The New Regular: Technology at the Speed of Your Humans

Jim Blasingame

This is the fifth installment of my New Regular series. No one’s seen “Normal” since COVID-19 took it out months ago.

Last week, we covered the concept of business fundamentals being neither Old School nor New School, but rather THE School.

To help restart your business in the New Regular of the post-pandemic economy, let’s continue that theme with two more THE School fundamentals. One is primal and one is, relatively speaking, a new kid on the fundamentals block. But both now as inextricably linked as they are completely different.

First, allow me to introduce two really smart dudes.

Over a half-century ago, one of the 20th-century tech immortals, Gordon Moore, CEO and co-founder of Intel, famously prophesied that the transistor capacity of a circuit board will double approximately every two years.  Today, after compounding over two dozen times, the manifestation of what became known as Moore’s Law has accelerated virtually all aspects of life and work on Earth to the speed of light.

Less than a generation later, the other smart guy apparently felt compelled to contribute a humanity grounding rod to Moore’s Law. In his seminal work Megatrends (1982), futurist John Naisbitt proffered this cautionary prophecy: “The more high tech we have, the more high touch we will want.” Write that down – it’ll be on the test.

What I’ve presumptuously named Naisbitt’s Razor describes what happens when the binary codes of two completely different dimensions collide: the 1s and 0s of digital technology (the new kid) with the XX and XY of human protoplasm (the primal).

Even as Moore set the stage for what became our digital future, and Naisbitt reset our expectations for future digital adoption, both were focused on two truths. Moore: Humans will always seek a new, better, and faster way to do things – now with digital leverage. Naisbitt: All humans, even high-adopters of digital leverage, will always be analog. 

One common denominator of any successful endurance of the coronavirus sequestration and the post-pandemic economic recovery is our array of tech tools, at once powerful and handy. Surely, even Moore would have blinked incredulously if you had described a cute little device held by human fingers being more powerful than the 1965 brute IBM delivered on a truck – the System 360.

While Moore told us technology would get faster and smarter, Naisbitt reminded us that humans would not. And where those two binary codes collide, there’s the rub.

With the coronavirus shutdown nightmare moving farther back in our rear-view mirror, many business paradigms are shifting and being reset by the current evidence of Moore’s law – faster, cheaper, more productive, and more virtual technology. Indeed, now increasingly granularized for Main Street businesses, this technology will be essential to your business surviving the transition back to an expanding New Regular economy. Thank you, Mr. Moore.

But in adapting your business model to these seductive solutions, one immutable, primal fact must be held sacred: one half of that collision of binaries is represented by your two most important stakeholders, 100% analog employees and customers. Thank you, Mr. Naisbitt.

So, what if we could get Mr. Moore and Mr. Naisbitt together to help us reboot post-pandemic? The issue on the table would be the two non-negotiables: high tech and high touch. This is what it might sound like:

Moore: Customers will increasingly serve themselves with new technology, now granularized for Main Street volumes, and incrementally priced for small budgets.
Naisbitt: What’s cool and sexy to you might be clunky and annoying to customers. Never ask a customer to use your technology unless there’s something in it for them.

Moore: There will be more virtual meetings, sales calls, demos, and proposal presentations. This method of interaction will prove so efficient and productive that, long after we’ve stopped worrying about COVID-19, virtual and remote business will increasingly be preferred.
Naisbitt: Never deliver any virtual interaction with a customer without knowing how it lands on them. Your technology must still deliver small business special sauce, which requires your involvement with and direction to digital developers, plus training, monitoring, and measuring employees on both high-tech performance and high-touch sensitivity.

Moore: In order to be more productive in prospect identification and development, you’ll increasingly use artificial intelligence applications, again granular and incremental for a small business.
Naisbitt: AI is sexy digital leverage, but it can become creepy to the object of the algorithm – the analog humans. It’s true that big corporations often get away with creepy encroachment on the lives and privacy of customers and prospects, but your small business will not. Out here on Main Street, creepy is not cool.   

Moore: Customers' expectations will require you to offer faster and handier technology. Gear up.
Naisbitt: Even in the 21st century, no one will ever say customers do business with algorithms they know, like and trust.

Finally, remember that the only binary code capable of leveraging trust and ethics is the one made of protoplasm. If your digital leverage is to be trusted, ethical, and an extension of your special sauce values, analog humans must put it in. Good stuff in – good stuff out.

Write this on a rock … Your success in the New Regular, post-pandemic economy will be determined by how well you manage the intersection of the two binary codes. High tech AND high touch. That will be on the test.

Jim Blasingame is the author of The 3rd Ingredient, the Journey of Analog Ethics into the World of Digital Fear and Greed.

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