IT Outsourced  

What happened to the waterwheel?

Waterwheels were used in production facilities well into the 20th century. Water flow was converted into mechanical energy and used to product goods. How come you don’t see them in use anymore? The simple fact is that it is more efficient to use electricity. I’m certain in the transition that some producers laughed at the competition that either clung to outmoded technology (water) or invested in this new-fangled technology (electric motors). It’s easy now to look back and see that electricity was going to win this battle.

It has certainly been my privilege to work in the technology field for almost 30 years. I remember computers before Windows, and the chatter of a dot matrix printer pounding out some report. The first computer system I worked on was for a small company involved in silviculture and was used for payroll and accounting. It was leased for 5 years, and with financing costs was over $15,000. Times have certainly changed, and we are still in the transition period as technology radically transforms the planet.

Recently I was reviewing my processes and procedures. I try and look at the big picture to ensure that I’m doing a good job for my clients and remaining competitive within the industry. I like to compare similar companies. Seeing the different approaches for similar companies highlights the benefits and disadvantages. One company has three full time IT staff, one company outsources their IT and the third has no arrangements in place yet they were all similar in size. How is it possible for three technology dependent companies, similar in function and size to have such vastly different approaches?

It’s very easy to become inefficient within an organization. It’s also very easy to become entrenched in an idea or method. My biggest struggle in dealing with customers is trying to get them to change. Unfortunately, with technology promoters, we are partially to blame for this lack of trust. Sometimes the very changes we promote and implement have failed to live up to the hype. I’m sure the first companies putting in electrical systems, and replacing waterwheels faced challenges too.

As companies grow, they need to look at efficiency constantly. If you don’t have debit or credit machines, you lose a percentage of customers, like me, who never carry cash anymore. I was at a concert recently, and fell in love with one of the t-shirts. I know it was expensive, but it was amazing graphics! I held up my credit card, already knowing the answer – “I’m sorry, we only take cash”….but wait! They had an adapter for their smart phone that allows them to take credit cards, and $40 later, I owned this amazing t-shirt, with an orange skull on a dark green background! My wife was thrilled with my new purchase! Failure to look at efficiency means you jeopardize your profitability and potentially your very existence. The rapidly changing face of technology means that efficiencies are much more fluid than they use to be.

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About the Author

Mark Smed started as a self-employed consultant, integrating computers into small business in 1989.  The range of work expanded into installing networks and consulting with businesses on the fast paced changes in technology.  As his career progressed he taught Network Administration at a small business college and continued to build his base of clients. 

Today, Mark works for Northern Computer Inc. (http://www.northerncomputer.ca) as a consultant, specialist and technician.  His client base continues to grow and many of his clients have worked with him for over 10 years now.  In 2001, Mark joined the Network Professional Association (http://www.npa.org) and now sits on the board of directors and is responsible for publishing the Network Professional Journal for the association.

Mark can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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