Most of my friends  and work acquaintances consider me to be a “jock”. I however prefer to think of myself more as a “sportsman”, “outdoorsman”, or “endurance athlete”. Sure, it is true that I can hop out of bed (even with a hangover) and run 100 miles through the mountains without breaking a sweat. But I didn’t always have these abs of steel and bulging muscles. In fact, in school I was the quintessential geek. Back in high school, while the cool kids are drove to the mall for our hour-long lunch break, I skipped lunch and wrote computer programs in Basic on the school’s computer (I think it was from Radio Shack). A few years later, in college, those same popular kids spent their evenings doing vodka shots and passing in the front lawn at frat parties at 2:00 am, while I was holed up in the University computer lab typing commands in VAX/VMS.

TechLove.pngThis was pre-Windows, pre-Internet (at least as we know it now) and pre-Facebook. Yet, I uncovered something that would forever change my life and introduce me to the strange and exciting new world of online dating. Somehow during my late-night sessions of computer geeking, I stumbled upon the fact that it was possible to ping the server for a list of other logged on users and to communicate with these other users via a rudimentary and cryptic messaging protocol.  That’s how I met my first girlfriend. Let’s call her Missy – well because that was her name actually.

We hit it off online, eventually met and then dated for a while IRL (in real-life). It was a victory for geeks everywhere. Or at least a victory for geeks named John who lived on the University of Michigan’s North Campus – a  secluded “special campus” — for engineers, math students, computer scientists, classical musicians and other assorted nerds — located deep within a forest on the outskirts of town and only accessible via a lengthy bus ride from main campus, as if to quarantine and protect the rest of the campus from kids with overly high IQs and underdeveloped social skills.

That was 1995, and online dating (like the Internet itself) was still in its infancy, if it even existed at all. Today, over twenty-some years later, there’s no shortage of online dating Web sites and mobile applications. Anyone who has watched any late-night television has probably seen ads for sites like Match.com, eHarmony, or OKCupid that promise to help you find your soul mate based on your answers to a survey or personality test. And then there’s a whole slew of more specialized sites such as DatingforParents (for single parents) , BeautifulPeople (for people who are attractive and know it), Adam4Adam (for gay singles), OurTime (for singles over 50), JDate or Christian Mingle (for Christian singles) or even Farmers Only (for “good ol’ country folk”). And surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly) there are even sites like AshleyMadison and NoStringsAttached for married people looking to do a little dating on the side. Oh my!

Many parallels can be drawn between the rapid advancement of online dating and the software industry itself, as well as the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) space specifically. Both began with humble beginnings and clunky interfaces that only a computer programmer (or other sufficiently tech-savvy Geek) could understand. And both slowly evolved, adding more features and functionality. Both eventually recognized the need for personalization as well as user-friend user interfaces. And, not surprisingly, in today’s era of smart phones and tablets, both now offer mobile apps that incorporate location-based services!

The device-security firm Lovation says 39% of online dating now happens through mobile apps. And, as with CRM scenarios, it’s all about location, location, location! Just as location-based CRM apps can be used, for example, to optimize the routes of service technicians based on their current location, so can online dating apps be used to help a hapless love-seeker to find a near-by soulmate just looking for love in the bar or coffee shop across the street! Location-based dating apps like Tinder and Grinder are all the rage. Tinder was recently in the news when several winter Olympic athletes confessed that they had to uninstall the app because it was interfering with their Olympic preparation and training. And at last year’s summer Olympics, so many athletes logged on at once that the Grinder server crashed, disappointing a lot of lonely would-be medalists (I bet their coaches were happy though).

I guess the moral of the story here is that, whether you are looking for love, looking for archived purchase orders, or looking for the nearest HVAC unit in need of repair… it’s going to be a lot easier and lot more efficient if you are leveraging the latest software applications and location-based services than if you are sitting in the back of a dark computer lab in the middle of the night randomly pinging the server hoping for an answer. Click here to learn more about SAP’s new powerful suite of mobile CRM apps called Fiori that can make your life easier… and leave you with more time to look for love. ♥ ♥ ♥

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