Apadmi’s Matt Hunt takes part in a Guardian Business Network live panel

How can we use technology to make us more efficient? It’s a question that we ask ourselves all the time, and one that the Guardian sought to answer by holding an expert panel discussion on the topic last week.

Matt Hunt, Apadmi’s Business Development Manager, was a panel member and participated in a live discussion which allowed users to ask the panel questions about business efficiency, leading to a wide-ranging and interesting discussion. The panel was made up of:

  • Matt Hunt, Business Development Manager, Apadmi
  • Tim Stone, VP Marketing, KPMG
  • Benjamin Dyer, Co-founder, Powered Now
  • Michael Richards, Chairman, Web Expenses
  • Phil Robinson, CEO, IRIS Software
  • Sian Evans, SME customer engagement manager, E.ON

Here are a few of our highlights:

“If you have a small budget but you wanted your staff to invest in one product that would help their at work efficiency, what would you suggest?”

“For me,” replied Matt, “it depends on the type of work they’re doing. If it’s input heavy then tablets and laptops should be the focus. I have a Mac Book Air and iPhone (although an Android phone would work just as well) and I use this set up in the office and when travelling. A tablet doesn’t work for me all the time, however I’ve seen many cases where they are the only tool for the job.”

“It very much depends on the situation,” agreed Michael Richards, maybe it’s a whiteboard. It’s important to not make the mistake of thinking that technology will solve the issue of poor business practices.”

“I wonder if you think we should all be going paperless to increase efficiency. Will pens and paper still have a place in the office of the future or should I stop buying so much stationery?”

“The key,” argued Michael Richards, “is being able to reliably share info rather than the medium. The problem with pen/paper is the sharing bit.”

Matt agreed: “The big change I’ve  seen in the last few years is a focus on whiteboard, post it notes and photo capture from your smartphone. I take a photo of most of my whiteboard sessions and then annotate/collaborate later using Evernote/Google Drive so everything stays electronic.”

“How would you recommend that I go about choosing the right technology to suit my business and staff? I want to ensure that I’m making the most of technology across all areas of the company.”

“Start small; focus on one key problem area and identify your desired outcomes” Matt advised. “Look at how others may have solved the same problem and see if this approach works for your business. Once you’ve identified the approach look to see if there are any other areas of the business that can benefit from the chosen approach.”

“Ask your staff,” Benjamin Dyer added, “they would have probably come across something in their past that they’ve used and liked (or hated!)”

“Do you have an example of something that really shouldn’t be automated/something you shouldn’t use technology for?”

Matt’s answer: human interaction. “The best results for me,” he said,” occur when people are collaborating face to face. For me the overuse of everyday tools such as email and IM is still a barrier that needs to be worked on”

“Important communication,” agreed Michael Richards, “We mustn’t forget the value of face to face.”

The Guardian live panel therefore provoked interesting and useful discussion about the role of technology in the work place. It’s fantastic for improving productivity, everyone agreed, but, as Matt pointed out, never let it replace human interaction and collaboration.