Smartphones and tablets have created real-time connections that provide access to unlimited information. Nowadays, people can work from any Starbucks with just about anyone. Inconveniently, however, they have more usernames and passwords than they have customers. As a result, the same things that connect them have in many ways disconnected them by creating more physical barriers. 

While the Industrial Revolution paved the way for today's society, it also set people up for a tremendously inefficient transition to a digital and mobile world. Most entrepreneurs focus on the digital revolution, but digitization is just a moment in time on a larger Darwinistic journey. Here's why. 

Technology Is a Tool, Not a Destination 

Technology is not the destination, but it is a powerful tool that propels people forward. The sooner organizations realize that technology simply enables you to work better with people and then refocus on them, the sooner they will thrive. You can't ignore technology in business the same way that you can't ignore people in business. Our goal is to get you to merge the two while elevating the value of people-to-people interaction.

The beauty of the Industrial Revolution was that the rate of growth, rate of production and speed of delivery got faster. Machines, not people, were producing the goods for big companies, enabling people like the Rockefellers (and their businesses) to become legends.

The first people to access the power grid won, and won big. But once the grid became accessible to everyone, it was no longer a sales benefit or unique value proposition. Things that were once a company's biggest competitive advantage, such as access to technology or social media channels today, suddenly weren't so special.

And this is exactly what will happen in the people revolution. Your mobile app and strong API might help you win now, but those days are numbered. It's back to basics, and the basics involve people.

Beware Shiny Objects

Now, understand that you shouldn't reject the digital revolution entirely. Smartphones, instant messages, social media, and online communication have all made connections easier, globally possible, and downright fun. But it has also brought a level of diminished capacity to people-to-people interactions. Don't let all the shiny objects fool you, people still want to work as efficiently as possible with others.

Sure, most things are digital and connected, but no matter what you sell or do for a living, it's going to involve people on both sides. The key to success in the people revolution will be to understand that technology has simply changed the way that people work together. 

So how do we work better with people in a digital world? By shifting the focus off pixels and back onto people.

Replace Paperwork with Peoplework

As the digital revolution began, time as a factor was slowly eliminated. The ability to pick up a phone and talk to someone on the other side of the country was a game changer. Imagine how fascinating it was to use a fax machine for the first time.

Today, people joke about faxing, but the ability to eliminate lag time between physical communication was what made the digital revolution so special. Still, it gave the world a microwave mentality--push a button to send or receive messages in seconds. Now many customers have zero patience.

The digital revolution has been the focus of most companies within our era, but the Peoplework revolution is all about people working better together, right now. The impact of Peoplework will be as dramatic for the companies that get people right as it was for the companies that got machines and mega pixels right.

So, why is it beneficial for you to go paperless? Will having less paper really fulfill your end goal? The answer is probably no. At our company, dotloop, we help real estate professionals go paperless, or at least that's how people talk about it. What we really do is replace paperwork with Peoplework, which never would have been possible before the people revolution. The demand is here, and Peoplework will replace paperwork, period. Technology is simply the enabler to a better experience between two or more people.

It's About People

In the case of dotloop, we help real estate professionals and companies work better together by putting people first in a digital-first world. It's not about technology, it's about people. The problem is that most people start by asking the wrong questions. Most of our customers want to know more about running a better business--one that is faster, more secure, and mobile--and less about paperwork. But traditional logic tells them that going paperless is what they need.

This backward, digitally-focused approach has hurt many companies' bottom lines. The truth is, like most businesses, real estate agents do not want to go paperless, they want to work better with clients. The logic is simple: If you're doing better work with your clients, they will keep coming back for more and tell their friends about it. Given that the most profitable source of new business is referrals, Peoplework, not paperwork, generates big returns over time. Having a clear understanding of people-focused technology is essential in a people-first world.

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This post has been adapted with permission of Peoplework LLC from Peoplework: How to Run a People-First Business in a Digital-First World by Austin Allison and Chris Smith. Copyright (c) 2014 by Peoplework LLC. All rights reserved.