We are immersed in technology. Thanks to the easy availability of devices ranging from PDAs and smartphones to tablets and personal computers, we are always plugged in and connected. For the most part, it's a good thing. Sometimes, though, we're reminded that connectivity doesn't always mean connecting.
That point was brought home to us during our latest rounds on the conference and trade show circuit. The season kicked off on Jan. 21 with the biennial ProMat show in Chicago. DC Velocity had a full complement of editors on hand to cover this important show from every angle, cranking out over 50 stories and three-dozen "Supply Chain Spotlight" video interviews during the first three days of the event.
From there, members our editorial team fanned out to cover seven other conferences and shows in a five-week period—events ranging from grocery and retail supply chain shows to manufacturing, transportation, and distribution conferences. The team has covered the map—as well as the industry—with stops in Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Washington, and even Mumbai, India.
Traveling to all these shows and conferences is exhausting, but it's also invaluable to our editors in developing the content you rely on to help you do your job better. We often note that you can't cover a market chained to a desk. You can't get a great story via e-mail and text messaging, or even over the phone.
No, to really get the great stories—and to be able to tell these stories properly—we need to go out into the market physically.
Take the ProMat show as an example. Sure, we could all have sat back in our respective editorial offices across the U.S. and waited for the exhibitors' press releases to flow in so we could post them to our website and then stream them out to you via our e-Show Daily. Others do it that way, so why not DC Velocity?
Because you can't ask questions of a press release. You can't see the "news in action" from a Facebook post. You can't gauge the passion and excitement surrounding a new product launch or a new service announcement by scanning Twitter feeds. No, to really, truly get the story, you need personal "connection," not impersonal, technology-based "connectivity." Simply put, you need the human touch.
By traveling the world, we get to meet and talk face to face with the movers and shakers, the innovators, the thought leaders, and the emerging subject-matter experts. We not only get to learn and report it back to you, but we get to develop relationships. We are not just "friends" on Facebook, or "followers" on Twitter. We are people meeting people. We are gathering the news and building relationships. Real relationships. It is these relationships that allow us to not only gather the deliver the news, but also provide analysis and texture. What does the news mean for the market? What does it mean for the future of the logistics profession? Will it allow our readers to do things better, faster, and more efficiently? To answer all those questions, and do so in a substantive, meaningful way, we need to meet the people, face to face.
Although this is not a revelation, it is a welcome reminder of a fundamental truth that's often forgotten in our digital age: While e-mail, text messaging, Tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn networking may be useful supplements to human interaction, they are by no means a replacement. To build relationships, establish trust, and avoid misunderstandings, people need to meet. People need to connect. People need to reach out, not hide behind technology-enabled "connectivity."
In an age when connectivity sometimes seems to have usurped connecting, a few weeks on the road— seeing, being, and networking with people—prove that face time still matters. It matters a lot.