This paper was written by Vaughn Rachal, FPOV consultant.
At the turn of the century, a widening gap between productivity and private employment showed up in federal labor statistics. Digital technologies boosted productivity in the United States without spurring the expected job growth.1 While job growth slowed, productivity remained robust due to adoption of technologies like the web, artificial intelligence, big data, and the improved analytics all made possible by the ever-increasing availability of cheap computing power and storage capacity.
For years the promise of technology has been the ability to produce a more productive workforce. The challenge however is that while technology may improve productivity and efficiency by automating routine tasks, today it does not embody or transfer the human conditions necessary for building interpersonal relationships. Humanizing technology is still in its infancy therefore when trying to maximize efficiency and develop connectedness, there’s a careful balance that must be struck. That said, not all steps or activities in a given process require humanizing. To that end, Humalogy examines blending available technologies with human effort to maximize performance and potential.
Humalogy (yoo-maw-luh-gy): The perfect blending of humanity and technology to optimize potential. Melding the head (information processing power) and the heart (human/spiritual connection). The efficient use of machines, and the sensitive understanding of emotions.
This whitepaper explores the business potential for Humalogy and suggest models to support business discussions or evaluations on how to best apply Humalogy to optimize performance.
We will examine Humalogy:
· What is it?
· How is it applied?
· Why is it relevant?
· How can it impact an organization?s sales and cost of sales?
· What does the future hold?
Humalogy: What is it?
No one saw it coming two hundred years ago when farmers leveraged technology to improve productivity. The plow had been around since the time of Julius Caesar, however in the early 18th century they were built special order by blacksmiths until John Deere mass produced them starting in 1830. During the agricultural revolution, 70% of American workers lived on the farm. Today, automation has eliminated all but 1% of their jobs, replacing them with machines.2 What happened to the people? Many took jobs in plants building the very machines that replaced them.
Fast-forward to our current economy. Today, many plant workers are being replaced by robotics, and other forms of automation. The pace of change and advances in technology has made it possible to accelerate processes through automation enabling lean work environments. It’s not an option but a must! Increases in competition from globalization and technology empowered businesses has intensified the challenge to lean workforces, improve productivity, extend reach, as well as maximize time and availability of resources. When demand or need dictates, a business must be ready and capable to respond to constituents or potentially suffer losses to a growing number of competitors. The market is awake 24 hours a day and so like it or not, businesses must be responsive.
Digitization extended through the Internet, cloud computing, social technologies, mobility and other innovation has changed the dynamics of engagement. Pervasive data and data access enables consumers with freedom and ease to explore solutions to business challenges without the need of a sales person. It also empowers anyone who is capable of shaping or leading thoughts the opportunity to do so. Thought leaders are able to inspire consideration of problems and solutions to challenges that the business or consumer may not have known existed or that had a solution available. The key enabler of speed and these changing dynamics; TECHNOLOGY, which can be a double-edged sword!
Consider the situation below:
If you’re an existing customer, press or say one. If you’re a new customer, press or say, two. Please enter your account number and then press pound…? We’ve all been through the exercise. You go through a myriad of choices, enter your account number, and when customer service answers, the first question is…May I please have your account number?
When you’re frustrated with a product that isn’t working right, that last thing you want to do is work with a system that doesn’t work, right?’
Humalogy is the blending of humans and technology to optimize performance, ensuring balance between human characteristics that maximize connectedness as well as technology for improving efficiency and increasing throughput.
How is Humalogy Applied?
To discuss application of humalogy we established a scale to identify the favored balance between humans and technology for specific jobs, processes, or functions. In most everything we do, there is an optimal blend between humanity and technology. Some jobs lean very heavily on humans (H5) and others are primarily reliant on technology (T5). An H5 job does not necessarily mean zero technology is used, just as a T5 doesn?t mean no human effort is required. Someone may have to program or operate the machine and monitor it, for example a robot that explores a volcano prior to eruption may be remotely operated by a human with a joystick.
