring YouTube videos or share family dance off videos.

Just as importantly, we work. As hobbled as we are, we can still conduct much of our business through the internet. From our homes, we reach out to customers and follow up on prospects. We order materials from suppliers, check suppliers’ stock via fcB2B web services, review AR/AP, keep precise tabs on our profitability per job, and access key numbers and reports that give us a clear-eyed vision of exactly what is happening in our business.

As a software company, we’ve had customers express gratitude for their ability to access all their data and conduct their businesses remotely, while “sheltered in place.”

My kids, who are still wearily completing their online courses, may beg to differ on the blessing of remote technology. The positive aspects of physical, in person connection cannot be understated. We’ve grown to appreciate and understand that more fully during this difficult time.

But I find it remarkable – even miraculous – that despite all of us being “sent to our rooms” for months, we are still able to connect and create and (clumsily) conduct business. We’re able to pivot, as an industry because of technology.

Perhaps its most important role is reminding us we’re not alone in this fight. Technology helps us link our arms together, as an industry, and as fellow foot soldiers in the midst of this epic global battle.  

Vivienne Harr has been quoted as saying, “Technology connects us. Technology unites us. Technology amplifies our power.” I believe that’s worth celebration from the balcony.

Chris Ogden is the director of marketing for QFloors Software. She can be reached at chris@qprosoftware.com.

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