Rebooting the Human Machine

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Technology! I think back to when I was a child and I remember watching shows like Star Trek, Ironman, and Inspector Gadget, with amazement. Tiny communicators, advanced laser technology, super-computers, auto-sliding doors; all of it was so cool. Where I grew up, phones stayed in the kitchen, bound forever by the standard coiled up phone cord. The home computer (when we were finally fortunate enough to get one) was an old Gateway running Windows 3.0, and the internet was something we didn’t have for a long time. My older brothers thought it was funny to try and ruin Star Trek for me, saying things like “That’s not even real, it’s just Hollywood.”.

Anyone that has been in the Valuation or Mortgage industry for more than 5 years can assure you the times, and technology, have changed. Appraisers might as well call themselves Inspector Gadget! Technology like a la modes Pocket TOTAL, allows appraisers to collect and enter data collected in the field, and sync it to their winTOTAL form-filer software at the office. This speeds up inspections and allows more orders to be handled simultaneously. Communication technology like mobile email clients, text messaging, 4G LTE mobile data service, and GPS; all allow appraisers to move faster, work more efficiently, and travel further than ever before.

Computers and communication technology advance at a pace that is sometimes hard to keep up with. It seems like every year the investments you made in good equipment become obsolete as newer, smaller, more powerful equipment is designed and sold. Computer chips are integrated in to almost everything imaginable, and your average American is accustomed to high speed internet and broad cell phone coverage areas. It feels like just yesterday it took 20 minutes to download an article, and when you were expecting a call, you stayed by your phone, instead of keeping your phone by you.

Advancement in technology however, comes with “fine print” most people overlook. As everything speeds up, expectations change. Once it is determined that a certain level of service can be offered, it becomes expected. New standards are forged, and as the pace hastens, risk emerges. Speed doesn’t always ensure quality, and people can rarely keep up with the pace. Though technology will always serve to do the things we cannot, our industry cannot thrive on technology alone. A balance must be struck. Balance between technological expectations and human limitations. Too often, companies want to move services to the cloud or automate procedures, down-size the staff, and streamline the product. They forget the most important element of this industry; good relationships. This industry was built on relationships; good old fashioned quality relationships; and as more firms choose to be robotic with advanced technology, the firms that value relationships, and maintain the human machine, will become the industry leaders.

Adam DeRose – Director of Information Systems