Tech, friend or foe? Grappling with the two faces of technology and your business




Robot hand on mouseFirst, a few facts:


•    As of 2013, there were approximately 1.2 million robots working worldwide, according to NBC News. These robots review documents, fill prescriptions and perform many other tasks once done exclusively by humans.


•    Software is now used to review documents that formerly required legions of attorneys and paralegals.


•    Google automated cars seek to replace human drivers while increasing safety.


•    Supermarkets and tollbooths have automated checkouts and toll collection; ATMs have replaced many bank tellers.


•    Reporters are no longer required for some writing opportunities, having been supplanted by articles written by computer software.


•    Even soldiers are in some cases being replaced by drones and robots, a trend that is expected to continue.


•    In the meantime, on a more prosaic level, small businesses seek to keep up with technology, buying new hardware including the latest mobile devices, new software, often subscription-based, and new printers, monitors, and everything else that helps keep the office up-to-date…or at least prevents it from going obsolete.


These new technologies, from software to smartphones to robots, have been adapted because they offer enhanced efficiencies, capabilities or opportunities, if you are on the right side of the equation. Are you?


“Getting it right” with technology demands that you return to a simple maxim: You are in business to make money.


The following quick check-up will help determine whether your business is positioned to make new technologies “friends or foe”:


•    Is your business model threatened by takeover, or will it be rendered less relevant, by alternate methods made possible by technology (examples may include competitive online shopping sites taking customers from your physical storefront, or software rendering some of your services, such as basic graphic design, less necessary).


•    Can you shift or expand your model to leverage these new ways of doing business? (Open your own online store, or offer only high-end graphic design services that require human talent?)


•    Should your company replace certain workers, actively or through attrition, with software or robotics that can perform the same function less expensively? Or should you plan that any expansion use such technologies?


•    Do you purchase or subscribe to only the software and hardware that truly merits your investments, both initial and ongoing (for subscriptions, supplies, connectivity, etc.)?


•    Do you avoid being lured or pressured into upgrading or adding the latest bells and whistles unless they will actually make you money or save you time?


•    Do you spend at least a few hours a month looking for technology opportunities that will serve your business well in the future, while scanning the horizon for technology that threatens your business?


Technology will continue to change business at an increasing pace. The smartest owners will leverage it – and will also invent and develop it. Isn’t that where you want to be?




Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC, a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, as well as its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. Michelle and the van Schouwen Associates team believe that virtually every business is undergoing the tug of change, and that marketing is one key to leveraging that. Contact Michelle at


  1. Unfortunately, our society has not come to grips with the fact that the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s has led to the decline of employment and will only continue so until… well, until… I don't know what? What happens when we eventually create artificially intelligent robots as smart as we resulting in all human beings — not just workers — becoming obsolete.

    Clearly, this issue isn't just about business owners exploiting technology to better their own business. At least that's the way we see it.

  2. not sure if appreciation or just embarrassment

  3. Helen R. says:

    The article posted was very informative and useful. You people are doing a great job. Keep going.

  4. Mobiloitte says:

    Liked the way you presented your views in points.
    On the same we would like to add, sure technology is changing the way how things were done, yes it is replacing human presence for many tasks but it is making end-user's life easier. It is helping them save time and "time is money", which is eventually helping in better results in many areas.
    For an example – there is lesser need of visiting banks, user can check all their account details online or from their mobile devices, with more user satisfaction.
    Talking about people who use to give information to people – representatives can handle one person at a time, making many wait for their turn. Any number of user can get desired information at very same. And there is always a need of human to explain things in depth when people are confused, sure representatives have to update themselves.
    If we take an overview, tech has changed the way things are done now but the changes are for facilitating end-user.

    • JeanneYocum says:

      Good points. I changed banks about 18 months ago and the new bank has an app that enables me to deposit my checks via my smart phone. BIG time saver, indeed. Although I will add that for the first 13 years that I was self-employed, I lived and worked alone at home. So going out to the bank was something I actually enjoyed because it gave me a chance to talk to someone, albeit ever so briefly. But the tellers at my bank all knew me and we'd have a good chat about the weather or whatever. It was always a nice break in the solitude. There is some danger that technology will get to the point where such daily human interactions are minimized and our sense of community will be the worse for it.

  5. muthu says:

    The article is very informative and wanted for everyone go ahead to keep posting like this..

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