Brian Nichelson knew there had to be a better way. Tired of seeing people struggle with technology, he decided to do something about it, by starting consulting firm TechMatters Institute.
Brian Nichelson knew there had to be a better way. Tired of seeing people struggle with technology, he decided to do something about it, by starting Pearland-based consulting firm TechMatters Institute and writing a book on handling technology better. Nichelson talks about missles, frustration, and making sure technology isn’t wasted.
What got you interested in doing this work?
I’ve always had one foot in both technology and one in the humanities, and this has allowed me to connect people and technology in more efficient ways. In the U.S. Air Force, I instructed and evaluated officers from diverse backgrounds as they operated a complex system (Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles) at an extremely high degree of proficiency. The interesting part of my job was that an art major approached the task differently than a mechanical engineer, and I had to be able to deal with those contrasting types and everything in between.
Regardless of the task or of the audience, I discovered certain ideas that worked especially well, and I boiled those ideas down to my three technology maxims: Technology is simpler than you think; technology equals people; and technology is interconnected.
Why did you write “Taming Technology”?
I got tired of seeing so many people openly stressed, frustrated, confused, and angered by technology, so I decided to do something about it. I saw examples of these difficulties in the news, in ads and commercials, and among family and friends. I knew that I could help people and organizations by sharing my unique perspective, my insights into the nature of technology, and my proven strategies for coping with technology.
How did the TechMatters Institute get started?
Once I decided to do something about helping people cope with technology, I decided to take as broad an approach as possible. I started TechMatters Institute in order to help businesses get the most out of their technology, to educate individuals in ways of dealing with the technology in their daily lives, and to publish articles and books for a wide variety of audiences.
Why do you think businesses have such a difficult time integrating technology into their operations?
Technology represents such a large investment that it’s only natural to focus almost exclusively on getting the technology right–making sure the different pieces all talk to each other, that they perform the required functions, etc. But technology equals people, and many technologists tend to overlook that. The lesson here is that even the best technology is wasted if the users don’t understand the big picture and if they don’t have the learning tools that get them quickly up to speed and keep them there.
Why do you think there’s a need for what you provide?
Everywhere I go, I hear the same horror stories of technology implementations that fell flat, of technology that is underused, and of software that is too hard to use. These problems cost us time, money, and energy. They not only cost our businesses, but they take a toll on our personal lives as well. I know we can do better with new insights as to the nature of technology and how to deal with it.
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