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Oct. 23, 2018

We’re in the digital era. You didn’t need us to tell you that. You’re probably reading this on a device that is infinitely more powerful than the NASA computer that got us to the moon whilst feeling no sense of awe about that fact at all. You may have even just Googled that fact to make sure we’re not lying to you, and having done so, still had no appreciation for what digital growth has done for us both in the business world and further afield.

Whilst these are exciting times, the digital era spans several generations of people who interact with growth differently. Take for example the process of paying road tax in the UK through the government website. For those of us in their early 20s, this seems quite reasonable and we’ll get on with it. For those of us who still had to take the 11+ at school and found the Rubik’s cube fascinating, this process may at first seem alien and questions such as: “I didn’t have to sign anything, is this real? When do I go to the Post Office?” may sit in people’s minds. This represents a potential inefficiency in the process borne by the desire of the user to seek confirmation to the point of needing some human interaction. But it isn’t unreasonable.

Does Digital Growth Respond to People or Vice Versa?

This highlights the question about how digital integration into any process relies on the confidence the users have in the system. ‘Digital’ is often synonymous with ‘efficient’, but in practice, is it also responsible for introducing new inefficiencies? If that’s the case, does the future need to wait for people to catch up and for society to change, or is the marching forward of digital the virtual kick up the backside that prompts us as humans to change how we think?

With this in mind, digital integration needs to look very carefully at the cross section of people who are likely to be using the system.

Expanding this idea out, we can look at driverless vehicles, which we also touch on in this post from June 2018 where we mention driverless cars finding themselves crashing Is this the fault of the technology or instead the fault of human interacting with it? Tests that have been conducted with Tesla vehicles have been conducted to show the difference between driving automation and driving assistance, the two having very different outcomes when the human gets it wrong!

Modelling The Technology Around The People

Digital integration needs to stay in tune with the people using it and be almost sympathetic to the process it replaces and what people are used to. The ultimate aim of digital is to make lives easier, so when this fails to be the case, it may be time to step back and look at what the right level of integration is.