2014
01.29

I’m just tired of hearing how busy everyone is these days. I get it we are all very busy. We are all so busy we feel almost too anxious to admit just how busy we are. But busy doesn’t mean hiding behind a veil of BS that justifies bad behavior. Thus, the busier we get, the tougher the economy, the thicker the intimidation veil gets. And that’s why today I feel like the anchor in the movie, “Network” and I want to shout, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it.”

I suppose I should be more specific at who I am directing my frustration. I am gearing this missive to all the vendors that have ever communicated to me or my editorial staff that they are committed to educating buyers of connected technology, but really never meant it. We are talking about buyers that can be consumers or businesses alike. Perhaps we should start keeping a list of all these companies and their headhonchos who endorse this behavior. These executives sit in their ivory towers and have no remorse about their intention to manipulate and deceive. At each step of the way, these propagandists preach an appealing message of how great all their technology. We all get sucked into this utopian future that resonates with every article we write. But upon further examination is it really all smoke and mirrors?

The reality here is that many tech vendors should really be confessing that they do not have confidence in their own technology. I recognize stating my opinion publicly is extraordinarily bold—and possibly problematic for some, but they are based on the foundation of true journalism and ethics.  Unfortunately, in today’s world where anyone can post to the Web, sound journalistic practices are quickly falling by the wayside. What’s more, perhaps it’s time to really open our eyes to today’s corporate America.

For starters, it’s hard to say anything about technology without immersing myself in the tech world so that is why I have tried to do exactly what readers have asked me and that was to be their eyes and ears. So what has happened that provoked me to write this blog today? It’s pretty straight forward. I received a call from an OEM (original-equipment manufacturer) who declared his commitment to educating consumers about in-vehicle connectivity. And even though the U.S. auto industry saw sales rise more than 7.6% year over year in 2013, his company just can’t spare the staff to put a car on display at Connected World Conference being held with the Chicago Auto Show. However, they would be able to spare an executive to be a guest on my radio show, http://www.peggysmedleyshow.com/, for a couple of segments during Chicago Auto Show Media Days and they would have time to do an interview in the magazine. You’ve got to be kidding.

As long as I air what this automaker had to say and print its public-relations spin, he would spare all the time in the world. But the auto industry doesn’t have time to show consumers how to actually use these new apps it has been asking us to write so much about. It’s okay if we brag about the in-vehicle connectivity as long as it’s on their terms. This now convinces me that several car companies truly do not care about factually educating consumers, it’s just marketing spin, whatever it is, i.e., 4G, you name it. Too bad that consumers are still confused, resulting in less than 10% of them taking advantage of the services offered in their new vehicles. And if they are tech-savvy enough to get it all figured out too bad that 4G connectivity their pitching in rural America is just as questionable. They are the same companies that portray what they do as morally defensible and necessary. To do otherwise would jeopardize public morale and faith in the future of connected technology and so much more.

But let’s not pick on the OEMs alone. Why aren’t the GPS, LBS, fitness, healthcare, tracking, wearables, and distracted-driving app companies participating in the expo that is reaching hundreds of thousands of influencers? After the call today, I couldn’t help myself. I compiled all the excuses we have been given: I don’t want to spend 11 days in Chicago in February; I can’t afford 11 days away from the office; we don’t have the funds; I don’t have the manpower; it’s not the right audience; we are too busy; we have another other show; we have too many shows; and we don’t need to do this show.

One might excuse the vendors if they were making an aspirational pledge as the connected-car technology was first being introduced. Or if some of this connected tech was still on the drawing board, but as it turns out these companies have the products and they still just want to pitch the media and not the public directly. This then begs the question of whether we are all being duped about the solutions that just really aren’t ready for prime time and all these vendors know it, and they are making us culprits in their attempt to bamboozle all of you. And that just makes me very angry. Now here’s my point. All these companies still have a chance to redeem themselves. Show me that I am wrong. Stand up and do these demos, show off your products, do what’s right, and stop focusing on just pitching the media. Let’s see what you are really made of. To be fair, there are a few companies that are committed to the realtime data world and Internet of Things. And these are the same companies that have shown they are devoted to the space, its customers, and growing the marketplace. I truly admire those companies for they are the leaders and educators in this connected technology space.

For those that don’t change their position, it won’t actually surprise me. Remember these are the same companies that outlined a long list of excuses. And yes, every one of these companies, even to this day (well maybe not after this blog), said they could spare someone to speak on my radio show at the conference, and give an interview for the magazine, but they just didn’t have the funds to educate consumers at the Chicago Auto Show with Connected World Conference. So maybe they don’t care what I have to say, but they will care when you speak with your pocketbooks. And only then will those vendors learn from Sir Walter Scott, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”  

Want to tweet about this article? Use hashtags #OEMs #automakers #wearables #GPS #LBS #cars

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