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Feb 17, 2014

Then and Now: Some Perspective on the Power of Mobility

Then and Now: Some Perspective on the Power of Mobility

Where were you in 1991? Were you even born? For those of us who were, a walk down our memory lane of technology is a reminder of how far we've come -- for those who weren't, maybe you are lucky you didn't have to experience the “old days”. In this Radio Shack ad from 1991, as the author states, many of the items being sold are now functions in our mobile devices. There were other technological advancements, however, many of which are accessible through our smartphones; below is our expanded list.

1991 2014
Pagers - Usually these were only one-way communications, in which one could receive a phone number which the user was expected to call.  Who does the number belong to? We didn't know – there was no caller ID. SMS – if you don’t want to call, just send a text.
Super Nintendo – A video game console that connected to your TV. Replaced by Xbox & PlayStation, as well as mobile games such as Angry Birds.
Phone Books – Big and bulky, this is where you found numbers for a plumber or a restaurant or – well, anyone, as everyone was listed in the phone book. What are those? Just Google the number. Or there might be an app for that.
VCR’s – Cassette players for the TV. There was even a technology war between the VHS and Beta technologies (VHS won). Replaced by Smart TV’s, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, DVD players, cable, DVR capability, and of course, watching videos on the smartphone.
Cassettes - This is how we played (and recorded) music in the old days. Replaced by digital music.
The Radio Traditional radio stations are still out there, but many prefer to have more choice over their music.  Services such as Pandora, Spotify and Earbits come to mind.
Encyclopedias – This is how you used to look up information. They were expensive, took up space in the house and became outdated quickly. The Internet, accessible anytime and anywhere from your smartphone.
Blockbuster – You had to (gasp) go to a store to rent a movie Replaced by Netflix or on-demand anything.  Blockbuster has been shuttering the last remaining stores lately.
Phone Trees – If you were on a sports team or school group during this era, messages were often passed via a “phone tree”. When there was a change in the practice schedule or any kind of announcement, each person on the team would be responsible for calling several others (from a landline) until the entire team received the message. Replaced by email or group text.

In 1977, Ken Olson, CEO of then Digital Equipment Corporation, said “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”.  Boy was he wrong -- we have far exceeded that, and now have both computers in our pockets and home devices such as smart thermostats. That just goes to show that innovation is constant and all around us. From a business perspective, we need to keep in mind that the status quo for a product or process is not necessarily the best. We must constantly innovate on our own products and services and also increase our productivity and ability to satisfy customers with tools that others have come up with. With many of these tools sitting in people’s pockets and purses, companies have a significant opportunity to transform their business with enterprise mobile apps. With the right enterprise mobility solution, companies can implement these changes with minimal risk to their business.


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