On a recent call with one of my favorite clients who was instrumental in challenging me to create the first computerized valet parking system 20 years ago exactly this year, I realized how far we have come yet how little has changed. It was like having deja vu and amnesia at the same time.
It’s safe to say that at this point I have forgotten more about the valet parking business than most people will ever know about it – especially since this industry, like many others, will likely obsolete itself in the not too distant future when self-driving vehicles take over.
What has not changed since we dropped refrigerator-sized 386 IBM machines in small valet booths to help track and account for inventory that was largely managed with a pencil and a cigar box back then, are the problems we were trying to solve.
Documenting the physical condition of a vehicle with pictures, knowing who parked and retrieved a vehicle and how long a customer ‘really’ waited turned out to be useful data in managing a labor-laden and liability-rich customer facing service.
What has changed are the tools now available to us in facilitating that task. An iPhone is clearly more impressive and powerful than a 5lb Symbol scanner with LED display from the mid-90’s and today’s HD image beats yesterday’s high-res image like Germany beat Brazil in the last Word Cup. (Sorry, I know some folks are still licking their wounds over that one…).
That said, I think the best is yet to come. An increasing demand for ‘elevated customer experiences’ is challenging the industry to collaborate on seamless solutions that bundle a handful of adjacent services into a friction-less, single user interface for the customer. Stitching together cutting edge technologies in effort to evoke that goose-bump/wow effect has become today’s tech-dejour, a theme that will likely continue until we ride this technology into its twilight and eventual sunset.
If you take a look at our website’s services section, you’ll notice that we have no intention on falling behind. We are super excited about the unlimited possibilities that the IoT, sensors, data analytic and 4th generation UX will bring to the game and look forward to helping our really smart clients navigate that playground.