The Importance of Human Direction in Technology-Driven Business

Author: Andrew Tahvildary | Partner, Techquity

In the early stages of the pandemic, I came across a highly relevant Harvard Business Review article titled “Tech Should Enable Change, Not Drive It,” The main takeaway from the article was “businesses that want to continue to deliver value and help ensure enterprise resiliency in this time of rapid change should aim to become Human Enterprises — putting humans and their needs at the center of their strategies, values, processes, and operations, with technology serving as an enabler rather than a driver of change.”

Although the piece was published in 2020, I find that sentiment to be ever more true today.

Throughout my career, I have had the chance to help numerous companies achieve success by putting together the appropriate team, technology, processes, and culture, as well as updating them when necessary to attain success. On one occasion, I assisted a startup founder with an urgent technology challenge. They had developed their MVP but failed to view it as a temporary solution – the first iteration. Like a pair of shoes for a 2-year-old, the MVP should have been seen as a short-term solution, with the expectation that the company would quickly outgrow it. We had to enhance the product architecture, the team, the culture, and the processes to achieve the desired result. When success was achieved, the technology felt like a business transformation, making things easier to develop, deliver, sell, and more. The founders were excited about using new technology to drive change in the company’s next phase.

However, it was crucial for me to emphasize to them that the need for the upgrade was identified and executed by the human actors involved (the founder and the product and engineering teams), and that technology merely served as a tool to enable a successful outcome. As I stressed, technology should facilitate success rather than dictate it.

While technology continues to be at the forefront of business, human direction is critical in guiding investment and adoption toward desired outcomes. It is essential for CEOs, CXOs, and board members to possess the right technical knowledge and awareness to ensure success. As noted by my colleagues at Techquity, “Proper oversight and governance of technology is now a core responsibility of boards.” Boards must comprehend the known and unknown technology risks that their companies face. 

Business transformation in today’s world is primarily led by people, supported by technology and the technical expertise of individuals. It is crucial to customize technology and innovation to meet the genuine requirements for transformation, which can only be achieved through people’s involvement, particularly those with firsthand experience. 

No individual or team, regardless of their experience, should be expected to have all the answers – whether they’re a startup or an established company. Initiating transformation requires a clear vision, cutting-edge technology, intense focus, and unwavering perseverance, but sustained success requires expertise and skills. To bring your vision to life and ensure long-term success, it’s essential to seek help and advice from experienced professionals and talented individuals. In my view, human innovation and knowledge, supported by appropriate technology, will propel us forward.

It’s important to remember that technology is just a tool and not the only factor that determines success.