Visionary Trends reflect on human cost of tech in the Data Age
Most people view technology as an accessory to their lives, yet so often we seem to be battling it.
The industry itself can be known for being let down by its human side, where complex systems and improved efficiencies can come at the cost of human interaction and empathy. Perhaps the most famous example is the dreaded automated message at the end of a helpline phone number. Many a mobile has come close to being smashed as a robotic woman announces ‘would you like to hear these options again’ rather than ‘please hold to speak to an operator’.
The computer industry may be the greatest perpetrator of all when it comes to technological frustration. James Trend, managing director of Visionary Trends, wrote about the need for empathy with your customer when running a successful computer services company in his best practice article in The Parliamentary Review. One of the greatest fears a consumer may have is losing their data, Trend makes it clear that he understands this, writing ‘data on people’s computers is today’s shoe-box of valuable memories’ as it can mean ‘photos, old emails, chats and so forth’ are lost if the proper care isn’t taken.
Trend has to factor in that the customer may not always know what they want, penning ‘we don’t actually erase anything – all data is always backed up and kept for 60 days. There have been a number of occasions when we have been told we can wipe everything, and a few weeks later asked if there is any way of getting the data back’.
This comes off the back of the CW Engineering Trust SIG which looked at how technology that could transform the way in which people and businesses manage personal data. They reflect how the internet 'was not built to defend individuals against the deluge of internet connected devices, services and data that emerged in the 1990s' while also looking at whether user data should be centralised or de-centralised. It is a legal and ethical minefield which will only get more pressing as '[online] companies collect far more information on users than credit card details and addresses'.
It is this level of consideration, Trend believes, that sets the business apart, looking out for the people involved rather than simply providing the tools to help with a technology-based issue.