Love as a Technology Strategy

EPISODE 5

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Technology is a part of every modern business, and often an aspect that is approached logically and tactically. So often, it’s made up of zeroes and ones and nothing more. Is there any room for LOVE in something so mechanical? We take on that question and more in this episode!

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

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Jeff

Director

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MohProfile

Moh

President

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Frank

Director

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ChrisProfile

Chris

Vice President

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Jeff Ma
Hello and welcome to love as a business strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business. We want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from, we believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma. I'm a director at soft way, an agency based out of Houston that specializes in digital transformation, culture and branding. Each episode here, we're going to be diving into one element of business or strategy and testing or theory of love against it. And today, we're going to dive into technology. Technology is a part of every modern business and often an aspect that is approached logically and tactically tactically. And so often it's made up of zeros and ones and really nothing more. So we want to ask is there room for love and something that's so magical All right, we want to take that challenge on today. And joining me as always, are some friends. We have Frank Danna. Welcome, Frank. Hello. Your question today? If you wish, okay. Yeah. Because actually, I got these, like I had helped with these questions. So I have not even read them ahead of time. I'm just signing them randomly. If you had to delete all but three apps on your phone, Frank, which ones would you keep?

Frank Danna
Oh, that's easy. So I would keep fit BOD, Spotify and Mario Kart.

Jeff Ma
Oh my goodness. I reject your answers.

Unknown Speaker
All right, well, what did

Unknown Speaker
I say? Good list. That's a good list. I think that's a valiant selection. All right, well,

Jeff Ma
it everybody enter this. Since Chris is here, Chris, Chris peachy RVP. Welcome, Chris. Your question, when did you get your first cell phone? And what kind was it?

Unknown Speaker
Great question. I got my first cell phone when I graduated college. And it was a flip phone. It was not the Motorola razor, which I upgraded to. It was like, Can you remember the brand name, but it was silver. And I got it because I was going to DC to college and my parents wanted to make sure that I was in touch with with them. So I've had the same number since I graduated high school.

Unknown Speaker
Oh, congratulations.

Jeff Ma
Last but not least, we have Muhammad Anwar, president ceo software. Hello, Mo. Hey, Jeff. I swear I don't pick these questions. What's the worst haircut you've ever had?

Unknown Speaker
I can tell you that story.

Unknown Speaker
What's the worst haircut I've had? had the same haircut. All my life growing up. So I remember it makes

Jeff Ma
it your worst hair. It's your best and worst haircut.

Unknown Speaker
There you go. You got my

Unknown Speaker
haircut. I beg to differ. There was a situation about a year ago.

Frank Danna
unpack that situation, please.

Unknown Speaker
You went to a new hairstylist, I believe.

Unknown Speaker
Oh, that one and I forgotten it.

Unknown Speaker
Because you have to go back and get it fixed. Like you had this

Unknown Speaker
like a frank haircut.

Unknown Speaker
It's not your usual.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, it was not my usual.

Jeff Ma
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. We'll have to share pictures in the show notes later hopefully.

Unknown Speaker
But you get off the chair and you didn't know that you had a bad haircut. Your family had to tell you how to bad haircut and sent you back to the barbershop

Unknown Speaker
you don't remember cuz I was too nice to tell the salon person she did a bad job. I didn't want to tell her that.

Frank Danna
I love the bad haircut is all Being connected to my haircut. So thank you all so much, let's

Jeff Ma
just tacking everybody at the same time

Unknown Speaker
when charged, that's a blessing and a curse.

