Monday, May 5, 2014

Want to keep up with technology? Ask your grandkids

Over the years I have been very fortunate to meet and pick the brains of some of the best and brightest financial advisers, economists and financial analysts from all over our country.

I was recently at an educational workshop listening to and taking notes from various presenters. While they may have disagreed on various investment and economic projections, they all agreed emphatically that the world is changing. And I was astonished to realize how rapidly it’s changing.

One speaker pointed out that this is the first time in American history that the elderly are looking to the youth for information. I am a perfect example in that when a son or daughter-in-law comes to visit, it seems I’m constantly asking them to resolve or fix a technical issue on a phone or a computer.

The point is that, while it may be a technological issue for me, it’s basic knowledge for the youth of our nation. For example, my wife recently reminded me that while she was visiting our grandkids, our almost 3-year-old grandson asked her if she brought her iPad. What is often a puzzle for adults is the norm for the youth.

One presenter, Scott Klososky, mentioned that in today’s world telephones are not really phones. He actually referred to them as outboard brains, and I have to admit, I think he’s right on the money.

We’re entering an era where people are trying to find the balance between humanity and technology. Picture a family of four sitting at the dinner table, each of them staring at their smart phones and not interacting with one another. That is a scene that’s out of balance.

On the other hand, a family not utilizing technology is likely to have difficulty climbing the economic ladder. Finding the right blend between the use of technology and social skills is a challenge that lies ahead for many.

Technology is changing the landscape throughout the entire world. In years past, cities and malls were full of record stores. Technology companies like Apple changed the way we purchase and play our music. Kindles and iPads changed the way we read books. These technologies are great, but there are losers as well. Consider the demise of Borders Books and the recent closings of several Barnes & Noble stores.

I’d like to remind readers that just 14 years ago Kodak had one of its most profitable years. At the time, they had many patents in hand for the upcoming change in technology. Unfortunately, they didn’t make adjustments fast enough and went through bankruptcy. Kodak was not alone. There are numerous firms that no longer exist, primarily because they failed to utilize technology. But all is not doom and gloom because technological upstarts such as Facebook and Instagram have taken their place. These companies not only know how to embrace technology, but also how to touch the human side of us all.

Clearly, the world is changing at the speed of light. What people my age need to learn and embrace is simply what the younger generations already know. It’s the norm for them.

Although some companies may lose, I believe technology will ultimately improve our lifestyles and the way we function every day. And, of course, new technology will offer numerous investment opportunities.

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