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What's the Problem?

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When brainstorming technology story ideas at ENR, our editors frequently start by trying to feel your pain. Our readers are the construction people who depend on technology to improve their personal and company performance, but they also are the people who are left frustrated or wistful when needed technology fails them or has yet to be invented.

 When we hear those stories about common technology wishes and issues we start looking for folks who have found or invented solutions, and then we write about those.  If it is new and helpful and we can find it and it’s not widely known, then it fits our definition of technology news.

 So what’s your problem?

 Sometimes just hearing a problem expressed will make you realize that you are struggling with the same problem too.  For example, I met Crary Pullen, an associate picture editor at Time Magazine recently, and we started talking about SaaS, or software as a service. I expected her to launch into the benefits of working on a team whose software is always up-to-date, patched and marching along with perfect version control, and instead she started complaining about coming in again and again on Monday mornings and finding tools and functions moved around or discontinued and the interface changed just enough to throw her off her stride.

 I realized that’s been annoying me a good bit too. And that’s an angle of SaaS I will be sure to ask users about whenever we write about that form of provisioning in the future.

 Often problems—and wishes— that are expressed either help define business opportunities for technology developers, or they plug right in as sales leads for smart marketers who have answers ready to go.

 Another example: Our colleague, Sigmund (Luke) Abaffy blogged about hearing your pain the other day and put it this way: “Is there a daily, weekly, yearly trouble that keeps rearing its head and you have to figure a work-around for it every time? … tell us your construction tech troubles…. Also, if you've already found a magic bullet for something that used to be an inconvenience we'd love to hear that as well.”

 One response to Luke came from Adam Kreitman, an assistant project manager with NEI General Contracting, Randolf, Mass. Kreitman laments the spotty Internet and power availability he runs into on jobsites “time and time again.” He says it can keep him from finding answers online when he needs them fast. One possible solution he proposes:

 I would love to see Jackets or Toolboxes fitted up with Solar or charging stations (whether it be Carhartt or JobBox) so that you could plug in wireless cards or laptops for two hours at a time to get work done onsite more efficiently as problems arise.”

 Is that a problem waiting for a solution, or is there a solution out there looking for people with that problem?

 A variant on this is my question for CTOs, CIOs and technology implementers: What is it that you think the people that you advise need to understand better now about evolving technology, to make better decisions tomorrow? What do you think they need to know?

 Help us understand that and we’ll work on stories that provide those answers. Delivering that kind of information is the goal of the technology editors at ENR.

 To reach out, email Luke at: Sigmund_Abaffy@McGraw-Hill.com

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  Blogs: ENR Staff   Blogs: Other Voices  
Critical Path: ENR's editors and bloggers deliver their insights, opinions, cool-headed analysis and hot-headed rantings
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