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No technology, no matter how advanced, exists without people

Editorial – October / November 2018

When all you want is a bit of advice or the answer to a question, sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to talk to a human being.

Just recently, I had to change a booking on Jetstar – turns out I did actually want to check in some baggage rather than travel light. I clicked ‘manage booking’ on the website and up popped Jess, Jetstar’s virtual assistant: ‘What can I help you with?’

Jess is a chatbot – one of those computerised conversation creations that an increasing number of companies are using for all those mundane and (what must be to them very annoying) frequently asked questions. 

And while I’m sure Jess and her ilk will be able to answer 95% of all the questions asked of them, ultimately there still has to be a live human with ‘real’ intelligence somewhere in the system for the remaining 5% whose questions can’t be answered by machine-learning algorithms.

Supply Chain Management Review recently posted an article on how ‘NextGen’ technologies are building the supply chains of the future – including artificial intelligence, robots, blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) – but, it went on to say, “as with their predecessors, they too promise increased efficiency, visibility and speed. But no technology, no matter how advanced, exists without people.” Indeed! 

You can read a number of articles in this edition of FTD that talk about the rise of disruptive technologies, but as Katie Kinraid of BluJay Solutions points out (page 22), “true supply chain innovation doesn’t have to be completely new or disruptive. You don’t have to refresh all your systems and processes. And you certainly don’t have to go out and invest in driverless trucks, drones and blockchain.”

At a time when technology is truly disrupting the status quo and it feels like robots are taking over the planet, the greatest investment a company can make is in its people.

Until next time …
Lynne Richardson, editor


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