Editors Blog

Digital Immigrants Can't Afford to Tinker

July 7, 2010

The digital revolution has come. It’s not coming. It won’t be here in a few years. It has arrived. This revelation, be it earth shattering or not, is a wake up call to every contractor who finally got his company’s finances on the computer last year. It serves as a warning to every HVACR employer who thinks good pay, strong benefits, and a respectable career are going to be enough to attract the future industry workforce, as well.

Why is changing with the digital revolution so important? The answer is summed up in the difference between digital immigrants and digital natives. According to Don Tapscott, noted author, chairman of nGenera Insight, a think tank based in Toronto, and one of the keynote speakers at Honeywell’s Users Group meeting in Scottsdale Ariz., a digital immigrant is one who finds themselves adapting to technology and adopting it into their way of life. As for a digital native, they were born into technology and they don’t know any other way of life.

So far, business has reacted positively to those who are dabbling in new office and field technology or dipping their toes in social media. They have been able to navigate the digital realm with some struggle, but most of their digital immigrant employees and customers are struggling just as much as they are and providing for their needs has been accomplishable. But what happens when the digital immigrant’s employee and customer base shifts? How will the digital immigrant running the business be able to provide for the requests and demands of the digital natives?

As Tapscott said in his presentation, “The time for tinkering is over. It is time to make fundamental changes.”

Slapping up a Facebook page and tweeting until your fingers fall off probably won’t make your business successful in the new digital era. It will help for now, but continued success is going to require a change in the way you think, interact, and communicate with the physical and social world.

Digital immigrants can become as fluent as digital natives, but it is going to require a rebuild and new approach to your business practices and not just a few tinkerings here and there. Don’t worry, we’ll learn together.
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