Best Invention Ever! by Casey Jones, CAPP

It is the time of year I give special praise to the Big Guy for my blessings. Oh, you thought I was talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas? No, I meant college football season. I’m especially grateful for my DVR and regard this as the greatest invention ever next to electricity—which, of course, makes the DVR work. iStock_000027638972_Medium

Before the DVR, you had to accept that there would be great games you couldn’t help but miss, especially if you attended a game in-person or if you just couldn’t stay tuned to the last Pac-12 or Mountain West game that lasted well past your normal bedtime. DVRs make it possible to record multiple games at once so you can watch at your leisure while not giving up on other things in your life, like watching the home team in-person. I’m especially fond of skipping commercials and replaying that big play over and over again. Simply put, the DVR has improved my quality of life in immeasurable ways. I’m also quite sure it’s added years to my life.

As clouded as my judgment can be, I must remind myself that the little black box is not an end unto itself; rather, it provides a means for me to enjoy my favorite sport. It isn’t really the invention itself that I love, but the convenience it offers. Parking technology is no different and if we think of technology as an end, we’re missing the key reasons to pursue technology in the first place. We may even invest in and implement a technology that doesn’t advance the ball at all, so to speak.

I see three major reasons for implementing technology: to improve the customer’s experience and hence their loyalty to my business, to reduce operational costs thus helping to improve my bottom line, and to generate revenue—again, to improve my bottom line.

In a recent IPI blog post, our friend Cindy Campbell makes the point clearly but from the consumer’s standpoint. During a recent trip to the airport, Cindy lost her parking ticket and faced a staggering fine (read it here). But instead of throwing their hands up and dinging her egregiously, Cindy’s airport parking staff explained that they could figure out with relative ease how long she had been parked and would only charge her for the time she actually stayed. To no surprise, Cindy was elated. This is technology doing its best work and offering a way around an age-old practice that never resulted in improved customer service or loyalty. Sure, the airport was out a bit of potential revenue but that wasn’t really earned in the first place.

Though it’s not an exaggeration that my DVR has literally saved my life, I am sure not to view it as an end but a means to a better TV-watching experience. Let’s be mindful of that in our parking world and pursue innovation and technology for the right reasons.