(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit, May 25, 2011)
On the surface, I’m not sure if anyone outside the CSRA is going to rank Augusta terribly high on the quick adoption of technology trends. Not much is going on with GroupOn. Twitter is kind of slow. The more established sites like Facebook and LinkedIn seem to be working well here. Craig’s List is absolutely hot for the used furniture market (so I’m told). But, honestly, my best success in hiring engineers is to put an ad in the paper. For some reason, we seem to be a bit fickle about high tech.
I find that interesting since the major components of Augusta’s economic engine depend on technology to accomplish their missions. Granted, no computer system in the CSRA appears on the list of Top 500 Supercomputers. And I have not heard of any Augusta companies making a fortune through developing iPhone apps. However, if anyone were to say Augusta is not tech savvy, they would be greatly mistaken.
Let’s start at Fort Gordon…Fort Gordon supports numerous missions in the defense of our nation, most of which are technology related. Just a couple of highlights…All Army information technology and communications training is conducted at Fort Gordon. A large portion of the IT management for the U.S. based infrastructure is performed at Fort Gordon. And don’t forget the NSA. Whatever they are doing, their reputation for using the latest tech is pretty secure. (No pun intended)
Now let’s jump back downtown and look at medical technology. On the clinical side, a quick review of our local hospital websites shows that robotic surgery is ubiquitous. MRI’s are standard equipment in major medical practices. On the administrative side, all medical administrators are aware of the $26B put in the stimulus package for Healthcare Information Technology. Seems like there should be an impact in Augusta, yes? And indeed, many healthcare organizations are addressing implementation and upgrade of Electronic Health Records systems. Augusta start-ups such as the one founded by former MCG Health CIO Hal Scott have been established to help healthcare organizations qualify for incentive payments.
And of course, we can’t leave out the nuclear folks that form the third leg of Augusta’s economic engine. Now, nuclear engineering isn’t rocket science, but I’m guessing it probably takes a little more than a mouse and a big screen LED to run a nuclear plant.
So with all this technology driving our local industries, why do we seem to be fickle? Maybe it’s because of our old school view on customer service and relationships. Unfocused technology creates information overload and causes businesses to lose focus on providing service. Somehow we Augustans inherently get that. As a result, technology that works is adopted. Gadgets that waste time, no matter how cool the functionality, never leave Atlanta.
So while we might continue to hear folks criticize Augusta for being slow with technology, my guess is that they will never be able to slow down enough to understand why.
Until next time, see you on Twitter! @gregory_a_baker