Computer automation has long since allowed businesses to replace employees with technologies to increase efficiencies in operations. Companies across industry leverage the seemingly effortless execution of technology, side-stepping the importance of a human intelligence to react and adapt to inconsistencies that could have immense impact to the business and the consumers it supports.
Online eTailers such as Amazon.com and Ebay.com have built enterprises with automated systems regulating the relationship with consumers. Amazon.com, the largest online retailer in the world, provides ease of use to its customers with one-click shopping from selection through transaction. This highly efficient system is not immune to pitfalls. Even the slightest performance issue can cause logistical and financial consequences that directly impact the end consumer.
Even more prone to causing a decrease in consumer confidence is the impact of technology used in the financial industry. Financial markets in the digital age are sensitive to increased volatility, as scripts in programs violently trade equities at millisecond intervals in step with movements in the market, resulting in intra-day point moves on the major indices that have never been seen before.
The results of this process have major implications. “These sudden price swings, which may have absolutely zero fundamental basis, actually become a catalyst themselves for undermining consumer confidence and corporate willingness to spend, which results in slower spending and a slower economy,” remarks Stephen Ardizzoni, Global Head, Cantor Fitzgerald Investment Advisors. “This ‘negative feedback’ loop soon starts to take a life unto itself, and in short order a technical sell off can actually produce fundamental problems for the capital markets as a whole.”
Advancements in technology will continue to present businesses with incredible opportunities to maximize efficiency. However, the human element remains equally as important. IBM’s Watson may have dominated his debut on Jeopardy, but analysts are rightfully skeptical about the long-term performance of such technologies. Although slower and more costly, human beings are still the masters of technology, and can provide complete control that machinery cannot. For driving real impact, people never go obsolete.