4:48 p.m. on a Tuesday in December, and the City of Buffalo is getting blasted with snow and the wind—a terrible combination. My install team is stuck right in the middle of the metropolis, as are my husband and my sister in law. They have all already been on the road for more than an hour and a half trying to escape the storm.
Buffalo, in protection mode, has closed every major route in and out of the city, creating a gridlock of cars with nowhere to go. By reacting without thinking the scenario all the way through, countless people are stranded.
Why, in today’s technology world, can’t we get these people out of dodge? Why can’t we funnel different cars on different routes? Apple Maps kept turning the team around. Google Maps showed all streets in red. As roads were clogged, the map programs were unable to deal with simple logic to update and get our team out of trouble.
News stations are so excited about interactive routes they have created on their websites; they make it impossible to get the simple information one needs, like what roads are open and which ones were closed in a simple text-based format. Signing up for push notifications from your local news outlet will only get you bombarded with information. And you still would not have the information you need.
This situation is not far off from our everyday world in the AV business. We, as the technologist, are there to make life easier, but instead, we get distracted by all the bells and whistles. So, we instead create long macros when all the client really wants for their system is it to work every stinking day! We, as an industry, overcomplicate and fail to fix the simple issues.
Disagree? How many people are out there in the great big world with more than one remote? How many families are out there where only “Dad” knows how to work the system? The reason companies like Sonos and Eero are on the rise is because they are doing one thing, and doing it well.
My team and family did eventually make it home, by 8 p.m. They used good old-fashioned direct communication to meet up and make the trek together. They called to inform each other which roads were clear and which ones resembled a parking lot.
One party stayed the course and the others stopped and feasted on grilled cheese and bottled water before taking on the adventure again. They arrived home within a half hour of each other. How many times has your team pushed through to get a job done only to have it fall apart at the end? Sometimes you have to take a step back and refuel before continuing. We stress lunch breaks at the company and support walking away at times (of course not every time!). It helps to change your perspective for approaching the problem at hand, whether that be programming that is not working, or an epic traffic jam.
What can we learn from this escapade? We can do better. Also, complete dependence on technology, especially at this point, will most likely lead you onto the wrong path. We love to talk about “the next big thing,” but maybe we need to fix the issues at hand first.