Technology is off to the races

Sunday, August 1, 2004

The topic of technology comes up often, as the entire industry faces the constantly changing nature of technology and the newer and better ways of convenience it offers. In this issue, we discuss technology topics that include voice-over Internet protocol and radio frequency identification.

Cable companies have expanded their list of services to include digital phone. Now, they can offer one customer cable television, Internet broadband and phone service all at the same time, maximizing their infrastructure for the most profit possible.

No one can be blamed for choosing the cheapest alternative for telephone service, as saving money can never be considered a bad thing. Yet, as new services are introduced, a new set of problems arises. Will the home and commercial alarm system continue to work after the switch is made? Will there need to be significant changes made on the monitoring side to adjust to these new technologies?

This is the nature of the technology beast. One day you install the best piece of software or hardware available at your central, costing thousands of dollars but promising to save the company the same in a very short period, and the next day the system is no better for your business than a Commodore 64.

Of course, this is not limited to the alarm industry. Just look how quickly mobile phones and the computer have evolved, and how fast you’ve had to come up to speed to secure your company’s place in the market - or be left behind.

The rapid evolution of technology reminds me of a scene from the Marx Bros. film, A Day at the Races. In it, Groucho Marx, as the eccentric Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush, arrives at a racetrack to place a bet on the horse named Sun-Up. Just as he reaches the ticket window, his brother Chico, in character as Tony, walks by with an ice cream cart on wheels. Instead of frozen treats at 5 cents each, Tony is really selling a tip sheet on what horses to bet on. Chico makes a convincing pitch that one dollar is nothing to spend on a sure thing.

As the scene develops, Tony’s tips on the horses also requires a codebook, a master codebook, a breeder’s guide and a jockey guide.

Out about $9, Groucho is distracted enough to miss the race he wanted to place his bet on and, to boot, the advice of his new guides suggests a losing horse. By the end of the scene, Groucho takes to hawking his new books to raise money.

The lesson here is you can’t get trapped by the technology itself. If you do, you lose focus on your original business goals by getting caught up in the newest advancement that has hit the market.

This technology game has been in play since the beginning of time.

Think back to the saying, Someone has built a better mousetrap. Well, they’re still trying to do so.