Pressing Pause on Automation: Why the human touch goes further in the age of Alexa

Adam Miller

In a world full of Siri, Alexa, and the ever present hum of hardware telling us everything will be ok, pressing pause on automation may be the parachute that saves you from falling off the cliff of sanity. Bots and bot decisions are something that we (almost unknowingly) can’t live without. Everything from your coffee machine to your air conditioning is automated, but more importantly, so is your personal and business data. An algorithm qualifies your marketing leads. An app tells you when your appointments are, and with who. Literally millions of pieces of potentially crucial information are stored, organized, optimized, and executed by automated processes every single day, and you trust it will work because you don’t have a choice not to. That is, you think you don’t.

Where machines are lacking, humans pick up on the critical intricacies

Humans, by and large, are much more powerful thinkers than we give ourselves credit for. There’s an innate ability within many of us to push through and think on a higher level when we are challenged to. Is a computer capable of doing this as well? Perhaps, but it will never pick up on some of the intrinsically human nuances that separate man from machine. And when it comes to this small detail, the repercussions could be much bigger than that impetus implies. Human beings can focus feverishly on solving a problem that an automated machine would otherwise disregard, or move on from one due to inefficiency. As Malcolm Gladwell sees it, this ability to persistently attack a problem until it’s solved is not only a measurement of human will, but also a measurement of success:

“Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.” – Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

How a human touch can help, not replace your data automation

Lets be honest, collecting and sorting millions of variables within large, or even small-scale marketing data is a monumental task. So monumental, in fact, that marketing automation is almost a necessity if you want to get volume leads, and volume outreach. The problem is, without some sort of human touch, you’re leaving a lot at stake, which is a huge risk. Your automation software knows how to categorize a data set, yes. However, it won’t follow up on who that data’s connected to on a personal level, or whether or not that data’s current. It simply gathers it, stores it, and puts it away. You need automation, but without a human element to manage the integrity and usefulness of your data, you’re taking a huge risk.

Why experience counts over programming, and how to spot critical flaws along the way

No matter how well you program a computer, there’s one glaring human quality that no one has figured out how to “machinize” or automate yet, and that’s empathy. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference. No automated process can replicate this, which is why the human experience is so critically important to understanding how other humans work. In fact, human empathy can help us manage how machines work by spotting critical flaws in how they sort and process information. Whether it’s marketing data, consumer data, visual trends, or how we leverage personal choice, if you’re not empathetic to your customers, you’ll never understand them. If you don’t understand who you’re marketing to, you’ve already failed at marketing. This is where experience really counts over programming, and where automation runs a high risk of missing minutia that can snowball into a bigger problem over time.

Acknowledging that automation and automated systems are useful is important. Working alongside these systems is critical. Understanding how to blend human experience with efficient technology is absolutely essential. After all, a machine is only as good as the person who programs it; and better yet, only as useful as the person who knows how to use it.

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Pressing Pause on Automation: Why human touch goes further in the age of Alexa