Jeff Ma
Well, with with that, let's dive in, let's dive into technology. So, guys, we started as a technology company, many, many years ago, and it's still the center of our business, right. But at one point, we set our mission, our new company mission to be to bring humanity back to the workplace, something we passionately believe in to this day. Now, remember, back when we were making that transition, we actually worked to understand what the connection might be between humanity and technology in the workplace. And so we we actually interviewed some developers and technologists to try to uncover this, Chris, I remember you were a big part of that research. What did we find?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, no, it was Really interesting exercise because our team was really trying to connect our efforts to a bigger vision. And so I just asked them to go around the table between our US and India, tech leadership, and just said, like, What got you into this whole technology game? Right. And the way that they told those stories, it really showed that there is sort of a love behind the reasons why our tech team and even any technologists really might have explored or, you know, really honed in on their interest in technology. And we heard stories like, Hey, I actually learned that I could serve others by learning how to code, right, more of our tech leads would go around and QA everybody else's work, because he was so good at it. And he got so much joy out of that, and people appreciated him and saw him in a different light. And so that spurred his interest to want to continue to serve and so now he's, you know, working at software doing that for our clients. We've had Another who said that, you know, he had such high or people around him and his family had high hopes and expectations for him when he was going off to college. And he got to college and was like bombing all of his classes except for technology. And from that, he seemed like, technology really, really saved my, you know, a SS. And so it's in that that I try and save someone else's. Right. So you start hearing these stories of service, we had someone say that, you know, I was working on something, and I was so new technology, but it still worked. My code was bad, but it still worked. And he learned that while technology is truly forgiving, and there's, there's something about having something that will forgive me for the things that I don't know yet for the things that I don't do well yet. And to be able to bring that to a client's environment or to you know, others in the world is remarkable. And so you start hearing all of these sort of really human oriented stories that were sort of drivers for people coming into the tech space and becoming master developers and helping lead teams of developers and engineers who are trying to do the same thing in their own sort of capacity.

Jeff Ma
Very nice. So, you know, I remember what came out of all of that, was this term, humanizing tech, we it became kind of this mo we had, and we still use that to the To this day, and it was birthed out of that, that research and that understanding. But what, to me, we use it so much that I actually want this question answered Mohammed, what, what does humanizing technology really mean? Why do we use that? Sure.

Unknown Speaker
So when you're taking this research and the insights that we found, and you're trying to figure out, how, how does this all ladder up to our vision and we weren't able to Come up with the connection that number one experiences shape people and technology shapes experiences. So hence us as technologists, we have the ability to shape those human experiences. And from there, we had that aha moment that, you know, we are all about humanizing technology. And we have like several projects since and before that, that we operated at the capacity of thinking of humans, around all of the solutions that we are producing for our customers and their human conditions. That, you know, we realize that our core differentiator is that we look at technology from the lens of humanity and we are humanizing technology.

Jeff Ma
We're gonna be by what you mean by human conditions, can you elaborate human conditions and your definition?

Unknown Speaker
Sure, human conditions are, you know, you must have heard of a user experience which is a How is the user interacting with the technology and why You know how easy is it is and what they get out of it. But human conditions is even beyond that. It's not just the user interacting with the technology. It's about how we take into consideration the human conditions that exist in the environment that they may be using the technology, for example, you know, we had this opportunity to build an application for an a track manufacturer for the contractors. And these contractors had to go to homes or businesses and climb up into the attics on these buildings in you know, and being in Houston or southern part of the country. It is extremely hot and humid in the handlings. And these contractors are having to go into the heat and operate and diagnose the problems and issues with the track units. And there were even instances at times that the contractors would get dehydrated and faint and It became a life threatening issue. And so we were tasked with coming up with a solution that allows us to come up with technology that could help that human condition, the human condition is basically that physical, physiological environment and needs that the human has, and how can we build technology to help with that. And so the solution we came up with was to make connected devices from the track to a tablet application, where the contractor now can drive up to the driveway of the home and connect with the Bluetooth device without having to step into the attic and diagnose the problems with the air conditioning unit. And not have the risk of going into this hot and humid environment, which could lead to dehydration and problems for the for the for the human at the other end of that technology. So that's like a good example of human conditions. If you look at today, our conditions in this COVID-19 crisis, it has changed all of our human conditions. Yeah, we are required to be socially distant. We are working from home. And while we're working from home, our kids are at home. And we're having to manage homeschooling plus work, plus cooking a meal, and all of it together, right, that has changed how we are living in our human conditions. Now, has the technology been adapted to those human conditions? Probably Yeah. Because when they were built, they're built for different environments.

