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Some act as if they believe that as long as they get the latest technology, their organisation will automatically be more innovative. Nope. It’s all about how you use technology.

By James O'Loghlin

We went to a restaurant recently and our order was taken by a waiter with an iPad. When he’d finished swiping and touching the screen and left our table, I watched him, eager to see how the restaurants new improved digital ordering system worked. The waiter walked over to the kitchen and called out to the chef, who grabbed a scrap of paper and a pen. The waiter then read our order off the screen as the chef wrote it down.

They had new technology, but their system was no more efficient than it had been. They’d spent $400 on an iPad when they could have spent $5 on a pen and notepad.

Today, there is so much new technology that there is a temptation to think that if we get it all, it will magically fix all our problems, but no technology is cleverer than the minds that made it and the hands that use it.

New technology can enable innovation. If a restaurant has an iPad, that allows them to implement a more efficient system of ordering. But merely having the iPad won’t create a better system.

Innovation always starts in the same way. It starts with a person having an idea – an idea to improve a process, or take advantage of an opportunity, or any one of a hundred other things. Technology might be a part, even the major part, of the solution, but it is people who need to harness and guide that technology.


  • Start with the problem or the opportunity, not the technology.
  • Assess how technology might be able to help solve the problem or take advantage of the opportunity.
  • Make sure the technology fits your purpose. Don’t change your purpose to suit the technology.
  • But do be open to other efficiencies and solutions technology opens up.
  • Justify expenditure on technology. Will it make or save more money than it costs?
  • Ensure new technology is compatible with your existing systems and processes. Customise it to fit seamlessly into your systems.
  • Technology has to be used by humans. Ensure it’s easy to understand and use.
  • These days, ‘new technology’ is only ‘new’ for a little while. Keep looking out for better ways of doing things.
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