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Trust Your Gut

While software and technology providers are experts on their respective offerings, it’s the customers who are the experts when it comes to their needs and wants.

By MIKE SCHMIDT, Associate Editor, Manufacturing Business Technology

When it comes to new technology, I’m hardly a bandwagon-jumper. I still don’t own a BlackBerry, iPhone, or even a high-definition television.

If I’m not behind the times, I’m at least a little late to the party when it comes to purchasing or using the latest technological devices and advancements. Does it bother me a little bit? Sure. But do I lose sleep over it? Hardly.

Let me be clear, I don’t harbor any ill will toward these popular tech trends. In fact, I use technology each and every day of my life. But just because Apple, Sony, or some software developer created it doesn’t mean I’m going to buy or use it – now or ever.

Call me skeptical, critical, or even old-fashioned, but I often find myself questioning many of the latest tech trends that are slowly and surely making their way into mainstream culture. While it’d be foolish for me to wholeheartedly disregard many of the new advancements in technology, I find that utilizing a cautious, careful, and overwhelmingly logical approach to these tech trends often allows me to steer clear of those I don’t need – or shouldn’t want in the first place.

The massive hype, and subsequent problems, of Apple’s iPhone 4 smart phone offering were well-documented this past summer. I was shocked by the sheer amount of pomp and circumstance surrounding this “new” product. It was a hyped upgrade-turned downgrade-turned PR disaster for Apple, and it certainly didn’t make those tech experts who jumped on the iPhone 4 bandwagon look smart either. E-reader offerings from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony all earn quite a bit of publicity for battling each other for market share, but they look positively prehistoric when compared with Apple’s futuristic iPad tablet. So what’s a tech consumer to do? Ignoring the hype is a good place to start. Using a little common sense wouldn’t hurt either.

It’s vital for those looking to purchase the latest tech gadget or software solution to research and understand the technology, its cost, and how well it will mesh with the other tech gadgets and software solutions already in place. Along those same lines, manufacturers who purchase and implement ERP, software-as-a-service, or cloud-based solutions need to ask themselves the same, basic questions as a 22-year-old college student whose trying to decide between purchasing an iPhone or a Motorola Droid X.

Technology is not a one-size-fits-all solution – whether we’re discussing smart phones, e-readers, or ERP systems. Factors such as cost of implementation, maintenance costs, service fees, and return on investment, often vary from situation to situation. There are many tech devices and solutions available to customers, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Furthermore, it’s important for manufacturers to recognize how much the value of their solution diminishes when they don’t know how to use it properly, much like a tech data phone is virtually worthless if one doesn’t know how to sync up his or her e-mail.

But it’s even more important to remember that while providers are experts on their respective offerings, it’s the customers who are the experts when it comes to their respective needs and wants.

So I trust in myself that I’ll know when it’s the proper time for me to invest in that BlackBerry, iPhone, or next-generation smart phone that hasn’t even been invented yet. It’s simply a matter of finding the right tech device or solution at the right time, making an informed decision based on the consideration of several factors -- and most importantly -- tuning out all the hype.

Do you think it’s time for me to wise up and join everyone else in the 21st century? Or is my cautious approach to technology more prudent than it is dated? E-mail me at [email protected].