Jeff Ma
I actually, I mean, you mentioned that and you guys all know you're meeting me all the time. I basically have two children, like, on top of my body while I'm having meetings, on to my neck. And I find myself you know, that's a great point. I find myself really enjoying some of those small quality of life improvements to the tools I use, right? Whether it's just like, like the spacebar on zoom that lets me unmute, like, with, with a one touch, or, or little things, even things that like catch my mistakes that I normally don't care as much about or notice, I'm more careless as, as working as somebody with two children, literally in my in my space. And so that's interesting because, you know, there is user experience and then there's like, things that I find useful in my life, not just how easy a specific thing is to use. Does anyone? Does anyone else have any examples I guess they can think of for humanizing tech.

Frank Danna
I mean, I actually have one that is kind of similar to what you were talking about Mohammed, it's, we were contacted by a wheelchair manufacturer, because what they were struggling with was the fact that when someone would contact them for a wheelchair repair, they would send out a technician but it would take an average of two days for that. technician to arrive to do whatever repairs are necessary for this, this wheelchair. So imagine the person who's using the wheelchair having to wait for around two days to have someone arrive to help fix this electric wheelchair. Turns out that 80% of the time, it was a settings issue, not a mechanical issue. So we ended up helping to create an app and and link it to a device that could remotely connect to it and or majority of those repairs became an immediate fix versus having to wait for two days. So I think that's just another example. Kind of like what Mohammed was referring to, with the contractors not having to go into the attics. But from the other perspective as well of the end user not having to wait for two days for their wheelchair to be repaired. And most of those things happening remotely and instantaneously getting that person literally mobility back in their life as quickly as possible.

Jeff Ma
And, and again, relevant to COVID-19. Right, like Yeah, absolutely. like not having to come personally. serve as a religion. Social can save lives can save lives another way.

Unknown Speaker
Another example just taking it from where Frank left off. Short, we had another application that we worked I'm sure you guys remember where we built a internet connected device tied to an app for physical therapy. So there are patients who might be going through different physical therapy, procedures, and they have a lot of homework to do that they have to do at home on their own to keep practicing before their next visit with a physical therapist or the doctor. And, you know, a lot of the time the motivation to be able to get your physical therapy exercises done. It's not easy. I mean, we like for me sometimes going to the gym and just working out is hard and imagine you trying to build up the motivation to try and work out, you know, for from a physical therapy standpoint. So we took those human conditions into place and tried to to gamify, the physical therapy experience and we created games that was connected to the, to the to the device that latched on to your body to see the muscle in density and how you're flexing and moving parts of the body that would tie back to a game. And you were we were able to gamify the physical therapy exercise, but not only do we leave it there, we also have a tracking data that was being fed back to the physical therapist, to number one know if they are actually indeed doing their physical therapy at home and what kind of improvements are they noticing and witnessing from this device. And then today, in today's COVID-19 world, it's actually very, very applicable because with social distancing, you know, with the home health and you know, proximity of people coming together to even help do this physical therapy, you can limit the those interactions and still be able to remotely help manage the patients. You know, physical therapy activities and monitored.

Jeff Ma
It's, it's interesting that Sorry, go ahead, Chris.

Unknown Speaker
I was gonna say I think the these current times are also showing that I think technology systems that might have failed in the past are now even more relevant. And maybe they were just ahead of their time. So you think about all these major hotel chains that were a year or two ago trying to investigate, putting in voice activated systems into the hotel rooms that guests would use. All those pilots failed because guests didn't really want to sort of communicate or connect their own IDs to some of these hotel systems. But now, nobody wants to touch anything, let alone a hotel remote. Right. And so I'm sure a lot of those sort of shells and or halted projects are going to be even more relevant where, you know, the human conditions around travel now are going to look totally different than three months ago. If, you know directors of innovation, or technologists are looking at these human conditions, they might start seeing that, hey, there's an opportunity to revive things that were sort of passed over, or to innovate completely on new things and bring technology solutions to the fact that people don't want to touch each other or touch devices or touch, you know, services that might have, you know, COVID or any other virus.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, I know, you know, even outside of COVID the example that pops in my head, for me personally, was the tool that we use in house for project planning, which has a very storied history, as you all know, love, love it or hate it. It's been part of our journey here. But there was a lot of you know, there was a lot of thought and and good logic put into that tool, right, like it helped manage all of our timelines. In our, our budgets, and it was a very robust tool we built custom for our own internal flow. But it did not for the longest time, it did not factor in the kind of pressures and stresses that the people who had to use it would have to we'd have to kind of pair it with. Right. So it was like this perfect, logical tool that ended up not performing to the level that we would have hoped. Because, you know, I'm just showing the flip side of not humanizing tech, right. It's, it's where when you don't factor in, not just UX, but also just how it fits into people's lives. There's there's this potential for big misses there.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, I totally agree.

