November '18

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118 • RV PRO • November 2018 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S With the ability to stay connected (which some count as a blessing) comes the inability to separate from work. How many of us get work calls and emails during the evening or on Sunday? Being constantly plugged in becomes a form of addiction. I had a conversation with a dealer recently who made that point come to life. She said the only way she could manage to disengage was to have a more compelling reason to separate. For her, the need to be constantly connected was displaced by a regularly scheduled men- toring program (Big Brother/Big Sister). Good for her. There is a lesson is in there for all of us. When Hurricane Florence came ashore and the power went out, I was amazed at how quiet the world became when there were no electric motors or electronic devices running. Having had that experience, now I miss that. Don't Forget Social Media As long as we are on the topic of communication, we cannot overlook the impact of social media. What a boon it has been to be able to advertise with email, Facebook and web-based prod- ucts. Wow. And you can identify your target market so much more tightly. Again, wow! But a curse is the slavish concern we all must have to reviews. I know a circumstance where an operator rented a unit to a couple of younger customers on the way to a gaming convention only to find they were "streamers." That involves someone who lives life while in full view, over the Internet, for an audience of subscribers. The way they build the audience is by trashing others and making outrageous claims. Within the first hour or two after the initial transaction with that cus- tomer, the business received dozens, yes dozens, of "one-star" reviews. Those reviews continue to have a degrading effect on the overall business. Let me say clearly that there was no justification for those reviews. They were driven only by the bullying tactics of the "streamers" and their audience. The Ubiquitous 'Cloud' The thing about the Cloud is that it's everywhere. I loved the concept of distributed computing. You make a change to one set of code and the changes apply to all users instanta- neously. I couldn't do my 20 Group meetings without the Cloud. Again, a lesson from the recent hur- ricane. The Internet is wonderful – until it isn't working. Then the reliance on it becomes so painfully clear. It's not unlike other technologies that quickly became imbedded into our cul- ture. For example, iPhones aren't that old – but now how could we ever live without them? Shiny Object Syndrome Tech can actually be quite dis- tracting. It's not just that concern over always being accessible that I mentioned before. It's also the constant alerts and notifications. They are unrelenting. As a result, the attention span has degraded. Think about TV. It's been in "seg- ments" for years interrupted by com- mercial breaks. We're doing less reading for entertainment. Now it's a problem trying to think while being bombarded by urgent demands for our attention. And it's not just that. It's the desire for tech itself. I'm guilty as charged. I like to have the latest whizzbang. I suffer from shiny object syndrome. If I'm honest, I derive a sense of status, I suppose. However, I've learned to buy prod- ucts a generation back in tech, in most cases. I like being on the leading edge, but I no longer need to be the beta tester on the "bleeding edge." Reliance on Tech & the Associated Structure One of the best things to come from the tech revolution is the structure. Plat- forms evolved and we now have struc- tures we would never have gotten. These include structure in the accounting sys- tems driven by DMS applications. Communication relies on struc- tures we take for granted in email, text, phones, and conference calls. It's hard to put a price on the value of or increases in productivity as a result. Where Might Advances in Technology Lead? Technology currently exists to gain a clear "pipeline picture." It would be helpful on so many levels to have a full view of all inventory. I wonder if the publicly traded com- panies know how many calls those of us in retail and consulting get from analysts looking to gain that insight. If manu- facturers knew that a model type was going stagnant, couldn't they adjust the build to get more in line with demand? This would be a great topic for Com- mittee Week. Meanwhile, bill of materials/parts problems could be largely eradicated with technology. And what about doc- umentations? YouTube is adding ways to fix any problem to the vast video library every day. We should capitalize on that. Warranty expense/ quality con- trol reporting should be a lot more robust than it is now. We should be cross-checking warranty failures with the vendors that supplied the parts. We should be improving the product based on warranty claim experience. But there's still a disconnect between assemblers and consumers. Technology can serve us or hold us hostage. The trick is making it pay. My brother once said, "Computers are like this: You're supposed to put in nickels and get dollars back." If your tech isn't making you richer or more productive you might want to ditch it. I like the brother's thought of leveraging what you put in to get a better result. Otherwise, we may be falling victim to a huge drain on time and money.

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