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June 26, 2017: Don’t Let Fear Of Change Hold Your Company Back

by Jamie Stone

Technology is in a constant state of change and as a software developer, you must adapt to it very quickly or you will be left behind.  As a 26-year-old software developer, I grew up in a world where technology was growing at an exponential rate and have dealt with change constantly throughout my career. I enjoy the need to always be learning new technologies to keep up with my field, and change is something I find exciting rather than uncomfortable.  I do not claim to be a master of dealing with change though, and it took me a long time to be open to change and respect its necessity. 

One of the technology changes that I seemed to personally struggle with are phone transitions.  Going from a flip-phone to a smartphone was something I delayed in doing up until only 5 years ago.  I was so set and comfortable with my old technology that I was blind to see the advantages and upgrades of the newer technology.  Once I begrudgingly made the switch, I realized how wrong I had been about the smartphone, and how far behind I had been technologically.  

I have seen a lot of examples of companies and employees struggling with change and technology’s rapid growth as well.  I first noticed this struggle with change at my first job out of college.  While I was with this company I was programming with COBOL, which is a language that was created in 1959.  COBOL is a language that is known for being easy to use as it was made to be very close to the English language.  While COBOL is still used in a lot of financial and government entities, it is slowly being phased out for newer, more efficient technology.  As time goes on COBOL will become less and less known, and eventually it may become obsolete, leaving those who have not learned anything beyond it, left behind as well.  This brings to light another issue.  Do we continue to teach the technologies that are becoming obsolete to younger generations, or do they move on to newer technologies that speed up the death of older ones?

During my experience with programming COBOL for this company, I noticed many examples struggle with change.  One example could be found in the programs that the company ran every morning to printing out hundreds of pages of reports for employees around the company, rather than utilizing an e-mail service.  On top of that, an employee then had to spend an hour handing out all the papers desk by desk, which was not only a waste of time, but resources and money as well.  I was tasked with this a few times, and quickly realized how much easier it would be to just have these reports created in Excel and emailed to the appropriate employee.  When we attempted to implement this idea, it was quickly reversed, because people were too used to the original method and did not want to adapt to the change.  It’s very easy to get used to the status quo of how one’s job or company functions and not realize that there are often better or more efficient opportunities available to you.

When I first started working on Water Sage under Ponderosa Advisors, we were using Silverlight to provide access to our product.  Silverlight applications required the use of NPAPI, which in 2014 Google started phasing out support in Chrome. Mozilla, the creators of Firefox, also ended support for NPAPI in 2016.  This announcement left us with some very important decisions.  We knew we could no longer continue to develop on a technology that although wasn’t very old, was already being phased out, but we that we had to learn about and implement a whole new technology.  We spent months studying the different technologies available to us and eventually decided on a new web technology, Aurelia.  As we pushed forward, we quickly realized the world of web development is a perfect example of change.  Web technologies are always changing and require for us to constantly be on the lookout for the latest and greatest tools to accomplish our goals.  What we ended up with is a more efficient, responsive and all around better user experience.  We are constantly on the lookout for new tools that will allow for us to better our application.  The more we can adapt to change, the better off Water Sage will be.

The mentality at Ponderosa Advisors is much different than my previous company when it comes to change.  Working with Water Sage, we are constantly adapting to new technologies to create the best user experience we can.  We do so by learning about and using cutting-edge technologies, and implementing active attitudes about education.  And I know that this openness to change will help us in the long run to provide the best experience for our clients.  Our ability to adapt to and accept change allows us to create a product that is ever-growing and always up-to-date with the latest technologies and demands of our clients. 

Progress is impossible without change.  The more we are open to change, the better off we will be.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  • We will be at Western Landowners Alliance Board Meeting and Mitigation Workshop in Missoula, MT on Aug 2-4.
  • We will be at Colorado Water Congress in Steamboat Springs, CO on August 22-24.
  • We will be at the Montana/Idaho REALTORS Joint Annual Business Convention in Big Sky, MT on September 13-14.
  • We will be at the Montana Association of Counties Annual Conference in Bozeman, MT on September 17-21.
  • We will be at the Montana League of Cities & Towns Annual Conference in Great Falls, MT on September 27-29.
  • We will be at the Montana American Water Resources Association in Helena, MT on October 19-20.
  • We will be at the South Platte Forum in Loveland, CO on October 25-26.
  • We will be speaking at the 2017 AWRA Annual Conference in Portland, OR on November 5-9.
  • We will be at the Montana Association of Conservation Districts Annual Conference in Bozeman, MT on November 12-14.
  • We will be at the ACWA 2017 Fall Conference & Exhibition in Anaheim, CA on November 28 - December 1.

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