Unknown Speaker
We had an experience a couple years ago with a client who, to that point around not humanizing tech. They were in a situation where it was the middle managers and the employees were all sort of under this pretense that their jobs are fine, their work was fine, their department was fine. And the CMOS leader was like ringing the alarm saying like, it's not fine. It's not fine. And so she asked us to come in and help. And we did some homework to try and understand from the middle management perspective what was going on. And they were flat out, like, I don't know why I'm talking to you. I don't know what this is about, like, We're fine. Everything is good. And the beta managers like, let our customers our internal customers tell you what the issues were. So we set up these workshops, where we had the customer as well as this team of middle managers in the same room. And the customers are sharing their stories about how interacting with a department and their technology systems meant that samples were getting deleted because they processed a lot of like samples for, you know, equations and stuff. This is like a research group. So they're very technical and scientific. But customers samples were getting deleted and nobody would find out until was deleted. Right? small little hiccups are happening, no follow ups, no idea of where things are standing when it came at departments processes. And customers were starting to Google competitors outside of the organization to get the same thing that was being offered in the organization. And middle managers had no idea that that was happening. Right. So to them, everything was fine. But they had set up these systems and processes or lack thereof, and technology that was actually sort of bringing them into obsolescence. And only the senior most leader could see it. Right. And so luckily, we were able to come in and build a better tool and a better system that allowed this group to have a little bit more consideration for the customer needed and allow the customer to navigate the team a whole lot better, and their processes and all the things they truly offered. And it's now a tool that other groups inside of this large company are trying to copy you Or replicated because it's so effective and trying to help internal customers know how to work with their peers and their brother and sister organizations within the same company versus go to Dr. Google and get someone outside the organization and pay them for the same service. So

Frank Danna
yeah, well,

Unknown Speaker
so and I would say, Sorry, no good. I was gonna say, Jeff, So ultimately, this, this human conditions scenario, you know, usually is not considered in technology solutions. It's the this technology solutions are usually dictated by the process or the workflow. And, you know, certain behaviors of lack of trust, you might put in a technology solution to compensate for lack of trust. And if you go down that path, instead of going from a lens of empathy to the users and the beneficiaries of this technology or this technology solution, you are going to miss the boat and really solving the problems that's going to make the lives of the humans at the end of this technology better. And it's not just the users, it's even the people who have to maintain this technology monitor the technology, or the ultimate beneficiaries of who have to inherit this technology and how they're going to have to maintain it, and manage it. And if we don't take all of those things into consideration, you could be solving one problem only to create other problems for the humans at the end of the day. So going beyond user experience, user experience is a very common practice and all technology companies use it and apply it. But we're talking about looking at it even more holistically. And thinking about all of the human aspects down to you know, who's even requesting this solution. Why are they requesting it? Who's paying for it and what is their how is this going to help them go into the minds and feelings in understanding their situations to come up with a solution that's already encompassing and solving from the human lens is what makes our approach unique in Divya,

Jeff Ma
I think, I think, tell me if this is accurate, I like to think of it as, like user experience might be like a, a kind of ID system to enter a door, like you use a fingerprint to enter a door. And the user experience can be great, you know, you just put your finger on it, and it lets you in, but if what it's used for or the problem is used to solve is like, hey, you're actually tracking everybody's in and out time through this and making sure they're coming to work on time and being big brother on how, you know, if you apply technology to that purpose, then you miss out on a whole lot of there's other ways to solve that problem. Other than a very unique user experience friendliness. Lino application, because that's a different problem to think about. And you got to think about all the people in that equation and what other ways are there to approach that is absolutely

Unknown Speaker
not, that is precisely what we're talking about. That's a very great example. So, you know, they're trying to solve a root cause by treating the symptom by using technology with a great user experience, hoping that people are going to use it, because it's got such a great user experience, but really, they're not taking into consideration that how does this make the people feel around being monitored around the trust that the organization may have had with them that they're tracking through biometric systems, the in and out of the people and using that against them or using it for performance reviews? Right, that doesn't create a psychologically safe environment. And how does that impact the productivity of the employees at work location? Yeah, we want to take all of that into We still want to leverage technology to solve whatever it is that problem they're trying to solve. But without considering the human emotions and having that empathy to the beneficiaries and the users and what they're trying to accomplish, you're really just, you know, treating the symptom and it's it's a band aid approach that won't really solve your or cure the problem you're trying to solve.

