With 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 3 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.