Why you need your office wired and not just on WiFi

The 21st century is a great place to live in. We have bathrooms everywhere, food on every other corner and a vast amount of data accessible all the time at our fingertips. When it comes to internet connectivity there is no doubt that the possibility of staying in touch all the time is a relief, specially without the need for any of those cumbersome wires that are so ugly.

One of the marketing geniuses of our generation is the realization by companies that business owners are also people, what a breakthrough. They have then adapted a sort of “if it works for your home then it should also work for your business” marketing strategy. So, when business grade setups are required and the IT person recommends a wired office, the business owner believes it to be a splurge. After all, if it works for my home it should work for my office, right?

What they are not considering is the fact that when the WiFi system fails, and there is no secondary backup for the internet on the computers, then the entire office is without a connection. This not a problem when the case is the home, since you can just connect to your phone’s service provider and at least Netflix from there. No, in the case of the business you cannot work from your phone, and there is the entire office not having anything to do during billable hours. This is an unnecessary strain for both you and your IT company.

That is why every single office should be wired, and then the WiFi can be used as a secondary source of internet in case the cable fails. But do not hold your breath, cables rarely, if ever, break.

We hope you enjoyed this weekly piece of IT insight! Let us know if you liked it!

Choose a Local IT Company

Hiring an IT company is cheaper and more effective than having an in-house IT person. The IT company works only when there’s work, and has staff at several levels of expertise that are able to address simple printer issues as well as cloud encryption and security concerns.

Which IT company is best for your business? You will benefit from a clear understanding of what your IT company offers. With this understanding you can better choose, and negotiate with, your IT company.

Obviously your IT company must keep your computers (workstations, servers, wifi, printers, etc.) running smoothly. The part that isn’t obvious is whether your IT company is following best practices. Their goal here has to be to minimize your business downtime, and to do this you should be seeing them less, not more. Some easy ways to tell whether your IT company follows these practices include: cabling are labeled and bundled, old stations are replaced before they generate regular failure downtime, and data is secure, protected, and backed up.

Less obviously, your IT company exists to support your staff. Your staff must call your IT company immediately and without hesitation when they encounter any problem that will create downtime for them. Your staff must be familiar with the person they will call, and comfortable that the person they will call wants to help and understands the setup in your office.

Remote IT companies have help desks that answer questions. Your staff will hesitate to call them, and will spend additional time in that call, because the remote IT company has a person on the call who has never been to your office, and most likely has never been within 100 miles of your office. This will consume precious employee time, and will make your employee hesitant to call.

What the remote IT company doesn’t have is a person who regularly visits your office and tries to find problems before they cause you downtime. Isn’t less downtime what you’re paying for? The remote IT company operates on an efficient business model, but it’s efficient for them, not for you.

When comparing a local IT company whose employees visit your company regularly and a remote IT company, understand that the cost to the IT company of those personal visits is large. The IT company makes an investment in your efficiency, and will be more expensive. Don’t compare a remote IT company with a local one that visits your regularly!

Thought Leaders, What happened to Net Neutrality?

What is the repeal of Net Neutrality?

Yesterday, the rules preventing internet service providers from blocking websites outright, slowing down streaming, and receiving payment for priority access were lifted.  This means internet providers can charge a premium to its customers to access Facebook, YouTube, or Netflix, for example; or internet providers might accept payment from Facebook, YouTube, or Netflix to grant their users priority access while smaller streaming services who can’t afford to pay suffer.

It’s bigger than people know

While net neutrality has certainly garnered attention, it’s surprising that it hasn’t garnered more attention – especially in the business community.  This isn’t a problem with a limited scope.  It directly impacts all businesses.  Business today is done via the internet, from pre-sales, to networking, to sales.  Your product, no matter the industry, is at risk of being controlled and ransomed.  And yet, net neutrality wasn’t and isn’t the cornerstone of seminars, networking events, blogs, and articles.

The most important idea to share

No matter where you turn, there is a blog, a video blog, or someone on social media micro-blogging about their industry.  This is Thought Leadership and it’s everywhere.  Its sole purpose is to build engagement, trust, and collaboration.  This is exactly what cannot be done when your message is deleted, obstructed, or sold to the highest bidder.  As Thought Leaders, we have the most at stake in remaining silent and not sounding the alarm:  our reputations.

