Last year, out of my geek curiosity I purchased a vintage radio. This model being a very rare 1934 McMichael Superhet Transportable. This single speaker early valve radio, the size and near weight of two piled car batteries was in its day a state of the art British Radio, able to receive early BBC broadcasts and undoubtedly used during the war years to listen to the iconic Churchill broadcasts and war reports. Dusting off the decades of crud and memories, I commenced in restoring it. The oak and mahogany veneered was stripped back freeing it from many years of paint drips and varnish and then was refinished period correct. Then I turned my attention to the internals.
It’s at this point things ground to a halt. Capacitors, power invertors, valves on top of 1930s soldering plus a lack of any decent circuit diagrams had me questioning the worth of my efforts. I kind of wished I wish I’d left it in the elderly gentleman’s front room, from where it had sat for many years under his stack of wartime 78s and cigar boxes.
Although a technical marvel in its day, today it’s simply no longer relevant. If I were to get it working the valves will take 10 minutes to warm-up, it would consumes more power than the average SAN array and unless I want to listen to long wave broadcasts from Europe or Radio 5 live, it’s pretty damn useless as a functional device. Additionally, given it’s lack of integration with all my modern tech, I’m almost sure my various Windows, Android and Apple devices would laugh at it, like my children do at their grandparents when my back is turned!
This serves as a very real metaphor for today’s technology, particularly in our fast paced contemporary world. I’m approached frequently with new technological and/or conceptual ideas via platforms such as Linkedin. Many of the concepts I’ve never heard of. This constant bombardment makes me feel like I am missing out on the next big thing, but my inability and reluctance to engage is perhaps vindicated by the fact I often never hear of these technologies again. But then again, on the other side of this coin, of the ones I do hear of again it’s by now almost too late as the early adopters have evaluated the benefit and have adapted their business delivery models to embrace the change.
In reviewing new and disrupted technology, we first have to ask ourselves the one simple question, “is it relevant?” Then we have to ask the question “can we do it?” And in working for a large service provider like CDW we also have to ask “Do our Customers want it?” Of course with my day-job hat on in project management and cloud computing we then have a whole host of evaluations we need to conduct as to the development, integration and deployment of the technology. Sounds easy doesn’t it, but how many companies again using vintage metaphors such as Matchless motorcycles, Zenith, HMV, Sega, Marconi, Kodak, and of course McMichael have simply fallen by the wayside by not evaluating technology and trends, and sifting the disruptive from the beneficial?
Therefore the answer to my own Radio restoration might have been to risk the wrath of the vintage radio purists (such people do exist) and to steal a hod-rodding term by performing a resto-mod? Perhaps scrapping the internals in favour of a modern Bluetooth amplifier combined with a lightening dock for my apple devices, whilst Integrating these components in an aesthetically pleasing way so not to compromise the integrity of the platform, yet handling the changes sufficiently well that all traditionalist can see the benefits of the end result despite the changes required to the existing device? After all, isn’t this what we try and achieve with all new technology no matter on what scale?
Author: Kevin Wright
Kevin Wright is the ServiceWorks Program Manager at CDW. His responsibility is managing the on boarding of customers into our cloud, as well as managing internal ServiceWorks projects and enhancements. He's been with CDW since 2010, having working in the IT Service Delivery industry since graduating from the University of Central England in 1997 and delivering projects into customers since 2005. Married with three young kids, and living in rural North Warwickshire, he is a self-confessed geek, petrol head and Aston Villa fan.