Why ‘manual’ will never work for business matching

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Actual article date: Aug 2, 2015

As I was cruising in a bus on the Beijing highway recently, I saw the below situation and thought about why ‘manual’ work is never a choice for any organisations in the long term.

The above image probably has like 8 to 10 lanes on the highway. Although there were so many lanes, the highway toll stations still caused a huge traffic jam as the manual administration of the toll stations were overwhelmed and thus created a choke point.

Here are 3 points which I think ‘manual’ will never work.

1. It can create a barrier to your customers

Every transaction requires to pass through a third party approval. In the traffic example, every car that stops at the toll station has a servce personnel to facilitate the payment. It may have been better to allow drivers to directly process their payment at the toll station. That being said, we must still have a service personnel to assist in case of any issues.

In the case of business matching, the service personnel stands in the middle between a buyer and seller to “manage” a transaction. While that is useful, in most other cases, buyers and sellers may prefer to directly setup appointments themselves with a service personnel to “facilitate” a good match. I mean, that’s why Alibaba thrives as a sourcing platform right?

2. Every transaction still requires time to process

Following the previous point, when you have a person to “manage”, it only means that the response and the setting up of a meeting will never be immediate as you will always have to wait for the person to finalise details. Wouldn’t it sound more efficient when there is a platform for you to setup your meetings directly once a person have “facilitated” a match between you and a relevant party?

3. It does not require less effort and investment

An investment in technology solutions can have a great initial start, where time and money has to be put in to procure and ensure that the technology actually works. When the technology is done right, what comes after is seamless automation and integration into workflow.
On the other hand, what we don’t often see is that this initial time and money investment is actually equal (or cheaper) to any manual solutions. It is just that a manual solution take the same time and money investment and spread them across a longer time period. Across a certain point however, the time and money put into running a manual solution may exceed that of a technology solution.

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And as I waited patiently to get pass the toll station, I overheard a few Beijing locals on the same bus commenting on how Singapore’s ERP system (open road tolling) will be a much better alternative in such cases.

Written By :
Tan Kuan Yan
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