Save Some Money. Don’t Hire IT.

Don’t buy Managed IT Services.

That’s right. You heard me.

Sure, you can get someone to monitor each workstation for a fairly inexpensive amount per month. But that’s all they’re doing. Monitoring for issues, not solving problems before they come up. There is no vision when it’s $9 a month, per desktop.

It’s not about having someone install patches, or reset email passwords. That’s not what a good IT group does – either internal, or external.

A good IT group focuses on building efficiencies within the system, and a future growth plan. A good IT group helps design and develop communications platforms for their teams and focus on solving problems, not applying band-aids.

How much more efficient would you be if your meetings weren’t lectures, but participatory conversations? Did you ever see Seth Godin’s blog post about how to beat meetings (iPad killer app #2: fixing meetings)? It’s worth a read and might provide you some insight as to what life could be like.

IT people are smart and talented. Unfortunately, most only get to be smart and their talents never get to be shown off. I dare you to ask one of yours the following:

Using technology, how could this office run better?

They might just surprise you. And if they don’t, they’re merely a technician. There’s nothing wrong with a technician. They fix things I don’t know how to. But as with all roles, someone who does more and wants more, can do more.

Historically, every organization I’ve ever worked for, or been in contact with, has two desires from their employees. Better communication, and better training. Better communication is something where technology can really shine (and training to follow).

An IT groups customer is their fellow employees. A successful group knows this, and helps their peers be successful by utilizing technology appropriately.

If you choose to invest in IT services, pull someone in who can do something more. Find a group that can help you build your future, not maintain the status quo.

I am lucky. I work for one of those groups. I work for a group dedicated to making businesses run better, not just sell crap.

A Sad Week in Tech

Ok, so maybe it’s been more than a week. But in the recent past, we’ve seen a few major “glitches” that have affected the real world.

Yes, websites can go down. Sometimes that happens. Usually most people don’t notice. But when several major sites (and services) go down all at the same time, and don’t come back up for a few days, that’s a big deal.
The first “downer” was Amazon’s EC2 service. If you aren’t familiar with it, that’s ok. A rudimentary overview is that it is a cloud hosting environment. Essentially, a cloud host is different than propagating your own server because a) it’s offsite in a large data center, and b) it is not reliant on one server, but the data is spread across a cluster which affects (positively) scale and speeds. Cloud based hosting is far more efficient for small (and even large) businesses at times. It’s not just that these clouds are built to be far more resilient, but also it shouldn’t require a company to employ as high level of IT staff as those organizations who chose to remain in house.

Now Amazon is very reputable for this service. A substantial portion of their revenue as a company comes from these hosting options, not just its retail operations. Some pretty big names use their service. Ever heard of Foursquare? Notice that they were down for a few days? Well, now you know why. HootSuite, Livefyre and many others were also affected.

But Matt, why would anyone invest in a technology that can obviously fail?
Don’t be stupid. Everything CAN fail. I’m a big believer in failure – I have quite a bit of experience with it. I would have no question or hesitation recommending a cloud based service for a company. Even Amazons. Naturally, there are other options out there. Just like everything else, there are several places, even locally, that can offer you the same stability, scalability, and efficiency. This outage merely gave us an opportunity to learn how to best invest in IT resources. Sure, the cloud may have gotten stormy for a bit, but the resolutions came from Amazon – not Foursquare. That aspect has some comfort for me. Knowing that someone way smarter than me (and my staff) has the ability and experience to engineer a solution quickly makes me at ease. I’m a believer in doing what I do best, and letting someone else fix what I know I can’t. I’d prefer getting back to work.

The other big outage is actually a little scarier.

Sony, the media giant, had it’s PlayStation network compromised. Somehow, their game player network (which also has a store associated with it) was hacked. After realizing this, Sony turned off their PlayStation Network indefinitely awaiting a post-mortem and rebuild. I applaud Sony for taking down the network – this is at no small cost. Most games rely on (or are far enhanced by) online game play. With this outage, Sony’s customer information is now out in the wild, and they’re not even sure if credit card numbers were compromised yet. Lucky for me, I’ve never purchased anything off my console. The most anyone could get of my information would be the goofy looking avatar I use. Sadly not at all important to me.

What is even worse is the weather. No, not because it’s still snowing in Minnesota, but all of the tornadoes and severe weather elsewhere. Somewhere I read a statistic that was quite scary. Only 6% of companies can actually survive as a business after a natural disaster affects their IT infrastructure. 6% is a scarily low. Yet another reason why I am, and will be, a big proponent of cloud based applications and storage. Does your organization have a disaster plan for IT? You should.

Luckily, there is good news in tech.

Starting today, the white iPhone 4 is available. For those who prefer Stormtroopers over Darth Vader, today is your day.