Smart phones, tablets, clouds, electronic journals and day planners! It is hard to imagine a world without these awesomely powerful devices and repositories that we hold in our hands every day. Being an early adopter and also having over 30 years in the trade, it seems impossible that I was able to do my job before this smart technology was available. However, I did get it done, and actually I had an even better memory than I have today, but that is a topic for another article.
In today’s world it is not uncommon for people to have very few contacts, appointment, tasks, and emails committed to memory. I mean why bother? The smart devices handle all that for you. Have an appointment or meeting? Your device will remind you. Need to make a call? All you have to do is say the person’s name into your Bluetooth device and it will call a contact for you, no need to remember anything. In fact, I just got a new Bluetooth that actually reads my emails to me, eliminating the need for me to even pick up my smart phone to read the email. It does the same thing for texts and incoming calls. Again, great technology and it definitely makes things much safer for me when I am driving. However, when I was traveling last week I had a very enlightening moment and I thought it would be a good share for this week’s article.
I got up in the morning and went to a Denny’s for breakfast. When I walked in the door I noticed about seven other tables that had customers seated. I went up to the counter, since I was by myself, and asked for a whole wheat bagel dry. The waitress looked up at me with a perplexed expression and said, “Our POS system is down and you will have to wait until it is back online before you will be able to pay for it.”
I said to her, probably with an equally perplexed look on my face, “You can’t add it up manually?” At this point her look transformed to anger and she just walked away. A few minutes later she brought me my bagel.
After I finished eating, I sat there waiting for the system to come back on line. I then noticed that many of the other tables were sitting and apparently waiting for the same thing. A few minutes went by and the manager, as well as the waitress I had spoken with earlier, was trying to manually add up tickets on ‘old school’ white and green check tickets. It was quite a sight to see, with them looking up each item including drinks in the menu and transferring it to a paper ticket. Neither had any idea what the price was for any specific item.
They continued on and then started arguing about what the state tax was for Virginia. The waitress was adamant that it was 5.3% but the manager disagreed and said she was sure it was 10%. I looked it up on my phone really quick and tried to show it to them. However, after my earlier remark, my attempt to help was not well received. The manager continued to argue with the waitress and said you have to include county tax and she was sure it was at least 10%. So they started trying to manually add up the tickets and calculating the tax at 10%. Neither knew how to perform this simple calculation. Once again I opened my calculator app on my phone and asked them if they would like to use it. I again was met with nasty looks. Finally, I threw down a five dollar bill and told them when they figured it out they could keep the change and left.
This story really got me thinking about this type of situation and how prepared companies may be, should they lose their wireless/Smart technologies. It shouldn’t be overlooked considering that we lose connections all the time throughout any given month.
In my company, we are 100% paperless and depend greatly on the ever changing wireless technologies and smart devices. So I started asking all my team members to put together a “Zombie Apocalypse Plan”. Meaning that assume at some point we lose all wireless capabilities, computers and smart devices. Will you have a way to contact your customers? Will our field team members have a way to complete and document their jobs without their tablets? Do you have a price list and know how to manually calculate an invoice? In short, could we support our customers keeping the problem completely invisible to them? It may seem obvious, but I really wonder how many people in today’s world would even know how to call their friends and family if they lost their smart phone capability?
I always look for ways to improve, and this was a prime example of how it isn’t always learning what you should do, sometimes it is learning what not to do from observing others success or failure. I know we are stronger by having this back up plan in place and I suggest you also think about implementing your own plan both on a professional and personal level. When the time comes and you lose capability and connect-ability with technology will it be an inconvenience or a curse? Will the Zombies win?