The “Tech Hero” phenomenon

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No one knows better than I how information technology (IT) devices – from regular old laptop computers to smartphones and tablets – today come packed with tremendous capability, but also require hours (sometimes WEEKS) of patient fiddling to figure out how everything works.

One of the big grievances I continue to hold against all the IT systems I must use today – especially personal computers (PCs) – is that when the operating systems are upgraded, huge wholesale changes get made to once-familiar work processes; one that forces a time-consuming “re-learning” effort just to figure out how to get things up and running again. (If you’ve had the misfortune to move from Windows 7 to Windows 8, you have my sympathies.)

Interesting, it just so happens that a new survey determined that this problem is fairly widespread, especially where “mobile technology” in all its forms is concerned – as I’m sure more than a few truckers, fleet managers and drivers alike, can attest to.

Harris Interactive recently conducted a poll of among over 2,000 U.S. adults for technology firm Lookout and found some surprising data to back up the “time lag” complaint when it comes to figuring out how to effectively use mobile technology:

  • Nearly one in three (31%) admit they regularly make mistakes with mobile technology
  • Some 46% of those who deal with mobile technology say getting comfortable with it (e.g., setting up a new smartphone, tablet device) often takes them hours
  • Over one-quarter (26%) of Americans agree they waste a lot of time trying to set up new gadgets/devices
  • Nearly one in three Americans (31%) feel pressured to keep up with the latest mobile technology

This is precisely where the “Tech Hero” phenomenon that graces the title of this post comes into play. Harris and Lookout found that 56% of those pooled agree they would love to have a “go-to” person for help or advice on mobile technology – a type of person Lookout dubbed a “Tech Hero” – with 75% of those who have a “Tech Hero” saying they would seek out their advice when buying a new smartphone or tablet computer.

“While smartphones are well designed and provide great user experiences, they offer so much functionality they can be complex,” Lookout explained in its survey, which is why the need for “Tech Heroes” is only expected to grow.

Interestingly, Lookout’s survey found that “Tech Heroes” come in all ages – which doesn’t surprise me all that much, since my “Tech Hero” is my youngest daughter (all of 11) who downloaded all the apps I needed for my iPhone, while taking care of many other ongoing IT tasks related to keeping Apple’s sometimes infuriatingly complex device operating at peak efficiency for me.

Lookout found, though, that while common belief suggests tech experts are typically among younger generations, 37% of Americans say their “Tech Hero” is between the ages of 31 and 45, while 33% say they are between 21 and 30. Interestingly enough, 21% say their “Tech Heroes” are 46 years old or older (and my hat is off to all of you, whomever and wherever you may be!)

The long and short of all of this is very simple: trucking increasingly relies on an ever-growing plethora of digitally-driven devices (smartphones chief among them) so this industry is going to need a wide assortment of “Tech Heroes” to keep it all running smoothly; whatever their age or job description might be.

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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