People using cell phones

Your future success depends on your TQ

Safely integrating technology into your life

Technology is speeding everything up, improving our ability to get around (typically). The other day, on my way to a conference, I used my phone to unlock a Lime bike* so I could bicycle to Starbucks to pick up my mobile order. As I walked past the long line of people waiting to order, I briefly thought about whether they knew there was an app to pre-order and I wondered how long it would take them to get to the conference next door. Putting the thought aside, I continued to the convention center where I would use a conference app to reference what sessions I had scheduled for my day. This was all within the first hour of my morning! It is baffling to pause and reflect on how much technology we use, especially in an average work day.

Attending that ATD (Association for Talent Development) conference I came across a new term, TQ, or Technology Quotient. We rate human intelligence with IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and people are becoming more familiar with the ability to interpret feelings, often looking at empathy, with EQ (Emotional Quotient, sometimes referred to as Emotional Intelligence) but have you ever evaluated your TQ (Technology Quotient), or your ability to integrate technology into your life?

I recall being intrigued years ago when a roommate talked about investing in a new technology called VoIP. Today we see people regularly using Facetime and Skype for international calls and there are extensive competitors in the Unified Communications industry. Thinking about this one aspect of technology, what will a potential employer decide if you are unable to successfully connect to an online video interview knowing it is a necessary component for conducting their business?

Yet technology is extending beyond iPhones, Androids, PCs, Macs, and video calls. These days we constantly hear about Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Smart Homes. It’s hard to keep up with the details of new hardware and all the software and apps that go along with each. While we’re continuously adapting and learning, we also often incorporate technology without reviewing the full extent of its capability or exploring all its features and customizations. Consider just one area of any technology for a moment: security. How adept are you at managing just the security aspect of the technology you use?

How many social media accounts do you have? How many apps do you have installed on your phone? Did you read all the recent emails referencing privacy policy updates for every account and app you own? Do you leave the default options on for a system, such as a digital assistant like Alexa or Siri, or do you customize your security settings first thing? Do you use 2-factor authentication? When was the last time you changed your passwords to something new and unique for every single account? Where are you even storing all of your passwords?

Security industry experts spend endless hours working to keep company information safe, yet users are still the biggest risk for causing security breaches. According to research reported in the Insider Threats and Their Impact on Data Security by Ipswitch, “74% of security breaches originate from within the extended global enterprise.” They use the term “insider threats” to refer to both deliberate and unintentional, or accidental, data breaches by company workers. The report notes that “81% of hacking-related breaches are caused by weak passwords.” While adopting the available technology, are you managing it in a responsible way or might you become a suspect in a company data breach?

I’m barely scratching the surface of technology we use today; as technology continues to build on previous advancements we’ll continue to see exponential growth in high-tech. A small lack of knowledge now will rapidly grow into a significant disparity. Your TQ will be based on how well you continue to integrate it into your personal and business life.

It is exciting to see these various advancements – I periodically think about how some day my daughter will say she remembers how she used to have to touch screens to make devices do things. Yet it can also be overwhelming to keep up with so many growing industries and capabilities, think about all the medical advancements and robotics! It is even exhausting to simply think about every possible security setting for each aspect of technology. However, by becoming complacent about learning new technology and trusting the default settings we not only allow a gap in knowledge grow, we increasingly risk our privacy and security. If you aren’t adapting to it you’re going to get left behind, or worse, get hacked.

While technology is speeding us up, slow down and take the time to dig in and learn what you can about it, especially security features. Be diligent, keep learning and exploring, be innovative, help your children become safe digital natives. And if you are now terrified and uncertain where to start, check out 6 ways to make your family harder to hack in 2018.

*In defense of Lime bikes: just as there are good and bad drivers, there are good and bad cyclists, and there are unfortunately some irresponsible users of Lime bikes that don’t represent those of us doing our best to keep the bikes out of your way.


Addendum: I’m an enthusiastic life-long learner and encourage everyone to consider what they can do to improve their TQ. However, I continue to be concerned about the disparity in access to technology and worry about growing inequity; explore the PEW Research on the “Digital Divide” for more information. We take for granted what we know and have access to, but there are millions of people out there who “don’t know what they don’t know.” Take time to teach others, including those outside your immediate circle. It could even simply be your favorite tech tip, we all have to start somewhere.