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Technology shortens the distance, but doesn't give us more time. It can replace an employee in performing repetitive activities, but it will not take care of us in interpersonal relationships. The optimization and autonomy of production processes is very important, but we must constantly invest in people, especially in their education. These are just a few conclusions from the Human 4.0 debate organized by SI-Consulting.

Speakers of the Human 4.0 conference, which was the next installment of the annual event organized by SI-Consulting - SI-Customer Day, paid a lot of attention to the place of man in the industrial transformation in the era of Industry 4.0. There were talks about the relationship between the entrepreneur and the client, but also the entrepreneur-employee, as well as about the way of using technology in enterprises.

- "Technology and man", never "technology or man". Modern tools are supposed to help man, but we can never think in terms of being replaced by a machine. After all, someone has to look beyond the horizon and create something unique. It is man who gives this impulse - said Elżbieta Piechota, president of the board of SI-Consulting. And she added: - However, without modern technologies, there is no safe and comfortable life today. Just look at the energy sector, which is almost dependent on digitization.

The client is already everywhere, he requires, but also gives strength

Mateusz Kusznierewicz - a titled sailor, mentor, but also an entrepreneur - reminded us of how quickly our life changed after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not only private, but also professional. - It is clear that today I can talk to my partners wherever I am. In Gdańsk, Lisbon or during a regatta in distant Australia. Earlier, we were able to use telephones, but there was a barrier within us and an inner conviction that we had to deal with business matters by meeting in offices. At the same time, I have the impression that using modern technologies every day, I am at work much longer than before. This is because we now have uninterrupted access to information and systems that we previously used only when in the office or physically with the team - emphasized Mateusz Kusznierewicz.

The pandemic has sowed uncertainty also in those who want to help. Sanitary restrictions and the rules of maintaining social distancing significantly impeded the daily activities of many charity organizations. - Technology has allowed us to be close. Even though we couldn't actually be there. It gave us a sense of meaning and agency. In "Szlachetna Paczka" it is technologies that have connected people in need with donors. And although the donors did not know the recipients personally, thanks to technology they could experience together the emotions that are evoked by, for example, the renovation of an elderly person's bathroom, the purchase of the first child's teddy bear or all those other wonders that are happening all over Poland. - described Dominika Langer-Gśmieka, vice-president of the board of the "Spring Association", which organizes the "Szlachetna Paczka" campaign.

On the other hand, the increased requirements of commercial customers were emphasized by Grzegorz Dzik, President of the Management Board of the Impel Group. - Certainly, technologies bring us closer and identify the client's needs, and it is easier for him to learn about our possibilities. However, competition is increasing and our customer engagement cycles are shortening. We can get a very wide and varied offer on the market. We are forced to make a huge effort to recognize the contractor's needs, build our uniqueness and use it as a competitive advantage. It is thanks to the implementation of technologically advanced solutions in services that we create a unique product tailored to the client's needs He said.

Process optimization? Yes, but not at the expense of man

The participants of the Human 4.0 debate also wondered whether a person must be afraid of being replaced by machines and how the employer should carry out the digitization and automation process so as not to forget that people are his greatest asset, not machines .

- When ATMs were built, it was said that people would lose their jobs in banks because they wouldn't need cashiers. This turned out to be untrue, and people were assigned to other tasks that are even more relationship-based. The emergence of television did not eliminate cinemas, and the electronic book did not supplant the traditional one. Were it not for the technological advances in biomedicine, automatic production lines or information technology, we would not be able to create Covid vaccines in a short time. Technology is an element that retrofits us, but does not eliminate us from the market - emphasized Sławomir Pułuowski, director of SAP development and service at SI-Consulting.

On the other hand, Zofia Dzik, the founder of the Humanites Institute, who for a decade has been systematically combining the subject of humanity and technology, draws attention to the progressive degradation of man and the fact that the pandemic has further accelerated the technological transformation, and as a result the scissors between the pace of innovation development and the actual ability of a person to adapt. Many slogans like human first, technology second turn out to be empty slogans in the race between such large global corporations, as well as many startups with high international ambitions. At the same time, she emphasized - in the light of many challenges, changes in the labor market and perhaps life without work - the importance of a holistic view of people, taking into account the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional spheres, and also taking into account their professional or social roles.

- Process optimization in itself is not a bad thing, but it has also been a curse in recent years. When a certain point is passed, it takes the form of a mania to optimize every space of life. Then it starts to have the opposite effect. During the pandemic, many solutions have appeared that theoretically are to facilitate our operation, collect information about the effectiveness of processes, and turn into solutions that monitor every step of a human being. They do not create the slightest space for any imperfection, and yet our nature has smaller or greater shortcomings. That is the main question. Who are we creating technology for? Do we want to make a robot out of a human or do we leave any room for its imperfections - said Zofia Dzik.

Anna Streżyńska, president of the board of MC2 Innovations, former Minister of Digitization, added that it can be disastrous to use technology just to reduce labor costs. - We are then on the verge of perpetuating the thought that sooner or later a human will become redundant - Streżyńska said and marked: - Only this is an issue that does not take away the value of technology, but makes you ask yourself what about all these people? What should we do in advance? And knowing where we are going, think now how to get people to work. Changes in education are equally important. So as not to create societies that think in the categories of "shove, pass, forget", but to teach them an attitude that would allow them to have the strength and conviction that they are able to change and have an impact on reality.

Digitization not at any cost

Jacek Santorski, a business psychologist, argued that how he uses technology in management depends only on the culture and intentions of the employer. It can be used to monitor people at work, its conditions and surroundings. - Some employers - this has escalated during the pandemic - are using technology not only to check that people are doing their job, but also to improve relationships with them. Others, however, use anxiety to strengthen control - explained Santorski and added: - Entrepreneur, leave room for nuances, for dilemmas, empathy, for unusual relationships, and entrust everything repetitive to robots.

Maciej Kawecki, the president of the Lem Institute and the dean of WSB in Warsaw, warned against many mistakes that an entrepreneur can make during the digitization of his company: - One of the pitfalls is treating digitization as the solution to all of an organization's problems. Overestimating and re-evaluating digitization is as much a mistake as underestimating it. Not every organization has to digitize everything in the same way as competition. The biggest mistake, however, is the lack of memory about the human being. First there was man, then technology. After all, this is what Stanisław Lem used to say throughout his life - Kawecki said.

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