High tech versus high touch debate reignited by Ritz Carlton’s app

Back in the 1999 John Naisbitt published his book “High Tech High Touch” analysing the effect technology was having on all aspects of society.  We briefly discuss this concept on page 23 of our book.  Applied to many kinds of service operation the trend was to reduce the contact with service personnel by the introduction of new technologies, often based around self-service (these trends in operations design are explained on pages 101-102).  On and off over the last 15 years there has been a debate the desirability or otherwise of this shift, especially with the advent of ecommerce and social media – which clearly has has a significant positive effect for many consumers, but not without some downsides.

I was reminded of all of this by Micah Solomon’s blog about Ritz Carlton’s decision to introduce a mobile app into their hotels.  In many respects this hotel company is the epitome of high touch – “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen” is part of their credo.  So enabling all kinds of processes to be conducted via a smartphone might be seen as a bold move.  In the blog, Solomon intelligently reviews the concept, as well as the way in which Ritz carlton have incorporated ‘Sharable Experiences’ into the virtual interface with their guests.

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