Human touch turns sour over invisible transaction

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By – Kamal Baruah

For many of us, a typical day right now might look something different. My herald of the morn is my Alarmy – the motivational clock, making my morning successful and most productive. Soon, I first heard that annoying beep, the snooze stops and resets on my side box for a short time to allow me another few minutes. Once I roll out of my bed I check the smartphone and open up social media with a piping hot cup of tea and read news quickly on Twitter. Meanwhile, my companion connects her schoolchildren through Google Class.

It’s been years now since social distancing stopped people shaking hands at work, hugging friends and kissing at the end of amazing dates. The world has witnessed a physical sense of loneliness. It encourages citizens to confine themselves to their homes. From school to office, people have learned to live inside to avoid the risks and contract diseases such as coronavirus. It’s no state of emergency but WFM (work from home) had already become a new normal in the era of frictionless fiber connectivity. We can’t stop being mechanical, we can’t shun technologies either and retreat to a remote village to live. What passes for normal life now happens entirely digital. Today, young people are falling in love with interactive App culture that has made life easier. But that’s not all true for people from all walks of life. As fraudsters have found their heyday to fool and rob people.

The other day I just kept mum when a senior fellow enquired about the need of WhatsApp while he has SMS on his phone. Sometimes transactions apparently go into limbo and users don’t receive SMS. Bankers are untiring advocates of everything online. Use YONO for Lifestyle and Banking, Dono and INB etc.  Despite all this, there is still a queue at a single counter for a token and PSB’s Door-Step Banking went unheard. But we are taken aback by their responses. They love visiting our premises. Positive social connections are important for their physical and mental wellbeing. It can provide emotional support, practical assistance, information and a sense of belonging. When people truly care about their needs, any organization could be another perfect place where they find human touch in business. However, the worst is yet to come. The world would love to move more online. The trend goes differently as customers are forced to pay utility bills online. Nowadays personal loans are pre-approved; invisible banking is in plain sight. Consumers don’t see it but they do experience it. Technology promises to simplify everything to understand our needs and preferences in today’s hyper-connected world and become replicas of robots.

We’ve moved into a world, largely dominated by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Cloud Computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) are promising us seamlessly into our lifestyles, making everyday tasks incredibly convenient. Emerging technologies such as holographic and augmented reality interfaces will replace desktop and mobile tablets soon. We don’t really even notice it as it has become part of our everyday lives. All these have resulted in us living a mechanical life with routine discipline with galore of stress and depression all around. It’s important to look beyond sales and revenue. What value can we provide to make others happy? Respecting one with a human touch would surely get a lot of value over anything else. While driving home at dusk after a hectic schedule, I realize what we all talk about promoting techno-jargon all day long, they won’t stop coming, but to hell with invisible transactions! They’ll do what they want to do as we’re raided by masked customers’ every day at our desk.

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