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Emerging Technology is about the People – Not Just the Technology

By Alex Jarett, Founder, Technology Executives Club and Technology Innovation Institute.

It’s Springtime, and that means golf, baseball, hockey and basketball playoffs. It also means our events are in full swing. In recent months I’ve had the opportunity to moderate or learn from a variety of panels in various cities such as Chicago and Indianapolis, plus I’ll be moderating panels in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus as the season moves into summer.

Here is an interesting design theme I’ve been hearing lately, I think you’ll enjoy.

At our Indianapolis event, Brett Flora, VP of Technology mentioned that when he first started in IT, it was always about the newest technology for him. His boss at the time sat him down and said, “Technology should always be about the people. Focus on the interaction with the people.” Brett said he has used that advice throughout his career and he believes that technology should be used to both help people and bring them together. As an example, he mentioned their mobile app they use with their temporary staff members that allows them to keep in contact with the temps. During the recent tragedy at Cummings (Shooting), their team was actually able to keep in touch with their temps placed at the site until the police were able to insure everyone’s safety. Brett said that the fact that they were able to keep in touch with their temporary staff members during this crisis meant so much to everyone involved.

As another example, I had a chance to have coffee with Neil Goodrich, CIO of M Holland, and a recent panelist and speaker at two of our luncheons (see panel here). One of the comments he made that impressed me was that he has learned to do his analyst work through normal interaction with the business and the customers. He is encouraging his team to take a more humanist approach to their interactions and design. He also spoke passionately about his recent trip to South by Southwest (Austin conference.) He said it was refreshing to hear that buzz throughout the meeting. (After a bit of research, I did find reference to Gartner’s Digital Humanist Manifesto that is worth a look.)

At our recent Innovative Development Strategies for Growth Seminar, Roman Dumiak, Director – Technology Innovation, of Allstate shared a slide by Media Analyst Tom Goodwin that pointed out Uber is the world’s largest Taxi company that doesn’t own cabs, Facebook is the most popular media company that doesn’t create content, Alibaba.com is the world’s most valuable retail company that has no inventory and Airbnb is the world’s largest accommodation provider that owns no real estate.

One of the design attributes that these four companies have in common is that they are bringing people together.

So the next time you get excited about new technology, remember the advice of Brett’s mentor and use the Technology for the benefit of the people that it touches. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be inventing the next industry disruptor and we’ll have your company on that list next year.

Updated: April 19, 2016 — 6:18 pm

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