Monday, May 19, 2014

Falling off the leading edge.

Like many people I'm interested in what is new and exciting. From when I was a kid and they had "x-ray glasses" to now, downloading the latest and greatest app. The promise of productivity, convenience, or x-ray vision draws me in.

Of course, many innovations have brought tremendous boosts in what we can do, and how we can do it. Since you can now carry 10x more music than I accumulated on vinyl in the first ten years of my record buying life on a micro SD card, I'd say things have improved considerably.

But as we change and adapt some things have gone missing. Many stores have taken the opportunity to use technology to reduce the amount of staff in their shops and stores. Other businesses are dropping service levels to near zero based on a strategy that seems to be derived from data and an overwrought need to misuse it.

But what happened to fundamentals? One example, I bought a used SUV a couple of years ago. It was a late model and by no means inexpensive. Moreover, I bought it through the internet side of the dealership. A quick sale for the dealer, and with no hassle since I paid in full. In terms of processing the deal they were excellent. But did I ever get a thank you? Nope. A follow-up on how the vehicle was working out? Nope.

One small example of how you can align all the pieces of a transaction, and deliver, but fail to pick up the real bounce, which is making me feel like I matter. Gaining a customer as opposed to just making a sale. In a business as hyper competitive as car sales you think they'd be kicking out the differentiators. Nope.

While technology is great, the fundamentals are greater. The very stuff that people will glaze over and say "I know, I know" as you try to remind them of it. Well, knowing and doing aren't the same thing. Knowledge without action is pretty worthless. You can "know" how to paint, but until you make a painting the paint is only worth what it costs by the tube.

In the end, technological advances are only valuable to the extent they serve to enhance the fundamental operation of a business. The should make the same ebb and flow of ancient commerce smoother. If you are somehow persuaded that business is now changed and that people are just numbers, you are about to fall off the leading edge of technology.

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