Technology is one of the best and the most prominent examples manifesting a digital transformation era we live in – since we are able to operate with tools, that would be straight impossible a few years ago. Due to this progress, we can let technology manage more and more of our work, theoretically focusing on what’s more important, or fun. But is it really all that we want?
As evidenced by the latest technology news feed, technology keeps advancing faster than ever before. It was a huge boom when IBMs Deep Blue managed to beat reigning champion Kasparov at chess. But since then, computers managed to beat humans also in Go, the trivia game Jeopardy or even in Poker. We don’t even consider all other advances like chatbots and AI, transforming our lives right now!
This trend can be seen not only in new technologies, new uses or an application of existing technology but also in the research dedicated to this phenomenon.
However, even with these advances plenty of input still comes from a human operator, especially on the strategic level. Although we have ‘Best Practices’ or UX, making programs as smooth as possible, we can see very little actual focus on human input in relation to what goal they are trying to accomplish.
What we see instead, is focusing on possibilities that machines bring us. We are building processes around using technology to its maximum and then make users adapt and bend to it.
An example of that can be any implementation of a fresh new tool without consideration for an impact in wider processes. Another example can be any box-bought system utilizing a technology prioritizing flexibility over customization. Even while attracting customers with ‘Industry best practices, you will very rarely find companies that are fairly similar in their processes. As a result, the employees are the ones who suffer.
These practices rarely come up as a result of mindful deliberation. After all, why would a company come and say let’s be lousy, and make our employees mad? More often they creep up slowly as the company tries to add more and more tools, without a specific strategy/plan of how to approach growth and handle complexity.
One good example could be how ‘always on’ culture was managed in consulting companies where employees progressively felt they needed to stay in the office later and then work from home after, just by watching other colleagues – without anyone actually wanting this. These practices led to exhaustion and burnout later and had to be fixed externally.
There wasn’t any idea or rule saying ‘you should work overtime’. Basically omitting an occurring problem and focusing on areas around it instead lead to these consequences, while simple rules with people’s time or wellbeing in mind would help.
The opportunities that new tech brings us are huge, and many companies will not be able to do business for very long if they do not take advantage of them. But with great opportunities also come great risks and new errors.
By focusing on one predominant aspect, in this case opportunities presented by technology, we are neglecting other aspects that can be just as important. Whether it is sustainability, human approach or any others.
What can be at least a good start is a mindful deliberation about the actual goals of the process and which parts of the process we can bring closer or further to its fulfillment. But while doing that, it’s not only the processor technology that needs to be taken into account, it’s mainly the users who will be part of it.
The next step should be creating processes first and foremost, with a user in mind.