Reclaiming sense in the age of technology overload – is there an app for that?
19 Oct 2023
When, a few weekends ago, I was finally handed the keys to a shiny, new electric car that I ordered almost two years ago, my excitement quickly shifted into reverse. As a result, I confronted a broader realization about our relationship with technology that, if left unchecked, will lead us careering off in the wrong direction, at speed.
Once in the driver’s seat, the car’s associated app, designed to enable various features, became a perplexing challenge. In short, it didn’t work. The issue was that because I had previously owned one of the manufacturer’s other models some time ago, the app could not match my profile with this new car, and it was impossible to be set up as the car’s rightful user.
While I could drive the vehicle – although only by overriding the system – there was a host of inaccessible functions, and having to use workaround solutions simply to use the car somewhat diminished the user experience. For example, I could not see where the vehicle was stationed if I or someone else had parked it. Further, emergency numbers were accessible only in the app.
The technical support team was not on hand to solve the problem as it was the weekend. Despite advanced features, a lack of integration between manufacturer apps and systems created headaches rather than help.
Unfortunately for me, this experience became emblematic of a larger narrative: our obsession with tech novelty sometimes sidesteps user-centric common sense, and businesses are prone to doing things for the sake of the technology rather than for the customer.
The allure of using tech without a well-thought-through use case is an increasingly prevalent issue in the business world. Just because a solution is new or cutting-edge doesn’t automatically make it beneficial. I’ve witnessed numerous businesses getting trapped in the digital mirage, implementing tools and software without a thorough understanding of their true value or without considering if they genuinely enhance the user or customer experience.
For businesses, falling into the tech-for-tech-sake trap can divert resources, time, and focus. Moreover, it can distance companies from their core objectives and the very people they aim to serve. Every digital solution introduced should undergo a litmus test. Does it help streamline operations? Does it enhance the experience? If not, why are we adopting it?
However, the real game-changer lies in data integration. Today’s business landscape is riddled with isolated tech solutions. Each claims to be the panacea for specific problems, but in isolation, their effectiveness diminishes. Like my experience with the new electric car, customers are left to bridge gaps through their makeshift workarounds.
Real power is harnessed when these standalone systems speak to one another, presenting a unified and comprehensive view. Integration also unlocks the power of data. When systems communicate across an enterprise, data can be consolidated, organized, and analyzed enterprise-wide. This provides integrated insights not possible with siloed data sets.
Yet proper integration requires forethought, not afterthought. Systems must be designed from the outset to share data, insights, and capabilities across platforms. The goal should be enhancing human productivity and potential through technology, not compromising it.
Imagine a universal organizational app consolidating various functionalities – energy management, transport bookings, and business analytics. The convenience and efficiency of such a platform would undoubtedly make life significantly easier for consumers and businesses alike.
Think of the cockpit of an aeroplane. The array of gauges, alerts, and controls integrate into a comprehensive dashboard that pilots can quickly interpret. Though largely automated, the pilot remains firmly in control.
Now imagine a cockpit where each instrument functions independently, with no consolidation. The pilot becomes overwhelmed by disjointed data, unable to separate signal from noise. What was intended to empower now distracts and disables.
Alas, driven by competitive and financial motives, the tech industry seems reluctant to venture into such integrative solutions – outside of China, at least. Without a clear financial incentive, the dream of a genuinely unified digital platform seems distant, for now.
Taking inspiration from the energy sector, the Octopus Energy app provides a glimmer of hope. By offering integration with various technologies, it presents a blueprint for designing tech solutions – keeping the user’s holistic needs at the forefront.
The challenge for businesses is twofold. First, we must resist the sparkle of technology that doesn’t serve a purpose or enhance the user experience. Second, there’s an urgent need to advocate for and invest in meaningful integration that collates data. Such integration streamlines operations and offers a richer understanding of the business landscape, empowering companies to make more informed decisions.
As we continue our journey through the digital age, the end destination has to remain the same. We must champion technology as our ally, not an overlord. Tech must be our co-pilot with us in the driving seat, and not vice versa.
By prioritizing user-centric integration and harnessing technology with purpose, we can pave the way for a future where tech truly enriches our personal and professional lives.