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Why Technology Alone Can’t Solve Problems: The Importance of Human-Centred Design

In an era where technology is rapidly advancing, it is tempting to view it as a universal remedy for a myriad of challenges. However, while technology has immense potential, it cannot solve problems by itself. The effectiveness of technology as a solution is influenced by several critical factors which could be overlooked by those adopting them. To harness the full potential of technology, it is crucial to consider these factors carefully. This article delves into these factors and examines how Design Thinking could serve as a better prerequisite than simply introducing technology.

Considerations for effective technology adoption:

Who are the users?

Understanding who the users are is fundamental to ensuring that technology solutions are effective. Users vary widely in their levels of tech-savviness and digital literacy. For instance, older adults often face significant barriers adopting new technologies due to limited exposure, physical limitations such as impaired vision or hearing loss, and sometimes a general reluctance to embrace new digital tools.

In an organisational setting, a technology that is suitable for one or two departments does not necessarily mean it should be adopted throughout the entire organisation. Different departments have unique functions, workflows and requirements. Technology solutions need to be customisable and flexible to meet the specific needs of different departments. A one-size-fits-all approach often falls short because it fails to address the unique challenges and workflows of each department.


Digital Maturity

Digital maturity refers to the level of understanding, integration and effective use of digital technologies by individuals and organisations. Organisations with low digital maturity can face extreme challenges if they attempt to leap from a low to an advanced digital maturity level without proper preparation. Such a drastic jump requires significant time for adaptation, integration of existing processes and systems, and extensive training for users.

A more pragmatic approach is to gradually transition from low to medium digital maturity, allowing users to adapt incrementally. Simplifying user interfaces and functionalities, offering comprehensive training programs, and providing continuous support and resources are essential steps in this journey.


Infrastructure and Environment

The effectiveness of technology also heavily depends on the surrounding infrastructure and environment. Robust infrastructure encompasses reliable electricity, high-speed internet, telecommunications networks, transportation systems, and space. Inadequate infrastructure can severely limit the deployment and utilisation of technology.

Large-scale technology installations, for example data centres, require significant physical space and specialised environments, including controlled temperatures and humidity levels to ensure optimal functioning of servers and other hardware. Additionally, the availability of necessary equipment and consistent maintenance is critical to sustaining the technological infrastructure.



Ideally, technology implementation should facilitate and streamline work processes without causing disruptions. However, this is often feasible only if the technology is fully customised to the specific needs of the respective processes. Given that many solution providers cater to a broad spectrum of products and clients, full customisation is rarely possible. As a result, organisations often need to redesign their processes to ensure that the technology adoption does not hinder the intended outcomes.

This process redesign requires a deep understanding of the technology’s capabilities and a strategic approach to ensure that the new process together with the technology is beneficial, enhancing productivity, saving time, and improving customer retention. The redesigned process also necessitates a period for users to adapt and familiarise themselves with the new workflows, which require the need for ongoing training and support.

How Design Thinking Can Help?

Design Thinking is a user-centred approach to problem-solving that can significantly enhance the effectiveness of technology solutions. It involves the users’ needs, ideating solutions, prototyping and iterating based on feedback.

Understanding users

Design Thinking starts with empathy, focusing on understanding the users’ experiences, challenges and needs. We conduct various activities such as interviews, surveys, and observations to collect qualitative data about how users interact. These findings will be key considerations in the development of the technology that truly addresses their specific requirements, leading to higher adoption rates and better user satisfaction.

Incremental adoption of technology

Design Thinking promotes iterative development, allowing organisations to gradually enhance their digital maturity. Prototypes and pilot programs can be tested with users, providing valuable feedback that can be used to make incremental improvements. This approach reduces risk associated with large-scale technology shifts and ensures a smoother transition for users.

In addition, comprehensive training programs are essential to ensure users understand and are comfortable with the new workflow. Change management strategies, such as clear communication, involvement of key stakeholders, and addressing resistance are crucial for successful adoption.

Infrastructure integration

By involving stakeholders from various sectors or departments (e.g. IT, facilities management, customer service, logistics, etc.) in the design process, Design Thinking ensures that all infrastructure and process needs are considered. This holistic approach can lead to more robust and resilient technology solutions that are well supported by the necessary infrastructure.

Process redesign

Process redesign sums up the previous considerations mentioned earlier, user understanding, incremental adoption and infrastructure integration. Design Thinking encourages a holistic view of the users, processes and the system, identifying all interactions, touchpoints, needs and challenges across the organisation. When redesigning processes, this methodology ensures that the new workflows are continuously tested and refined based on user feedback. This iterative process helps to create more efficient, effective and user-friendly processes that leverage technology to its fullest potential.


In conclusion, while technology has the potential to solve many problems, it cannot do so in isolation. The effectiveness of technology solutions depends on a thorough understanding of users, a gradual yet strategic approach to increasing digital maturity, robust infrastructure, and well-integrated processes. Design Thinking provides a valuable framework to address these considerations, ensuring that technology solutions are not only innovative but also practical and user-centred. By incorporating empathy, iterative development, and continuous feedback, Design Thinking can help develop and implement technology solutions that can truly impact the users and organisations positively.

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