People as Technology

People as Technology

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0240-3.ch003
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Abstract

Chapter 3 introduces the concept of people as technology and describes technology development and people development within organizations. The relative value of people and technology is situational. Thus, competitive advantage and value are created from employee and technology development and the appropriate interaction of employee and technology within the organization. This chapter explores how these development initiatives may or may not relate to one another. The purpose of this chapter is to (1) examine some challenges of management to recognize similarities and differences between people and technology development, and (2) to leverage similarities and differences to create strategic advantage for the organization.
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Background

The increasingly important interaction between technology and people in a work setting requires immediate action; hence, the development of the concept people as technology (Hughes, 2010). To gain an advantage appropriate technology must be applied to the organizations’ endeavors by employees who are appropriately trained to use the technology. Organizations must make suitable decisions for this to happen. Location, use, maintenance, modification, and time value considerations provide a context for making those decisions. Value is part tangible and part perception. The relative value of people and technology is situational. Thus, competitive advantage and value are created from employee and technology development and the appropriate interaction of employee and technology within the organization.

When asked to describe the meaning of people as technology (PT), the easiest analogy that is instantly grasped is that of a desktop computer (the technology) contrasted against people. Typically, before a desktop computer (technology) is purchased, the purchaser knows where he plans to locate it. The purchaser may have to purchase a desk upon which to place it and clear out a little space in the room to locate it, but the location is known. The purchaser also has a good idea or knows how he intends to use the computer. He knows how he intends to maintain it and modify it with the necessary software and hardware for it to run efficiently and effectively. The amount of time he intends to keep the computer is also known. The same extent of knowledge is not evident when an individual plans to hire an employee. Thus, the purpose of the PT concept is to assist HR managers and corporate leaders with the process of thinking of people as they would think of technology in the workplace.

Managers may have an empty desk available, but is it the best location value for the person or the organization. There may have been a job description that the employee was expected to meet, but is that the only use value of the person to the organization? Is the maintenance value of the employee known? Are the employees capable of being developed as the job changes or is enriched or has the employee been hired just to meet an immediate need? Once the employee's modification value increases, is there still a place for them within the organization? Are they over qualified? What is the time value of the person to the organization? Was he hired for a period of business influx or was he hired to progress along with the organization? Is there a time at which the employee’s value has exceeded the employee’s length of service with the organization?

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