Almon Strowger was an undertaker. Like all occupations, it’s a job that involves it’s own nuance and know-how, but it’s also a very low-tech job. At least in 1888 it was pretty low-tech. While technology didn’t help him do his job, it was critical in getting him business.
When business suddenly slowed down, he suspected the wife (some accounts refer to it as simply a romantic relationship) of his rival, who worked the local manual switchboard, was diverting calls meant for Strowger to her husband/partner. After confirming-- at least to his satisfaction-- these suspicions, Strowger enlisted the help of some engineering-savvy friends to create a new, automated switchboard that would eliminate human error (accidental or otherwise) in connecting calls.
Strowger made technology work for him. He optimized a process and technology that was limiting his business. His invention was industry-changing, but his story is also equally rich in its underlying message: When something isn’t working for your business, seek a solution.
That sounds easy and obvious enough, but with the dynamicity of technology, it’s not so simple. Speaking specifically about telecommunications, solutions are always changing and it can be difficult to know what’s out there, let alone if what’s out there is right for your business. So, what can you do to make sure the technology you have is working for you?
- Start small. Start with an analysis of the systems and networks you have in place. When was the last time you optimized it for efficiency? If a tune-up is all you need, don’t try to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.
- Don’t settle. If you need a massive update to your network, don’t go with a solution just because it’s the best a particular provider could do. In other words, don’t settle. Go with a solution because it’s the best for your business. You may need to do a little give-and-take when it comes to budget, but you shouldn’t sacrifice a need because your prospective vendor doesn’t offer anything to service that need.
- Be vocal. Keep in contact with your solutions provider and let them know what you need to succeed. Tell them where their products and services need to improve to help you and work with them to customize your solutions package.
The bottom line: If technology is working against you, you can and should do something about it. You don’t need to pull a Strowger and reinvent the industry, but you do need to leverage the knowledge and expertise of those around you, whether in-house or externally, to optimize the technology you use.