Posts Tagged 'computers'

Another Hidden Cost of Technology

Here is what we are seeing over and over again.  We have clients that will purchase new PC’s when they’re on sale at Best Buy, or on the Dell website.  Most clients of ours run some sort of industry specific management application.  Examples might be practice management software for doctors and dentists, timekeeping software for lawyers, dealer management systems for auto dealers.  These applications come with their own requirements for operating systems, RAM, processor, video card, etc.  This does not mean that their software will absolutely not work with specs other these.  It simply means that the applications have been tested with these specs, and the software company will offer support for their software ONLY if these specs are used. 

At some point something will go wrong with the management application, or the network it is running on.  We will be called to provide support.  We make sure the network, server, and PC’s are running fine, then we call the software company for help with their software.  If the specs of the PC or the server do not match the requirements set forth by the software manufacturer, they are under no obligation to offer support.  Sometimes they will help out of courtesy, but since their software hasn’t been tested with the Best Buy sale computer, support might not be as swift as we would like.

In the meantime, our client is not able to perform all of their job at the very least.  At worst, the entire office is down because the management application is so vital.  How much money are they losing in the process?  If it is a doctor and the Electronic Medical records system is down, he isn’t seeing patients.  If it is a car dealer, they aren’t selling cars.  4-5 hours can mean thousands of dollars, in addition to mounting frustration. 

I am not berating those who are trying to save a few dollars.  I know as well as anyone that is key to running a successful business.  However, there are good places and bad places to save.  The technology requirements for vital management applications are there for a reason.  If you aren’t sure if the PC’s you are looking to buy meet the required specs, call an IT service firm.  We will always be happy to help.

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Drawing the line

Here’s where we are both struggling and getting hurt in providing our IT support to clients.  It is really hard to draw the line between real IT support, and IT training.

When someone asks us how to attach a document to an email, that is really a training issue.  However, when we sell our service, we tell our clients, we are their IT deparment.  If we were really an employee of our client, we would probably answer those training issue with no problem. 

It’s difficult to be an efficient company in our real mission of providing unmatched IT guidance and support when we are also having to train.  If we don’t answer those questions, however, the users tell the boss we’re not being responsive. 

More often than not, when we get an email from the upset president of a client company, it turns out to be either repetitive user error, or repititive training that is the issue.  Of course, this is not to say we are perfect.  We occasionally let things fall through the cracks. 

Any ideas?

Internet – the Biggest Hack Ever

I was talking with someone yesterday about computers, networks, and the Internet.  When you think about it statistically, with all the tiny parts of a computer that must work together to send information at light speed, and all the computers, routers, hubs, etc. that are on a network – it is a miracle that you are ever able to compose and send an email, and someone else is able to receive it.  Say every part works 99.99999% of the time.  There are hundreds of thousands of processes, parts, lines of code, etc. that must all work at the same time for the email to be sent. 

That brought me to the idea of the Internet.  It is actually a huge hack job.  There are hundreds of billions of pieces to the Internet.  Most were built by different people, using different languages (both ethnic languages and programming languages), on different platforms, etc.  It looks pretty on the outside, but is a mess inside.  It is the equivalent of a building.  Every room of every floor is built using a different style, material, and with different specs.  You have some rooms made of brick with 8 foot doors, some with wood and 10 foot doors, still others with concrete and no doors.  You get in the elevator, and it works fine.  What you don’t see are the people who are physically pulling the elevator from floor to floor.  The lights work, but you don’t see the rats running in wheels to power the building. 

Obviously there is no way to tear down this Internet and start over.  It shows that the collaboration involved in the massive use of the Internet is a spectacular feat.

Importance of technology

It seems the importance someone places on their business’s technology is directly to related to the degree to which it is working.  When we are trying to place a value on our IT services, the prospect will inevitably tell us they shouldn’t have to pay monthly for us to monitor, manage and maintain their IT infrastructure.  “It works fine,” they’ll say, “we can handle waiting a couple hours, or even a day for someone to come fix it.” 

When something isn’t working and they can’t get email, then, “you better be here right now.  Every minute this is down is costing me money.”

Your technology infrastructure is important.  Email, computers, servers – it’s how we do business now.  The days of buying a few computers as needed, then waiting until they break to fix them, are over.  Too much business and goodwill is lost due to down networks, lost files, and misplaced email. 

Think about buying, or leasing, a car.  Everyone gets a warranty now to cover the costs of repairs.  The warranty, however, doesn’t cover the frustration of having to take the car in to the service shop…or worse, having to get a tow.  Luxury car companies now offer free tows, free loaners, free tune-ups, for the life of the extended warranty.  They even have a system in the car that alerts the dealership if there is a problem.  If they could find a way to service your car as you drive it, they would bundle that into the warranty also.  Luxury car buyers would buy that warranty, as they know their time is valuable. 

Why then wouldn’t you want that kind of service for your business?  Successful business owners know to protect their IT investment by routinely taking care of it, not waiting until it breaks down.  They are also protecting their business by ensuring the security and business continuity.