Technology: The Need for a Balanced Diet
April 16th, 2009
By Giacomo Squintani, Marketing Manager EMEA, Servigistics
About a month ago, Managing Automation publisher Heather Holt-Knudsen wrote a piece called “Project 1985″. The article is both light-hearted and stimulating: in it, Holt-Knudsen sets out to live for a week without post-1985 technology (although, within a few lines, such total ban was lowered to using phone ahead of e-mail, not using one-line replies in e-mail, no texting, and only tweeting once a day).
The project never actually took off. In Part 2 of the article, Holt-Knudsen recognises that the issues that frustrate her about technology today do not actually lie within technology itself, rather in the way we have allowed ourselves to become addicted to it. As she points out, “Perhaps all I need to do is ease up versus completely give it up. It’s like what any successful diet requires: portion control.”
Information overload is a danger to which we are all exposed. Whereas in 1985 obtaining data was the key challenge, today differentiating what holds value from what does not is often the main issue. So, when technology does what technology should do (and lends a helping hand), it should be welcome. Turning our back on technology for the sake of it is not progress.
Back in 1985, my interaction with IT was limited to Nintendo handheld games such as “Donkey Kong”. But I remember with equal fondness University life, and research undertaken at library desks with paper books (remember them?) as Internet terminals were only just emerging - the nearest to a computerised search was the process through which you located the book you needed. So, for all the cursing I occasionally do when my Inbox is overflowing, I am forever grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I do at this moment in history - in an age when technologies are at their most interactive, interoperable (hey, when I started out on a Macintosh LC II I couldn’t share files with the rest of the world…) and deliver measurable results.
The same principles apply in Service. We sometimes curse at talking heads and IVR menus, longing for that old-fashioned human touch instead of technological abuse. At the other end of the relationship, somebody may well be counting the beans and the saved costs, though not necessarily the lost customers. But the technology in itself is rarely flawed: rather, we should marvel at what techies all over the world have achieved, and ensure their output is channeled in a value-adding fashion. When it improves productivity and the customer relationship, when it increases visibility over the Service operation and reduces costs, when it improves efficiency throughout the supply chain… basically, when it makes life easier for everybody involved, then technology has delivered upon its timeless promise. That’s the dessert we all wait for.