Do you think technology today including smartphones makes life better?


Social Media concept with person holding a smartphone

I was reading a friends question on Facebook and it got me thinking how I would answer it, I decided not to answer on Facebook, I thought it would make a great topic for this weeks show, by taking it a further step.

Do you think technology today including smartphones makes life better?

So let’s go way back when the only way to communicate was in three ways

  1. Talk to one another face to face
  2. The telephone which was connected by wires
  3. Writing a letter and posting it in a letterbox

These methods are still there in some way today, but they were the norm until the early 1990s when dial-up started. yes, there were computers and the internet prior but not to the mass market.

So talk about where we are today we need to place some context of a timeline. First, we had horses and other animals as transport, then the car came along, they said it would never last. The radio came along and connected the world via voice as well as newsreels at the movies, then the TV came along and they said that wouldn’t last. So we are now a full circle with more technology. Who can remember everyone saying computers and the internet are only a fad and won’t last.

So the initial question asked, why yes it makes life better, you can communicate quickly with one another, you can do your banking, listen to music, listen to books or even read books from one device so yes it has helped in life.

“I for one have noticed a huge shift in social interaction. I seriously think that we will look back at this time of huge change with regret. Are we breeding a generation of idiots? Are the oldies worse?”

A lot of the time with smartphones I think the question is not so much are they bad, it is the time spent on them and the sense that you are belonging to a community. Falsely in my opinion.

I was listening to a talk about millennials by Simon Sinek, I suggest you watch it was one of the most-watched videos on youtube.

He speaks that the way the millennials are is not their fault and I agree, I may not be a parent but I have coached sport and managed them in the workplace. He even goes further and explains our obsession with phones and it all comes down to dopamine, the feel-good chemical released in the brain. 

We have the same reaction and feeling when taking drugs and alcohol, so the phone is another way to release dopamine today.

Here is the philosophy behind it we are all guilty of doing this at sometime during the day, week or month. You are in a group of people the phone rings, I have to get this is the response, well no you don’t but it has made you feel good that the call has come in and you can’t miss the feeling of importance in that point of time.

Facebook or text, bang pick up the phone or look at it to feel a part of something, that really isn’t missing in your life, it’s just become an excepted social habit.

There is the flip side to this, it is to do with depression, the phone, tablet or internet becomes a way to hide and be lost in a world that you don’t understand or think you belong in, believe me, I have been there.

There seems to be an outcry towards kids and mobile devices, there is the same problem in the workplace as well. 

Still today most organisation have a landline, this is how we would contact someone at work in case of an emergency or just needed to speak to some at work.

Now we have the umbilical cord of the phone attached at work, next time you are in a store look and see the staff on phones or tablets, it is nearly as bad as the smokers going for breaks. So the problem of removing phones from kids and adults is no different.

With kids it is the way that they have been brought up as well as a system that accepts the use of phones it is only now that some schools are pushing back, don’t get me wrong I think it is great that the kids have access to these devices ( the modern TV) where I do have trouble is that they are not taught when and how it is appropriate to use the phones.

So, in a nutshell, I believe they are great and have assisted people in life today, the thing we need to do is understand when to use them and not.

Next time you are out with friends or family to leave them behind or just take one phone, you are all together so you don’t need to contact anyone.

I think the concern is not the phone it is actually what is being done on the phone as a business tool you can’t beat it as a lifeline for kids I question that.


So this leads me into today’s technology in the business

I worked in IT helping companies transition from old paper-based procedures to bring in on-demand printing as well as completing all business transactions on a computer, I have seen it all, the good the bad and the ugly. There is a lot of ugly today, its mainly in retail and call centres.

So the main one is business and automation, I am not talking about manufacturing, just retail and general business.



 It is now common practice, that most large retailers have self-serving checkouts that are convenient, yes to the business but not to the customer or the staff.

So I will break it down into the top three categories.

The Busines:

Having self serve checkouts means that there is less staff to man the checkouts, which should, in turn, have more people assisting customers, well that doesn’t happen. It just means fewer wages are paid wage budgets are reduced and fewer people employed, they will argue this point.

The Staff

When we break this down, there is less staff in the store, so it seems. The staff take the brunt of the customer not wishing to go through the self serve to check out and less manned checkouts. Take Coles, Woolworths being the main culprits.

The Customer

The person that pays the money, the wages and contributes to the share price and success or non-success of a business. As with phones, we are pushed into using these things without any ability to push back. I will fess up that I have cracked at a self serve checkout and put an item through without scanning it, it was a pain in the butt.

There is no thought for the elderly or just people that cant use the dam things at best there may be two checkouts opened and as time moves forward there will be even fewer checkouts. The observation as a customer that there should be more staff for customer service well that doesn’t happen Australia has one of the worse standards of service in the world.

General Business

Well, where do I start with business, the automated call centre, the push to pay online with surcharges or the lack of online presence where you can actually research products online.

Technology brought automation to all types of businesses, manufacturing, telephone automation, banking, stock market the list goes on, with most of its uses great.

on a day to day basis, the call centre automation is for me the biggest pain I have seen, most instances it will take 2 minutes just to hit a queue, then anytime from there to be answered. How many times have you said “Yes” to a question only to be told I don’t understand that by a machine. Guess what our time is just as important as yours so answer the phone with a human then place us on hold not that hard and most likely more efficient.

The area that has benefited most from the internet and technology is a smart business that understood that the internet was here to stay. Some of these that come to mind are Kogan, Alibaba, Amazon just to name a few (porn was a big winner).


Technology is great when used in the correct way, to improve the way businesses work, provide services to the customer or become more efficient, but not to the detriment to their customers or employees.

Smart devices are here to stay and will only become more relevant in time. The teaching of use is the key for kids of all ages. 

The smartphone has allowed things to happen that were not even thinkable in days before them, they save lives, the ability to call 000 at the scene of an accident, the ability to capture life events as well as incidents that would not have been possible before.

That allows us to share our thoughts with one another, cheaply and efficiently ( I do question the cheaply here in Australia).

On the business side of things, most tech changes are detrimental to service standards but are perceived to improve bottom lines, I have nothing against companies making money, some of the ways they do it isn’t great.

When I went into organisation if we could not improve how they did things we would not make the change, there were two factors the first being the ability to provide a better service the second was cost savings with a 4:1 ratio for every dollar spent 4 had to come back.

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