I snapped this picture a couple of weeks ago while visiting NYC – I though the mural was cool, and a good reminder that in a world where technology is rampant, it is crucial for us as humans to maintain control. The point was illustrated this past weekend when the company that makes my son’s Continuous Glucose Monitor – Dexcom – had a server outage. I’ve shared before on social media that my four-year old son, Evan, has Type 1 Diabetes. We use Dexcom to continuously monitor his blood sugar, which can be life saving for a child his age that is not yet able to recognize scary lows. Dexcom has a share feature which enables myself, my husband, and my son’s nurse to see his blood glucose level at all times – and even pairs with an app that will call us to wake us up if he goes low overnight. As you can imagine, this technology when compared with the alternative finger pricks every two hours – or even more – has changed the lives of families managing Type 1.

So, when the servers went down, many people panicked. Myself included, to a degree. But as we know, any technology can fail. And you have to be prepared for if and when it does. Yes, it is inconvenient to go back to finger pricks and to not have the comfort of seeing Evan’s numbers in real-time. But we must be able to provide him the care he needs even when the technology we love fails. We need to keep in mind the point of this picture – technology is a useful servant, but we are the masters.

This experience got me thinking about how this relates to the companies I talk with leveraging technology. For many, the phase of managing change and promoting true adoption is still in play. But at some point, in the not-so-distant future, that will not be the case. We’ll have employees that have come to depend on – even embrace – the technologies you’ve given them. And we’ll see a new generation of technicians come on board for which the days of manual work is just unfathomable. As this shift occurs, we need to be thinking about how to make technology our useful servant but not our master. How do we set contingency plans for when things go wrong? Because they inevitably will.

Another aspect of ensuring technology is an asset to your organization rather than a liability is in how you maintain control of its impact on your customer experience. There’s no better illustration to me of technology as a (maddening) master than a poorly architected chatbot experience when calling in for support on an important issue. Are you mastering the deployment of your technology so that when a customer does encounter it, the experience is a positive one? And are you maintaining control of how to define when it is a customer needs human intervention?

There’s a lot to consider here, and that’s why this image caught my eye. My experience this past weekend with Dexcom hit the point home, and I thought it was an interesting question to pose to you all – how are you ensuring within your organizations (and even your personal lives) that technology is your useful servant, and not your master? Food for thought!

Sarah Nicastro

Creator, Future of Field Service