Geo Week News

December 26, 2013

Progress or Planned Obsolescence

I had to buy a new set of tires prior to all my holiday travels. Merry Christmas to me… Oh well, nothing lasts forever. While tires are an expected, recurring expense, it’s never fun to lay out that kind of cash just to get you back to where you were. It’s maintenance, so it doesn’t feel like you bought something new, if you know what I mean. At any rate, I am a bit of a petrol-head as they say in Australia, so I am picky about my tires.

I drive a lot of miles. And, as I have shifted from daily field work to mostly office work, I changed from the BF Goodrich All Terrain TAs that I have used for years to Long Trail TAs. I went in for a second set of Long Trail TAs this week and … they don’t make them anymore. They make something with the same name, but it is a different product and the reviews are lousy.

Speaking of lousy, I am reminded of my golf game. Every spring, I head to the sporting goods store to load up for the new season, full of hope that this will be the year that it all comes together! Typically, I’ve found a preferred ball during the previous summer that best fits my current state of disrepair. I pick up a dozen and when I pull them out of the sleeve … they are not the same ball as last year. This year, the dimples went from circular to hexagonal. The year before last, they went from dimples within dimples to dimples of varying radii. The box still says Bridgestone B6 but that is where the similarities end.

So, are these improvements, change for the sake of change, planned obsolescence, or what?! I often wonder if my clients feel the same way about services.

If you have had a client for a few years, the odds are that the amount of time you spend onsite performing data collection has reduced considerably over that period. I would be willing to bet that your processing time has as well. I would also bet that your price has not gone down much at all! I am sure that some clients look at this and think, “I am paying the same every year and it seems like I get less time each year.” While I understand that your efficiencies have been gained through the purchase of expensive equipment and that your deliverable products are much improved, and that all of your expenses have increased, does your client?

Every year the golf ball alterations lead me to try another brand. This week I bought a set of Michelin tires instead of BF Goodrich. The lack of continuity opened up the decision-making process again, and in both cases I knew that something was going to change (even if I did not want it to), so I gave another vendor a shot at earning my business. The flip side to this story is that I bought the golf balls from the same store that I used last year – same goes for the tires. Why? Because in both cases they informed me of the change, were honest about the reasons and results (as they understood them) and were forthcoming with options.

They say the only constant is change. This forgets the fact that change constantly forces those of us in the 3D imaging business to choose how to present that change to our clients. Sometimes a little PR goes a long way, especially when it is empathetic to those of us disappointed in the latest change.

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