Techno – foe or friend?

November 21, 2014

Although I was immersed in the excitement, creativity, technology and entrepreneurial spirit of the web summit recently, I found myself lately cursing the very technology that allows me do my job. It led me to question who is driving the way we work – is it technology driving us or are we driving technology? In some ways it’s a symbiotic relationship – we are more so than ever living in a fast paced environment – deadlines are shorter, expectations are higher, results needs to be better, competition is fierce and there is someone ‘better’ around the corner who can do your job just as well as you can. So, what is pushing us to demand more? What is driving us to believe what we have is not good enough, fast enough? What is it that is adding to the speed at which we work? Is it the fact that we have been living in austerity for the last number of years and that we have had to tighten our belts, work harder to get the same or better results, to immerge from it? Why is new or faster always better? Have we ever stopped to think? To evaluate? To reassess?

It’s something I did very recently! Was it returning to work following my second maternity leave, to the busiest planning period of the year, trying to manage work, family, life that prompted this?  Wanting it all and realising that I couldn’t in fact have it! Something Eva Longoria said stuck – we ‘’can have it all, just not at the same time’’. So I stopped.


I evaluated – I was working at a pace that in my mind technology could not support – multiple tasks & requests due at the same time – and when my working day was done, multiple tasks to be dealt with when I got home, and of course I could always squeeze in a few other tasks, catch ups, emails etc. before I went to bed!? And so I stopped…this is not how we were made to work? Technology cannot support multiple requests at the same time either – it works when it is working in a regulated, systematic manner – one request at a time. I have always been a huge fan of the flexible worker – someone who has a myriad of skills – but this type of talent can only lead to results when smart working is applied – so of course we need to work hard but we need to work smart – Technology can help – but time spent on systems, processes, training, tools and communication, can only ensure that the technology supporting the business can add value. We need to manage the inputs and evaluate the outputs – the technology can do the work, but without ensuring smart working with rigorous processes, the best technology will not automatically lead to the best results.  So when I listen to the promises of technological advances, I wonder who is dealing with the same advances that are needed to manage, evaluate and assess this technology. Is this the accountant in me? Was it my old college science days forcing me to ask WHY over and over again? Am I destined to always treat technology with just a teeny bit of scepticism? Maybe I have been programmed to do this – to evaluate, to assess?

Perhaps the new symbiotic relationship should be a combination of techno friends and techno foes – each questioning, challenging and driving each other. Often I have come across technology that just cannot deliver what we want it to – it can store the results, it can churn the data, but does it support the business? Does it allow us to evaluate? To re-assess? To add value? Had the technology been developed with input from the business or had the promise of technology, of the delivery or launch date, pushed it to completion – had the drive and need to be the best, the quickest, the newest, dare I say the smartest, delivered a tool but without a system?

So, I stopped. I stopped trying to be either. I am neither a techno friend or techno foe. I need it as much as it needs me. But will I stop questioning it? Will I stop challenging it? No. That type of stopping I just won’t do.

– Evelyn


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