Out with the old; in with the new

March 30, 2018By Industry Intuition, Views


By Dave Wendland, as seen in HealthCare Distributor magazine, “Out of the Box” column, January/February 2018

Obsolescence is nearly guaranteed in today’s accelerated world — not only when it comes to technology, but in virtually all walks of life.

I recently witnessed a prime example of the pace of change in our own office. As our company continued its preparation for its upcoming office relocation (HRG headquarters moved in December 2017), the IT team (information technology) was searching for a specific cable connector that would make wiring certain offices more flexible. Instead of spending countless hours searching for such an obscure item, Shawn, a team member and fellow owner, engineered a perfect match in a computer-aided design (CAD) program and printed it “live” on one of HRG’s 3D printers. The problem was solved using technology that didn’t exist five years ago.

Another example of obsolescence stemmed from a conversation with my daughter — the proud owner of her very first car. I suggested to her that in the relatively near future the number of charging stations will far outnumber gas pumps. Electric vehicles will likely make their gas-powered counterparts seem old-fashioned while decreasing the world’s dependence on oil. Don’t even get me started on the potential of driver-less automobiles.

Clouds have existed as long as I can recall, but little did I know that someday virtually all of my records and documents would be stored there. (Yes, I understand that files are not actually in a cloud, but they might as well be — I can’t reach them the old-fashioned way.) Soon the large banks of storage devices and back-up systems will likely become obsolete creating new space for another collaboration zone in our office.

The camera on my smartphone takes far better photographs than my old 35mm. In fact, with its online auto correction, filtering, and editing features, I have a mini photo studio in the palm of my hand. I’ve even heard that Google and Samsung are developing technology that will allow people to record every-thing through their contact lenses. Goodbye cameras.

The new iPhone® uses facial recognition to identify its user. Parking meters are activated by credit cards or telephone apps. Online banking and electronic bill paying have become the rule rather than the exception. So, do we really need to debate whose picture should be printed on the twenty-dollar bill? Soon, coins and cash may become entirely unnecessary.

If other states happen to follow California’s lead, plastic bags may become a thing of the past. Ecologically unfriendly and made from non-renewable resources and inefficient processes, I believe plastic bags will find their final resting place at the Smithsonian.

You can likely start your car with the push of a button, enter your hotel room with a swipe card, gain access to your storage locker without a key, and even safely park your bike without a padlock. Why, then, do we need keys? Homes will likely have keycard readers instead of physical locks and the era of push-button and swipe card readers will prevail.

If you’re like me, the occasion when an actual mailed envelope crosses your desk is so scarce that your letter opener has become a dust collector. Stamp collecting may be the only reason for stamps in the not-too-distant future. Frankly, who needs a mailed letter when email is far more efficient, traceable, and readily available?

For the younger generation who has not known some of the items that have long become obsolete, they’ll think we are speaking a foreign language when we speak of USB drives, fax machines, and toll booths. This actually reminds me of another story. When my daughter was very young, after watching an old black-and-white movie, she asked my mother, “Grandma, was everything in black-and-white when you were a little girl?”

What do you think will become obsolete? I certainly hope it’s not me and some robot takes over writing my HealthCare Distributor articles.