“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.” – Christian Lange, Nobel Peace Prize laureate
“What is the purpose of this technology?,” I ask my clients, referring to the specific technology they use in their organizations. Many of them would answer with “This technology’s purpose is to make our operations more efficient” or “to automate our processes” or “to increase sales.” Some would reply with “to improve user experience, may it be customers or employees.” A few would respond with “to enable financial inclusion among the citizens” or “to reduce the carbon footprint of the company.”
Depending on why your organization acquired or developed technology, it can be a double-edged sword. An example is how a local trading company acquired an eCommerce platform in 2017, with the aim of reaching more customers and ultimately increase revenue. But the organization, its employees, and the market were not yet ready for it, making the strategy a huge flop.
This is one of the main reasons why technology acquisitions of organizations fail, i.e., when its purpose is not clear and well-defined. Oftentimes, it starts with a mandate from a senior business executive or business owner to “explore” a particular technology to copy or be ahead of competitors and reach more customers to increase revenue.
But organizations that successfully leveraged on technology are those that did not acquire it for its own sake. Instead, they hinged technology on a central purpose.
Purpose-driven technology is that which drive and deliver value to the organization’s stakeholders – employees, customers, and the environment and society in which it operates. It enables the organization to address the needs of these stakeholders in any of the following areas: growth and innovation, collaboration and engagement, empowerment and inclusivity, health, safety, and well-being, and sustainability and positive environmental impact.
For an organization to fulfill the purpose of technology, they have to enable and deliver value across the entire experiences of customers and employees along all the touch points with the organization and the brand.
In our consulting work, we engage with the organization’s leaders in two workshops – customer journey mapping and employee experience mapping. The former maps the entirety of the interactions a customer has with a company and its products. The latter, on the other hand, maps the experience of an employee along the touch points in the organizations. These two tools provide insights on the overall experience of customers and employees and how they feel about the organization and all the touch points.
A culmination of these mapping involves identifying the impact of the “sad” and “neutral” experiences of the customer and employee to the business and operating environment. Sad and neutral experiences are those that do not provide good or delightful experiences, such as waiting for a long time to queue or a clunky system to access employee services. These are areas where technology can play a huge role in redesigning experiences and in creating positive impact to society and environment.
As an example, artificial intelligence (AI) technology is giving organizations tools and resources to transform customer service interactions, providing better response times and increased quality of interaction. It helps companies improve customer service, improve customer loyalty, and brand reputation, and enable employees to focus on higher value tasks that provide greater returns. That’s the purpose of AI as a technology.
The rewards of fulfilling technology’s purpose can be multifold. A 2017 study by McKinsey found the fastest-growing companies were using digital technologies to gain competitive advantage by creating meaningful and positive customer experiences with digital interactions: and refining products continually with customer feedback. On the other hand, improving employee experience drives revenue by as much as 50 percent, based on a recent study published in Harvard Business Review.
So, technology is used not for the sake of technology, but for the purpose that fulfills. It should be linked to the organization’s purpose, vision, and mission statements so that it is lived by all employees and institutionalized across the organization.
Reynaldo Lugtu Jr is Co-Founder and CEO of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. And has engaged with several companies and organizations on digital transformation and innovation.
He is a digital and culture transformation thought & action leader, a sought-after public speaker, and an accomplished educator, author, business columnist, and innovation coach. And is a business columnist and writer for Manila Times, Manila Bulletin, and Business World.
Ray is the Country Representative of the Institute of Change and Transformation Professionals Asia (ICTPA). He is also Professorial Lecturer in the MBA program of De La Salle University and Lecturer on Digital Transformation, Leadership and Management in the Benilde – School of Professional and Continuing Education.