The collaborative economy, the knowledge economy, the sharing economy…call it what you will, there’s a new economy dawning and technology is facilitating it.
Think it about it, everything we do in our businesses today is driven by technology. We communicate, collaborate, share information and network with people around the office, the city, the country and the world through technology.
Our computers are faster, our phones smarter, and our businesses more connected than ever before, thanks to technology.
For practically every aspect of our daily working lives, there is a piece of technology that can make the job easier, quicker and even, make it disappear altogether. That’s right, robotic technology is rendering certain business functions and employee positions useless, as it does the job more efficiently than its human counterparts.
The June 2015 Fortune article, Humans are underrated, reported, ‘In May, Daimler began testing the first self-driving semitruck on the roads of Nevada. The No. 1 job among American men, held by 2.9 million of them, is truck driver. Not that women are safe. Technology will continue to devour clerical and office tasks, and the No. 1 job among U.S. women, held for now by 3 million of them, is administrative assistant.’
So the new economy is not only being facilitated by technology, but is at the very heart of it too?
Well, that’s where I think the dynamic is fast changing. Yes, technology is an enabler of business, and yes it is advancing all the time, making our lives easier and streamlining our work processes, but behind these processes, behind the work being done, being the goods being created and purchases being made, are people.
In fact, the new economy – described by Wikipedia as the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by people and organisations – is nothing without people. Every aspect of it hinges around the human element.
When people call an organisation, they want to speak to a real person on the other end of the line. When they visit a company, they want to be welcomed with a warm (human) smile. And when they head off to the meeting room to brainstorm with you and your staff, it’s with a cup of coffee in hand, made by the friendly assistant who moments earlier asked them if they wanted sugar or milk.
These ‘warm bodies’ are actually what drive business, what help shape the customer experience and what differentiate that experience, making it memorable.
A key element of the new sharing economy is co-working spaces: serviced offices with no long-term leases that provide a space for entrepreneurs and small companies to nurture their dreams and grow their ventures.
There’s a perception that these spaces are just brick and mortar, and members simply get an office roof over their head, a desk and chair to use, and a WiFi network to tap into, at a fraction of the cost of renting a traditional office.
That’s not the case. For sure, professional co-working spaces offer all these regular office facilities, but they also go one step further and provide that irreplaceable human interaction in the form of receptionists, admin assistants and business operations support staff. For it is these people who bring life to these spaces and these spaces to life, and through this, add value to entrepreneurs’ – and their customers’ – new business experience.
Because no matter the pace and extent of advancing technology in business, there will always be a need for the human touch. Business will never lose its sense of humanity.
By Brad Porter