Talk About Tech

Tom Kaiser, Senior Editor

By Tom Kaiser
April 29, 2014
Filed under Tom Kaiser

With products like Volvo Penta’s Glass Cockpit, Simrad’s Chartplotter and B&G’s H5000 multifunction displays, and the still-amazing joystick controls, the marine industry has finally caught up with the technology available in the rest of modern living.

It’s stunning what these multifunction systems can do, and how good they look while doing it. With smartphones, intelligent homes, autonomous cars, location-aware watches and everything else, we are becoming dulled to the incredible technology that’s changing our lives. These technologies have transformed human life, and boats are next on the list.

Volvo's award-winning Glass Cockpit technology.

Volvo’s award-winning Glass Cockpit technology.

Average, non-boating folks don’t see a large boat and immediately think they have the skills to handle such a vessel. They still need some quality training from dealers to be safe and confident on the water, but multifunction displays, autopilot systems and joystick controls have made the once-impossible possible, and people have a blast interacting with these new technologies.

Absent a nationwide ad campaign by one of these technology providers, it’s the job of dealers and salespeople to communicate the amazing capabilities of the latest technology. Are you up to the task?

Don’t tell him I’m writing about this, but my dad just retired from his job as a salesman at a GM dealership. One of the first things he said on the way to a restaurant to celebrate was how excited he was not to have to explain the next generation of GM’s MyLink touchscreen software.

My dad is no Bill Gates, but he’s also no stranger to technology. When I asked why he was relieved, his answer suggested that his training came more from OEM brochures than actual hands-on training that would have likely lowered the barrier to learning the ins and outs of the latest system.

Back to the marine world, it is crucially important to seize the opportunities that are happening right now thanks to technology. Whether you’re doing the selling or the managing, all marine salespeople need quality training to understand how this technology works, what features get customers excited and how to convey this information to the general public in a fun, nonthreatening way.

Boats are changing right before our eyes. This is a golden opportunity for our industry, so read those manuals, get some hands-on training and don’t let the opportunity float by your store. There’s no room for technophobes in today’s boating industry.

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