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Monday, September 04, 2006

Technology and Leisure Services Leadership - Preparing for the Future

One of the major influences in the business world today regards the use of technology. In this article, Margaret Ezell discusses the various tools being utilized to enhance efficiency, communication, and the delivery of services. Although the article is specifically related to the extension services, a great deal of the challenges faced apply to the leisure services industry...in fact, a great many persons may argue that extension services provide a great deal of leisure and educational activities in their own right. Furthermore, the basic organizational design and nature of the service offer a relevant view into the very issues faced by the leisure industry.

Technological progress has rapidly changed the office environment; typewriters have been replaced with computers, filing systems with hard drives, switchboards with phone mail. Ezell begins by presenting an overview of the various equipment and services which are making this transformation possible. Communication is key to this effort. With laptop computers, real-time conferencing, access to on-line information, and the most up to date...minute by minute...informatin available (whether that information is regarding an employee or a world report), the process of receiving and disseminating information has been drastically altered. Consequently, new formats for conducting business have becme essential to survival.

Ezell identifies several trends as integral componets of remaining a competitive supplier of services, these include; telecommuting (from work or the field), eliminating the "middle man" (made possible through information technology where the source of information is available via on-line services), increased productivity (aided by technological advances and the ever decreasing cost of those technologies), continuing education, globalization, "narrowcasting" (whereby individualization is possible with little effort), time shifting, instant performance/feedback, and the utilization of contract workers.

Empasis on communication and efficiency is central to the organizational efforts of the future. Accountablility and individuality are maintained, in fact heightened, through the use of technology which streamlines the process of "tracking", analyzing, and presenting information. As the article mentions, emphasis on productivity can be expected to replace traditional time sequencing evaluations as the means of compensation. Telecommuting and contracting will enable the job to "get done" without direct supervision thereby shifting the concept of work as a physical locale where a person performs a set duty...to that of an activity accomplished for renumeration. The ability to locate, evaluate, and disseminate information becomes a more integral compenet of tomorrows leadership ability by enableling the manager the means to best service the population. Knowledge and ability regarding rapidly changing technolical advances become increasing important for effective leadership.

Leisure services are facing similar challenges regarding the impementation of technology and communication in everyday functions. Not only a valuable internal tool for employee tracking and communication, technology as a form of leisure delivery is becoming a major influence. Promoting activities, providing educational opportunities, and enhancing the leisure experience of multitudes of persons, are all technically fesible today. The possiblities for service delivery via technology are virtually limitless...bounded only by the imagination. The effective leadership of tomorrow will recognize and deliver these services today.

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