Technology, Working practices

Premature technologification

I’m often surprised how enthusiastic non-technical people are for technology, and how circumspect technical people are.

A while back I was speaking to someone from a corporate IT function who was asked to purchase an online workflow tool for the company’s marketing team. It was to help them track assets for marketing material as it was processed by various external agencies. The IT guy pushed back: “Why can’t you put sticky notes on a whiteboard?” he asked. They ended up doing just that.

To some extent I’m heartened that technology can still be exciting to people — plenty of people don’t have the battle-hardened scepticism that many of my peers have. But I’m also slightly saddened that we’ve obviously failed to pass on some of the lessons that (we think?) we have learned.

Of course technology can help, but its maintenance is troublesome (cost and benefit felt in different places) and most of all it’s difficult to change compared to — say — lines on a whiteboard. In a conversation recently someone expressed that latter problem perfectly. “I don’t want to digitise a process that I don’t know works yet”

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