We use Software every. Single. Day. And it’s constantly changing - the cell phone you had 3 years ago seems, well, quite antiquated compared to the latest cell phones available today. As technology surrounds our daily lives more and more, it’s vital that we understand it and how it can be fully utilised. It’s not the Software Engineers who are innovating and driving these new technologies - but “everyday people” in all kinds of jobs.
SOLIDitech’s CEO, Manuel De Jesus started his career as a software engineer looking after an American software platform used by one of the biggest Internet Service Providers in South Africa. About 6 months in, a new ‘Finance Person’ joined the billing team and they started using simple Excel tools like Vlookups and Pivot Tables to automate key business processes. With these pretty simple tools, Mr. ‘Finance Person’ was able to halve the time it took to complete the company’s month-end billing and reporting. HALVE the time. Both for him (less boring work is always great) and for everyone else - no more late nights at the office.
He was not a programmer. He was a ‘Finance Person’. How had he managed to use software to improve his job? This eureka moment triggered a change in Manuel’s thinking and he began to look at what he was doing and how it could be automated.
In fact, it's been nearly 20 years since then and we are still finding new ways to automate things for our clients at SOLIDitech, which grew out of this discovery.
“Yeah Yeah That’s Nice - What is the Point?”
Think about your average day - the coffee maker you use, the calendar alarms you set, the online lunch reservation you made, your doctor’s appointment that gets scheduled and the shopping lists your food app creates for you.
These have become easy tasks because of people simply looking for a better, easier, more effective way to live their lives, service their customers - to do their jobs - and Software holds the key. SOLIDitech builds software automation solutions and we work with people across every department from finance to marketing and customer support, every day.
You don’t need to be able to read and write computer code to make fundamental improvements to what you do. You just need to have an understanding of software, and its capabilities. Let’s call it ‘Software Literacy’. We’ve put together a list of 5 key actions that we would recommend everyone does to help improve their software literacy.
How to Improve your Software Literacy
- Learn how to use Excel - we believe it’s a gateway to business automation software. It’s an easily accessible tool that allows people to perform a task, that could take minutes, in a few seconds. You don’t need to know all 1, 000 features, but there are two killer Excel features that we think are vital for everyone to know how to use: Vlookup and Pivot Tables.
- Sign-up and play with simple business automation tools, such as Zapier, MailChimp and Google Sheets. For example, the Marketing Manager at SOLIDitech was able to automate the first stage of our recruitment process using only these tools. This means that anyone can apply and complete their SOLIDitech job application at their convenience, 24X7 - she did this all without any programming.
- Build a Website. Build your website, or get involved in your company/school/universities’ existing website. You will gain an understanding of how websites (which are what the Internet originally all about) are designed, built and published ... and you’ll learn a set of uber-transferable skills. You don’t even have to program; Most websites are built on a platform called Wordpress is a free platform requiring no programming skills.
- Get First-hand Experience. Intern at a Startup or Tech Company to see how they are pioneering innovative ways of building and deploying software; understand how they apply technology.
- Embrace Software. This means joining the beta program for the new Google Assistant, enabling some Google labs plug-ins on your email account, using Siri or “Hey Google” to automate your daily routines - log an IT request or a bug with Microsoft if you find a problem with windows. This will keep you at the forefront of new technology and you’ll understand how to use it more effectively to your advantage.
One thing is certain, software is changing the world we live in and this trend is only going to accelerate. It’s going to be VITAL to have this certain level of software literacy to prepare for our software future.