Technology Integration: It’s OK to ask for help

We all know the old joke about men and maps. We always get lost, and we’ll never stop and ask for directions because we like to think we’re always in control and know what we’re doing. This joke isn’t as relevant anymore because of the advent of GPS devices, so the new joke is about the guy that can’t program a GPS to give him directions and won’t call technical support because he likes to think he’s always in control and knows what he’s doing. We’re stubborn on a multi-generational level.

Small  business owners tend to resemble this stereotypical guy. Technology is changing quickly, and it needs to be taken advantage of to keep a competitive edge. When it comes to integrating technology into a company, many owners try to implement costly and complicated upgrades themselves. When things go awry, weeks of Google searches and forum posts result from trying to find fixes for their situation. In the end, the cost tends to be higher and the functionality much lower than planned.

I would compare this to a couple of years back when I wanted to hang drywall in my basement. I’ve never done this before, but I figured “how hard can it be?” I did a week or two of research on the best practices to use, bought all the hardware and tools, bought the materials, and got to work. Since hanging drywall isn’t something I had experience in, I had a lot of difficulty — nails were showing through, there were grooves in the joints, the framing wasn’t quite square, the holes for the electrical boxes didn’t quite line up…it took me weeks to get everything done, and there were a lot of mistakes that I was just going to have to live with in the finished result. A couple of weeks later, I found out a local contractor could have done the job in a day and a half for about 70% of what it cost me for the tools and materials. In the end, I blame my wife for letting me loose in Home Depot with a credit card (she’s well aware of my Tim Allen syndrome), but ultimately I was trying to do something complicated that was not in my area of expertise, and it cost me.

Technology is the same way. If you run a carpet store, you can’t be expected to know how to set up a website for ordering, administer email, run data backups, and keep viruses off of your company’s workstations. Your expertise is measuring square footage, padding, and styles of Berber. If you’re dealing with computer problems, who is focusing on your customers? You can’t do both.

One of the things TOAST.net does well is showing people the best way to handle technology in your business. The experience I had with my basement drywall directly relates to buying computer hardware and software for your company. If you’re not aware of the most efficient way to do things, you can end up spending a lot of unnecessary cash on a less-than-optimal solution. It’s our job to keep up on trends and services, and we are able to take a snapshot of your environment and let you know what you need. One of the best things about the Internet-centric world we live in is buying your own hardware and software is becoming a thing of the past. The smallest business can now purchase the technology they need as a service and instantly have the same resources available as the largest enterprise. The best part: you don’t have to do any installation, it just works! No hardware to install, no servers to deal with, no networking, no backup power supplies…turning on a new mail system is about as complicated as starting a magazine subscription.

Nearly all technical requirements are now covered with services. Email, website creation, security, patch management, backups…all of these can be handled without the need to buy a single piece of hardware, not to mention you’ll most likely get a lot better results at a lower price.

The moral of the story is “It’s OK to ask for help.” Getting assistance got my GPS working right, my drywall fixed, and can even get your company’s technology working for you instead of against you. And yes my fellow men out there: sometimes calling a pro shows you’re in control better than doing it yourself.

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