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Technology for People

by Ronald G. Shapiro

There are numerous reasons to obtain new technology for one’s business, academic or personal use. Two of the best reasons are that technology will improve safety and it will also improve productivity. Other reasons might be that the technology would reduce service costs, be fun to have and be great to show off to friends and customers.


Looking at a glossy brochure or website may make a product appear to accomplish some, if not all, of the above objectives. While the product information may be truthful and provide a complete description of the product, it may not tell the whole story. Think about standing in line at a store to check out or calling a company for customer service and having the employee you are working with say something like, “I’m sorry that it is taking longer than usual. We are using a new computer system.” Clearly, this initial period with the new equipment is not increasing productivity.


Perhaps, more seriously, consider purchasing a new car in which the controls are in different positions than you are used to. You may make errors such as washing the windows when you intend to turn on the lights. This could cause an accident.  In addition to evaluating the literature a manufacturer might offer on their products, consider the following prior to investing in new technology:


  1. WHO WILL BE USING THE SYSTEM? Will they be able to physically work with the new technology? If you are using touch-sensitive screens, will the screen respond to their touch easily? Will they be able to move the cursor easily? If the technology is large or heavy, will they be able to access what they need easily and safely?
  2. IF THE SYSTEM WILL BE USED SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH EXISTING EQUIPMENT, ARE SIMILAR BUTTONS IN THE SAME PLACE?For example, if the start button is on the left on one piece of equipment and the stop button is on the right, and this is reversed on another piece of equipment, this may lead to errors.
  1. IF THE NEW TECHNOLOGY IS REPLACING OLDER TECHNOLOGY, ARE THE CONTROLS COMPATIBLE? If not, how long will it take for people to get used to the new controls?
  1. DOES THE SAME BUTTON DO DIFFERENT THINGS AT DIFFERENT TIMES AS THE EQUIPMENT IS BEING USED?This kind of display is called a modal display and can lead to slower performance and to errors.
  1. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO TRANSFER FILES, ETC. to the new technology so that it works as well as, if not better, than the existing system
  1. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE THE PEOPLE USING THE NEW SYSTEM TO LEARN IT? What will the impact be on business in the short term?
  2. WILL THE NEW SYSTEM BE SAFER, MORE PRODUCTIVE, AND/OR MORE FUN TO USE PRESENTLY AND INTO THE LONG TERM? Is it really ergonomically designed? (There are sometimes claims made that products are ergonomically designed even though they have never been tested, and may not be.)
  3. WILL THE TOTAL ENERGY AND OTHER MAINTENANCE COSTS BE SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER FOR THE NEW SYSTEM including energy to heat, cool and light the equipment area?
  4. WILL EMPLOYEE TRAVEL TIME TO GET TO THE NEW TECHNOLOGY BE INCREASED OR DECREASED? For example, direct costs may be lowered if a few local printers are replaced by a more powerful one, but the cost of employee travel time to obtain printout might offset the equipment savings.
  5. IF POSSIBLE, PILOT TEST MIGRATION TO THE NEW SYSTEM and also have typical users use the new system until they become proficient with it. Obtain their input and study their productivity gains/losses before you make a commitment to invest money or change technology.



Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro

Independent Consultant in Human Factors

Learning & Human Resources

To Give is Far Better Than to Receive

by Michael Brito

What does the saying, “to give is better than to receive” really mean? Maybe we should look back to our own way of conducting business for a deeper understanding of why we went into business in the first place. When we had that first idea that being an entrepreneur was real, achievable and nothing was impossible…then shortly after we heard that first “no.”

We will always need others to make gains whether it be in our professional or personal lives. We live in communities with other people. If we embrace the idea that other people are involved in our lives, we will indeed be successful. If we operate as if we do not need the help of others, the road to success will be much more difficult. When our company applied for our MBE/DBE status certification it would have been impossible without the help of several individuals that I am still in relationship with! My life was and continues to be enhanced by helping them and being helped by them. We will always need others, no matter what we are involved in.

The way we advance in our careers is actually helping others achieve as well! Looking back at goals and milestones in my business and personal life, every time I reached the next level, I was also reaching back to help someone else on the way up. Call it karma, stewardship or whatever you like but for us, this is our way of conducting business. True success doesn’t happen without first thinking of how we are able to best serve our community.

