The Retail Florist Industry

The green industry business that remains most tied to its handcrafting roots is retail floristry. However, even it has become high-tech in com­parison to its recent past. While worldwide wire service is not new, the method and speed of transmission are as current as the latest telecom­munications technology can make them. Florists across the country and around the world are linked by means of numerous cooperative agree­ments that enable customers to make a call to their local flower shop and send flowers thousands of miles away for arrival that same day. While FTD, Teleflora, and other established wire services still dominate, other companies such as Sears Roebuck, 1-800 FLOWERS, and Hallmark stores are now successfully attracting wire orders and transmitting them through their own network of affiliated shops.

Even local business is often given a technical look as the florist, while designing an arrangement in the traditional way, answers the telephone and speaks with a customer using a headset rather than a hand-held receiver, so that work is not interrupted. The same flower shop may also elect to advertise its services on the Internet or link itself with other prod­ucts or companies that will bring its name before a much greater audi­ence than ever before possible.

The Landscape Industry

In addition to the uses of the computer as an aid to drawing, calculating, and preparing graphic presentations, the landscape industry has adapt­ed other forms and types of technology for its benefit. Multiple-use machinery is gradually replacing equipment that could only dig a hole, cut a trench, or perform other single functions. Wireless communication systems permit faster, easier, and more frequent communication between people in the field, in the office, and on the road somewhere in between. Customer concerns can receive quicker attention. Problems can be resolved sooner. Confusion and errors are reduced. Industry trade associations

are offering expanded services to their members using the interactive capabilities of the Internet and e-mail. Some companies are even able to let customers calculate their own maintenance estimates using interac­tive web sites whereby the customer enters specific measurements and other data about property from home that is paired with prices preset by the company. The result is a do-it-yourself estimate generated by cus­tomers that saves the company time, particularly the time lost doing estimates that are not accepted. While this is not yet widely practiced, the potential is there for other types of customer-company interaction. More common, and gaining in usage, are computer-generated estimates that can be done on-site by project directors and others, working with hand­held systems that can calculate and print out as the customer waits. By reducing the turnaround time between a customer’s query and the com­pany’s reply, additional business is generated.

Landscape architects are using the data provided by geographic information systems to ascertain the suitability of near and distant sites for varying types of development. They are also able to receive and transmit data electronically between their offices and that of associated professionals who are also involved in their projects. Computer systems can now convert flat plans on a monitor into video walk-throughs of the proposed design.

The Turf Industries

Advances in maintenance equipment efficiency and irrigation technol­ogy have made operations more cost-effective for lawn care services, golf course operators, and landscape contractors. With the development of a programmable unmanned mower now a reality, the potential uses of a machine that grazes like a cow are unclear but interesting to imag­ine.

The application of current and near future research has resulted in bioengineered grasses that are more resistant to environmental stress and/or require fewer mowings to maintain their desired appearance.