I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the problems of man and machine. It’s a dilemma that first surfaced back in the 1950’s and has become more prevalent in today’s day and age. I’m talking about the digital/electronic revolution. There have been many debates about modern software and machinery and their ability to replace employees. This is not just a financial issue, but also an ethical/moral concern; How far should automation go? Is efficiency going to eliminate jobs that would feed families and support lives.
Relax, I understand that this is a heavy question and I’m not here to get into a deep-rooted philosophical debate. But it did get me to thinking about the way software marketing is approached.
Too often, I see software marketed as just that – software per unit as a replacement for an employee; thus equating a human’s maximum value to no more than the functionality of a program. Today, the employee has become his salary. Is he financially worth the value of the software he replaces?
Allow me to point out three reasons why it is a tremendously bad idea to replace half your staff with software:
First, a program can never fully replace an employee. Even if they can perform the same job task, employees provide idea generation, motivational support and a light social atmosphere. You can’t go out to lunch with a software program.
Second, you will create fear in the workplace and reduce moral. If an individual knows he can lose his paycheck to a more qualified individual, then he works harder. But, there is no way he can compete with a machine.
Finally, this places stress on the people in charge. When Managers are forced to choose either the staff member or the software, it creates an environment of tension. Sometimes it’s necessary, but if the situation is avoidable stick with what works.
I propose a simple solution to this moral dilemma, faced by software marketers. Frame your marketing pitch as a symbiosis. Present the software as a way to make your staff more efficient. The software is a supplement to get more work done more rapidly, (rather than a replacement).
This kind of employee empowerment will save you a lot of money over the long run.
Machines aren’t fit to replace human beings, they never will be. But software is making it a lot harder for them. The solution lies in a synergy between the two: skilled staff and a powerful tool. Next time you work on a software marketing campaign, don’t sell software to ‘replace’, sell it to ‘coexist.’