Having a Choice

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2009 23:10 PM

By Eileen Feretic

We are often so dazzled by the latest and greatest of everything, from smartphones to digital books to all kinds of social media initiatives, that we abandon things that have worked for years--and continue to work well for us today. Obviously, we need to be flexible and open to change, but we shouldn't just toss out the old when we go after the new. Instead, we should keep what works and incorporate emerging technologies into the mix.

For example, many companies that add blade servers still need their mainframes. And having a Website reduces, but doesn't eliminate, the need for other types of customer interactions: call centers filled with customer service representatives, e-mail messages, print catalogs and paper invoices.

Though a company doesn't need to use all available ways to reach its customers, employees and business partners, it does need to offer them a choice. The banking industry is a perfect example. A growing number of customers are banking online, but millions still prefer to deal with a real person in a real building. They want nothing to do with virtual worlds. Instead, these individuals want to receive paper copies of their transactions every month, and they want to deposit their checks in person and pay their bills through the U.S.P.S.

That's a customer's choice, and companies need to respect that--even as they encourage their customers to move to more progressive approaches.

The same philosophy applies to print and Web vehicles. Though you're obviously a baselinemag.com reader, you may also be a subscriber to the print edition of Baseline magazine, along with a variety of other print publications.

In fact, despite the many claims that "print is dead," print publications still have an avid following, according to Michael Gale, CEO of research firm Strategic Oxygen (www.strategicoxygen.com). "The more senior you are, the more you appreciate and trust print, and CIOs have a long-term relationship with print," he told me, basing this comment on his company's in-depth research, which shows that IT executives turn to print to help them make decisions about technology. "We need quality journalism that offers credibility and objectivity, and print provides that," he added.

Both print and online information sources have a lot to offer. The Web gives you the world at your fingertips, while print pubs offer you targeted information written for a specific demographic. Web articles are timely; print articles are thoroughly researched. So, while some individuals have a strong preference for either print or online publications, many technology and business readers value and use both sources of information.

So, whether you're choosing from a variety of technologies or different types of media that cover technology, it's important to have a real choice.