The Disconnect Between Technology, People and Businesses

unplugWith technology advancing at an amazing rate year after year, society and the business world seem hell-bent on automating everything. The trend is to automate as much as humanly (and inhumanly) possible. AI (Artificial Intelligence) and BI (Business Intelligence) efforts have been underway for years to automate decision-making processes, to take decisions out of human minds and hands, and automate decision protocols completely. And a second trend is also to install as much technology as possible, as quickly as possible.There is a downside to these trends, one that can neutralize the enormous potential benefits of technology.

I like technology as much as anyone. I’m an engineer by both education and in the early days of my career. So I embrace technology, advanced technology is in my blood. I like new things, and I can be impressed by technological advancements as much as anyone. I believe in using any and all technology that actually helps a business or individual.

So this is not an anti-technology rant. But it is a call

  • Not to be so overly impressed with technology that you lose sight of the proper role of technology,
  • Not to lose sight of the fundamentals to success in business, and
  • Not to rush into installing new technologies until you have thoroughly defined and specified exactly what is needed to strengthen your fundamentals.

It is the fundamentals that have been, are and always will be the foundation for success, no matter how much technology advances. Technology and computers are tools – no matter how impressive and WOW! they might be.

The fundamentals to any and all success in business are:

  • Purpose and Vision
  • Exceptional leadership and management
  • Hiring, retaining, training, developing and empowering the right people
  • Organizing those people in a way that produces a united, coordinated, competent team of professionals all working toward the same goals and purposes, and which provides a positive environment that encourages creativity, innovation, and imagination
  • Superb products and services to clients or customers that improve their quality of life
  • Excellent Customer Service and Problem Resolution
  • Excellent communication at all levels, internally and externally
  • Effective marketing
  • Sales skills

There is one thing in common in all these fundamentals – people. Business is all about people. People have a dream, they come up with a purpose and idea for the business, and then start the business. People bring in other people to work and grow this business. These people sell and deliver products and services to other people – clients and customers. Tools – like technology – are supposed to serve people. Tools are supposed to help people do their jobs more easily and better, not do the jobs for people.

Take a new house as an analogy. Let’s say you want to build a new home and install the latest and sexiest smart home technology and toys – the full array of comfort, security, energy efficiency, entertainment, and convenience technologies. A dream home, complete with all the state-of-the-art appliances, lighting, heating and air conditioning, TVs, computers, home entertainment, audio & video systems, security and camera systems, that can communicate with one another and be controlled from any room in the home, or remotely from a smartphone or laptop from any location in the world. Very hot, desirable technologies. Now let’s consider the boring fundamentals of this home – the foundation, outer walls, the roof, the plumbing, and the electrical system.

  • What if the roof leaks? This will cause severe damage to the framing and interior of the home, and would probably damage all that hot high tech stuff.
  • What if the foundation is poorly constructed? What if it cracks? Walls and floors will be uneven, or even collapse over time. Water will leak into the basement, causing even more instability, and mold. The entire building could become dangerous to live in.
  • What if the outer walls aren’t built properly? There will be leakage, poor insulation and small holes that animals and insects can get through into your dream home.
  • What if the electrical system was poorly wired? One spark from a loose wire could cause a major fire, putting lives in danger – and destroying that dream home and all that wonderful technology.
  • How about the plumbing? What happens if pipes leak or burst because cheap materials were used? What if water doesn’t flow properly? What if you run out of hot water after three minutes in the shower? What if the septic system explodes, creating an unbearable odor and a $12,000 repair job?

If any of these fundamentals are weak or missing, if something happens to the foundation, outer walls, the roof, the plumbing or electrical system, then all that high tech, cool stuff won’t mean a thing.

Business is all about people: people work and create and develop and sell products and services for other people – customers and clients – that, ideally, improve their very quality of life. It is the fundamentals listed above which accomplish these desired end results. It is the fundamentals which create success. And each one of these fundamentals is all about people.

Technology should be designed and used to support and reinforce these fundamentals. Technology should never be used to replace fundamentals.

Therefore, the first step for any business is a thorough assessment of its fundamentals, a comprehensive analysis of the business. My article A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish gives the details of how a thorough business analysis should be done. This is something my company does routinely. We conduct a very thorough assessment of a business, identifying its strengths and weaknesses. We do this at no charge; we do this as a painless way for us and the leaders of a business to get to know each other with no obligations or financial commitments.

The second step is a complete business plan to get in each fundamental and strengthen it, one step at a time.

The third step is to work that plan until each and every fundamental is in place and working well. As all this is being done, the business generates more and more revenues and profits and grows toward its goals.

When the fundamentals are in place and the business is doing well and generating lots of cash flow, the business can draw up exact specifications for any technology needed. All technology and software chosen would fit properly within the business, would strengthen the fundamentals even more, and would produce all the possible benefits of the technologies without any downside or glitches. Now the business soars like a rocket, with both the fundamentals and the correct technologies working hand-in-glove, like a well-oiled machine.

All too often, the introduction of new technology adds complexities and problems to a business – even though the intent is always the exact opposite. Have you ever had new software or a brand new system or technology put into your business, which then caused all sorts of confusions, glitches and even chaos? This occurs when the technology is not designed and based on the fundamentals – or if one or more of the fundamentals is missing or weak in the business.

Adding technology with little or no thought to the fundamentals produces a business that devotes more time to the technology than it does to the fundamentals – fundamentals which create success, prosperity and happy clients/customers who sing the organization’s praises. Technology is very often introduced to solve a problem when the real problem is a lack of one or more fundamental ingredient to success. All too often, technology becomes the master and people become the servants to technology – totally dependent on technology. It should be the fundamentals which define and drive the technology, not the other way around.

Any and all new technologies would then be chosen or designed based on these fundamentals. They would be chosen or designed to strengthen and reinforce the fundamentals, which in turn strengthens the business.

Originally published by Bizcatalyst360



Joe Kerner

Joe Kerner

Joe Kerner has been a business owner and management consultant for 30 years. He has worked with hundreds of businesses, business owners and executives, spanning several industries and professions. He is a recognized expert in such areas as leadership, management, organizational development, efficiency, personnel development and training, sales training and business planning. He has helped his client business increase their profitability, growth, efficiency, and productivity. He has consulted and coached businesses in such industries as health care, software development, biotech, construction, financial services, scientific instrument firms, systems analysis, travel, hospitals, and insurance. Joe is also an accomplished speaker and has delivered over 1,100 seminars and workshops covering such areas as leadership and management, operations, personnel development, and efficiency. In 1998, Joe was a co-founder of a very successful health care group in Virginia and North Carolina. He served as Vice President of Operations and managed the entire group. Under his leadership, this group increased revenue by 300-400% within three years. This group was sold for a high profit in 2013.

Joe holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He has also completed an extensive and rigorous management training program, the Organization Executive Course. This is an intensive 2,000-hour curriculum covering the fundamental principles, technology and advanced systems of management, leadership, organization, executive training, personnel development and management, management tools, marketing, and sales.

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