Travel Delays, Dot Matrix Printers, and Digital Transformation: An Airport Story

by | Dec 1, 2019

The “new normal” for air travel isn’t very new anymore. So much has changed about it in the last 20 years, and by now, we’ve gotten used to the extra long lines, all things TSA, and getting charged for carry-ons and any decent person’s definition of adequate foot space. At this point, nothing really surprises—that was, until my last 3 ½ hour delay in Dallas…when I saw it.

Patina: Great for Antiques, Bad for Business Technology

As I slinked back in my chair, about to stick in my airpods and tune out the hustle and bustle around me, I froze. I strained to peer at the ticketing desk. The sound stopped…then started again. Stopped…and started again. I sat there for a second in disbelief. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…

Yes! A dot matrix printer burning through a stack of continuous-feed paper (you know the kind with the little holes on the side). It just kept printing and printing and printing as the ticketing agent kept trying to talk over the blaring racket to explain to one crabby traveler after another the latest info on a departure time. And it just kept ripping through page after page. In the year 2019, I could barely believe my ears!

Woo! On one hand, I felt happy for the old girl still finding relevance in an age long past her prime. For the life of me, I couldn’t fathom a logical reason why this airline would be holding onto this dot matrix printer. For one thing, where were they still buying the ribbons?

The only thing, I thought, that could possibly explain this scenario was human psychology. Someone must be attached to this printer in some kind of unnatural way…or they just plain old refuse to change. Because they’re afraid.

Now, that is something I see all the time when it comes to technology—fear of change. It got me thinking. Is the person responsible for that dot matrix printer holding onto other old tech? Maybe you know someone like that?

Yeah, change can be difficult and scary, but when it comes to business, the alternative is worse. Eventually, if you neglect your business technology, how long before you’re actually neglecting your business? What could be more terrible than watching your business become irrelevant right before your eyes—especially when it was preventable? That’s a scenario worthy of some healthy fear!

Today’s modern business tech can create opportunities in ways that dot matrix printer-loving airline employee could probably never imagine. Combined with a little expert guidance and advice from a trusted partner, new tech doesn’t have to be scary. It can be revolutionary (in a good way)!

My company Imaging Office Systems has helped numerous companies update their business systems…some even had dot matrix printers! And not a single one has ever asked to go back to the old way. You won’t either. I promise!