Jeff Ma
So Frank, let's, let's tie back to love, if you don't mind, what what people are listening here. What's the takeaway for them? What can they do? Or what should they be doing with this information? Because we're just sharing we're sharing our appearance and outlook, what can they take away?

Frank Danna
So Mohammed, Mohammed dropped the E bomb earlier, and, and basically, the E bomb. And to me and to all of us, it's off the way. It's empathy. So role like the role of love here is this empathetic approach to technology. And empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of one another like you've heard the phrase walk a mile in someone's shoes, right? But for us, empathy allows technologists to build products and services with the human condition in mind. Studies have shown that everyone from lifeguards to farmers have actually showed an increased productivity after reading stories about how their particular work helps people. If you think about a farmer, for example, that individual may not see the end user of their product, the humans that are consuming the food they're making. But once they recognize and have empathy for the individuals that are that are eating their foods, that changes the approach in terms of how they produce and why they produce the foods they produce. So when a technologist has real empathy into into the conditions of the human benefiting from the tech they're building, it changes everything. And what we've seen too is that sometimes even a face is enough. So radiologists interpret test results with greater detail when they're Photographs of patients are included in their case files, this is a real thing. And cooks make tastier food when they can see their customers. So just the human face, connecting to you and me, creates an amount of empathy that helps someone perform better. So when you take the human condition into consideration, and you recognize that there's a, there's a bigger story behind what you're receiving in this, this, you know, brief to create this content this thing, and you go and search for what that is, it adds more meaning to it. And for us personally, it's off the way empathy makes hard work effective. It turns coworkers into friends and for us, it turns people into family and and it turns clients into partners. And we've seen that and we're talking about these relationships that we've had with our own internal teams building products for ourselves, as well as our client partners, building things for them that truly make a difference. So like To sum it all up. That's why love translated as empathy is our technology strategy.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, I would also like to just add that, Jeff, to what Frank stating, when you're able to also build technology that's forgiving. That's also adding a layer of love. Right? And so it, it, it fits really well with love as a tech strategy. And at the end of the day, as much as humans build technology, technology can build humanity. And so that's where we I see the connection laddering of Dodd Frank just mentioned.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, and one of the takeaways I'm hearing from this conversation is that like, we, we have this classic, like, path will follow where we have a problem statement. And our solution might be complex and great, but it's usually very direct. It's like, here's a problem. Here's a tool to fix it. Here's a problem. Here's some technology to apply. Right? And even though we can put a lot of thought into that and make it very robust, the ask is to think of zoom out. Little bit, look at the the all the equations of who all is involved, what kind of lives are touching this and what kind of lives is his touch and adding those like, I guess our listeners can look at the business they're in right now. And look at the strategies they're employing and the technology that they're applying to their internal work to their customers to anything they're doing. Because everyone's working around problems. They've been straight. We're all saying, here's a problem we want to solve. But how often are we saying, what are the problems that are sitting just tangent to those problems? What are the problems that exist or could arise from us trying to solve it this way? And where and how to how to power people truly affected in their lives and in the way they use these things? I think that's a great question. People can go and ask themselves right now and see if there's anything that comes up. All right. So great talk as always fun hanging out. And to the listeners. Thank you for joining us, where We're posting new episodes every Friday. And also if there's any topics that you would love to hear us cover or want to have us discuss, let us know software comm slash labs la BS. And you know, we're really looking forward to that feedback and in just continue that conversation with everyone. So, hope you guys enjoyed this topic on technology. I'm sure we'll be back. Technology is a big part of what we do. So we have a lot to say about it. So tune in next week. And thank you guys

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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