Harper Reed: Technology is Hard, But People are Harder [VIDEO]

March 23, 2015

3:00 pm

“Technology is hard. I think that’s the main theme of my world: technology is hard.”

So said Harper Reed when he stopped by to speak with us at this year’s SXSW. Reed, whose infamy is founded in his previous role as CTO for Obama for America, talked to us about the more difficult part of remembering to incorporate the human when dealing with technology. According to him, in order for any kind of technologist to succeed, they need to remember humans are the ones using technology and they’re ultimately the ones that are also on the receiving end of the spectrum – the ones getting affected by it. And for Reed, he proclaims: “tech is very hard, but the people side is harder.”

“Human connection in technology is important for a bunch of reasons, but I think the main reason is that humans are using the technology. And, oftentimes, when we’re focusing on solving technology problems, we end [up] solving technology problems without any regard for the people that are going to be using the solutions.”

Reed points out that it’s important for engineers, designers, and other technologists to remember that the projects or products that they’re working on ultimately affects humans. While he recognizes that the technology we can work with is prone to difficulties, this shouldn’t take away from the simple reality that the product we’re producing is ultimately geared towards a consumer…a user…a human. When technologists forget about this human aspect, they fail to make products optimized for user experience.

And Reed’s advice? Think about the people throughout the entire process:

“So, when I go to attack a problem – big or small – there’s a couple of aspects of that problem that I really think about. The first is: how does the technology work? What does the technology look like? The second is probably – and this the more important one) – what does the people look like within this organization, and how do those people work with one another? And most importantly: who are the people that we’re building this for?”

Last month, Reed launched Modest, a new kind of mobile commerce platform. Watch the rest of our interview with Modest CEO Harper Reed below:

This video series was made possible through the support of Microsoft BizSpark and TrepLife.

Every entrepreneur has a great story–and Trep Life is here to tell it. We document the grind, hustle, and payoff of building companies.

Every startup is unique and Microsoft has programs to help, no matter what stage of development your startup is in. Get three years of FREE Microsoft Azure cloud services thru BizSpark, plus software, service, and tech support. Scale your cloud with BizSpark Plus and $60k of Azure. Connect with more customers through our Custom Access Program. Sound interesting? Go to: http://aka.ms/getbizsparknow

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things.

Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in ‘Doctor Who’, Murakami, ‘The Mindy Project’, and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a “writer”. Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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