Our progress as a civilisation has always in part been measured by our powers of invention. That is not to downplay the importance of moral and intellectual development but new products and processes are somehow more concrete and, judging by the current daily servings of news from around the world, perhaps demonstrate more evidence of advancement.

The truly giant leaps of the past have been made over a long period of history – I’m thinking plough, wheel, printing press, telephone, steam engine, aeroplane, automobile, TV, light bulb. In contrast, with the more recent combination of the internet and personal computing, the sense is that we are entering the most rapidly evolving period of innovation human beings have known. What’s the absolute guarantee about the next 10 years? It will arrive in seven, maybe sooner.

This is therefore a golden era for tech companies. Every aspect of our lives, not just chatting, dating and shopping, is being targeted by some of the brightest minds on the planet with a view to weaving their innovation into our current routines or to stimulating fresh behaviours.

Apple has estimated that there are now over nine million registered iOS developers globally; Deloitte’s UK Technology Fast 50 reported an average five year growth rate for its 2013 winners of over 1300%. And there is even a physician in California, Eric Topol M.D., who declared in an interview with NBC, “These days I’m actually prescribing a lot more apps than medications”.

Unsurprisingly, in this highly competitive, potentially rewarding environment, the tech specialists tend to focus on the tech.  Relevant ingenuity, exposed to a receptive audience, can gain rapid traction and quickly build a business which makes headlines. So, once the company is established, it’s tempting to apply all available energy to protecting and promoting the technology, keeping it current, and enjoying the ride to fame and glory, to stellar returns.

Well, it’s not quite that simple. An all too common scenario is that what starts as breakthrough technology either becomes generic or is edged by one of the next generation of start-ups. Unless the owners have already managed to sell the company by this point, the outcome can be less joyous – the business goes off a cliff and not in a good way.

A singular obsession with tech, even in a tech company, can lead to a damaging underestimation of one of the key factors in any successful enterprise, namely relationships.  Tech experts can even believe that, in their kind of businesses, relationships, both internally and externally, don’t really figure among the drivers of growth. In fact, of course, they do.

It doesn’t matter how digitally enabled our lives become, as human beings we still like to do business with people we know and trust. This rapport helps form the glue that often means we will stick with brands that we know are not the most advanced because we cherish the relationship and, on balance, we will give them the chance to catch up. If we don’t really know the people behind the tech then all we have is a transaction and, when something we suspect is better comes along, we will shift our superficial allegiance.

In my experience, this blind spot can exist in all tech companies, including the creators and the wide range of agencies which support them.  The value of fully-functioning commercial relationships, and the importance of the skills to build them, can readily be overlooked in a micro culture where the key interface is regarded as that with a computer screen and keyboard.

Pertinently, in this month’s Marketing magazine, within a piece on the future of programmatic technology in deploying digital advertising budgets, Mike Peralta, CEO of Audience Science, said: “The key to a successful future for programmatic is for brands, agencies and tech providers to adapt and build relationships that drive transparency and create simpler, more effective operating models”. In other words, where, as in this case, there is a lack of clarity around who’s doing what and particularly who’s earning what in an automated business process, pick up the phone and talk, better still fix a meeting.

Technology is a wonderful thing. Tech companies are brave, illuminating and inspiring. Importantly, though, the power of relationships can contribute to the success of tech businesses just as much as more traditional enterprises. The digital world has done wonders for communication but it has also created the danger of faux connectedness. The risks associated with remote and insubstantial relationships, particularly in a tech driven environment, must be recognised and addressed. There has to be room in a future driven mindset for a few classic truths.