Click this. Great quote.

2013 was not a fun year for many of my friends and acquaintances. In fact, the “13” may cement “bad luck” in their minds. I don’t subscribe to the thought that a year or some other arbitrary classification of time truly has an effect on us or something magical will change when it ends. However, its handy for us to talk about time in comfortable units. TGIF comes from thinking like this. 😉

The year also brought a great number of things into clarity for me and for my professional life. It is a great time to be alive and working as a consultant to progressive companies. It’s all about opportunity and those who seek it.

Let’s start with the idea that has permeated the news in the last few weeks: drones delivering goods we buy online.

Raise your hand if you think it’s possible.

Now, think about how many people you know who are fluent in drone communication and maintenance.

Think there might be an opportunity for people to design, build, and service drones? I do. It’ll take a few years, but there’s no doubt the world will need people who are fluent in drone-speak.

And if you don’t think its possible, take a look at these two links:

I’m a believer.

We’re seeing the convergence of technology more rapidly now than ever before. As I write this, Netflix is streaming through my Apple TV — which is controlled by my iPhone. A year or two ago, I didn’t hear of any friends doing things like this. Now, its commonplace.

My guess is your email is hosted in the cloud (Google Apps or Office365). You probably read news, books, and email on a tablet or phablet (phone+tablet). Your media may be on a local hard drive or storage device, but if you lose it then you can download it from Apple, Amazon, or Google again at no charge. And some readers may control thermostats and other utility-oriented devices using an app on your phone.

The concept of the Internet of Things is starting to explode. In a few years, we’ll wonder what life was like without connected devices. My children will likely never know disconnected devices.

Problems with Tech and Life

We have a few problems whenever the pace of technological advancement outpaces thoughtful social absorption. I believe someone in Oak Ridge said something about this. Another way to think of it is this: “if we can, should we?” Well, as capitalist and paranoid as we are the answer will almost always be “Yes”.

Here are some of the problems we’ve just started to discover with our new tech.

Let’s start small. I can watch unlimited episodes on the ABC app on my iPad. I cannot watch any on the Apple TV ABC app. Why? I don’t have a cable TV or satellite subscription. The iPad doesn’t care and the Apple TV does. Annoying.

We stare at screens all day. Visits over the holidays proved this to be true. If there’s a lull in the conversation, then everyone pulls out their phone and starts reading/typing. Wonder what communication will be like in ten years.

Are you ready for questions from children about all kinds of topics? Ready for them to develop their own thoughts? Possibly their own religions?

Kids start to read around 4-5 years old. When you put a connected device in their hands or expose them to other kids who have those devices, then you are opening your children up to a world you do not control. And its not the same sort of world we had just ten years ago. The entire world is available to them though the internet. Varied political and religious ideas are rampant. There’s no telling how many sub-reddits will be available tomorrow, but we know it’ll be in the thousands. And that is just one website.

And filters do not work. The UK is learning that now with their attempt at porn filters. They should have called China first and asked about the success rate of internet filters. Filters are machine based and do not know the difference between good and bad. They can block an educational site just as easily as a “bad” site.

So make sure you know what you are doing when you hand the connected device to your kids.

Speaking of kids, let’s review online privacy — or the lack thereof. I put pics of my boys online. Friends and relatives love it. Will my kids love it in a few years? I don’t know. They don’t know. I know we need a way to hide and remove them quickly. There’s no quick way to do it.

Everything is monitored. We all know about the NSA. We’ve also seen how we can be tracked, step by step, unless we take the battery out of our mobile phone. Can anyone show me how to do that on your iPhone? 😉 You can’t.

Now, let me shift from my Old Man on the Porch role to that of Optimist.

Opportunity and Awe

I’m an optimist who believes in balance in all things. Instead of worrying about the things I just wrote about, I’ll think about them as they happen. Not a good idea for a guy with a Philosophy background, but what can I say? I’m also realistic…

My firm regularly reviews position descriptions for clients. Why, you ask? Our clients have to hire people for skill sets that didn’t exist a few years ago. Once hired, the manager has to review performance. How easy do you think it is for the average Marketing Director to evaluate who to hire (read: believe) for an email marketing position? The terminology goes beyond “manage email blasts” and “update the database”.

We review the resumes, conduct phone interviews, and sit in on interviews to make sure our clients hire the right people. You will not find “Technology Hiring Services” anywhere on our website, either. We do it because we believe in our clients and appreciate having a say in who we work with.

We help integrate all kinds of technology into daily business operations and then build a team to support it. If I were in college now, I’d look to build a company or find a job in data analysis, change management, and technology. Actually, allow me to edit that statement. No matter your age or stage in life, I would look to understand and become an expert in those three areas. Age matters less now than ever.

Every company is a technology company.

Every company must change and integrate analysis of data into operations and performance goals.

There are not enough people with the skills to do this and more and more people want to work for themselves. Old school managers and owners need to learn how to manage a distributed workforce. Our politicians should stop thinking about “creating jobs” and concentrate on educating and empowering people.

A small rant: When I see politicians and other people talk about “job creation” as a priority, I cringe. We should not seek to create jobs for the sake of creating them. Help existing companies achieve more profit and help new entrepreneurs get started. These two things will create jobs. Jobs are a by product of a successful business. 

Here’s a hint that’ll make your journey on the tech path less stressful: you can’t keep up with all of it. Just accept it. Breathe.

So with all of this tech exploding, constant change, and a need for businesses to be more competitive, you have an opportunity to create your own job (company?) and seek out the company that will pay you to practice your trade. You are not limited by geography, language, or age. You are limited by those very old school factors of ambition, work ethic, and desire. Learn to hustle.

2014 is around the corner. Don’t wait for it to bring you something. You need to meet it head on.

I leave you with a great video by a guy named Eric:

Kick ass in 2014!