Letters from the Executive Director

Why We Embrace New Technology

By June 18, 2018 No Comments

Recently on Nightly Business Report, they talked about two industry giants: Starbucks and MacDonald’s. While many of us are still getting our daily dose of caffeine and junk food from these chains, they have both been struggling in various ways recently.

People are not showing up at Starbucks like they once were. Investors and the company’s new CEO aren’t concerned though. They feel pretty comfortable because they have a plan. One analyst on the show said they do need to do something different, and they are making some changes, including putting forth more effort in the area of the mobile and customer experience. They are also trying to make the credit card experience a little more pleasant for buyers, embracing some of the newest technology options out there.

MacDonald’s is facing similar challenges and responding as well. They need to do something to increase profits. They are going to upgrade 1,000 stores with kiosk and mobile order technology every quarter for the next eight to nine quarters. They hope this will not only increase their bottom line, but also make customers happier and more likely to eat a meal at MacDonald’s, whether in the restaurant or to go.

It may not seem related initially, but in the corrections industry, we also have a similar situation, particularly when it comes to helping our residents go through the reentry process. Facilities like ours have not always embraced technology, but we are realizing that we need to in order to increase our bottom line, which is to successfully get our people back to their lives and back into society.

For example, we now use electronic monitoring, but it was not something we used in the past. It took some time for us to get where we are with it, but it’s been very beneficial.

We also now allow the use of cell phones. It took us 10 to 15 years to be able to have cell phones at our facility, and we can understand why some may have resisted that. But we have seen tremendous benefits of these cell phones. Most noteworthy is that we see less hostility among our residents. In the old days, we had to have a phone for every six people. It was not uncommon to have 15 to 20 pay phones all lined up in one area. Inevitably, somebody would always get on a pay phone and talk forever causing the people in the line behind them to get mad. You’ve probably seen scenarios like this on TV or in the movies.

But by embracing technology and letting them have those cell phones, we have lowered the stress on not only the residents, but also on the administrators. They may be running their loved ones crazy calling at all hours of the day and night, but the fact that they are able to do so makes them feel like much more of a normal person. And they are normal people. Giving them a cell phone adds to their responsibility as well. It’s something else for them to manage and have some control over.

When our residents get back out in the real world, they also need to know how to use and operate cell phones, since they are such a huge part of daily living in this day and age.

Just as Starbuck’s and MacDonald’s are doing what they can to embrace new technology and improve the experience of their customers, so too do we try to be open to new options to better the lives and experiences of those who live with us at Riverside House.

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