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You Need to Understand Tech

They put the “IT” in the humanities.

When clicking through some TED Talks last week, I came across entrepreneur Eric Berridge’s “Why Tech Needs the Humanities.” As someone with a Master of Arts in English, you could say my interest was piqued.

Berridge outlined how his now-$200 million company prevented the loss of a key client by taking a chance on hiring someone without a programming background to handle a complex client problem. This success led to hiring other non-software engineers to fill key positions, and when he said their Chief Technology Officer was an English major, I’ll admit to cheering—just a little. (Full disclosure: It was after 5:00 p.m. and I was the only one in the building, so you’ll have to take my word for it.)

The point?

Bringing in different perspectives helped the company reframe challenges, which ultimately led to growth. People who are driven and intelligent can learn what they need to succeed, and businesses that overlook candidates because their credentials aren’t a perfect match risk ceding ground to competitors.

Why do I need to understand technology if I’m a tax professional?

As I basked in the self-righteous glow of affirmed educational pursuits, I began thinking about “The Last Word” in the June issue of the Journal of Accountancy. Erik Anspach, the CFO of Bison Engineering Inc., talked about how his position, despite ostensibly being about “finance,” requires an understanding of technology.

Now you might say to yourself, “I’m a small, rural-area tax office, and he’s the chief finance officer at a company specializing in air quality. What does his experience have to do with me keeping up with the latest tech developments?” The short answer: to improve efficiency and remain competitive in an evolving market.

It’s important to note that “understand technology” doesn’t mean “become an expert who gives TED Talks.” All Anspach’s saying is that it’s important to have enough information to make educated choices about technology that directly impacts your business. Whether that involves understanding the impact of human validation on OCR-driven technology (like GruntWorx Populate) or recognizing the value of secure, client-facing portals (likeSecureFilePro ), dedicating time to reading technology articles in industry publications is a great way to get started.

Ryan Norton, Contributor

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