Not long ago, I got a ride from a rent-a-car agency back to my car, and the older gentleman giving me the ride was a part-time employee, only working a couple of days a week, supplemental income, giving him something to do between his hobbies, and social life in retirement. He lives comfortably in a high-end retirement community and we got to talking about days gone by. You see, he’d owned a printing company, making “business forms” in the Southern California area in the 70s and 80s.Perhaps you recall all those business forms, and memos with the carbon copies? Hardly anyone uses carbon anymore, although there are a few companies which do. Interestingly enough the Rent-A-Car company that I had rented the car from still used carbon copies. He told me stories how he grew his company due to the fact that he was able to do a very fast turnaround. Interestingly enough, not more than a week later I talked to another gentleman who would also been in the same industry. Indeed, I asked him a similar set of questions such as;What sort of industries did you serve?Did you supply Government Agencies, Corporate, or just anyone who needed anything, with an army of printing brokers in tow?The interesting thing is; the second gentleman I talked with had come along with the new technology entering the digital phase of the printing industry, just as the other gentleman was reading the writing on the walls, realizing that he needed to sell his company and retire before the new innovations took over the sector. This is the natural progression and evolution which occurs throughout the free-market system.Many believe this is disruptive, and it costs jobs, but it also brings technological advances, more efficiency, and lower costs. We should relish in the fact that we are able to so quickly move with new divergent technologies, as it acts as an adrenaline shot to the forward progression of our nation and economy. I asked the second gentleman;You certainly must have had the speed advantage, yes, that was a revolutionary time for the industry? 80s? Of course by the 90s hell, Word Perfect and personal printers, game over I guess?It turns out the second gentleman had a similar experience as the technology was changing once again. Soon, everyone would have home printers, peripherals, fax machines, and the printing industry would go through its next revolutionary change 10 years later. HP saw that one didn’t they? You know, it seems the every 10 years rule holds true in a good many industries, especially when those industries are blindsided by another industry which brings technology into their realm, completely disrupting the status quo and the market incumbents.Rule number one: the world changes.Now then, I did meet some of the founders of PIP once, what a fascinating industry. Some of those original Xerox machines cost much more than a luxury home back then. I read a book on the sales strategies of Xerox back then selling those machines, w/service contracts, GE apparently borrowed that model too for many of their divisions, mostly medical devices.New selling strategies, bundling strategies, marketing strategies, and technology are all part of both incremental gains and paradigm shifts. Now then, my question is to you;”Are You Ready for the Future?”Indeed, I hope you have a plan, and I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.
Traditionally, hotels were largely dependent on cards and paperwork at the front desk to keep in touch with old and current customers. They were largely at the mercy of the desires of vacationers to arrive, and on their own efforts and staff to be ready for potential surges or long droughts of occupancy. Luckily, such inconvenience and old-fashioned methods are long since past, thanks to advances in information technology.The first area in which information technology became important was in regards to billing. Old-fashioned paper-based book-keeping was time consuming and inefficient, and was not able to quickly tell a hotel owner what the situation of their hotel was. Luckily, advances in modern record keeping allow for a hotel owner to keep track of what they have on hand, how much of it they have, and how much it costs. Accounting is complicated, but advanced accounting software, especially that tailored to the unique needs of the hospitality industry, helps to enable hotel owners to make smart decisions. Services and products that are no longer used can be quickly cut off to save money, while those who show demand can be increased in quantity or modified so as to reduce the heavy usage.Most hotels are familiar with booking rooms and reservations over the phone, but information technology has expanded well beyond that. Hotels can now work with various online travel companies and booking services to have their rooms booked online, with no need to employ expensive staff. This also allows a hotel to advertise their open rooms and special deals directly to persons who would be most likely to purchase them, instead of wasting lots of money advertising in an unfocused manner. High quality information technology thus allows for better arrangement and management of bookings in order to allow a hotel to better maximize occupancy, and to know in advance when large groups or lean times are approaching. This allows a hotel manager to make plans regarding temporary