Leader: Technology with a human face

IT fails if it can't connect
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

IT fails if it can't connect

Tests of remote-controlled robots at a London hospital might be more Star Trek than Quincy. But some of the tests they are putting these robots through will strike a chord with anybody who has tried to make an IT project work.

One of the things they are looking at is how patients respond to being treated by the robot (or rather by a doctor using the robots to do a remote consultation).

It's too early to tell whether the robot doctors on trial at St Mary's in Paddington will ever become commonplace in the wards of our hospitals.

But the medics in charge of the trial are looking at the right things - it's no good making a robot that can be manoeuvred around easily and boasts an impressive battery-life if the patients are too terrified to communicate with it.

Sadly too many IT projects ignore that vital last portion: the user interface.

Many good business projects fail because the technology to support it has been implemented with little thought of how people will actually use it on a day-to-day basis.

Change is always hard - and if badly designed technology gives people an excuse not to get behind a new project or way of working, then nine times out of 10 they will take it.

Machiavelli wasn't wrong when he wrote there is "nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success" than to lead in the introduction of new things.

But making sure the people most affected by a change aren't unnecessarily upset by it is a good start.

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