Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

A COUPLE OF years ago, I reluctantly changed my cell-phone calling plan to allow for 100 text messages for a flat $5 per month. This new form of communicating was catching on, and this was cheaper than spending money for each message. Of course, you know why. Several people were finding text-messaging more convenient and probably just plain cooler than talking the old fashioned way.

Then, only about six months later, I was going over the limit of 100, so I increased my monthly allotment to 1000 text messages. This cost an additional $5 per month. The carrier refused my suggestion to lower my bill since my number of minutes of actual talking had plunged. No surprise there.

So I was shocked recently to read in The New York Times that text-messaging traffic has been shrinking. In the third quarter of this year, cellphone owners sent an average of 678 text messages a month, down from 696 the previous quarter. But not everything is as it appears. A mobile industry analyst speculates that Internet-based text-messaging services such as Facebook and Apple iMessage are taking away business from the cellphone market. Slightly more than one-half of U.S. cellphone owners now have smart phones.

When I read this, I thought of my conversation with Jim Wagner, one of our Industry Influencers you can read about starting on page 20. Wagner started in the dispatch office of a ready-mix producer almost a half century ago when the Internet, GPS, smart phones, and apps were still decades away. But Wagner changed with the times and now he can only dream about the tools dispatchers 10 or 20 years from now might have at their disposal.

Our other Influencers have this same quality. Major Ogilive realized the concrete block industry's efforts to promote, educate, and conduct research were insufficient. Today, he spearheads the industry's effort to establish a National Concrete Masonry Check-off program. Finally, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Concrete Sustainabilty Hub (CSH) is looking for new ways for the industry to modify present materials to achieve sustainable infrastructure. CSH Director Franz-Josef Ulm has spent most of his life in materials science, but the CSH's work the last three years has surprised him. “If you asked me 30 years ago if we would ever use atomic simulations to optimize concrete materials, I would say, ‘get real,'” he told me.

The industry should be thankful it has changed with the times, just like our Influencers.



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