Crossing the chasm, before it's too late

03.09.20 10:23 AM Comment(s) By Eoin Doyle

“The future has not been written.

There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.

I wish I could believe that.”

Me too, John Connor.

The future is changing before our eyes.  What we once thought might be possible, becomes normality all too soon.  Technology, and AI, offers business owners and finance teams the tools to automate the mundane, laborious and repetitive functions.  But, why then are so many businesses reluctant to embrace the technology?  Why the resistance?  Why not take that first step?

Today, the Accounts Payable automation technology landscape looks very much like the environmental landscape of 20 years ago. Where once there might have been a debate about carbon emissions, global warming and rising sea levels, today ... in the accounting AP space anyway, the debate focuses on whether technology and AI should replace teams of humans, and if so … how? 

During the environmental debate, in addition to those who were trying to change people’s habits, there were of course the doubters, the detractors, the false prophets, those with vested interests, the protectionists and those stuck in their ways.  There was a resistance, and there still are a few resisting change.  And what we saw then is no different to what we see today with the debate around cloud technology, AI and automation.

Interestingly, the well known Technology Adoption Life-Cycle Model can be applied to the history of the environmental debate much in the same way that it can with the automation debate.  There are the small number of Innovators, quickly followed by a reasonably sized group of Early Adopters.  As news grows, the Early Majority jumps on board, followed eventually by the Late Majority.  Then, at some point, the Laggards either adopt, or die. 

Very often, between early adoption and acceptance by the masses there is a period known as the chasm.  By definition, this chasm is the period between Early Adopters (the technology enthusiasts and the visionaries) and the Early Majority (otherwise known as the pragmatists).  And that is where we find ourselves today.  Businesses are staring into the chasm, but some are uncertain of the future, and reluctant to take the first step to cross it.  So, they continue to process paper bills.  They continue to accept that data-entry is okay … that the overheads of the person who just bangs away at a keyboard is an acceptable use of company resources.

But if they don’t make the change, take that first step, or watch this video, before they know it, they will become part of the Late Majority, or worse … the Laggards.  Don’t be a Kodak.

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