PDA's In Prime Time.

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“Everyone always wants new things. Everybody likes new inventions, new technology. People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. And to me, the choice is easy.”
–Michael Scott, “The Office”

Here in Corporate Logoland, we’re big fans of the NBC comedy “The Office.” One of this season’s new episodes aired as we were assembling this issue, and I couldn’t help but notice some striking parallels.
In the episode, young, business-savvy Ryan – who has assumed a management position with Dunder Mifflin – attempts to implement technology-related changes at the backward-thinking Scranton branch.
For starters, every employee is issued a BlackBerry. Nobody jumped right on the new tech lifeline – Phyllis complained that she couldn’t see the keys very well, let alone type on the miniature setup. Stanley suggested she use the phone instead. He also said he’d use his BlackBerry, but only if “the kid” wanted to program it for him. In one scene, Ryan hammered out a long text message while Michael pretended to do the same by rapidly pecking at the keypad. It was definitely not an investment that would pay off in the company’s favor.
During the episode, Ryan also revealed his plan to roll out a new web site, Dunder Mifflin Infinity, which would help usher the company into a more competitive position within the industry. Michael passionately fought the web site change, noting that the good old-fashioned way of doing business would always prevail. (Cut to Jim showing the current company web site – a static page with a stick figure and a “Coming Soon” message dated 2002.) Michael then tried to demonstrate his personal touch, visiting a group of former clients to try to win their business back. Repeatedly, these customers asked if Dunder Mifflin had a webordering system in place yet, and whether the company could offer more competitive pricing.
By the end of the office calls, Michael was starting his pitch with news of a high-tech web system that would help them offer more competitive pricing. But it was too little too late for the clients who had already jumped ship.
This issue’s feature stories on technology and catalogs uncover similar challenges. The first article examines not only the latest developments in tech products, but also the ways technology has impacted the sales process and the industry in general. The second story takes a look at catalogs. Years back, it wasn’t uncommon for distributors to ask suppliers to mail them 20 or 30 catalogs. But with rising concerns about postage and paper consumption – not to mention the ease and availability of online catalogs – the industry is rethinking the whole catalog scenario. And well they should. Most distributors I know don’t even use paper catalogs, and yet suppliers spend a pretty penny to produce and distribute them.
Whether “The Office” is fighting technology by citing ageism or you’re dragging your heels because change takes a significant investment of time and money, please use this issue to help ease you into the future – or, as the case may be: the present. We’ve also included a great article on change by Snugz’s own Jaime Sims (see page 16). Change isn’t an easy process for most people, but if you follow Jaime’s advice, you may find it easier to embrace what’s new.
This article was written by Karen Butler for Corporate Logo Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

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