Wednesday 23 December 2015

Don't be cynical about new technology

Mr Seet Choon Hong's letter ("New tech doesn't always boost productivity"; last Thursday) suggests that the adoption of new technologies upsets the status quo.

Often, it is hard to find the "right" time to adopt technology in a business, as there can never be a perfect time to move from the old to the new.

A more appropriate solution is to factor in sufficient time and space for training and deployment when new technology is involved.

Among the problems faced by businesses today are the deeply entrenched mindsets and practices that resist learning new methods to make operations easier, such as a coffee shop employee's preference for verbal communication in taking orders, as opposed to using a device.

I feel sorry for the coffee shop workers mentioned by Mr Seet, if they resort to resigning because of such changes at their workplace.

This is exactly the kind of pressing issues facing the Government and various industries, which are trying very hard to help businesses move up the value chain, upskill their staff and change their attitude.

Everything has a cost, and as long as the new solution can be supported by an organisation's resources, the business should be encouraged to proceed with its plans.

This does not mean that all businesses need to be at the frontier of new technologies.

The future might be bleak if Mr Seet's cynicism is widespread.

Tan Kar Quan
ST Forum, 21 Dec 2015

New tech doesn't always boost productivity

As a regular patron at a coffee shop located near my workplace, I have noticed that the shop owner has recently introduced the use of tablets for its drink stall assistants to take and manage customers' orders.

However, this has led to fewer assistants taking orders, as some of them do not feel comfortable working with the gadget in place of the paper and memory-based methods that they have been used to.

These "excess" workers will now only deliver drinks to customers after the orders have been taken by their colleagues equipped with the tablets.

This has resulted in a longer waiting time for customers, as the number of assistants taking orders has been reduced.

Worse still, the cashier and barista continue to process orders based on verbal orders given by other customers, thereby further prolonging the waiting time for diners who have placed their orders through assistants equipped with tablets.

One of the assistants serving my table proclaimed that several of his colleagues plan to resign after receiving their bonuses early next year because of the "cumbersome" order management system that the owner has installed.

My encounter at the coffee shop seems to run contrary to the coffee shop owner's well-intentioned plan to raise workplace productivity and enhance customers' dining experience.

Seet Choon Hong
ST Forum, 17 Dec 2015

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