The Perils of Excessive Reliance on Technology for Decision makers and HR Professionals
The All Pervasive Technology and the Inevitability of Technology Driven Decision Making
Technology is all around us. Wherever we look and whatever we search for, chances are that we cannot escape the overarching and overweening presence of tech in our careers and personal lives. Indeed, technology has become so pervasive that it is impossible for businesses and professionals to be still in a time warp without using technology and its tools in their professional lives.
For instance, in the world of business, HR Managers use Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Algorithms and Analytics driven software to help them in the recruitment process. In addition, marketers and sales professionals use Big Data and AI to spot consumer behavior trends and patterns of consumption that are otherwise invisible to the Human Eye, however experienced we are.
Further, operations and logistics are entirely automated in most of the developed world and even the developing world with the resultant reduction in delivery times and increase in reliability and safety of the shipments.
Thus, in the present world, it is hard for corporate professionals and more importantly, decision makers to not rely on technology for decision making and other forms of business and commercial activity.
The Guy Who Saved the World and the Perils of Excessive Reliance on Technology
Having said that, there is something known as Excessive Dependence and Over Reliance on Technology that sometimes leads the decision makers to make inaccurate business calls and patently misleading decisions.
Indeed, the history of business is replete with instances of business and military as well as political and social leaders having had to use their human instincts and what is known as Gut Feel and deploy their Trained Judgment to take appropriate decisions.
For instance, during the Cold War between the United States and the erstwhile USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) when the risk of Total Annihilation due to Nuclear Weapons was at an all time high, there was the case of a Soviet Colonel known as Petrov, who is widely credited with Saving the World because he used his human instinct and gut feel when he had to take a decision on whether to retaliate against what he thought was a System Glitch in the Radars that showed Incoming American Missiles into the USSR.
Petrov did not have much time to respond and it would have been easy for him to simply order a counter attack based on the Radar messages. However, he overrode the systems and alerted his superiors and waited until there was clarity which in hindsight saved the World.
Decision Makers Must Not Become Slaves of Technology
What Petrovs case teaches us is that while technology and systems are indeed advanced and cutting edge, there are chances for systems glitches and machine and software errors which can make the most advanced systems vulnerable to errors and mistakes.
This is the reason why some leading business leaders and experts are now cautioning their peers about relying too much on technology.
For instance, Human Resource Managers often use AI powered software and tools to screen resumes and shortlist candidates.
Moreover, they also deploy Robot Software for Psychometric Testing and Personality and Technical Capabilities Assessment.
While there are clear advantages of this in terms of accuracy and time saved, we must caution that there is something known as Gut Feel that emerges from decades of experience and a sense of Perspective that comes with exposure which even now can help humans take difficult decisions that stump the machines.
Of course, we do not for a moment; suggest that HR Managers revert to Old Fashioned methods. Rather, what we intend to say is that when there is a close match of the profile with multiple candidates or when the resumes look Too Good to be True, human judgment and experience can play a prominent part.
What the Crises of the Last Decade Teach Us about Systemic Collapse and Technology
Indeed, if there are any lessons to be learnt from the Economic and Political Crises of the Last Decade, it is that the more advanced the machines and the more sophisticated the software, chances are that systemic crashes and widespread collapse would become more common.
There are advantages of connectedness and at the same time, this also leads to vulnerabilities. Moreover, AI and Analytics have not yet reached a stage where they can mimic human capabilities and this is the reason why it is better for decision makers to draw a line between technology and the Human Touch which would serve as a guide to their and their peers decision making processes.
Indeed, in our experience, we have found that in many developing countries where the Infrastructure is not yet advanced enough to match the software, it is preferable to use technology with experience.
For instance, in the Indian case, there are many Apps and Tools for everything ranging from Parking to Food and Grocery Delivery. However, as many of us have realized, sometimes, picking the Phone and Ordering directly is more effective.
Lastly, as the legendary Founder of Infosys, NR Narayana Murthy is quoted as saying, In God We Trust; Rest Have to Bring Data, technology can help us in preparing and gathering data which is a very obvious advantage.
However, as NRN also said that Human Values must guide decision making and hence, this is where we suggest to use technology and human judgmental capabilities in conjunction rather than let one override the other.
To conclude, while technology has indeed delivered awesome and spectacular benefits, there are perils on relying too much on it and this is where plain old commonsense can help.
- Decision Making in an Uncertain World
- The Need for Certainty and Control
- Decision Making at the time of Crisis
Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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