On My Mind: Technology Everywhere, Thank Goodness

Among many revelations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one that sticks out is just how much we rely on technology in our everyday lives in 2020. Just think how much more disconnected we would all feel if we didn’t at least have the “luxury” of Zoom meetings for business, Google Docs for teaching and business collaborations and Facetime or Google Duo (or a host of other programs) to keep in touch with friends, family and the rest of the world.

This reliance on the benefits of all things technical has been a lifesaver for the team business in the past few months, certainly, as team dealers struggled to keep in touch with their customers, as schools searched for a semblance of normalcy with their students and as vendors attempted to manage their frequently disrupted supply chains. Some have succeeded better than others, but at least technology gave us all a fighting chance in a rapidly changing world.

This all became crystal clear to me as we research our Tech and the Team Dealer Issue, planned for the September/October issue of Team Insight. In the past this issue has focused on the growing importance of technology in team stores, online uniform builders and the impact of direct-to-consumer selling by major brands. All of that seems a bit quaint now.

When we ask team dealers in the summer of 2020 how they are utilizing technology in the day-to-day operations and where they would be without all of the communication advances, the responses can be summed up by one dealer who tells us, ”Oh, we’d be dead in the water.” And we all know that once you are dead in the water, going under is next.

For us here at Team Insight, we have been getting the most out of technology for quite some time now. Our editorial and advertising staff is spread around the country, yet we manage – with the undeniable help of advances in technology – to keep in touch not only with ourselves, but with our readers and advertisers. That has been a greater challenge since March, as often we didn’t even know where those readers or advertisers were as offices closed, furloughs and layoffs took hold and work-from-home became the norm.

If it was difficult for us, imagine the challenges team dealers had in first finding, and then getting the attention of, their coaches, athletic directors and program operators who could no longer be found at their desks or on the fields. And roadmen were certainly not allowed anywhere near their customers, placing an even greater reliance on technology to reach out and figuratively) touch someone.

And one other word about technology: Kudos certainly go out to the dozens of suppliers to the team sports business who used their technology to pivot their research and manufacturing into designing and producing face masks and other PPE for frontline and healthcare workers. Now that technology is being utilized to produce the PPE for athletes and fans as schools attempt to reopen and play some semblance of a fall sports schedule.

So the next time anyone laments the intrusion of technology into their business or personal lives, imagine where the team business would be without it today as we wrap up the challenging Summer of 2020. The beauty of the team sports business is that we continue to combine the personal touch that grew this business with the technology that will allow it to survive.

Stay safe and, please, keep in touch … somehow.