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WEIMA June 2023 Leader
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Technology turns people into superheroes

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email
I have the luxury of working with some great people. Recently, a colleague sent me inspiration for a topic to write about. As he interacts with customers in the field who are adopting technology, he gets to see the before and after. Even better, he gets to hear from the leadership the improvements they’ve seen and the benefits they are now getting.
The discussion came up about the interaction of technology and people. The effect it’s had in organizations. A common bean-counting way of justifying technology is replacing people with technology and calculating the savings. That’s a great concept in theory and in an instance when human labour is in abundance. Does that sound like our industry? Not at all.
In our industry, we are forced to implement technology in order just to stay in business and be able to be effective. In a way, we’re using technology to fill the gap of the people we don’t have. So a more accurate way to look at it in our industry is empowering the people we have by giving them technology that allows them to do more than they did before. Often, this also means doing more interesting or challenging things and eliminating mundane tasks. You can drive a nail in with a rock, but it’s much easier with a hammer. Giving a hammer to someone who has to put in a lot of nails would be hugely welcomed. Imagine a roofer driving nails in with a rock. Then a hammer. Now a nail gun. The nail gun never took any jobs away; it just enabled the roofer to put nails in faster and have more time to work on valuable parts of installing a new shingle roof. Maybe the roofing company can now have a better company culture because they are no longer as rushed. Maybe they can be more competitive. Maybe they 
can get more roofs done in a week.
One shop commented on how just giving people in the shop an effective way of communicating with each other and with the front office, has been a huge game changer. They’re not working in silos anymore. They are working as a team. All heads together as an ecosystem rather than “I do my job, you do yours.”
All this to say that technology in an environment with a shortage of human skills is something that allows the existing people to be more efficient. It magnifies the abilities we have. It’s like… like Ironman’s suit. Yeah, he can throw a punch without it, but man the things he can do with the suit! I guess technology turns people into superhero woodworkers? I like the ring of that.

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