I, The Absolute

Management of Technology

Posted by itheabsolute on April 1, 2005

The other day I was in a meeting with our e-commerce team and a client. We were discussing how life was getting difficult because the SAP system of the Client produced an extra comma into the file format, which made it impossible for the file to be converted into readable and thereby printable form (through our e-com system).

Was life this difficult all along? No. Transactions used to happen without any of these for years. We were stuck with a misplaced comma causing misery to teams of people whose KRAs could get affected and which threatened loss of business from the client if our e-com team did not take care of properly positioning this comma.

An example of our inability to properly use technology to develop “simpler” solutions to everyday problems.

Usually Airliners do not prefer to ground the flights. It is an expensive proposition. But aircrafts need to be cleaned and maintained. During a routine cleaning, a certain nozzle of an aircraft was sealed with a tape to enable ‘proper cleaning’. Keeping the nozzle open is the only way to know the altitude of the aircraft. The aircraft takes off normally and in no time the pilot discovers that he cannot read the altitude of the aircraft. At night, if you cannot read altitude either you could be flying well above the required altitude or could be flying very close to the ground. The aircraft crash-lands on a sea and many of the passengers die. The ground boy who cleaned the aircraft ‘forgot’ to remove the tape put on the nozzle. An example of a small manual error resulting in a large technical failure. Also an example of implementing an inept technology, which could result in such major mishaps.

It has been vociferously argued that ATMs and other direct banking channels will make branch banking redundant. (Senior people from Hum Hain Na bank believe in this too)

In the last few years, I have seen the queues at the bank counters only going up. People are still not comfortable with direct channels; people still want to talk to bankers. There are many types of transactions, which direct banking channels as of now do not cater to. It is not possible to replace human beings. I understand that Chase Manhattan Bank has 500 branches in NY City alone. Technology is an enabler and definitely not one, which can make human beings redundant.

Moral: Technology per se can never bring solutions. Nor will technophobia help. Technology will have to be properly understood and harnessed to bring, inter alia, maximum benefit to maximum number of people. Administrators and Senior Managers have an important role to play in putting to use technology. Management education hopefully will teach us how to put to use technology to maximise ‘human convenience’.

Post Scriptum:
– Direct Banking Channels include phone banking, ATM, internet banking, etc
– Branch banking refers to transactions happening at branches

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