Technology alone can’t solve business problems
We are all enamoured with life-altering impacts technology has in our lives: even the littlest of tech innovation has a way of conditioning the way we act as humans. Take, for instance, the ubiquitous smartphones – they have not only shaped the nature and modes of human interactions, multimillion dollar businesses have also been birthed based on their existence.
“Technology is always created by humans and in turn re-defining what we can and will do. Every single technological change is now impacting humanity in a much deeper way than ever before,” futurist author, Gerd Leonhard, tells Forbes in a 2016 interview.
But technology is not an end in itself when business is concerned, it is a merely a means of achieving it. Just as there are those that will point to negative impacts of technology products, so there are instances where over-reliance on tech to solve business problems have proved costly due to the absence of human connection.
While technology has, no doubt, redefined the way we do business, the soul of any business is still human. “Technology has revolutionised manufacturing,” says Marek Zmyslowski, the chief executive officer of HotelOga.com and co-founder of Jumia Travel in a tweetchat with The Guardian on Thursday. “But humans are still irreplaceable in services.”
But Zmyslowski is quick to point out that technology has been instrumental in revolutionising the travel industry, especially when the different players in the industry have to connect real time. “Technology obviously is a must here,” he says.
However, while technology can shape, and perhaps, refine a corporate culture that defines what a business stands for, it cannot create one on its own. Zmyslowski acknowledges this seeming shortcoming and argues that businesses thrive when their corporate cultures have a human face. To him, human-to-human connection in business environment irrespective of what technology is in use aids seamless decision-making.
“How your employees treat each other will affect how they treat customers,” he notes.
For instance, if your employees have created a culture of not helping each other solve problems that arise on the job, it may be difficult for them to offer a helping hand to a customer who has a hard time understanding a product or service, especially if that product/service is technological in nature.
Will that attitude be detrimental to a business?
I think so. Take note that acquiring customers can be done through technology, but a human-to-human approach is vital to retaining them.
The implication is that businesses need to understand where human and technological influences begin and end. There should be a clear demarcation of expectations –the expected deliverables from technologies used in a corporate environment and those of employees.
Bear in mind that technology can enhance the visibility and viability of your business. But it can only do much. I am yet to see a Twitter handle that posts content on its own without human being behind it nor can a self-driving car exists without engineers. Like Leonhard says, “we should embrace technology but not become it because technology is not what we seek, it’s how we seek!”