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Human Capital Technology: Five Things You Need to Consider

Technology rules. It touches every facet of our lives – personal and professional.

As a full-service marketing firm serving specialized markets, The Starr Conspiracy has a deep understanding of the growing role of technology as a business solution. We also understand that technology’s role within an organization has many structural, managerial and cultural implications – and complications.

In Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change, the author, media theorist and cultural critic Neil Postman, offers a great critical framework for examining the applications and implications of technology, which naturally extend to technology’s role in human capital management. Here are the five things you need to know about technology, according to Postman:

  1. Every technological change has a trade-off. For every advantage a new technology offers, there is a corresponding disadvantage.
  2. The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the populations they touch. Technological change favors some people and harms others. There are always winners and losers.
  3. Behind every new technology is a powerful idea or philosophy. These ideas are often hidden because they are abstract. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have practical consequences.
  4. Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A new technology doesn’t add something; it changes everything.
  5. When technology becomes mythic, society has the tendency to think of technological creations as God-given. We make them hard to modify or control. Society’s enthusiasm for technology can turn into a form of idolatry, and our belief in its beneficence can be a false absolute.

Postman’s framework poses more questions than it answers, and that’s the point – to get you thinking and questioning.

Are technology and technological change inherently bad? No. Are the business benefits and efficiencies brought about by technology good? Yes. Will everyone in your organization love the changes technology brings? No. Can you change it if you need to later? Yes.

Should we be thinking critically about technology’s impact on human capital and the larger organizational, managerial and cultural implications? I think it’s an ethical responsibility for vendors, buyers and marketers to consider these issues posed in Postman’s framework.

Sometimes, drinking the Kool-Aid can lead to pretty scary things.