Depending upon the situation and the available technology, certain jobs or processes may be better handled by either a human or technology. If the only way the job can get done is through a human, then that job would be an H5. It’s really hard coming up with an H5 job. What came to mind is a mother nursing a child, but that?s not to say that a baby couldn?t receive nourishment another way that included the use of technology. For example, a breast pump could be used, a bottle could be stored in the refrigerator, a microwave could be used to warm a bottle, and anyone could administer it to the child. In this case the job might be a H2 or H3. However, note that there is a certain intimacy as well as human quality that is lost and not transferred when technology replaces the human, and making conscious, intentional choices about this very trade-off is the essence of finding the proper humalogical balance.
Consider the job of farming in the early days. It may have started as an H4 until the plow came along moving it to an H3. Then as additional tools and machinery were introduced, the job moved to the left or T side of the scale. Recognize however that the rating may be an average of separate ratings from each step in a defined process. Each step in a process may have a different rating.
By defining where processes are on the Humalogy scale, it becomes easier to determine where to apply technology in order to drive efficiency, scalability, or repeatability because we actually have a vocabulary to at least ask the question, what if we moved from an H1 to a T2 score for a process.? At the same time, in our technology augmented world, we need to be conscious that some processes can be improved by adding the human elements that supply empathy, innovation and trust building. For example, if our task was to establish an automated call center to filter calls efficiently and design a process as a H1 or H2, we might be able to achieve efficiency and cost control, but we would anger many customers and in the end, would lose more money than we saved with the cost technology augmenting task. The reality is H3.5 is the right balance in this example, and we now have a way to at least communicate with each other about this concept.
Humalogy application considers what’s best handled by humans versus technology3:
· Human work involves cognitive processing of information; a chef who taste a sauce and determine to add a dash more rosemary and a pinch more salt. Or an attorney watching the jury and hearing certain testimony, determines to file a motion.
· Computers execute rules or processes; If ?this?, then ?that? or if the temperature reaches a certain threshold, adjust the heat and add this .2 ounces of this ingredient.
Task better suited to machines or technology might be:
· Repetitive, mechanistic task placing and twisting screws on an assembly line, answering or directing the same support questions via phone systems.
· Tasks too dangerous or simply impossible diving to extreme depths to repair wells, drones for warfare, planetary exploration.
· Tasks requiring too much rationality or data analysis thinking through probabilities and risk recommending rational choices, complex modeling like climate change scenarios, impacts from financial market intervention, optimal oil drilling locations.
· Tasks too large or small clear debris, warehouse store and retrieval, nanorobots for delivering highly targeted chemotherapy.
Task better suited to humans:
· Tasks that involve thinking Computers may out compute humans but we are able to reason stepping away from logic.
· Social or emotional intelligence reading cues and emotions in social responses, complex abstract thinking, developing relationships, establishing trust. 4
· Creativity, intuition, and improvisation abstract task requiring problem solving, intuition, and persuasion, or manual task requiring situational adaptability (security personnel, home health service worker).
Humalogy: Why is it relevant?
The easy answer for why is humalogy relevant is to amplify profits by both raising top line revenues while also creating a more lean organization; however the inherent benefits stretch well beyond profitability.
We live in a now society. While patience is a virtue, the length of time someone is willing to wait before receiving satisfaction is ever decreasing. Businesses are required to maximize process efficiency, quality standards, and response times if they intend to be competitive. Further, the expectation is that at least at some level people want to be able to access information when they need it, 365/24/7. The demand for instantaneous solutions or at minimum, acknowledgement of a problem and a resolution ETA is on the increase. Technology enables scalability, availability, and global access to allow self-service at the time of need.
As in our example discussed previously, with a goal to lower costs, Customer Service organizations have in many cases chosen to utilize technology extensively. While it can be claimed that this was meant to provide greater access, availability, and service to customers, improper balancing of technology and humans to handle customer service engagements actually leads to more complaints according to a research study conducted by Vocalabs5. If the methods deployed are not carefully examined and humalogy is unplanned, what may have been intended for good could result in catastrophe. Consider that when a person is calling about a problem, the last thing they want is another problem.
For at least two decades, technology has been shifting influence away from sellers to buyers and consumers. This change in buying and selling dynamics minimizes personal engagements between buyers and sellers while also delaying initial personal interactions until much later in the buying process. The seller does not control this shift but instead the buyer is empowered through their access to information and knowledge resources. This will be expanded upon in the next section of this white paper.