Reputation is everything

In the past year, Reputation has become the hot topic.  There’s simply too much information moving too quickly for us to process everything.  Increasingly, we rely on others to digest, interpret, and supply us relevant information.  Someone or something with a great reputation is one we trust and its influence is real.  Amazon is trusted almost as much as a bank – home of your money.  The result is 53.4% of people will buy an unknown brand on Amazon and 49.6% don’t bother to comparison shop.  It’s why the Cambridge Analytica scandal of Facebook is such a big deal.  Before we trusted our friends and, by extension, what was in our News feed, but now that trust and the decision to trust has been called into question.

What happened, Thought Leaders?

Similarly, silence on the topic of net neutrality by Thought Leaders should create some doubt.  How can the values of engagement, trust, and collaboration be under attack and yet so many remain silent?  Or is this really just about the appearance of trust, so a business, like Amazon, can avoid comparison shoppers?

Self-reflection

If we had to rate ourselves, we must admit that we did quite poorly when it comes to sounding the alarm of net neutrality.  It’s something that’s weighed on us.  The majority of Sherwood Chamberlain’s clients are in the Legal industry and a large percentage of them are Business Law Firms.  We are trusted advisers to trusted advisers.  We should have been in the forefront of promoting, warning, and provoking action.  We must do better.

Less talk, more action

Right now, Congress is considering re-instating the net neutrality rules.  It has already passed in the Senate, but it needs your help to pass the House.  Find out who your US House of Representative is and reach out.  Your business, message, and values should not be held hostage.

Dinner and a show versus all-you-can-eat

In the old days, technology was about buying more.  More hard drive space, more speed, more features.  These were things you needed and could leverage for a competitive advantage.  This is the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet.  The food isn’t of the highest quality, but you can have whatever and however much you want.

Today, technology is about crafting a better experience.  Everyone has unlimited hard drive space, speed, and features just a click away on the cloud or in an app.  Your competitive advantage comes when you improve an event or a service that didn’t use technology before.  This is the equivalent of dinner and a show.  The food is no longer the sole focus and the overall experience is improved.

To take a real life example, consider this writer’s most recent experience at a legal conference.  The conference was the same format as all others for the past 40 years, except in one way: this time they built an app to facilitate human interactions.  The app let you build a profile, post updates, rate events, and navigate the conference. In short, it built a temporary Facebook.  It created a truly immersive experience, where the conference became a talking point for building new and real connections.

As a bonus, I’m sure that conference was able to collect a lot of data on their most devout attendees.  They likely recorded foot traffic, attention (how often was a person on their phone during an event), event ratings, which posts created the most buzz, and how far the attendee traveled, just to name a few items.  They’ll take this data to build an even better, more engaging event next year.

Improving experiences, building stronger relationships, is where technology now has the greatest opportunity for competitive advantage.  Data Analytics will only continue to grow in the coming years.  Those who elect not to participate in designing a better experience for their clients will find it increasingly difficult to compete.

Retrieve information faster with chatbots

Chatbots are best known as a marketing tool. You’re familiar with them as the pop-up chat windows on websites and the way businesses provide 24/7 response on Social Media.  More recently, they’ve become great for internal workflows.  You can setup bots to schedule meetings, pull quotes, quotas, or inventory.  In the featured image of this post, I’ve setup a personal bot to save information and retrieve it easily using Hangouts Chat for G Suite, but you can do similarly with #Slack or across teams.

Ditch typing, focus on your message

You probably don’t type as fast as you talk. Lucky you. The world we live in doesn’t require you to learn how to type. It’s one less act of rote memorization, one less barrier between you and what matters: your message.

There are times when typing is better than talking, of course. For instance, in a really noisy space or a quiet one. That being said, I did write this article while walking next to a busy street and, later, while I was in the office with the only other sound being the keyboard next to me. When I ask my business partner if my ramblings bothered him, he replied, “Huh?”

There are times when talking is better, too. For instance, when you’re on the go or you want to free your hands. Walking while you craft emails or blogs can be huge for your health. When you’re trying to lay out instructions for someone, you can do the actions yourself while you narrate the instructions.

For me, the best part about talking over typing has been that it forces me to think through my words carefully before committing them to “paper.”  When I’m not clear on exactly what I want to say, I get instant feedback: dead air, run-on sentences, slurred words. It’s hugely embarrassing, but it helps me to hone my message.

The next time you tell yourself you’ll go to the gym right after you finish this one email, pull out your phone or tablet, leave your desk, and talk it out. Welcome to the future!