“Disruption,’ “I Can,’ and That 4-Digit Code


“Disruption,’ “I Can,’ and That 4-Digit Code

 I consider myself fairly well read and on top of what is happening in business, but I began to run into the term “disruption” only recently. Perhaps only in the last year.
I think it’s because the term has begun to focus on our industry. “Disruptors” have begun to make headway, and legacy companies are feeling the result. 
Virtually any idea having to do with a smartphone is beginning to disrupt our way of doing business. mCommerce is coming on strong, with “cloud-based” software disrupting our “normal” way of doing business.
Australia’s Nick Austin, Founder and CEO of Divvy Parking, a company that puts people who have a parking space together with people who need it (can you say Airbnb?), wrote a piece for BRW.com.au called “The 5 stages of grief for a disrupted business, and how to avoid them.” It reads like “The Five Stages of Grief” that we all find so familiar: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
Disruption has been around since Uugg invented the wheel.  They not only bring better wheels, but have ideas that will do away with the wheel. 
Does anyone remember the buggy whip, or for that matter, the phonograph, DVD player, a camera or, in a few years, the newspaper?
It’s not making things “better, faster or easier,” but a true disruptor changes the paradigm completely. In our business, the disruptor gets cars into a lot without a dispenser or gate, he markets without a sign on the outside, he collects money without coin or bill ever changing hands, he looks for many ways to meet the needs of his customer, far beyond simply providing a place to store their vehicle.
The parking disruptor will focus on mCommerce, not on reinventing parking but replacing it with many different commercial activities just as shopping centers replaced the Main Street, or Amazon is replacing the shopping center.
Laugh if you will, but my suggestion is that you hire someone under 30, make them your VP of Innovation, and then do what they say.  It’s a risk, but consider what you will lose if you don’t.
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Yikes – Mark Lawrence quotes a survey in a recent PT article that 29% of those owning a smartphone “can’t imagine living without it.” I understand his point. He is telling those in the parking industry to get with the program, and get your mCommerce pants on, and be sure you can be found with an app online. 
I’m concerned and a bit saddened by how that phrase means that technology has taken over our lives.

One of my colleagues in our building bought a shell of a 1974 International Harvester Scout. He then spent more than he would have on a new Ford fixing it up and making it like new. He added a few creature comforts such as satellite radio and air conditioning, but basically it’s the car that he could have bought new 40 years ago. Why?

He told me that he wanted a vehicle he could fix himself. He waved his hand around at all the vehicles in the parking lot and noted that they were all basically computers with wheels, and that if a circuit board blew, there was nothing he could do. If a coil or belt or brake went out on his Scout, he could fix it.

My father and I took apart an old 1948 Ford. We ground the valves, replaced the master cylinder, adjusted the timing, cleaned the carburetor, and changed the fan belts. In doing that, I learned how cars worked. At least I thought I did. Today if you lift the hood, you may find a gray plastic box covering “the works.”  And, frankly, with all the hoses and ‘stuff’ in there, I have no clue how it works anyway.

This is neither good nor bad; it just is. 

As we enter more technical times, items as simple as a toaster or as complicated as a car become beyond our ability to understand. When we need them fixed, we call someone who knows how and that’s that. But I do still miss getting my hands dirty changing the oil or greasing that old Ford.

The people who rely on smartphones to the point of “not being able to live without it” are placing themselves at the mercy of … everyone else.  They have forgotten, or never learned, how to look up something in an encyclopedia, how to do simple math and now, I find, read cursive writing. 

Do they know they can “pick up a phone and call?” Maybe not − landlines are going away.

I confess I have a Kindle. I read a lot and we were reaching the point that books were taking over the house. Now I keep them in a cloud. But I have enough on hand so I can fall back to paper should the power go out.

Let’s face it: I like all the ease and comforts that technology brings. But, much to my wife’s dismay, I do from time to time like to take something apart to “fix” it.  It is usually cheaper (five trips to Home Depot) and easier to call the repair man.  But once in a while, I just want to be able to say that “I can.”

Those “I can’t live without it” folks would probably order a new one, have it delivered by drone, and have a better, cheaper one than the one I fixed, but there are two words they can’t say: “I can.”

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According to an article I read, one reason that credit card companies are going to “chip and signature,” rather than “chip and PIN,” is that we lowly cardholders just can’t remember a four-digit code.  

Really? We can’t remember the number?

Let’s see — we remember the number for our ATM card, the number to log in to our smartphone, plus our ZIP Code when we get gas, our debit card code for just about everything, and we can’t remember the code for our credit card?  Right.

If I remember correctly, there is a vault-like app for your phone that can hold all your PIN codes, and if you forget, you can simply look it up. Plus …

Let’s face it. Many of us use the same code, or a derivative of it, for most of our PINs. Now, this is not the best security, and I don’t recommend it, but we do it. Don’t use your birth date, address, anniversary, or any number than can be human engineered by a thief.

I don’t know how many times a friend has given me his ATM card to get some money for him and the code is (1) written on the back, (2) his birth year, (3) his anniversary year or (4) the year he graduated from high school. Well, it was silly of him to trust me in the first place, but then again, I’m probably not the person he should be worried about stealing his bank account.

Of course, the bank card companies expect that you will have a ‘different’ code for every card, and I guess they are concerned about how you will remember.  I doubt that will be a problem. Remember back in the old days, when they assigned you a PIN code. Now many of them allow you to select your own. It’s the only way we can keep sane.

I have six cards that could require PIN codes in my wallet. Some I use very seldom; others I use daily. If I were to have six different codes … well — maybe that fellow from the credit card company quoted above wasn’t that far off.

When I was in Australia, my chip cards worked just fine.  I would insert them in the reader, and in a few seconds, a receipt would shoot out and I would sign it.  The card knew it was a chip and signature card, and told the terminal to react accordingly. No sweatski.

Chip and PIN will come. Depend on it. It will be just a bit further down the line. And we will somehow remember the number.


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