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McClatchy-Tribune  01/26/2014 1:51 PM ET
Expert: New workplace technology a game-changer [The Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff :: ]

Jan. 26--Julie Pastrick, president of Flagstaff's Chamber of Commerce, unveiled a new name and updated logo to a packed house at its annual meeting Friday at the High Country Conference Center.

The chamber is now known as the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce. The updated logo still has the iconic Flagstaff mountains but in a slightly different format.

The chamber also highlighted the role of technology in the workplace with its keynote speaker, Tracey Wilen-Daugenti.

Wilen-Daugenti is a speaker and author who specializes in the role of women in business and the effect new technology, such as social media and 3-D printers, have on the workplace and society.

"Ninety-four percent of businesses use social media," she said. "We are working in a globally connected world."

Business owners can sell products around the world through the magic of the Internet and websites such as Ebay, Wilen-Daugenti said. They are also dealing with a world that is less secure and less certain.

"You never know when the next terrorist attack might happen or the next technological advance or whatever," she said.

They are also dealing with workers who are living longer and staying in the workplace longer.

"We have three or four generations in the workforce now," Wilen-Daugenti said, noting that companies must deal with workers who have different technological skills.

MAKING SENSE OF DATA

Office space is changing too, she said. Some companies, such as Apple, are moving to huge business campuses where everyone is headquartered. Others are having their employees work from home by computer. Start-up companies are relying on mobile devices such as phones and tablets and Internet service from coffee shops and libraries.

Businesses and employees need to cultivate new skills in this new technology-driven world, Wilen-Daugenti said.

One of those skills is "sense-making," she said. "You have to make sense of the data. It's a data-driven world."

She explained how one day she received a call from the department store Nordstrom trying to get her to come back and shop at the store. The company had used data from her credit card purchases to determine how often she shopped, what kind of things she bought and which salesperson she interacted with the most.

"It's a way to increase sales," Wilen-Daugenti said. "It's happening everywhere."

Businesses and employees also have to be new media literate, she said.

"More 18- to 34-year-olds watch YouTube than cable TV," she said. "We are becoming a visual society."

She pointed to a new augmented reality program that can be used by coroners to collaborate with other professionals over an autopsy.

THINK LIKE A COMPUTER

Another necessary skill in the new technological age is to think like a computer, Wilen-Daugenti said.

"We have to run data more systematically," she said. She pointed to the supercomputer Watson, which was created by IBM. The artificially intelligent computer was designed to compete against humans on the TV quiz show "Jeopardy!" After winning the contest, the computer's brainpower was turned toward finding a cure for cancer.

Which leads to a skill that employers and employees need to develop -- adapting new technology to new uses. She cited a doctor who adapted a 3-D printer to manufacture a three-dimensional form for grafted skin that could create a new ear for patients.

Or a car manufacturer who is creating smart glasses that help mechanics identify a problem with a car and fix it.

Employees and companies have to be both specialists and generalists in their jobs.

"There is no more one job for life," Wilen-Daugenti said. People have to plan how they will live in the future. How will they save enough money to live into their 90s? How will they pay for the education to change jobs when technology changes? It's something that people have to think about now, she said.

MEMBERS HONORED

The chamber also honored a number of its members for their service to the community. This year's Ambassador of the Year award went to Annette Fallaha of Fall Inn to Nature Bed and Breakfast. The Volunteer of the Year award was given to chamber Ambassador Jeff Sonni and Century Link and Education and Workforce Development Committee member Douglas Allan.

The Buy, Dine and Stay in Flagstaff award went to Mark Lamberson of Mountain Sports for his efforts to boost downtown businesses. The Business Achiever Award went to W. L. Gore and Associates for its work on improving math skills in local schools.

Pastrick also presided over the passing of the gavel from the chamber's current chairman Greg Sampson to its new chairman, Guillermo Cortes.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa can be reached at sadams@azdailysun.com or 556-2253.

 

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