The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

The Technology Does Not Sell

The Technology Does Not Sell

Jun 20, 2011

Years ago, there is a motorola executive was speaking to a group of students. He asks the students to answer a couple of simple questions, “who among you owns a motorola cell phone?”. A small group of students raise their hands. He continues to as them, “who among you own a Nokia cell phone?”. The large population of remaining students raise their hands. They go on to discuss why the students own Nokia cell phones, and the executive explains how much better Motorola’s technology is than Nokia.

I should mention here once more that this was all years ago.  I now own a Motorola Droid 2 Global on the Android platform, after having owned the Motorlola Droid 1 and the Droid 2.  Absolutely love these phones.  I don’t know about you, but I have basically owned the popular cell phones of whatever era we were in (iPhone excepted since until very recently it was not available on my wireless provider of choice). I had that huge motorola flip phone in the late 90s, had the nokias like everyone else around the turn of the century, been given the blackberries by my employers, and I’ve been on the motorola droid for the last couple of years.

Phones are popular not because of their technology. They are popular because of what they do for us. Sometimes its the image. We all remember theMotorola Razer (or something like that – i didn’t own one of those) that everyone loved because they were small. We remember the nokias because at the time they were the simplest to use. We realize that many of us bought iPhones even though they were useless as phones in the US. The point being that the choices had almost nothing to do with technology. We sacrificed the ability to make phone calls on a phone so we could buy an apple product that had apps.

The point is this, if you have to explain why your product is better, your product has failed, and you will fail in marketing it. All too often, we deploy new HR systems and tell our clients (employees and managers) how great it will be that they have new tools and self service, only to find out that they hate the new system since they can no longer delegate manual tasks to their assistants – that we have actually just given them more work. We continuously fail in our change management programs for a large number of factors, but one of those facts is definitely hat we are trying to sell the wrong thing. It’s not about what they can do with the technology, it’s what the technology can do for them. (I am feeling like a Kennedy at the moment i suppose.)

In a perhaps more appropriate appropriate approach, applications like alert management must be acknowledged to put more activity on the individual manager’s proverbial table. Indeed, many a survey have shown that manager activity either stays the same or increases any time we give them more technology, but we keep advertising how much easier their lives will be. Instead, we should be owning up to the fact that their lives get busier and more complex, and that’s not a bad thing. The whole point of modern human resources is t hat we continuously get better at managing our people. What are our direct managers if not people managers? Sure, they have to manage activity and process, but it’s the people who have to execute those activities and processes. The technology enables managers to actually do their jobs better, and sometimes just to do their jobs. The fact that more work comes with doing jobs that they are supposed to have been doing all along is merely a byproduct of the technology. sure, you get more work, but now you can do it effectively. In the end, you’ll have happier people, they will stick around longer, have stronger capabilities, and you’ll look really really good.

Or, you can be like Motorola a decade ago when Nokia was cleaning their clock. Instead, give them something they can use, and understand easily. “It’s your job, dammit, and we’re going to make you better at it.” If we have to explain the technology, we’ve already failed.  Today, Motorola has transformed the market and you see Motorlola and iPhones everywhere, but not so much Nokia anymore (in the US).  Turns out that the technology is important, but it’s really about the experience.

One comment

  1. Agree to it fully, its not about superficial technology solution which doesn’t solve anything. Its more about how much value the solution is adding.

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