Technology is a broad term that refers to any tools used in order to create or achieve value. It can also be considered as the application of knowledge, namely science, to solve problems. Its meaning is often associated with the use of machines, but can also encompass other types of tools, such as software and business methods.
Technological discoveries have been fundamental in the evolution of mankind. The prehistoric discovery of fire increased available sources of food, while inventions like the wheel helped humans control their environment and communicate with each other. However, not all technological developments have been positive – weapons of increasing destructive power have also been a part of human history.
Whether it is the latest smartphone or car, a computer, television, HiFi system, or drone, the technology we live with is constantly evolving. As the world becomes more connected and digitalised, the importance of understanding technology is growing for all stakeholders – from those who research, develop and implement new technologies, to those who use them in their daily lives.
From a consumer point of view, most people associate the word ‘technology’ with gadgets like mobile phones and computers. But from a business perspective, the concept is much more expansive and often refers to what is known as IT (Information Technology) – systems, networks and software used in the running of an organisation.
The most common way that companies use technology is through centralized data networks where information can be stored and easily retrieved. This enables businesses to make analytical decisions with minimal effort and increase productivity.
Some of the most common uses of technology are communication technologies, such as telephones and the internet, which help people stay in touch with each other irrespective of distance. It is also possible to use technology to transfer large amounts of information quickly and efficiently. This can be useful for businesses, who may need to send important files and documents to clients or colleagues abroad.
Many people are unaware that the term ‘technology’ has a long and varied history. Its etymology stems from the Indo-European word tek, which means “to work with wood”. From here it was derived to the Greek techne, which at first referred to craft skills such as weaving and carpentry but came to be synonymous with scientific expertise and know how in general. Nevertheless, there was a debate on whether certain activities were techne or not, such as medicine and rhetoric.