Karl Marx believed that the production of too many useful things would result in too many useless people just wandering around with nothing to do. Well, Karl, you were wrong.
I can’t think of a better example than to look at the history of farming in the United States. In 1900, 41 percent of the workforce was employed in some form of agriculture. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that the use of machinery in farming became the standard. By 1970, only four percent of the employed labor in the United States was working in agriculture. Did that mean that millions upon millions of workers just started wandering around like Karl Marx would have us believe? No.
I tell my four sons something that I know will prove to be true. That in 20 years there will be more jobs that haven’t ever existed before, than there are jobs available today.
When technology takes the place of a worker, like in the case of machinery taking over for a famer, it allows that farmer to pursue something better.
You can find this example all over business today, where new or emerging technology allows a business to reallocate its workers to a different area or focus.
A smart business owner and a capable employee should embrace technology. If and when something comes along that can make a business more productive and more efficient, jump on it, and know that adopting technology also means opening the door to previously unearthed potential.
The following excerpt is from my new book, “Uncomplicate Business: All It Takes Is People, Time, and Money.” The book comes out in October 2015 and is available for preorder at HowardFarran.com.
Excerpt: I don’t love technology for its own sake. I love it for what it can do to help my business become more efficient and productive. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” …
How many times have you bought a new item or piece of equipment and within months, something new comes along that is significantly better, faster, easier, and lower in price? Look at the innovation in Apple products over the years. A company that started with a single personal computer now has a multitude of innovations. I wonder if the people who purchased the original Apple computer ever thought they would be able to carry that technology and then some in their pocket or briefcase. …
Another company that continues to change, improve, and innovate is Intel. Intel introduced the world’s first microprocessor in 1971. You won’t see a single human being on the Intel processor chip assembly line; the chips are made entirely by machines. People are employed solely to maintain and calibrate the machinery. That’s why Intel can make so many high quality chips. If humans were making chips by hand, the process would take much more time with a much greater margin of error. Robots rarely make errors. They are more efficient, faster, and more productive than humans doing the same job.
Early on, the people at Intel determined that robotic technology was what the company needed to grow and excel.
When I graduated from dental school in 1987, the method for doing a root canal was much different than it is today. (A root canal is necessary when the tiny canal in the middle of each tooth that houses the nerve, as well as carries blood and nutrients to the tooth, becomes infected.) The old method was to use a tiny, needle-thin, stainless steel hand file to clean out and sterilize the inside of the canal—a process that took up to three hours and often over the course of three one-hour appointments. For the first five years of my practice, I had permanent blisters on my thumb and index finger from those darn little files.
With technology came automatic files that either ultrasonically vibrated or automatically spun around at about 300 RPMs. The technology grew out of a metal developed by NASA. NASA discovered mixing titanium with metal resulted in a metal that would bend, but then spring back to its original shape. It was the first metal with memory. Once the dental industry started using this nickel titanium metal to make these automated files, a root canal that required three one-hour appointments took less than an hour. Not only did technology make me faster, it made the job easier at a lower cost, with higher quality and a better outcome for the patient. There was no way I could clean out that root canal by hand in three hours as well as I could do it with these new files.
This technology not only improved the way I performed that one procedure, it enabled me to overhaul my entire practice. With the additional time, I could see more patients, do more dentistry, and earn more income with the existing overhead, staff, and equipment. It also greatly increased patient satisfaction. …
Take a walk around your business and look for the ways you can increase your efficiency and productivity with technology. What new digital technology can you utilize? What type of upgrades can you make? What can you buy to help your staff’s work become faster, easier, and higher in quality?
Spending the money now will save you money later, especially with labor. Think of it this way: between what you take home and what all your employees take home from your business, an average of 50 percent of your money is going to you and your people. Instead of spending a little—1 or 2 percent of sales—on technology, invest in the technology that will make your expensive staff as efficient and productive as possible. The more efficient your employees, the lower your labor costs, and the higher your net income. As a business owner you need to stay up to date technologically to continue to be successful.
Don’t be afraid of technology; embrace it!