May 21, 2004
Discuss High Tech
Over the years, I have been content to let my clients
use whatever technology made the most sense for their own personal needs.
A majority of Windows 3.1 and Mac OS 7.5 users slowly evolved into Win95/98/XP
and Mac OS X. Often, my clients were using hardware and software that
was woefully out of date, but as long as it worked, I didn’t push
them to make a change. That said, times change and people change with
them. Now I find myself in a new role with my clients – pulling
and pushing them into newer hardware and software so they do not get hopelessly
left behind. This role is not an envious one for any high-tech careerist,
but it is growing in importance every day.
For them, not for me
Some people might think that my newfound attitude might have something
to do with selling new hardware or software to my clients. I can assure
you, though, that I still don’t sell anything. I only recommend
items that I think they could put to good use. Even more, I can support
Windows 3.1 as well as Windows XP, so it isn’t a situation where
I can’t keep older systems running. More and more, I am seeing clients
in situations where their old computers can cause increasing trouble to
both their peace of mind and the state of their high-tech lives.
One of the biggest issues in hanging onto old technology is the culture
shock a user can experience when they are finally forced to make the move.
If you were using Windows 3.1 and then upgraded to Win 95, then 98, then
XP, you may have experienced minor issues learning the new systems, but
each step was a small one and you quickly adapted to the new system.
Imagine now, though, a user moving from Win 3.1 to Win XP in one fell
swoop. I have seen this in person and it is not a pretty sight. The user
has to try and take in all the cumulative changes in the operating system.
It can be quite daunting. It can take weeks before a user is back to a
normal level of productivity again. The same thing can happen, although
to a lesser degree, when users jump between major revisions of their software.
Someone who was an expert in early versions of MS Word might feel like
they are starting all over again.
For the money
Additionally, users who postpone upgrading their software can take an
additional hit. Often, in upgrading from one version to the next, there
are significant discounts on the new software. Sometimes these discounts
can stretch from 1 to 3 versions, but, if the user does not upgrade soon
enough, they will be forced to pay the full purchase price when they do.
This can have a significant impact on the user’s finances, especially
if they are using software, such as FileMaker Pro and others, which require
all users to be using the same revision of the software.
Instead of paying out $50-$100 per upgrade as it moves from one version
to the next, users will be forced to spend $500-$1000 (or more) to upgrade
their entire organization. This is an especially tremendous burden for
small companies,. It would be much better for them to amortize the costs
of software over the years, rather than having to suffer the expense all
This is not to say that people should indiscriminately upgrade every time
software companies release a new version. You, as an advisor to your clients,
need to be looking for the best time to upgrade and direct your clients
Annual audit and review
Each year, you need to review the hardware and software being used by
your clients and offer recommendations. Outline what software needs to
be updated and which can be left alone. Detail computers, printers and
other hardware that needs to be retired, or moved to a less critical role.
Help your clients to keep new equipment coming into the office so that
older equipment can be moved out.
One of the best arguments for moving forward is a worker whose productivity
is being directly impacted by inferior hardware or software. Are they
waiting 15 minutes for a printout? Is their computer taking hours to process
monthly reports? Are people using 3 or 4 different pieces of software
to do work that could be more easily accomplished with a new, updated
Pushing and pulling your clients down the technology road can be difficult,
but you can see the obvious disadvantages to ignoring the problem. There
are clear reasons why individuals and companies need to keep their technology
moving forward or risk suffering dramatic hits to productivity, self-esteem
and their finances. Your high-tech career will rise and fall on your ability
to keep your clients moving forward.
Great for all
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