Don't be cynical about new technology

Mr Seet Choon Hong's letter ("New tech doesn't always boost productivity"; last Thursday) suggests that the adoption of new technologies upsets the status quo.

Often, it is hard to find the "right" time to adopt technology in a business, as there can never be a perfect time to move from the old to the new.

A more appropriate solution is to factor in sufficient time and space for training and deployment when new technology is involved.

Among the problems faced by businesses today are the deeply entrenched mindsets and practices that resist learning new methods to make operations easier, such as a coffee shop employee's preference for verbal communication in taking orders, as opposed to using a device.

I feel sorry for the coffee shop workers mentioned by Mr Seet, if they resort to resigning because of such changes at their workplace.

This is exactly the kind of pressing issues facing the Government and various industries, which are trying very hard to help businesses move up the value chain, upskill their staff and change their attitude.

Everything has a cost, and as long as the new solution can be supported by an organisation's resources, the business should be encouraged to proceed with its plans.

This does not mean that all businesses need to be at the frontier of new technologies.

The future might be bleak if Mr Seet's cynicism is widespread.

Tan Kar Quan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2015, with the headline 'Don't be cynical about new technology'. Print Edition | Subscribe