3 Analog Products and Services the Digital Revolution Was Supposed to Kill, But Didn’t
Driver’s license and registration, please. That is a request every driver will hear at some point in their driving career. Also, it is not really a request. So you need to have them handy. The uniformed officer demanding to see those documents will not take kindly to you showing them a digital image. The officer wants to see original hardcopies of both. One day, that will change. But when you really stop to think about it, that was supposed to have changed already.
Stop and think a little more and you will realize that a lot of things that were supposed to be replaced with digital versions are still around. Journalists still prefer taking notes with pen and paper. Most doctor’s offices still keep paper records. We use voting machines but they are still backed up by paper ballots that can be hand-counted. It really does seem like the more things change, the more they stay the same. Some things have changed, and not necessarily for the better. Board games have been largely replaced with video games. But for the most part, we are still waiting for some of the big changes. Here are three:
The Paperless Myth
We are never going paperless. That is a myth that no one truly wants. If it does come, it will be several generations in the future. The problem is not the technology. We have the technology right now. There are just too many situations where paper and ink are the preferred media.
If you are a doctor, lawyer, educator, or marketer, there is a good chance your reliance on managed print services have increased rather than decreased. It is more important than ever to have a paper trail. Hospitals have been the repeated targets of ransomware hacks. They are also pathetically easy targets. Their need for paper backups of everything is greater than ever.
The fastest and easiest way to capture a signature is to use a pen and paper. The fastest way to add your name to a check-in list is with pen and paper. Recent experience tells us that the vast majority of voters still feel more comfortable with paper ballots. We still love the look and feel of a paper menu at a fine restaurant. Paper isn’t going anywhere soon. Apportion your printer budget accordingly.
Some conferences, expos, and trade shows have gone online temporarily while we wait out the pandemic. All of the tech conferences transitioned to online only events in 2020, and will continue that trend through 2021. But make no mistake about it: Everyone wants to go back to doing things in person and hands on. That is going to happen as soon as it is safe to do so. No matter how much they complain about it, both presenters and attendees love the excitement, atmosphere, and camaraderie of live events. No online presentation can replace it.
Cold, Hard, Cash
They call it filthy lucre. Indeed, money is one of the filthiest things you will touch throughout the course of your day. That dollar bill has traveled around the world and picked up the most virulent germs along the way. Really, what’s in your wallet? You don’t want to know.
Some experts say that bitcoin will replace bonds. That seems highly unlikely to happen anytime soon. Right now, bitcoin is more of an investment than a currency. And it will be just one more venture that didn’t replace cash. Credit cards didn’t do it. Digital payments didn’t do it. And so far, the law still protects cash as a currency. Many businesses don’t take debit or credit. But they all take cash. One might predict that cash will be around long enough to dance on the grave of bitcoin. Never bet against cold, hard, cash.
One day, everything will be digital, perhaps even us if sci-fi writers are to be believed. Until then, paper, live gatherings, and cash are here for the long haul. While everything could go digital, perhaps it is better if some things remain anchored in the real world.