An iReality Check

I’ve always considered myself to be up to speed on technology. Admittedly, I have slipped a little over the years, but I got a dose of reality — or iReality, as it may be — over the holidays. I thought I was getting exactly what I wanted as I unwrapped a brand new iPod on Christmas day. Then I plugged it into my computer and all hell broke loose.
Where’ve I been for the past few years? It was bad enough that I had to upgrade my computer’s operating system and other software just so it could communicate with the iPod, but I was truly blown away by what I could access and download into my new toy. Now that my life has been synched with my iPod, I’ve discovered a new world of opportunity. I spent a good portion of my holiday vacation coming to terms with the fact that I’m not as tech savvy as I once believed, downloading 4 gigs of music (sounds pretty hip, huh?), subscribing to podcasts, downloading episodes of “The Office,” and spending far too many hours perusing the iTunes store for everything I’ve missed over the past few years.
I realize now what I had been missing out on: Web 2.0, a term coined by those much more trendy than I. Time magazine says the “new Web is a very different thing, a revolution.” And if you haven’t yet heard, the magazine named you as its person of the year. Yes, you: The controller of the information age. So the question is where do you fall on the technology spectrum? Hopefully, you’re ahead of me. According to some data we ran across recently, though, the marine industry needs to get synched with today’s technology.
This research, completed by Channel Blade Technologies, documents that some 80 percent of their e-mail leads sent to dealers either go unanswered or are answered with incorrect information. If this number is representative of the entire industry, we’ve got an enormous problem on our hands. We just invested $15 million in the Discover Boating campaign, in hopes of increasing the number of people interested in boating. Now take $12 million of that and flush it straight out the bilge pump. That’s what will happen if we screw up 80 percent of these leads.
It used to be that pundits would complain that this industry was driving 20 percent of consumers away because of poor service. Others complain that there are no new boaters entering the sport. Now we find out that, of the growing population of those who are convinced that it is time for that new boat, up to 80 percent of them may have the door slammed in their face before we even let them in.
It’s time to open the doors and not only invite new boaters in, but also encourage and usher them in. The doors of yesteryear were bricks and mortar. Today’s doors are far less tangible and need to be open for business 24/7. If you need a quick lesson on what that might look like, just buy yourself an iPod.

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