Nimble and Quick

Being nimble and quick is more a matter of knowledge than pure speed. By assessing a new client’s comfort level with technology and knowing what computer to buy and where to get it, we worked together on a holiday miracle. It took a lot of cooperation among parties who’ve worked together to make it happen.

Naturally, as you might imagine, the story begins a few days before Christmas – Dec. 20, at 4 p.m. to be exact – and it involved a new client who had been referred by an existing client. The client’s laptop computer had died, and they needed a new one. But the timing complicated matters. In addition to the holidays, we had a vacation planned during the week between Christmas and New Years Day.

From talking to the client, we learned their comfort level with technology, and we knew what type of laptop they needed, including all the performance specs. We basically had two days to get the computer to the client and have it up and running.

We have a trusted distributor who can get us the equipment we need fast, and they had what our client needed. They said they couldn’t have it ready – configured to the client’s specs – until the next day.

I didn’t have time for me to drive to their warehouse, pick up the computer and a printer, too, but the client was willing to get it late Thursday. They brought the computer to our office first thing Friday morning, and by noon, everything was set up, including the printer, and they were on their way. They still can’t believe they had new equipment purchased, configured, and ready for use in less than 48 hours.

A month later, we got an email from a client at 8:15 a.m., and we saw it 15 minutes later. The client had spilled tea on their laptop’s keyboard, and it didn’t work. We figured the tea probably shorted the electronics in the keyboard. Regardless, the client was leaving town later that day and needed something that worked.

We knew that the damaged computer was put in service in 2018 and determined that we could get a new one for the same price. But by that time, the client was in the air. We sent an email asking them to call us when they landed so we could explain the available options.

We recommended that we have the computer shipped directly to them. They called us when it was delivered the next day, and we walked them through the set-up process. By 5 p.m., it was completely set up, and the client was ready to do business.

The secret to pulling off both successes was knowing what resources were available, knowing the clients’ technical capabilities and being able to make decisions right away. Had they been working with a larger IT service company, their requests would have had to go through a chain of command to authorize the arrangements and go through a purchasing process. With our personal service, we dealt directly with the clients and the equipment suppliers.

If you or someone you know needs equipment immediately, if not sooner, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us, and we’ll mobilize our resources.

Why Ford’s Manufacturing Problem is Yours, Too

Ford Motor Company has made a big fuss about the semiconductor shortage. They simply can’t get enough semiconductors to make enough vehicles to meet the demand. Well, they’re not the only ones who can’t meet demand. Here’s how you’re being toppled as the dominoes fall.

This is related to the chip shortages we’ve been experiencing for the better part of the last two years. That caused a scarcity of computers at a time when companies were upgrading hardware to run Windows 10 and then when families scrambled to get computers for online schooling.

Now we have a shortage of semiconductors, which are used in all motor vehicles of all sizes as well as home appliances ranging from microwave ovens to refrigerators to washing machines. We’re also facing shortages of building materials because of all the remodeling and home renovations we’re doing during the pandemic. What that means for anyone doing a major project and upgrading technology is that you’re going to wait a long time to complete your projects, and they’re going to cost a lot more.

What’s happening is that we’re being caught by the law of supply and demand – the first rules you learned about in economics and probably haven’t given much thought to in a long time. Just like with Ford Motor Company, you’re now having to wait a longer time for things you need, and you’re paying more money for them. If you need technology for work or business, your productivity is suffering. If you felt like you were caught between a rock and a hard place before, they’ve tightened their grip

A client who relies on laptop computers for field service techs is caught in one of those untenable situations. The software that makes it all work is tied to Windows 7 – which is still usable but far from ideal. We can’t backload the software onto newer computers because we can’t backload Windows 7 onto them. They really need older, rugged Windows 10-compatible computers, but they’re not readily available – and there’s one more law: the law of diminishing returns.

At some point, it costs more to run old equipment than it does to buy new stuff. The biggest factors are that it becomes harder if not impossible to find parts or tweak the operating system or application software. At the same time, the units’ performance decreases to the point that it affects a company’s bottom line. Supply chain and manufacturing issues have turned these problems into much larger ones.

Another client, who has a Mac, got a PC back from an employee who left the company. The PC is newer, but because everything was stored just on the Mac, we needed to load everything into the cloud and then bring it back to the PC.

That incident reminded me of how our systems have evolved in my time as an IT professional. I used to carry big notebooks and CDs to install drivers and other types of system software as needed by clients. Then, we didn’t need the cases of CDs because we had thumb drives that plugged into a USB port. Today, it’s hard to find a computer that has a CD drive. The cloud is making them extinct.

The cloud is also more efficient. By being able to upload all manner of data and application software to a server, where it can be stored until it’s needed and then downloaded, we’ve dramatically cut the time it takes to do our work. No matter how much somebody might have saved by keeping old equipment and workflows in place, the time has come where the lack of productivity is costlier than the equipment. Shortages of equipment or higher prices make the problems costlier.

Everyone needs to take stock of their technology now, no matter how old or new it is. If you haven’t reached the point of diminishing returns, it may be closer than you think. Even if your technology is fairly new, you need to have a plan to phase in replacements in the most cost-effective manner. That means you need to shop continuously to budget for the most advantageous time to make your moves.

We can help. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up a technology assessment and replacement program. You’ll maximize your cost-efficiency and avoid the catastrophic effects of the law of supply and demand.