Can Technology Enhance Business Performance – Or Does Man Matter Most?
Today’s world is in transition, caught between humanization and robotics, a paradigm-shift between man and machine. Who will win this race towards greater efficiency, profitability and will there be de facto, a loser?
In theory the role of technology should be to merely free man from standard, repetitive tasks, release him into a world of creativity and greater fulfilment so there should not be any losers in this race, the ultimate win-win.
In the coffee industry, the barista is held in high regard, the skilled artist tingling the taste buds of aficionados, transcending the machine with expertise as well as flair.
However, beyond the magic of the barista, there remains some searching questions; in the espresso world, the issues have always been the following- consistency, productivity, connectivity and management information. Technology could intervene and resolve unwanted discrepancies, limit costly downtime and provide real-time data mining. But, will the market embrace evolution or will a revolution halt the irrevocable march of technology?
It is a well accepted fact that the grinding of the beans in one of the greatest challenges to product uniformity. As such, a major development has taken place in the form of real-time grinder control and adjustment, the machine reacting to variations in temperature, powder quality/quantity, ensuring an optimal extraction, which in turn promotes a consistent in-cup experience. Extraction Time Control (ETC) is an innovation which provides this consistent quality, paramount to a business’s long-time success.
Productivity is the capacity of a machine to produce an optimum number of consistent products during the operation’s busiest times. And, in order to optimise this number, equipment manufacturers need to minimize downtime, reduce technical issues but also remove waste of motion and time. Elements like boiler capacity, speed of operation…come into play to maximise potential revenues. Having machines built in independent modules eases the burden of repairs as well as downtime.
Connectivity enables a business to limit downtime by removing errors through timely prevention rather than costly cure. To be able to diagnose real time malfunctions through telemetry not only provides market intelligence but also minimizes lost opportunities.
The customer will demand bespoke management dashboards taking data mining to a new level, giving them real time relevant information pertaining to their business performance, through e’Connect.
However, technology-filled machines cost more initially than manual equivalents, it seems. But what if we counted labour costs, waste, inconsistencies… into this equation and defined ‘true’ costs and therefore profits. Would machine be more expensive than man?
In truth, machines represent a one-off cost plus an annual comprehensive maintenance program whereas man has growing income requirements, regardless of business performance. Employees often think that owners are rich and that their sole objective is to keep salaries down. But when you take into account the risky business of retail trading, taxes and rents, seasonal fluctuations… the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.
So, in view of the above, how does one ‘future-proof’ their business, make the right decision to promote commercial ‘heaven’, recurring revenue streams with low overheads? A sound value proposition must always deliver connectivity to customers, an experience that is both unique and compelling. And for that, a business will always need people. Furthermore, a business must deliver consistent quality rather than people-generated variances. And, lastly, the delivery of pertinent real-time information.
Man and machine can not only co-exist but technology can enhance individual freedom and expression as well as enhancing profit. Rather than usurp humanity it seeks to complement it, create a partnership in which man’s creativity is strengthened, not threatened, through technical efficiencies and competence.
The future of both man and machine remains bright.
Mr. Kamal Bengougam is the Chief Commercial Officer of Eversys SA. Based in Switzerland, Eversys is an espresso system manufacturer, a company with a mission to promote a spirited automation, machines that reflect and encourage in-cup authenticity. Kamal is also an international speaker and writer on various topics ranging from value centred leadership to the delight of creating perfect espressos.