What Does the Term "Environment" Encompass?

The technological environment impacts all organizations that use technology.
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Learning about technology means learning a variety of terms and definitions. Some of these terms are unique to the technology you’re using, but others, such as the word “environment,” will have come up in other contexts before, such as biology or sociology. When used in a technological setting, it's important to know that “environment” has a specific, sometimes complex meaning that defines the rapidly-changing world in which companies and other entities function.

1 The Technological Environment Defined

Any business, school or other entity that uses technology occupies a technological environment. The business or school itself doesn’t have to produce technological goods or services, but they use technology to function, and that impacts how people get things done. For these businesses, schools and other groups (which naturally includes most companies and organizations worldwide), a “technological environment” means the areas of technology with which the company operates and which could affect how the company does business if the technology were to change. This can include computer hardware and software, mobile devices and apps, online commerce, social media, wireless systems, data storage, security and any other technological categories that influence how the organization works.

2 Internal and External

Most of the time, a technological environment is external to the company or organization. This means that the environment includes the technology that the organization uses regularly but doesn’t have complete control over, and changes in this technology across the market could mean big changes, good and bad, for the company as a whole. Sometimes, you may see a reference to a company’s internal technological environment; for example, if a company uses the most cutting-edge technology and rapidly develops or adapts to new tech resources before they’ve reached the external arena, that company may be described as having a “high-tech” environment. In general, though, no organization has total control over the development and evolution of the technology it uses, and the technological environment is therefore external.

3 Influence of Other Environments

While technology itself (and the changes that it goes through over time) make up the bulk of a technological environment, other factors can play a part in how this environment grows and changes. The macroenvironment, which is the collection of six major elements that impact how a company, school or other organization performs, includes the technological, cultural, economic, demographic, natural and political environments, all working together and influencing each other. The natural environment, for example, includes the availability of raw materials and energy, both of which play a part in how technology is developed and powered. The economic environment includes how much money people make and how much things cost, which has an effect on what people and companies are willing to spend on technology as it is developed. All of these environments are intermixed, and all of them are important in a company’s growth and potential for success.

4 Dealing With Changes

When the technological environment changes, those changes can be seen as obstacles or opportunities for a business, depending on what the changes entail. For example, if a company releases a mobile app for its business, and the technological environment at hand is the mobile software platform that most people use, then changes to that software (say, a new version that makes the mobile app unusable) can impact how the company works within the technology and incorporates it into their marketing. In short, the technological environment can grow, evolve and change as newer technology is developed and user preferences change, and companies must adapt along with these environmental changes or run the risk of losing business or falling behind.

Erica Kasper has been a professional writer and editor since 1999. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., she has written and edited educational, marketing and web copy for nonprofit organizations, technology companies and online marketing firms. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism (honors) and psychology from Washington and Lee University.