Today we have the collaboration of Rubén García Colsa, Virtual Assistant and Project Manager.
We could be paternalistic and say that the social organisations sector has reached digital maturity. We could also be arrogant and look down on social organisations and reproach them for not keeping up with technological advances.
We would be wrong on both counts.
The speed at which technology is developing is like a waterspout that may not get everyone wet, but leaves no one unsplashed. There are different rhythms and needs for which there are no magic recipes and solutions.
What do we achieve with technology and do we give up anything by using devices and software for “everything”?
There is an example I have often used in digitisation processes. My father had an electric motor repair shop. In the office he had a very large cabinet with all the documentation, mostly invoices. There were two copies of each invoice. One of these copies was in the cardboard folder organised by dates and another copy was in the customer’s cardboard folder.
A first scanning process would be to save two copies of the invoice in different folders, either on the pc hard drive or in the cloud. That way we can locate the invoice when we need it and print copies if necessary, send it by email, give access to the agency that is in charge of paying our taxes. It is certainly a breakthrough.
If we really understood the nature of technological change, we would work differently. For a start, we would not create several copies of a document in order to locate it, but we would create a system for naming documents. My father, in his workshop, had to look for invoices, if I name the documents I “call” the invoice and it appears on my screen, it is the document that comes to me and not me who has to fetch the document.
But there is more. When my father used to come home, he would bring all the information to write the invoices and I would write them on a typewriter with three copies of tracing paper. Now we can generate an automated system that generates the invoices, saves them in the appropriate folder and sends them by email to the customer with a marketing action.
The difference is not small.
In the second case, technology has gone beyond streamlining a task, reducing time and making us more efficient. We have turned a routine process into a sales action and we have turned a routine and administrative document into an element capable of providing value and fulfilling several functions at the same time in a very simple way.
This is just a basic example. Each entity has to reflect on the processes that make up its work and its different routines to see where it can streamline processes and where it can introduce changes to increase the value of what it does.
It is not a question of stopping our activity now and undergoing a whole process of digitalisation. That would actually be counterproductive and have costs beyond the economic. One of the most common and most serious losses in these processes is the loss of our most senior workers who are displaced by the new tools. Their knowledge is too valuable to be sacrificed in the name of software. Digitalisation has to be a progressive process that allows changes to become routine and reduces friction and rejection to a minimum. Let us not forget that the dynamism of the technology sector means that what is offered as the ultimate solution is often no more than a passing fad. Hardly any organisation can afford to “run after every trend”.
A critical attitude that filters everything that is offered to us is essential. What is important is not what the technology offers, but what the technology solves for each one of us and asks for in return, in addition to money.