It's unfortunate, but there are a large number of antiquated industries struggling to stay afloat in this day and age. They're important fields, which might explain why they have lagged when it comes to innovation. That if it ain't broke don't fix it mentality is ending for some of these industries and they are finally seeing disruption in the best way possible, and it's all happening in Chicago. Here are five antiquated industries currently being turned around by Chicago tech.
For being such a massive industry, there are a lot of issues that continue to plague the world of travel. People see the entire process as a sinkhole for time and money, which is ultimately unfair to customers. The stats don't lie - polls have shown that consumers care more about flexibility in traveling than anything else, even more so than transparency, baggage fees, and the like. "Unlike hotels that typically allow consumers to cancel up to 24 hours before or rental cars agencies that rarely even ask you to put down a credit card anymore, airfare remains the one truly inflexible travel purchase," says Heidi Brown of Options Away. "Research has shown us that pulling the trigger is by far the most stressful part of planning a trip."
2. Machinery Sales
The sheer thought of what it takes to buy and sell industrial equipment is staggering. It's a monstrous industry, but it's one that hasn't seen modern success quite like other digital industries. Buyers typically have to visit a multitude of sites to find proper equipment, but having everything in one location is having a tangible impact on the market. "People all over the world need equipment, but buying it - and selling it, for that matter - is a total headache," says Steve Glod from Machinio. "Facilitating trades between people is the future of this industry, and the numbers aren't lying - it's helping a lot of people."
3. Textbook Sales
There has been a great deal of controversy brewing around the textbook industry surrounding price gouging, and it's having a noticeable impact on students across the country. There are a number of options available to students today who are looking to buy more affordable textbooks such as used books, rental books, and digital textbooks. With their ease of access and cost-effectiveness, digital rentals are an ideal solution to the growing expense of textbooks. "An alarming number of students struggle to afford textbooks, and with the shift in student behavior with technology for their everyday lives, digital textbooks gives students a more convenient and affordable option, says Greg Fenton at RedShelf. "Our academic-focused eReading software houses over 200,000 eTextbook titles that are retailed, in partnership, with over 360 college bookstores."
The world of healthcare is too big to effectively summarize quickly, but needless to say, there are a long of moving parts that take effort to keep afloat. A common issue amongst healthcare providers lies in the current referral system, which many argue is outdated and too difficult. Scott Vold at Fibroblast explains it nicely. "The numbers say it all - the average large healthcare provider has an out-of-network patient leakage rate of 45%. This means a loss of approximately $100 million per health system. Out of network patient leakage is costing healthcare providers about $117 billion in the aggregate." Building stronger bridges amongst these various cogs in the healthcare machine is having a powerful impact on providers and patients alike.
5. Public Service
Public aid is undoubtedly a positive aspect of modern life, but discovering whether or not you qualify can be a chore in and of itself. With the sheer amount of red tape surrounding even just the simplest of inquiries, too many barriers are created for people who genuinely need assistance. "Allowing users to find out if they qualify by texting a program is helping more people than ever expected," says Rose Afriyie, Co-Founder of mRelief. "In Chicago alone, through our partnership with Purple Binder and support from The Knight Foundation we have empowered an estimated 6,000 people with public assistance information or local community resources, and quickly, too. Taking away barriers is legitimately changing lives for the better."
To put it simply, Chicago tech is making progress possible in places otherwise thought hopeless. Just like these industries were once antiquated, so is the mindset that Chicago is a tech desert. We may think of Silicon Valley as the tech center of the world (and rightfully so), but don't ignore the promising technologies coming from the Windy City. They just might change your life soon.