By Adam Gellert, Founder / HR + Recruitment Consultant at Linkus Group
Technology versus Human Capital
Definitions for the term obsolete include: ‘no longer used, as something newer exists’, or ‘out of date.’ How terrifying is it for an employee to be anticipating being no longer needed in a workplace, or expired for the lack of a better word? This is in fact the reality of many workers in today’s society – whether they are members of the manufacturing, hospitality or even business services industry.
Today’s world consists of constant changes in technology. It includes product and service upgrades, replacements, and many versions of the same products that can essentially make a process easier. Can technology be compared to Human Capital? Just as there are employees who have industry expertise, there are employees who can upgrade their knowledge through training and development, leadership programs and cross training in new business areas. Employers can replace other employees who are better suited for the job – all in all to ensure that a business has the best human capital.
The reality is, that technology can do the exact same thing but in a more efficient, fast and less costly manner. This is very common in the manufacturing industry where entire jobs become obsolete as they are replaced with technologies that can produce a higher output than what employees can produce. However, it is also becoming common in the business services sector. Imagine having to analyze a data set of over 1 million documents – it would take many employees hours of work to accomplish this task. A computer program on the other hand has the ability to complete this task in a matter of minutes. Another recent trend is investment in Cloud Computing – where businesses can access information anywhere they go – small businesses will not have to worry about renting offices and actual workspaces. Why wouldn’t businesses want to invest on such technologies? Below are a list of pro’s and con’s of the use of technology in today’s average business.
Benefits of Technology:
How technology can’t replace human capital:
Paperless business – Environmentally friendly businesses
|Planning and Management – Integrating new technology is not as easy as it looks – should you purchase a brand new software program as soon as it becomes available? Or should you wait and not jump on the bandwagon and take the risk of the product being obsolete soon. Technology is fast paced – you snooze you lose, it can also be very costly|
|Increased productivity – Better production results from efficiency when a new technology is introduced||Re-training – New technology does not necessarily mean replacing employees – but it can mean employees may need to be re-trained and educated on how to use the technologies – which brings room for errors, and costs. There is also the importance of meeting the needs of employees through job security, employee activities, etc – something that computers cannot do.|
|Smaller workforce – Easy to manage, reduces costs||Maintenance – What if there is a glitch, system error, or the technology merely breaks down? Yes, you can upgrade a system, but this is a cost. Technology cannot be mentored or coached to become successful as an employee can be|
|Better communication – introducing up to date technologies allows for fluidity in communication throughout the workforce||Costs – As mentioned in almost every point above, technology can be expensive. If it is used to replace employees, businesses will have to ensure that there are no redundancies in processes to avoid unwanted costs.|
|Stay competitive – being up to date in technologies allows businesses to stay competitive in today’s fast paced industry|
Although we live in a technology driven world, there are advantages and disadvantages to the use of technology and maintaining human capital in a business. It is ultimately up to the business to decide if it has the capacity to keep up to date with constantly changing technology, or whether to invest in the good old -fashioned human capital.