Being an editor of a business publication has many rewards. I get to meet interesting and dynamic people. The job also has its challenges. It is aggravating to hear, as I occasionally do, that writing about an industry can’t possibly be as hard as having to work as an owner/operator in the business.
Every business writer hears this from time to time. I’ve been hearing it more often lately as the vending industry struggles to adapt to all the new technology. The fact of the matter is that as an industry becomes more challenging, so does addressing its communication needs.
Sure, it must be great to learn about cashless vending, remote machine monitoring, digital touchcreens, micro markets, etc., people sometimes say to me. “It must be easy to say how these innovations can make a vending operator’s job easier. A lot easier than trying to actually work with these tools.”
It’s high time I took the opportunity to respond to this charge. The reality is that technology is making the vending industry much less homogenous than it was when I began covering it. The information needs of operators are more diverse than ever. Some operators welcome the changes while many resist them.
The operators who are comfortable using new technology want to learn as much as they can about it. These operators want us to write more in-depth analyses of the new technologies.
At the other end of the spectrum are operators who refuse to believe their industry is changing. They want to see less coverage about technology. They think the new tools are years away from being “proven,” and they want to wait until the costs come down and the tools are both “proven” and user friendly.
Between these two extremes are operators who are open minded about technology but need to learn more about it before they invest.
As a trade publication, we want to address the needs of all of our readers. Editing a magazine and a Website for such a disparate audience has become a tough balancing act.
Yes, the job of “working in the industry” is harder than ever, due to technology and other factors. So is communicating about it.
Some operators want every conceivable “what if” addressed when reading about new technology. Some operators are suspicious of any information provided by a technology company.
Automatic Merchandiser tries to provide unbiased coverage of new technology. In order to do this, it is usually necessary to use information from the technology providers since in most cases they are the most knowledgeable. We also provide user input whenever possible.
We all need to be open minded about how to best meet the industry’s challenges going forward.