Use What’s On Your Roller

Blog /Use-Whats-On-Your-Roller

I like to think I can do a number of things around the house pretty well. I’ve done electrical work, general-purpose woodworking, network configuration, pool-equipment troubleshooting, and security-system installation, to name a few. But like all homeowners, there are some things I know to leave alone completely (plumbing) or avoid because I have no aptitude for them (painting).

The last time I helped my wife paint a room, she was cutting in the corners and I was rolling on the paint in the large, hard-to-mess-up areas. I happened to reach down to the paint pan at the same time she did, and we both stopped just before we collided.   

“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked.

“I’m getting more paint on my roller,” I replied in my it-should-be-obvious tone.

“Why don’t you use what you already have?” she asked.

I stopped and looked at my roller. Sure enough—it had a lot of paint on it, and anyone who’s painted knows you have better control when you have less paint on a brush or roller. But I already told you that I stink at painting; that’s why I was about to overload my roller.

That story sums up digital business today. It seems every company is looking for a huge, glamorous idea that will completely change their business model. As they should.  

But while that’s going on, they should use what they have on their roller. There are a lot of instances of companies with enough devices, information, motivation, and connection to me as a consumer to improve or innovate their services that are not doing so. Let me give you some examples.

My GPS.  I have a built-in GPS on my car that can get traffic data and guide me away from heavy traffic, accidents, and construction areas. So why isn’t it bringing in information from red-light cameras and accident reports to warn me about high-risk intersections I’m about to drive through? A simple beep would be enough to ensure I use a bit more care at a risky cross street.

My prescription. Like many people, the older I get, the more prescriptions I accumulate.  One of mine is a liquid that has to be refrigerated until it’s opened. So why does my pharmacy batch it together and give me three bottles at a time when I call in a refill—do they think I enjoy keeping six months worth of the drug in my refrigerator?  

My binge watching. My wife and I recently discovered “Blue Bloods” on Amazon Prime. It’s free to stream, and we’ve been watching several episodes a week to catch up on five seasons. So why does my blu-ray player not remember what the next show is to watch after a power-down/power-up cycle? Yes, I can find it after five or six button presses, but why can’t Amazon Prime figure out my usage patterns?

My cellular-connected thermostat. I recently replaced several devices in our house with cellular/internet connected replacements. So why doesn’t my thermostat ask for my power company account number and start showing me what setting the temperature to 71 degrees at night is doing to my bill, as opposed to 73 or 75 degrees?

My insurance. We use an independent insurance agent for our auto and home. We recently tried to compare various companies’ coverage, deductibles, and benefits. Insurance companies share all kinds of information with each other (automotive VIN numbers, accident info, etc.), so why don’t they make it easy to shop for additional services during a renewal? They should know to offer me extra coverage that I’m getting from a competitor—or at least gather information from me so they know to offer it in the future. The need for riders for things like jewelry, collectibles, and computers can’t be that uncommon these days. Why do I have to say this to every company and numerous times to my own agent?

I hope these examples will get you started on your own list of digital business initiatives. Keep looking for the game-changers—but use what’s on your roller as you look.

Post Date: 9/8/2015

Brad Rucker - NTT DATA Brad Rucker

About the author

In 1981, Mr. Rucker spent his entire monthly salary on a TRS-80 Color Computer, taught himself to code and never looked back. Since then he has been a programmer, DBA, system designer, project manager, CIO, CTO and COO. Currently he serves as SVP of the Digital Applications & Information Management Practices at NTT DATA Services.