One of our active projects is building a replacement for our online contractor portal. Until now we’ve used an off-the-shelf portal offered by our primary systems vendor. That portal works but it isn’t keeping pace with the technology-focused companies disrupting the consumer lending world. The release of our new portal in Q3 is only the first step of many. But it is the biggest step; with this update we will have the platform established for future development.
The everyday focus on technology and apps has me thinking, though. I spend a lot of time daily on my phone. It has become the hub for much of my productivity. If not for my phone and its interactivity with the systems I use, I’d probably be half as effective. And yet, when I identify the most meaningful interactions of my day, they seldom involve technology. The face-to-face interactions with friends, family and fellow employees make each day meaningful. It’s when I put my phone down that the memorable interactions occur.
Hence, the questions that are running through my head:
- Is there a limit to the usefulness of technology in business?
- What is the right balance between good technology and human interaction?
- Should you differentiate between services to automate and those to keep personal, bifurcating the business along those lines?
- Or, should you build two comprehensive channels for your business, one online and one in-person?
I’m convinced we cannot abandon personal interaction in business. Just because we can turn an activity into an app doesn’t mean we should do so. In the world at large, as services grow increasingly complex, the need for human interaction increases. I wouldn’t want to automate my attorney, for example. The home-buying process, even with its components that are automated, is largely based on human interaction. That suggests – amidst all the hubbub about apps for everything – that the answer to #1 above is “yes”.
There are still three questions in my list that require an answer but I’m still thinking about the issues. Stay tuned….