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Human-Digital Collaboration: enhancing our uniquely human capabilities

The deeper context of “digital technology” was first presented to me, in a very analogue way, by Nicholas Negroponte’s book Being Digital (1995). The MIT Media Lab, founded by Negroponte, had always been a source of information, as well as inspiration and fascination, for my business endeavours, for what at that time was called new media. Negroponte and his team created a renowned high-tech environment that researched the emergence of human-computer interface, artificial intelligence, and personalised digital content. Being Digital captured more than a decade of his thoughts, articles, and direct involvement in digital technology.

Many of Negroponte’s predictions about digital technology in all its various forms have emerged. He envisioned dramatic changes in the way organizations would work across all aspects of the business. He envisioned how entertainment, communication, politics, and industry would change. And, although he was a digital optimist, he intuitively understood that as digital technology transformed business (digital transformation) where processes and functions were streamlined, automated, integrated and refined, that the interface between the digital devices and people would be the most critical consideration. Without regard to human interaction digital transformation fails. Without regard to human interaction, there is no digital experience to speak of.

It is my opinion, the end goal of digital technologies is to enable people to achieve better outcomes for the benefit of other people and the world we live in.  If digital technology is about the technology and not people, it’s not the right technology. If digital technology exploits, manipulates, threatens, suppresses, coerces, it’s not the right technology. I would like to think that Nicholas Negroponte is in agreement with me here. By themselves, the growth and potential of digital technologies are fascinating, but it is far more satisfying to watch what people and digital technologies can accomplish together.

The ability to facilitate collaboration is the essential ingredient to deliver the benefits of digital technologies. So, the ways that we choose to facilitate collaboration with and through digital technologies are as equally important as the reasons why we are implementing them. If the approach is adopted and embraced by the people for the benefit of people (employees, customers, suppliers and partners), the outcome will more likely expand the customer base, increase customer satisfaction, increase revenue and profits, increase overall efficiency, and will create new business models that capture unfulfilled customer needs.

Regardless if our customers are partnering with us to automate their workflow, monitor and track assets, improve their business performance, gain better insight through data, create unique digital properties, or design a new service delivery approach, we at Cucumber use a  human-centred approach to identify how digital technology can be implemented to effectuate collaboration, that is create more meaningful interactions and transactions, to deliver optimal outcomes by enabling people to focus on what they can do best for the business.

Cucumber – we enable human-digital collaboration to let humans be humans.