Travails of Technology

The truth about technology is that it's never all that it's cracked up to be.

Anyone who has agonized through a slow Internet connection or been dropped from a cellular phone call knows what I'm talking about. The frustration is palpable, and it's based on an acute awareness of the gap between the theoretically possible and the really real.

In other words, technology presents an ideal situation for the application of quality tools.

And that's the point behind "Benchmarking the Home Pages of Fortune 500 Companies" by Nabil Tamimi, Murli Rajan and Rose Sebastianelli (see p. 47). In their article, they compare how corporate Web sites stack up, and they note opportunities for improvement that firms should consider if they wish to take full advantage of the Internet.

Just as quality can improve technology, technology can improve the application of quality. That's the message in two other articles we are publishing this month under the theme of automating quality.

But bringing automated techniques to quality is no simple matter. Without adequate planning, quality analysts may not be able to make use of the data that they are capturing. William Sarell discusses this problem, and an approach for solving it, in his article, "Planning Data Configuration for Statistical Analysis" (see p. 39).

In their article on the challenges posed by Six Sigma and e-commerce, Jenny Kendall and Donna Fulenwider explain why quality professionals need to consider the technological dimensions of corporate improvement initiatives (see p. 31). Again, if a firm fails to plan appropriately, it's unlikely to see all the benefits that it is hoping to achieve.

On the other hand, a firm that uses quality tools and integrates quality initiatives into the planning and design of its information systems will be extremely well positioned to satisfy the imperatives of the emerging world of e-business.

It's true that for the foreseeable future, there will be gaps between what technology promises and what it delivers. But the quality profession can play a big role in narrowing these gaps and in harnessing technology for the pursuit of performance excellence.


Every month I use this space to talk about the highlights of Quality Progress and what we on the editorial staff view as our journey of continuous improvement. This month the magazine features a new column, "Comments on Quality," written by ASQ President Greg Watson (see p. 16). In it Greg talks about what is perhaps the hottest issue among ASQ members, Six Sigma, and offers his insights on where the various factions may find some common ground.

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  Miles Maguire

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