Australians prefer human connection over emerging technologies

No matter how helpful technology is becoming Australians are choosing to stick with their fellow humans over emerging technologies. Unlike our regional neighbours Hong Kong and Singapore, Australia has been characterised as ‘losing momentum’ in the digital economy, thanks to our reluctance to have technology transform every single aspect of our working and waking hours. These findings come from the CX State of Play in Australia study released by Verint Systems and Opinium Research.

The study found that Australians as consumers prefer humans over digital channels and are not as fast as our regional counterparts when it comes to adopting tech in the workplace.

According to the study almost 60 per cent of Australian customers prefer to speak to a human on the phone or in person over a computer. Additionally, 58 per cent of Australians say they will prefer to speak to a human in five to 10 years’ time, showing that this trend is likely to continue despite advancements in artificial intelligence research and development.

Uptake in other digital customer service channels has also been slow according to the study’s findings. 13 per cent of those surveyed use email or SMS, six per cent use a mobile app, and five per cent use web self-serve. This is in comparison to 17 per cent of those surveyed in Singapore and 14 per cent of those in Hong Kong using a mobile app for customer service.

Australians are also reluctant to accept AI, algorithms, and automation technology in the workplace. Just 34 per cent said they use these technologies to help them do their job more effectively, compared to 54 per cent in Singapore and 52 per cent in Hong Kong.

Arguably, maintaining a solid connection with our humanity and not becoming over reliant on technology is a positive aspect of the Australian aspect of the workforce.

Despite this, Verint Systems’ vice president Michael Stelzer says Australians should succumb to advancements in tech in the workplace.

“The research shows that while Australian businesses are investing in innovation and technology, there appears to be a lag with our closet neighbours. To compete on the world stage, Australia must reembrace a digital culture, and engage in genuine dialogue with their customers and employees along the digital journey,” says Stelzer.

“Equally, Australian businesses must get the balance between technology and human touch right. Digital tools such as AI, chatbots, and robots are vital for the low involvement tasks, but they cannot replace those tasks that require emotional intelligence. That’s where the human touch can add real value. This is valued highly in Australia and it should not be ignored.”

“The message is clear the fear around technology at work is subsiding. There is an increased understanding that automation technology can free up people to do more interesting and fulfilling work. Businesses who can engage with their workforce in genuine dialogue about the use of technology and ensure their employees feel valued for their contributions will ultimately succeed.”


This article was originally published 24 May 2019 by Business News Australia.

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