In answer to this article from Bill Detwiler, “Will Society Always Need Us Geeks?”, my answer is yes! Not just on the consumer side of things but in business computing as well. As a matter of fact I expect that small and medium enterprises need IT pros more now than ever. Either in house staff or contracted support. The CBS – 60 Minutes video that Bill includes in his article is a little older now but most of it is still relevant. In the video segment they identified three types of technology users: do it yourself, can’t do it themselves and those who think they can do it themselves. Since I sell computer technology into both the consumer and small business market I get to see all three of the above on a daily basis. The consumer and the business user have some needs in common:

  • low priced computers, which is easily achieved now that computers have become commodities;
  • simplicity and ease of use, most times this is something that can be achieved – with a little help;

After that the needs change between the consumer and the business computer owner. Business want their technology to work, they want it to work now, need it to be reliable and if it breaks – they need it fixed in a hurry. Because computers in this group are a business tool, businesses can’t afford to be without it or they lose business opportunities – AKA money! Consumers on the other hand  are willing to wait for technology to work for them even as painful as that wait can be.

Here’s my sad tale of woe to illustrate my point. Two years ago I purchased a laptop computer with a one-year extended service plan from a big box store. When it failed recently (during the extended service period), I took it in for service and waited a total of thirteen weeks for it to be repaired back to working condition. It came back from service twice  during that three month period – and had to be sent back the next day when it was found that the original problems hadn’t been solved and on one trip discovered a new problem had developed. I still have a desktop computer so production wasn’t stopped dead. After a month of waiting for the laptop to be serviced, I bought a new one because we just couldn’t be without a working portable computer. Thirteen weeks is a long time to be without a computer. A consumer can tolerate it – barely, but a business can’t and shouldn’t.

If you’re a small business owner, try to avoid being in the group of technology buyers and users who think they can do it themselves. On the other hand, don’t tolerate poor service from your technology support people. There are geeks who play with technology and then there are professionals who know technology and understand the value of computing that works in support of your business goals.

Dean

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Advanced Systems

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