It can be hard to know which way is up when faced with all the technology available today. Between augmented reality, programming, connected objects, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, big data… There are so many options, but which is the one with the power to transform your everyday life and stimulate your creativity? Before investing your time – and sometimes money – in a new technology, it’s important to start by asking the right questions
Looking to increase your productivity at work? Save time? Automate certain recurring tasks? By honing in on your needs, you’ll be better positioned to choose an appropriate technology. That’s according to Jeremy Grayton, Technology Director at Realisations, an experience design studio. “Technology is one thing, but you have to make the right technological choice.”
It’s to this Montreal-based company that we owe the use of mass data to regulate the brightness of the illumination of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. To execute this technological challenge, Realisations designed a proprietary software, SENS.ei Data. “This tool allows us to develop new content to meet the specific needs of each project,” Jeremy explains. To make sure you’re meeting your needs, sometimes you need to leave the beaten path and think up new solutions.
Barbara Vivier and Laura Trucy, the creators of Nouveau Rivage, an online decor boutique, also made the choice to tackle technology themselves as they prepared to launch their business. “We wanted to create an e-commerce platform, but we didn’t have the means to pay someone to build our website. So we decided to do it all ourselves with whatever means we had available. We started by identifying our project’s needs, then we researched the best solution.”
After establishing your needs, it’s important to study all the options and technological avenues that might meet those needs.
“We asked everyone around us for advice – experts, developers, strategists and people with similar needs to our own,” Barbara explains. Seeking out information from specialists, on blogs, social networks or by asking your network is the first step. “Thanks to their advice, we chose the Shopify platform to create our site, because it’s affordable, and an ideal solution for people like us who aren’t programming experts,” says Barbara.
Once you’ve decided on a tool, gather your courage and jump in. Learning a new technology can be tough, a lot like learning a new language. “I had no experience with the web at all. In the beginning I thought I would never figure it out, but I saw other people making progress so I persevered. I navigated around the platform and looked for answers online, and eventually I got there,” explains Laura. Leaving the beaten path and getting out of your comfort zone can be scary, but the result is worth the effort.
Once you’ve put in all this research and effort, you’ll have a far better understanding of your subject and you’ll be more independent. “In the end, we are very proud to have done it ourselves. We ‘tamed the beast’. In a relatively short time and with a bit of help, we succeeded in creating a tool that works, and that allows us to be independent. It’s easy to be swayed by the latest technology, but you have to pick something and commit. Anyone can succeed if they take the time.”
You know your needs, you’ve chosen your tools, now what? Where can you go to find training? There are several options available, with different advantages depending on your skill level, your needs and what you want to get out of it.
1 - Work with the experts
Learning from professionals and combining your expertise is always an enriching experience. Put out a call to your network. If no one steps forward, collaboration platforms like e180 could be the answer.
2 - Take a remote course
Need more structured support, but with a certain amount of flexibility? MOOCs and online courses might be the option you’re looking for. Lots of sites offer training, like Future Learn, Grovo, CreativeLife, Treehouse… Even renowned university MIT offers lots of free content. Why deprive yourself?
3 - Go back to school
More and more courses are now available for adults who want to grow their technical skills, like Factry, a new school that offers courses for entrepreneurs and anyone else who wants to develop their creativity. Fab labs networks also offer numerous technological trainings, digital workshops, Repair Cafés and electronics courses. There could be one near you!
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