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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the future.  Not because I am going anywhere, but because technology is changing everything around us.

It’s changed the way we shop (I am an online shopping addict), the way we consume information (e-books, blogs, podcasts, etc.) and the way that we make decisions (social media, online reviews) or find information (thanks, Google).

My children may never know what it’s like to drive a car.

And they will wonder why we would ever carry around a giant laptop.

And pretty soon, they will be reminiscing about the days they used to carrry a bookbag to school.

Technology hasn’t just changed our daily life, it’s also drastically changed the investigative business.

While I would argue, that it has changed our business for the better, other investigators don’t seem to think that way.

I published an article in Pursuit Magazine which discusses how some investigators like to hang onto the past. Doing things the way they have “always been done.”

I am a sucker for nostalgia. But being successful as an investigator (or anything else for that matter) means is about getting ahead and staying ahead – and hanging on to the past doesn’t fit into that equation very well.

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10 replies
  1. Ruben Roel
    Ruben Roel says:

    It’s hard for a lot of “old school” investigators to accept changes, not because they don’t like them, but because they simply don’t understand them. Most of them see the change as a threat to their business.

    Investigators who never needed a website are now realizing that “word of mouth” can only get them so far.

    Background researchers who charge by the hour to run physical checks are now getting “under cut” by new age investigators who have direct access to court house records.

    Process Servers are starting to lose business to “e-servers” that can serve people via digital mediums.

    I think that in order for a private investigator (anyone, really) to be successful, they have to be an early adopter of new technologies. Regardless of the industry. They need to try it out, and if they can’t understand it, hire someone who does.

    When people don’t stay ahead of the game, they’re left behind – if they’re in their 50’s or 60’s, that means retirement is coming early.

    “Why did you retire? – The iPhone 6 came out” <- that's not what I want to tell my children.

  2. Scott Ross
    Scott Ross says:

    I think there is room for both and each serves a specific purpose. When I run a computer report to locate an address, I have always been uncomfortable giving that information to a client without confirming the address. In Los Angeles County, where most of my work is done, we have the Southern California Gas Company. They regularly put the names of the account holder on the gas meter in yellow marker, crossing off the name of the previous account holder. Old school. Then, there’s the “Columbo” approach… I intentionally go to the next door neighbor and ask for the person I am trying to locate. Typically I get a look like “you’re an idiot” and then told, “they live there (pointing.)” It’s a healthy marriage of new and old.

  3. charley Kestenbaum
    charley Kestenbaum says:

    Advantages of digital access to the vast amounts of information via technology is no longer debated. It is fact. Still, the element of interpreting what the data means for a desired successful outcome remains a human ability even the best artificial intelligence today is far from replicating. In some cases such as identifying bank accounts and tracking fund transfers, the data is sufficient. There is much less leeway in any decision process. But in most of the less definitive situations, human intelligence remains vital.

  4. Charles Patterson
    Charles Patterson says:

    It is absolutely true, that we must “evolve” with technology. At the same time, though, older tech does not become completely obsolete. I see it rather falling into place where it’s purpose (or preference) becomes a bit more defined or specialized.

    Books have not disappeared from my shelves, although there are fewer. Old black and white tv shows are viewed for either their content or nostalgia. Vinyl records are collectors items, yet also imitated with electronic filters.

    In investigations, and especially in my field which is TSCM, eavesdropping detection, we have to recognize that older technology may still pose a threat and must be considered and not forgotten. An air duct still carries the sounds to an adjoining room very well. A clean desk policy is extra important if an employee is taking a selfie and putting it on Facebook, or if a micro covert camera was installed overhead. We find offices where their main phones have moved to voip or other digital means, but one or two analog lines still exist for odd purposes. On one job we found an old basic 2500 phone set in a ceo’s cabinet passing room audio down the wire – it was there as an emergency backup line in case the new digital stuff failed but became a threat on its own.

    Keeps us on our toes, never stop learning.

  5. Detective agency Stretford manchester
    Detective agency Stretford manchester says:

    I always think it’s strange when investigators don’t move with the times. When you calculate the man hours that can be saved with technology it really is a disservice to a client not to embrace new ways.
    Even the courts are catching up with more and more allowing process service via email and social media.

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