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The New High-Tech Low-Tech Small Business

If you’d told me five years ago that clients of MyITpros who ran automotive shops or landscaping companies would one day be among the most technology-driven businesses we serve, I would have found that pretty hard to envision. And I wouldn’t have been the only one to react that way. I don’t think services providers imagined until very recently that traditionally low-tech businesses would become as technology-focused as any hardware or software start-up. But that’s exactly what’s happened, as mobile and big data have become such an entrenched part of every kind of company’s business today.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how technology became a fundamental business improvement tool for some of our most low-tech clients, including the challenges that came with making the transition to being more technology-driven. If you’re in a business that has traditionally used only the minimum technology necessary, but you’re wondering if adding more technological tools could help your company perform better, I think you’ll find some valuable guidance in their experiences.

Accelerating Competitive Advantage For Automotive Services

We have one client whose automotive-services business has grown over the years to employ a number of mechanics. Until recently, they all relied on a single shop computer – a pretty low-tech system running technology developed probably twenty years ago – to look up basic parts information. The company started thinking about how much more productive it would be if all the mechanics had their own individual access to a complete, current database of information about parts and procedures that they could refer to at any time, not just to look up and order parts but to actually determine on the spot what they needed, whether it was available and so forth.

We helped them make the transition from that one source of basic information to individual computers providing access to a sophisticated, graphics-intensive database application with detailed images of parts and procedures. Now, a mechanic observing an issue under the hood of a car can compare what he is seeing with a detailed image online, determine what he needs to solve the problem and act accordingly – all much more quickly than was ever possible before. It’s been really transformative in terms of increasing productivity, improving the quality of service and delivering a better customer experience, which gives the shop a real competitive advantage.

Taking A Fresh Approach To Landscaping Services

Another client we helped is a landscaping company that does a lot of large-scale corporate projects for business parks and other similar environments. It used to be that if the property manager needed job costing information, the account manager at the landscaping company would have to go back to the office, look up the information and bring it back on her next trip out to the site. Meanwhile, the property manager would be hamstrung, unable to make any timely budget decisions until she heard back.

Now, the landscaping company’s account managers have access to all that data on the fly, using mobile devices to provide the needed information on the spot, in real time, right when their clients need it. So if a property manager wants to know what their average monthly spend has been, or how much they spent last year vs. how much they budgeted, or just about anything else, the account manager can use a tablet or laptop that’s connected to the cloud to pull up the database and get the information instantly.

Getting The Project Timing Right For A Building Materials Company

Moving from low-tech to high-tech operations isn’t always an easy transition. A couple of years ago, we had one client, a building materials company, that asked MyITpros to advise them on how to use technology to help their large, mostly remote sales force better manage pricing information. At the time, the sales people were using manual spreadsheets to keep track of pricing and then periodically uploading the individual data to a massive central spreadsheet.

We recommended they move to a cloud environment that they could connect to from the laptops and other devices wherever they were to access and update pricing information anytime – so pricing information would always be accurate and up-to-date. We were on the verge of rolling out the whole new system when the CEO pulled the plug on it. He was afraid that making the change from the way sales had always done things to this new way would be too complex. I couldn’t persuade him that it wouldn’t be any more complicated a process, just a different process. But he was firm in his decision.

The Importance Of Timing, Information And Training

Actually, the CEO of the building materials company was only firm in his decision until this year, when he hired us to implement a cloud services project for the sales team that’s honestly not much different than what we’d proposed before. They just weren’t ready then. But they are now. And we expect that they’ll enjoy far greater accuracy and control in pricing for materials and projects from here on out.

The point is that timing is important when it comes to making the transition from low-tech, traditional tools to high-tech systems and solutions. When you have a company that’s been doing the same processes or procedures the same way for years, they have to get to a point where they’re ready to embrace the change. Information and training are important, too. Management has to have a clear idea of what benefits will result for the company, and the teams who’ll be using the technology directly need to understand how to use it and how it will benefit them. It’s part of our job to make sure the timing is right, and that the communication and training resources are in place for a successful transition to new technology solutions.

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Bill McCharen, COO

Our goal for this blog is to answer the questions you ask. If you have any questions about cloud computing or any other topic please email me at blogs@myitpros.com. To learn more about IT subscribe to our blog.



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