The Human Element in Technology

By Eric Masten – Graduate Student in Technology Management at Florida Tech Extended Studies/ Eglin AFB Florida

As we know technology is quickly shaping the way that we do everything in our lives. The way businesses operate and stay successful and competitive has changed drastically over the past ten to fifteen years. However, they still require the human element.

The traditional way of doing business is changing at what seems a blistering pace and is threatening many businesses way of life. The following three articles are highlighted to convey the impact that technology is having today. The first article “4 Ways in which Technology is transforming business” by Greg Satell follows the research of Clayton Christensen a Professor at Harvard Business. Satell reports that technology is transforming the way traditional business is done globally through many examples. Another article is “Technology seen shaping future of corporate world” by Tina Arceo Dumlao of the Philippine Inquirer. Dumalo makes similar statements in her story as well that technology will drive the CEOs decision making process for several years to come. Dumlao seems to agree with Satell in that she believes if a company doesn’t adapt to the ever changing environment, it will only be a matter of time before it fails. The third article brackets the discussion by taking a bit of a different slant to how technology will shape the ever changing business world. “The future of technology disruption in business” by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by RICOH, believes that it will not be technology alone that will have to change; it will have to be the way the company emplaces and uses technology.

Satell used research by Christensen to look at past businesses that were very successful but ultimately failed. He stated four reasons for these businesses failing to adapt to an ever changing environment. They are,

  1. We think in linear (traditional) terms but technology moves at an exceptional pace,
  2. Scale advantages have diminished (traditional brick and mortar),
  3. Business models no longer last, and
  4. The lunatics run the asylum.

All of these imply change (good or bad).

Satell and Dumlao both state that companies will have to adapt and overcome or risk being overtaken by another company who can underbid simply due to technology. Many CEOs of large companies believe that technology will be the greatest factor that will affect the way they conduct business over the next several years. That goes without saying but how will these companies address this problem? The Economist article touches on this. Simply implementing new technology into a company’s business model will not solve the problem. It may in the short term but ultimately it will be the people that will make the difference because they are the ones using and many times helping to develop the technology that will make the company more successful. It simply won’t be enough to upgrade a business to stay in step with the changes of the business world. It will have to be the people who learn, develop, use, adapt, implement and change the way that their company does business. Technological advances make life much easier and economical for the small business all the way up to the international powerhouse but it doesn’t mean anything if the people that you have using it don’t believe in what the company is in business for.

Nothing can completely substitute for the human element

Recommend that companies pay just as much if not more attention to their employee’s development, thought processes, and benefits (their Humanware development) as they do to their Hardware and Software development. As stated before, technology is only as good as the people that you have using it. If the people aren’t behind the company and believe in what they’re in business for, the company is not operating to capacity. Employees are the backbone of the business, whether it’s a small business or large company, the people make all the difference in the world. Technology is only a tool that helps us get to where we want to be, it can never be used to completely substitute the human element. The Human Element (the Human Touch) develops the Technology that is used by and for humans.

At Florida Tech we live High Tech with a Human Touch.

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