Anyone desiring a media platform has the power to voice their opinion and have it heard by millions and millions of people instantly. And if it wasn’t enough that a large majority of people have a camera on their phone, the introduction of Google Glass as well as other first person capture and transmit computing devices raises the ease with which any person can share their experience of good or bad service.
Humalogy is not only relevant but also critical to defining business processes so that organizations are able to meet the competitive pressures and expectations before them; and this need will only accelerate over time.
How Does Humalogy Impact Sales and Cost of Sales?
The platform for selling has been steadily evolving. In the 70s to early 80s, the focus was on relationship based selling. Then it shifted to needs based selling with the introduction of S.P.I.N. selling; you still needed to have relationships except now you needed to ensure an understanding of their needs. The mid 80?s to early 90s it shifted to solution selling: find or create pain and then offer a solution to heal it. Enterprises then began to recognize the need to capture the information that previously only resided in seller’s heads and offer the promise of better opportunity tracking through sales force automation, which evolved into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) based selling.
While many of the best practices that have evolved from historical sales thought leadership remain valid today, the challenge is that buyers are no longer hostages to receiving information from sellers and are empowered with pervasive informational sources. Silo oriented sales, marketing, and customer care processes have to make way for integrated, technology augmented sales facilitation models. We call this Socially Facilitated Selling, or SFS. SFS models shift the nature of selling. The questions are no longer, where can I find new customers, but instead where can new customers find me? And instead of how can I sell more customers, the question shifts to how can my customers sell for me?
Buyers no longer want to be disrupted by sales people unless they see them or their company offering thought leadership about the topics important to them. They discover the relevance of the resource through the web, social platforms, and other online resources as well as through personal engagements. If your buyers are not fully in this digital research place today, they will be soon. Allowing your competition to better react to the Humalogical combination of sales people and technology in the sales process could be a fatal mistake. It leaves you exposed to competitors who embrace technology and earn market share and the danger can be compounded by non-traditional sources that may or may not even be in your immediate market space (outliers.)
What Does The Future Hold?
There are a number of theories that examine technology, the pace of change, and superintelligence. Singularity is one such theory: the thought that computer intelligence will one day exceed human intelligence and that humans, in order to transcend our own limitations will have to meld with technology. Some predict that this point will occur in the next 20 ? 30 years.6 Regardless of the timeframe or the possibility of this occurring, today individuals and businesses face a dilemma and somethings got to give.
Businesses are under pressure to maximize profitability, increase shareholder value, and develop strategic models for producing sustainable growth. Whether a B2B or B2C, finding the most efficient means of serving constituents throughout the customer lifecycle demands leveraging technology. Technology advances at a rapid pace continuously producing opportunities to overcome limitations.
Just 10 years ago, the smartphone didn’t exist; there were no iPads, iPhone, or Androids; Facebook wasn?t around and LinkedIn just got started. Robotics required hefty investments beyond the initial purchase, including programming and maintenance costing 100s of thousands of dollars; most had to work behind a cage due to the difficulty in mixing them with a human workforce. Today Baxter, a new robotic technology cost a little over twenty thousand dollars, requires no programming learns through observation or guided instructions, and can safely work alongside humans.7
The world is changing rapidly and the one thing machines do not do today is feed capitalism with money they have earned; people still determine with whom they will do business and partner. They seek satisfaction and quality products and services from the loyal business relationships they have. Its degree and placement is changing, but human connection is still and will remain relevant; it’s becoming more important than ever to understand precisely how, when and how much.
Business leaders need to understand technology and how to best apply it to their businesses; it’s no longer a responsibility than can be tossed over to IT to handle due to the strategic implications it holds, and the X-Factor it can produce. Humalogy examines these changes and must be continuously examined to determine where and how to best invest in the future of business.
For more information on humalogy, please contact the team at Future Point Of View; we deliver vision you can use!
1 MIT Technology Review, Vol. 116 | No. 4 How Technology is Destroying Jobs 2 Wired, Gadget Lab Better Than Humans 3 Dancing with Robots, Murnane (Harvard) & Levy (MIT) 4 Human Plus Machine, Gorbis5 Vocalabs, National Customer Service survey (NCSS): Customer Complaints, April 2012 6 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal 7 Rethink Robotic, Baxter
This paper was written by Vaughn Rachal, FPOV consultant.
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