America is a country of refined consumers. Our economy is consumer-driven, and the art of buying is a tradition handed down from fathers to sons, and from mothers to daughters. Whether it is a car, a refrigerator, an orthodontist, or a vacation—we learn to set our standards and to search for the product that satisfies our need for it. I read once that, back in the day, a good horse trade was when both buyer and seller walked away with a smug smile, thinking, “Well, that guy got screwed!” I believe that the successful buying of goods and services includes having a clear understanding of needs and the willingness to manage expectations. Basic to all purchase considerations is, I believe, knowing what you want to pay, what result you need after acquisition, and how the vendor will support you once you own. Price. Quality. Service. But what if you could only pick two: price ≥ quality ≥ service?
IT Is Still Working On That Trust Factor
We all learned in school about how Benjamin Franklin pulled lightning through a kite and stored an electrical charge in a Leyden jar. It was about this same time in June of 1752, but scientists had been studying electricity for hundreds of years before that. It was 130 years after Franklin that Edison brought electric lights to parts of Manhattan. Even in 1925, after World War I, only half of homes in the U.S. had electricity. As we approach a century after that, electricity is now essential to our everyday comfort. We don’t question how it gets to our homes and businesses, we learn the dangers of it (don’t stick your finger in a light socket) and we pay handsomely for a trained electrician to do any work required to fix anything electrically related. Some 270 years after Franklin’s experiment with lightning, Information Technology is now also essential to our daily comfort. Yet, many people still hesitate to call in professionals to set up, maintain, and monitor.
Pick Two: Price ≥ Quality ≥ Service
With electricity, you either have it or you don’t. No one wants to “sort of” have electricity—we all understand that’s a fire hazard. But I often have potential clients who ask if their IT must be done in the way that Aptica proposes. Can it be done cheaper? Can the company use less equipment? Must the company agree to all the services that the Managed Services Provider has outlined? All valid questions and certainly in line with the way we were trained to be duly diligent consumers. Just on a whim, I asked a general contractor at a home construction site if any of his clients (the new-home owners) ever suggested he haggle with his electrical sub-contractor about price, quality, or service. This guy’s eyes widened and then he laughed out loud. His short answer was a definitive NO. He followed by asserting that a) he wouldn’t allow it, and b) he would never condone it, and (c he didn’t know any electrical contractors who would compromise. As is often the case, the price just is what it is.
So My Point Is . . .
The use of computers started to become common in the workplace in the 1980s. That could not have happened without electricity. I’m pretty sure that IT cannot wait another 200 years for consumers to become comfortable with protocols and procedures that IT managers know must be in place. Our work facilitates company productivity in arenas from marketing to supply chain oversight to asset management. Competitive companies have redirected their budgets to anticipate having maximum-efficiency technology. You flip the switch and the lights come on. You boot up your network and your employees work all day. Same coin in today’s business.
Know this: your goals for your business determine what level of quality and service you need for IT. It is similar to knowing how to recruit the right people for your enterprise. You know what wages you have to pay to get the right people. Aptica offers a free assessment of what you have but we first have to understand what you want. We don’t automatically expect to start your IT systems from square one. We can augment what you have; it can be on the high end or the low end based on your criteria. Let’s exchange information to see if we are a fit.
Jason Newburg, 260.243.5100, ext 2101, is the founder and owner of Aptica LLC. This IT management and support company has been serving small to medium-sized businesses for 19 years in the region that includes Angola, South Bend, and Fort Wayne, IN, Battle Creek, MI, and Toledo OH.