Harry Houdini was more than a master magician. Until his tragic death in 1926, Houdini was a circus performer, the “King of Cards”, the “Handcuff King”, an author, an actor, a collector, a stunt man, an aviator, a scientist, and a psychic debunker. Houdini is an icon as revered as Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe. Yet, when one surveys the decades of performances by Houdini, his complete mastery of illusion is what made him successful as a performer and magician. Whether he was escaping from a Chinese water torture chamber or a suspended straitjacket; making a 5-ton elephant vanish or extricating himself from the belly of a whale; Houdini made you see what he wanted you to see. Houdini himself once said, “what the eyes see and the ears hear…the mind believes.” Is it real or is it an illusion? You have to decide.
While walking the exhibitor floors at the Waste Expo in Las Vegas this year I noticed there was a marked increase in Routing/Billing Software Providers. They all seem to promise the same things. They all boast of integrations, efficiencies and cutting edge technologies. Many of them use a “user-friendly” web interface that looks so simple a child could use it. It was at that time I thought of Houdini’s perceptive insight, “what the eyes see and the ears hear…the mind believes.” If you begin with a healthy skepticism and the understanding that salesman are, by nature, going to show you exactly what they want you to see, then you are on the path to discover reality.
As you personally explore Waste Industry Software Providers, I hope this blog will give you some helpful tips to keep you from falling into the illusion trap.
- Elephants do not disappear. Just because the salesman says it will do it, does not mean that it will do what he says. Instead of getting lost in the illusion the salesman is trying to perform, stick to what you know…your business needs. Does the software enable you to do your business better. Many of the web-based applications truly “look” and “feel” better, but are they able to perform all the functions of their software counterparts? Are you then held captive to your internet connectivity and at risk of down time? When your customer service representatives are on the phone with three different customers, can they maneuver through the screens quickly and efficiently or does lag time in the bandwidth limit their ability to respond quickly and accurately? Don’t fall for the illusion, understand the realities.
- The Chinese Water Torture Chamber is less about the chamber and more about the distraction. Houdini was skilled in distraction; handcuffs, straitjacket, water chamber, blindfold and chains were all used to make this escape seem impossible. After his death, many biographers have commented on how much of the struggle Houdini was seemingly under during his escapes was merely showmanship; the escape itself only took minutes. Just because many Software Providers claim to have all the “bells and whistles” conveniently bundled into one application, does not mean that they have a superior solution. For example, most Customer Routing/Billing Solutions also offer an in-cab solution that connects the office to the driver. Time and time again I hear of how these Providers’ in-cab solutions fail. They want you to believe you can use any tablet for their software, yet the rugged environment dictates a military grade tablet should be in use. They want you to believe that basic GPS and OBDS information is all you need to manage your business, yet your business needs a solution that manages residential, commercial, drop-box and more. Don’t be distracted with the exhaustive lists of offerings and integrations and simply look at the core applications…do they meet your needs?
- The Mirror Handcuff Challenge. In 1904 the Daily Illustrated Mirror newspaper accepted Houdini’s challenge to bring forth their own handcuffs to challenge him to escape. The Mirror had a special pair of handcuffs supposedly built by a blacksmith over a five-year period for this very challenge. Self admittedly, it was his greatest challenge; yet after an hour and 10 minutes, Houdini escaped. Were the handcuffs real or was it part of the illusion? Your operational software is one of the most important assets you have to purchase. Make sure you understand the company behind that software.
- How long have they been in business?
- How many owners have they had? Do private investors direct the development and resources of the software team or do the actual needs of those they serve direct them?
- Do they have your best interest in mind or are they only concerned with their profitability?
- Do they have a current history of updates and a plan for the next generation of software?
Like Harry Houdini, many Software Providers show you only what they want you to see in hopes you will buy the illusion. I hope this blog gives you some helpful insights, a look behind the curtain, to assist you in your quest for what solutions fit your company.
Alpine Technology Corporation has been providing software for the Waste Industry for over 38 years. Your needs drive our development schedule. Call us at 888.852.7267 if you want to have a no-pressure, open conversation about your software needs. If you prefer you can go online and view what our in-cab solution, Visual On-Route, offers your operation.