In my business, we have always hired individuals that are somehow getting looked over or simply need a break. Once hired, often times that individual will be eager to excel through various educational programs we offer or support. We also have sponsored certificate courses that teach through exclusive class-time supported by our hands-on approach. Classes are conducted at our Church and through existing Christian based programs. Most of the time, you can find a course or study group that’s already in place so reinventing the wheel isn’t an issue. We chose to conduct programs through our Church since our business is based upon a “higher principal” however, you may find that there are many other programs out there that are a fine fit for your time and talent!

You will find as you progress into the “giving of yourself” mind-set that you’re the one learning the most. It’s hard to say what I’ve gained through all the various ways we’ve given of ourselves and our resources but I can say that I wouldn’t want one minute or one dime back! So, look to your community for groups in need of what your company has to offer; find a need and fill it.

My Grandfather always said, “Mike, if I don’t see your impact, I don’t see your blessing.” He was a very wise man and through his love of others, showed me just how important filling the needs of our community actually fills our own life to a point of over abundance. So, go ahead, give of yourself and see what a difference it makes in the lives of those you touch and what a difference it will make in you!

If you need any help getting matched with a community based program, civic group or just have a heart to reach out to your own employees and fill a need. Please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to meet with you! Live a full life, give of yourself!

Tech Force RI Meets Demand For IT Expertise


As Information Technology continues to be one of the fast growing and in-demand industries, employers’ need to hire a skilled technical workforce – a Tech Force – has never been greater. In October 2014, Rhode Island received $7.5 million in U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Ready to Work Partnership funding to address the state’s information technology (IT) industry employment and workforce needs. The resulting initiative is Tech Force Rhode Island.

Tech Force programs and services combine career coaching and a blended learning model of industry-led technical, business, and work-readiness training to prepare well-rounded candidates ready to meet employer need. Training programs and services are free to qualified candidates and are expected to serve 476 of Rhode Island’s long-term unemployed and under-employed career seekers through October 2018.

In addition to connecting employers with in-demand, credentialed tech talent, employers may benefit from Tech Force through participation on the Industry Advisory Council, curriculum development, industry tours and presentations, interviewing and work-readiness workshops, and hosting experiential learning opportunities. Tech Force recruiting services to fill open positions and connections to pre-qualified talent are free to employers, and On the Job Training funds are also available when hiring.

Tech Force Rhode Island is funded by the USDOL. Funds were awarded to Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston with partnering agencies Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island and Tech Collective.

How to Raise 11,000 lbs. of Canned Goods in a Single Week


2009 was a tumultuous year for many businesses but for Regency Cigar in East Greenwich, prosperity continued. However, the thought of thriving while many others were struggling did not feel quite right for owner Michael Correia who came from a less affluent home. So, he decided to act upon his instinct to give back to the community using the same successful formula that he uses in day-to-day business. In 2009, Regency donated 876 lbs. of canned goods to the Rhode Island Food Bank. In 2015, they became the largest private donor of canned goods by raising 11,067 lbs. in a single week! Their formula for success is clearly something for every business to model when thinking about giving back.

In order to launch a successful campaign regardless of whether or not it is for-profit or not-for-profit, you must approach it in the same manner, “If you focus strongly on being successful at something, you will find success,” says Mike. Mike explained the philosophy behind treating the food drive as if it was a profitable campaign. He went into saying that placing a box in the corner and hoping that people will fill the box is a kind act with selfless intentions but often times there needs to be some energy behind the intention to actually get that box filled.

The process requires a two part component, first he rallies his team. Creating a standard beyond measure for his employees has trickled down to finding continued success in both business and in their efforts to raising 11,000 lbs. of food. Next, he and his team rally their most loyal and generous customers. What first began as a simple food drive to help has turned into a head-to-head competition. One customer will bring in 500 lbs. of pasta while another customer is challenged to donate 500 lbs. of sauce — and so it continues. The drive is held during the busiest month of the year for most small businesses; while others are focused on driving sales, Regency’s team is focused on giving back.

While the initial thought to entice others to donate by offering a single cigar for every two canned goods donated has turned into a single cigar for four canned goods donated. Most of their customers generously do not accept a thing.

Last year, storage for the food drive was the most difficult aspect of the week long food drive. Fortunately, this past year Regency has expanded their cigar shop into a newly designed cigar bar equipped with fine whiskeys, wines and malt scotches to accompany their high-end selection of cigars and exclusive events.
Additionally, the plan is to incorporate their own aging humidor. The new expansion will leave more space for future food drives and more customers to take part. But as the company continues to grow in more ways, the food drive remains the most talked about event of the year.

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