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Newsletter – October 2006 October 14, 2006

Posted by selkowitz in Newsletter.
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A few weeks ago I was posed the question of why we have such a diverse product line and why our product line is so different than what you’ll find in stores. I thought it was a great topic for the newsletter, unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to make it anything but serious, but I promise it won’t happen too often.

How it got started
Years ago we didn’t sell very much equipment, like most computer consulting companies we mostly installed and managed what people bought online or at the computer store. The problem was people often bought the wrong thing or poor quality products and often things didn’t work as well as our clients or I desired. Ultimately if our clients were going to hold us accountable for their systems, we had to pick the equipment.
Is it the consultant or the product?
Technology is often seen as being difficult and unreliable and sometimes that’s definitely the case. The question is why – I think its combination of configuration, consultants, and equipment. We could be greatest consultants on earth, but without the right configurations and equipment the systems we sell and maintain would still be problematic. The right products and setup is vital to good systems – and we can’t depend on Frys, Dell, or CompUSA to offer them.

How we pick products
When we pick a product there are many factors we look at:

  • Availability – we need to know we can reliably and quickly get a product to a client.
  • Ease of setup/use – we know you won’t use it if its too complex and frankly even we prefer simpler installation and management.
  • The right features – having every feature and the kitchen sink just makes systems more difficult and unreliable, we evaluate what features businesses really need and find the product that fulfills those needs best.
  • TCO – total cost of ownership, we look at the cost for the lifetime of the product and even migration to the new system. People look too much at cost of purchase without looking at the installation cost, maintenance, downtime, repairs, and life-span. The lowest TCO usually comes with a moderate purchase price.
  • Warranty – warranties are evaluated both on duration and how they’re fulfilled. For example some companies will run you through hoops and make you wait a week for a replacement unit, while others overnight a replacement no questions asked.

We evaluate these aspects by consulting other people in the industry, reading reviews, studying manuals, talking to the vendor, and even bringing in test units. Needless to say picking a product or vendor does take a fair bit of time, but in the end its worth it. One of the side benefits is our staff knows the systems we sell best – we can configure them blindfolded, we know the little tricks, and we know how to resolve problems quickly. I know we’ll do a better job every time with the equipment we know and trust – what’s why we sell what we sell.

Buy an iPod for AIDS
Apple just released a new red iPod Nano with a portion of the profits going to the Global Fund to help people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Of course I doubt iPods will cure the world’s ills, but hey, every little bit helps and its a nice little bonus. We sell iPods at our Apple Store – we’ve got free engraving and free shipping too!

– Kevin Selkowitz

P.S. next month I’m planning a christmahanaquanzika tech gift report. I can’t believe its almost that time again…