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People, the Ultimate Technology

The essential technology for the new millennium is the most complex technology ever conceived. It is not Windows or Unix, or the internet, or a programming language, or some type of artificial intelligence. It is people.

If you are a technology junkie, you may laugh, but consult anyone involved in the robotics industry and they will assure you that the cost and complexity of emulating just 10 percent of the capabilities of the human finger are astronomical and that such emulation may be physically impossible. And thus the questions beg to be asked: Are we futilely attempting to replace human beings with an inferior technology? Can a creator imbue greater capability into a creation than he possesses himself?

I propose that our primary role as technology creators is not to recreate or replace the human being, however challenging that task may be, but to offer tools that optimize this already marvelous creation. I propose, perhaps contemptibly, that man must not become the slave of his own creation.

While business is transacted with a user interface, business is conducted with a human interface. Business is conducted between two people or two organizations of people because you have a relationship with that other person or organi­zation. You cannot conduct business with a computer, because a computer is not a legal entity nor is it a living entity. The computer may assist you in transacting business, but it cannot conduct business unto itself The classic and enduring sign of business being conducted successfully is the handshake, not an email or a fax. The transactions that follow the handshake can take any form required, but you need the human interaction first.

It is ironic that the primary reason that the internet has exploded has not been e’commerce or the ability to buy or sell anything on the internet, but rather that people can communicate by sending email or chaffing online. As I recall, Hollywood made a movie named You’ve Got Mail, not Your Order Has Shipped. Technology has not changed or reduced the need to communicate, it has simply provided alternative methods to do so.

Businesses that succeed in the new millennium will be those that avoid technology backlash and employ their human resources in the most cost effective and customer interactive manner That means always using the talent and creativity of the human person whenever applicable and using technology to optimize the human person not to supercede them.

Any company can throw technology at a business problem. However, successful companies will provide a combined technological/human interfaced solution that treats the customer as a person and not as a number. Let me put is more plainly. The company with the best human interface wins. If you can make the human interface better with technology, great. Otherwise, your technology is failing.

To close, I would like to add a final thought. The creative reality for a technology company is not often the rush it is proposed to be. The reality of the chip manufacturer is a stale clean room with nearly total sensory deprivation. The reality of the programmer is life in front of a phosphorescent piece of glass, plastic keys, and an artificial mouse. The reality of the cell phone manufacturer is an endless rack of circuit boards to be assembled into an endless line of plastic cases. Ironically, in the ultimate form of creation, where human begets human (the pinnacle of technology), we have pleasure, not with sensory deprivation, but with sensory exhilara­tion. I ask again, Can a creator imbue greater capability into a creation than he possesses himself?

Contact Jim Witschger; CEO of Technical Djfference, at

Reprinted from the January 2000 issue of SOFTWARE BUSINESS

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