Monique Trottier is an owner and partner of Work Industries, an internet consultancy with expertise in web strategy, online marketing, content development and online communities.
Prior to joining Work Industries, Monique was the internet marketing manager at Raincoast Books, where she implemented the company’s literary podcast series, making Raincoast the first Canadian publisher to podcast. Her work on social networking, corporate blogging, podcasting and personal blogging has led to speaking engagements at Vancouver’s Word on the Street Festival and Wordfest: Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival.
Monique says: "I particularly enjoy helping people understand the web. If you speak geek, I’ll speak geek. But if you don’t, I’ll talk to you at your comfort level. I like to break the mysteries of the web down so that people feel in control of their website and are educated on best practices for the web."
As part of this ongoing interest in de-mystifying technology, Work Industries offers a "personal technologist" service. Monique sat down with One Degree to answer our Five Questions about it.
One Degree: What was the impetus behind developing and offering a "personal technologist" service?
The "Personal Technologist" service started as a way to address the growing number of friends and family who were asking [Work Industries’ founder] James Sherrett and me for technology advice. We didn’t see ourselves as computer experts, camera experts, DVD experts–but our friends and family did. We’re good creative generalists, we can figure things out. In many ways, their demands influenced the creation of the personal technologist service.
One Degree: Do you work with clients on an ongoing basis towards specific long-term goals or are visits from your technologist a one-shot deal? (e.g. Like a personal trainer)
The Personal Technologist is an element of all the services we provide. When we talk to clients about web strategy, online marketing, content, community development, we talk about the tools, the way to integrate tools and processes, and we walk through frustrations with existing elements of their websites or operations. We are teachers as much as we are do-ers. It’s our job to give our clients control of their tools. We want them to feel smart.
Information is not a scarcity these days, but people who can parse it down are rare. Most people are overwhelmed by the flood of information. They seek out the "tech" person in their lives for advice. Sometimes it’s the kid down the street, the daughter or son, the IT person at work … we all have someone we rely on as the "expert" or as the "person who knows more about these things than I do."
As technology integration becomes more complex, we’re seeing more people interested in this service, sometimes that’s a one-off, "I need to buy a camera that will do this …", and sometimes it’s a long-term strategy, for example, "help me with the integration of my internal operations and public-facing websites."
One Degree: How do you support your personal technologist clients?
Aside from the one-on-one support we give our clients, the Work Industries blog is our way of drawing attention to companies, services, tips, tools, anything that we think would be of interest to our clients and potential clients. We also offer a monthly newsletter, Underwire: Full-support for Non-Techies.
Underwire is meant to help business people who are working with technology but don’t necessarily see themselves as a tech geek. They are not the IT person. They write the company’s email newsletter. They update the website. They’ve been asked to learn more about the web.
Underwire is one place to start. It’s a mixed bag of technology advice, vocabulary definitions, and case studies. Part of the newsletter is "Ask for Support," which is a question-and-answer feature. I take subscribers’ general tech questions or specific "how-do-I-do" this questions. It’s a good way to learn from other people’s questions.
One Degree: Who is your target demographic for the service? How do you reach them?
The psycho-graphic for Underwire and the Personal Technologist is the self-identified "non-techie" who craves more information, but information that’s presented in an accessible way, that’s meaningful to his or her personal experience. As for marketing the service, it’s mostly word-of-mouth and discovery through the blog.
One Degree: How is a personal technologist different than traditional tech support? How do you see the role of personal technologist evolving in the future?
The greater role of personal technologist is really about taking the model of personal financial advisor to technology.
In both cases, there’s a huge amount of information available and navigating it can be daunting. The personal technologist acts as a person’s advocate and designs a holistic technology approach that works for his or her life. It includes everything from products–cell phones, printers, computers–to practices–data storage, file management, email triage–to rules and boundaries–regular check-ins, scheduled events, hours of operation, routing communications.