Technology’s effects on humanity – is it a price worth paying?

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Learning valuable lessons from nature: Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, is famously quoted as stating that “the only thing that is constant is change”. As we live in a world that seems to be changing faster than we have ever known it, it is the pace of technology advancement that is probably to blame – or to thank, of course, depending on your point of view. Not so famous perhaps is Heraclitus’ view that “good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.”
As technology companies vie to recreate and replicate human nature in developing process-based interaction, they miss the point that human character is developed over time, and time hones our skills. And for companies that focus their investment in technology to handle their customer interactions, they may find theirs to be a short-sighted view. If the nuances of human character are undervalued in importance or overlooked altogether, companies will fail to respond appropriately to customers and fail to deliver the service they had intended to improve.
Ember’s ‘2015 Customer Management Priorities – 10 Lessons from Nature’ report draws attention to the Rüppell’s Griffon vulture, which flies at an altitude of 37,000 feet in order to spot the prey that its competitors miss. It may be human nature to address issues or strive to reach goals by taking the most obvious course of action, but the natural world has a survival instinct that necessitates it creating innovative ways to achieve the outcomes that outwit their competition.
As the scientific world attempts to replicate the natural world, such as More4’s ‘The Supervet’ naming just one from an abundance of other examples, it poses a philosophical question about how far technology innovation should develop before both nature and human nature become disposable. Recently, films such as Alex Garland’s ‘Ex-Machina’ and Channel 4’s ‘Humans’ TV series have explored the notion – each questioning a machine’s ability to emotionally and ideologically manoeuvre through human interactions or deal with complex issues – technology, greying the boundaries between humanity and its potential recreation.
At Ember, this is a commonplace discussion with our clients – how best to gain technology innovation while balancing its effects on customer experience. Darren Laskier’s blog “Your call is very important to us; thank you for your patience”, addresses the service issues that arise from consumers seeking real time interaction and human understanding in preference to following a modern-day robotic process. We look at the practical application of innovation that delivers a value to the business and to the employees and customers it needs to serve.
As technology is now integral to business evolution, consumer/human behaviour is also in a state of flux. The media is full of articles discussing our ‘brave new world’, with jobs being put at risk, cars driving themselves and devices not only knowing more about you than your friends do, but having the ability to make decisions for you. Mike Havard’s blog “Is employee engagement merely a short-to-mid-term objective before the robots arrive?” is a prime example. So with this much technology and with so much at stake, the changes you make in your business may be your silver bullet, or could simply turn out to be fool’s gold. So… is this a price worth paying?
At Ember, we believe that companies should think, plan and prepare for the future now, to avoid that risk. What is once regarded as an unimaginable concept quickly becomes today’s reality, and those that are agile to respond and innovative in their thinking, will reap the rewards of the Rüppell’s Griffon vulture.