staff, good times to renovate or expand, or other concerns, because he/she can determine the state of their hotel currently and for the next few months with only a few clicks on the computer.The advances in information technology extend well beyond booking, however. The internet is essential for vacationers who wish to contact those back home, and for those traveling on business to get in touch with the office. Therefore, wireless internet has become a very common and very useful service for hotels to provide. Many business minded persons even require that a hotel offer internet services so that they can keep working while on the road. Luckily, such services are easy to provide, as all that is required is a wireless router and various devices to ensure the entire hotel is filled with the network. Modern advances in wireless internet also allow for the wireless internet provided for hotel visitors to be used to network the hotel itself. Security cameras, door locks, and other devices essential to hotel security and safety can be wired into the network, so that staff are alerted whenever a door is propped open, a fire alarm goes off or suspicious activity occurs. Though the hotel guests are wholly unaware of it, this sort of added safety and security keeps them safe, and in the event of a problem they will most certainly appreciate the benefits of such a system.As advanced as it is, information technology in the hospitality industry is still going forward. Intelligent booking systems enable rapid and efficient guest feedback, along with the ability to predict who is likely to use the hotel again and inform them via e-mail or text messages when good deals arrive. Hotels with room service or other guest services can offer their menus online, allowing for quick updates, high-quality photos, and other ways to allow guests to see and order services before they even arrive. There are also advances in terms of payroll and inventory which make information technology a valuable asset for saving money and maximizing profits. The unique nature of the hospitality industry makes it a great place for new and emerging information technology, and forward-thinking hotel owners and managers are always looking for smart equipment and software to invest in.
No industrial sector right now is flying as high as technology. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google are climbing the ranks as the biggest businesses in the world. No strangers to innovation, these companies have found some very fascinating ways to project a certain image, style, and status to the public. Today, nothing is more revered or coveted by consumers than the newest piece of gadgetry or technology. But it is immensely important to keep in mind that these companies aren’t as much out to make functional and fantastic products as they are to sell them.The most widely recognized example of the gap between actual product quality and perceived quality right now is Apple’s new tablet, the iPad. Termed a “magical device” by the company itself, the iPad has been sold in record-shattering quantities across the globe in the past few months. But, when asked where this technology is manufactured, most iPad owners probably couldn’t tell you. In fact, they’ve been so overwhelmed by its “coolness” that they probably haven’t even given it a thought. The reality is that they are made in China, along with most other modern pieces of technology. This, of course, is not to say that the iPad isn’t a highly advanced, high-quality device, as it most certainly is. But the image that Apple’s marketing team and CEO Steve Jobs have given it doesn’t completely match the product itself.Another facet in the technology industry’s use of image and the reality gap is the concept of “latest and greatest”. Though a given product may suit a consumer’s needs well, they are easily convinced that a given company’s newest device will suit their needs even better. It is another example of masterful image creation because it taps into the old American idea of “keeping up with the Joneses”. That is, the consumer feels a need to have whatever is newest in order to achieve a sense of self-efficacy and status. The technology industry knows this adage well, and takes advantage of it. To see how, look no further than how often companies like Microsoft come out with new software. The differences between MS Word 2003 and 2010, for example, are largely minimal except for looks and design. But the consumer, whenever he or she sees that a new version of a certain software is coming out, feels compelled to buy it. The actual differences between the older product and the newer one may be minuscule. But by creating an image of the “newest and best”, technology companies tap into the consumer’s innate desire to have the most advanced products.Perhaps no industry is more adept at taking advantage of the reality gap than technology. It is arguably one of the biggest reasons for the sector’s immense success over the past few decades. Honestly, it can’t be argued that their products have revolutionized society. But consumers should certainly be aware of the hype and largely false image that technology industries create so effectively. By staying sharp, one can separate the true beneficial qualities of technology companies’ products from consumerist ideals and conjecture.