Business Computer Systems Guide – Part 1

Introduction

9/6/2010 Update – Much of this guide was written in 2005 from material as old as 2000. Although we’ve come light years since 2005, this material still applies to current businesses and business systems.


Today’s sophisticated business computer systems are a complicated lot. Coupled with the plethora of consumer market oriented hardware that one finds in the Sunday paper’s Business Section, confusion appears to be the order of the day. My purpose in writing this guide focuses on sweeping aside most of the confusion. Most small business people remember assembling home stereo or home theatre equipment, as well as programming ones satellite to VCR-DVD to television set. The basics of office computing are not much more complicated that that. 

I believe that if a marginally technical business person understands a few ground rules, the opportunity exists to capitalize on business systems designed for Fortune 500 companies at a price point acceptable for small to medium sized businesses. The first place to start requires exploding the marketing myths used by computer service companies, so called “VARs” value added resellers. VARs partner with software and hardware companies to sell products, “solutions”, to you, the business customer. 

The two most profitable “solutions” to sell are the entire Microsoft paradigm and the Cisco communications product line. Both of these companies have excellent products and have amassed a fortune assisting VARs to sell solutions to business people. Virtually all of the computers in existence today run a Microsoft Windows operating system with Microsoft Office components installed. Those same computers talk to each other using Cisco hardware and software.

If you max out your investment in Microsoft and Cisco systems, two things are certain. Your VAR will have sold you the best and most expensive systems available and you will have very little money left over to productively take advantage of your systems, or much else for that matter. A business needs to achieve balance between costs and deployed systems functionality. Balance achievement is where my systems model and the ground rules associated with my model come into play. It is not in the best profit interest for a VAR to assist a business with achieving this balance.

VARs are an odd lot. Most are well established business people that have hooked their future on a specific software solution or systems solution in a vertical market. Others purchase the latest “how to be a computer business” course and enter the business with well honed marketing tools.

My two most favorite Information Technology Service Provider marketing ploys are the “have an IT person, you are wasting your money” claim and the “own more than 20 computers, save a small fortune” claim. They read like this:

If You Have 20-100 Computers And a Full Time IT Manager…You Are Wasting Your Money” “..any person who qualifies for this position does not really want this position.” “..Not to mention the time they spend on their Fantasy Sports teams, emailing friends, searching for a new job, and downloading PORN. I hate to say but we have caught too many of them doing it.”

Gee Mr. VAR, if you were any good at IT, you would not have let porn into the network to begin with. Scare tactics work on very few astute business people. If you have IT people, pat yourself on the back! 

You are not wasting your money on a “full time IT person”. As a matter of fact, your IT person is most likely on the front lines, helping your employees resolve day to day productivity problems; because, your IT person comes armed with business process knowledge, learned from job related experience he or she came into IT with. Or, your IT person might be passing application specific business knowledge to other employees that came from years in school or on the job training in house, from a competitor or from another unrelated company.

Your IT worker is not a porn surfing waste of time. You hired her or him, just like you hired all of your other great employees. Managed into the right role, they become a valuable intellectual property asset and very able to manage your computing assets. 

If you own more than 20 XP computers in your business, you are in an excellent position to save a great deal of money,” and you can really save a fortune! What you are about to read is all over the Internet and responsible for substantial growth in IT and extreme profit for VARs. 

Check out this information from the Gartner Group* reported in CMP’s Network Computing magazine Page 34, 9/2/2004 issue.

“The cost of an unmanaged Windows XP desktop is $5,309 over three years, whereas a managed XP desktop runs only $3,335, according to Gartner.” A MANAGED XP computer results in a savings of $1974 per computer over three years. If you have 20 XP computers in your business, you can recover $39,480 over three years in expense savings! That amounts to $1096 PER MONTH in expense savings! 

A proactive approach to systems can mitigate and control the cost of your XP computers as well as your entire IT investment. If you have searched the Internet for “Managed Services”, “IT Services”, “help for my network” of “repair my computer” for any length of time, you have no doubt come across similar claims. 

Saving $1096 per month in reoccurring expense for a typical small business is a very realistic goal. But, one must understand that reaching the goal requires a comprehensive approach to business systems, an approach I hope you clearly understand after you learn from my “Business Computer Systems Guide”.

The comprehensive approach is the tool that makes VARs wealthy. A savvy business person might decide to give the $1096 per month and more to a VAR that can return value to the business or might decide to put $1096 per month back into the business, directly to the bottom line. The decision hinges on achieving balance between costs and deployed systems functionality. 

Coming full circle, achieving balance is where my systems model and the ground rules associated with my model come into play. Again, it is not in the best profit interest for a VAR to assist a business with achieving this balance.

Thanks for reading. In the next post, I will discuss balance, managed services and my systems model.