Archive for the ‘Making Tech Tick’ Category
No business owner wants to be considered “average.” At least you shouldn’t want to be paying an “average” company to provide products or services to your organization. Just like your business, making continual improvements and challenging your team to perform at the top of their skill set is crucial to keeping pace with competitors. Those tasks are also important to ensure your company’s success, both from a short and long-term aspect.
That philosophy is no different when it comes to IT services. What customer would willingly trust their crucial business systems to an organization that wasn’t continually improving their performance—especially when they would pay the same amount to contract with a competitor that was?
At FAR, we work hard to stay ahead of the curve, creating innovative solutions for our clients and focusing on ways to improve our customer service. Our comprehensive portfolio includes the latest technologies to help you address all your business needs, including unified communications and innovative backup/disaster recovery solutions. While the research and development (as well as the extensive training) required to introduce a new service can be challenging, the result is well worth the effort.
But what does “service” really mean? The term is much too vague. Just check the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, which describes service as “useful labour that does not produce a tangible commodity.” This rather vague portrayal does not distinguish a hard-working (though minimally trained) teen raking leaves from the highly skilled and certified professional who manages complex IT systems. Few seem to understand the level of commitment, education and preparation required to support some of the most advance systems used in today’s business. That’s not to disparage the hard work provided by those in other industries, but to emphasize the differences in the term.
With that in mind, FAR is about to change the definition of “service”– at least from an IT managed services perspective. Today (September 1, 2011) we are proud to announce our partnership with Live Virtual Help Desk (LiveVHD) to expand our customer support capabilities. The Victoria, BC-based IT help desk organization will become an extension of FAR, allowing us to expand the services we offer.
What additional cost will our customers pay for this enhancement? ZERO. That’s correct–more support capabilities with no increased cost! What a concept.
What does the LiveVHD relationship allow FAR to do for our clients? The all Canada-based IT experts will handle our technical support calls and tickets, manning the controls 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Our support staff will be monitor systems and take care of your onsite needs, connected to LiveVHD through a professional services automation system called Autotask. This will give the FAR team the time and manpower to enhance the other services we provide our customers, ensuring we continue our reputation as THE premier Managed Services Provider in Ottawa.
How does this relationship help our business clients? It will allow us to provide instantaneous access to a technical resource, someone who fully understands corporate, technology systems, and other specific needs. LiveVHD can resolve most issues remotely and can escalate a service ticket to our team anytime an on-site visit is needed–a seamless, behind the scenes process that ensures full business continuity.
The end result is we get to spend more QUALITY time with our clients. We’ll focus on current business systems, ensuring that superior performance is maintained at all times, and meet with each customer to discuss how we can improve to help them achieve long-term organizational goals. We’ll spend even more time researching new technologies, uncovering issues and opportunities facing the industries we support, and understanding how it will impact our clients.
FAR can help YOU design a winning game plan and brainstorm ideas to help improve your company’s competitive position. We’re raising the bar in managed services and our clients will benefit from this new relationship.
As of September 1, 2011, service has been redefined. Give us a call and you’ll find out how IT managed services are our focus and we’re ready (more than ever) to assist you.
If you’ve had a chance to visit our corporate web site previously, I decided to try our hand at a little video work, to bring some dimension (and a little fun) to our web site. The front page had a video ad with some testimonials from customers, and the about page had a little video intro to some of our staff. My thought was, hey, how hard could it be? Let’s get a camera, script out some ideas, and bingo – we’re into the video production business.
Well, I can tell you, it’s a lot harder than I thought. While I posted the results, I was not completely happy with the end result. Something was missing. It just wasn’t polished and I had no idea how to make it better. Something was definitely missing.
The lack of polish didn’t seem to stop positive comments coming from customers. They loved the videos and felt it brought an element of reality to what FAR does. I started to get requests to create videos as part of our web design services. Now I started to fret. It’s one thing to fool around with a camera for your own web site. It’s a whole other thing to do it for a customer. I panicked and started to sift through my LinkedIn contacts. Wayne from BartMart Audio triggered my memory and I connected up with Lisa Virtue, his spouse, who runs Right Path Pictures. After a few phone calls and a meeting with Lisa, I quickly realized that I was way out of my league. This is serious business and it takes a lot of effort, skill and technical knowledge to produce the good stuff. So I decided to re-shoot both videos and one additional one and see how different they would be. Check them out and judge for yourself! Kudos to Lisa for teaching me that 1) it might look easy, but video production is a serious business that needs not just talent, but technical skill and 2) using a professional firm can be fun, while still making a huge impact on the quality of the final product.
The concept of IT services being a “utility” will hopefully die a quick and painless death.
As a managed IT services company, we don’t support computers, we support people. When something doesn’t work, a person calls us, not the PC. When an IT professional comes on site to solve a problem, he doesn’t talk to the computer, he talks to the person.
When is the last time you saw your hydro worker talk to you?
When is the last time you saw your city water/sewer engineer talk to you?
Let the record be straight: you can’t meter out IT services. IT Support is about supporting people. It’s about listening attentively to their needs and desires and then helping them use tools to achieve those needs. To steal from Home Depot, “you can do it, we can help”.
IT services is NOT a “utility”.
“Hey, check out my new iPhone!”, John, the small business owner said to me. So then I asked him my favourite question to anyone who shows me a new gizmo. ”Why did you buy it, and what do you plan on using it for?” “Uh….look, I can grab this picture with my finger and make it go around on the screen! Can your stupid BlackBerry do that??” I love my job. Really.
From my perspective (as I politely informed John) an iPhone is a nice piece of technology. But the real question is, does it REALLY meet the needs of John the small business owner? Is John planning to do work with it, or is just a toy to play with on the weekend? Does the iPhone meet his business and personal needs? What are the tradeoffs? Check out our product comparison , written with the business owner in mind.
From a business perspective, as with any tool, technology can either help you or hurt you. What’s the magic behind technology? The magic is when you use the tool and get an EDGE. The magic is when you and the tool (technology) become ONE. Like a woodworker with his sanding block – in the hands of a master craftsman, you can’t tell watching him work where his hand ends and the sanding block begins. The sanding block and the craftsman become ONE. Like watching me using my BlackBerry. We are one with each other. I know every option, feature and technical nuance of my BlackBerry. I can close my eyes and navigate to whichever screen I desire. This is when you reach the true sweet spot of productivity…the nirvana of where technology meets human kind. Open yourself to the tool, master it, and eventually, “you will be assimilated”.
Did I get your attention with the silly title? Guess what – I’m dead serious. I know, I know:
“What ain’t broke don’t fix”,
“The economy sucks, call me in ten years”,
“Are you nuts? You want me to spend money NOW?”,
“Get the *&##@* out of here before I throw my 15 year old phone set at you!”
The fact of the matter is, you, Mr. Small Business Owner, you need FAR. And obviously, FAR needs you. The economy sucks. Duh – it’s all over the news. Forget the news; it’s all over your computer screen as you look at your cashflow, forecasts, accounting system, email. “Danger, Danger Will Robinson!” DIVE DIVE DIVE!
OK, so back to why you need FAR. You need us to make you more productive, efficient and therefore – give you the EDGE. Yes, the edge you need to beat your competitors ‘till they are blue in the face and begging for mercy. You need to use technology to your advantage. The UC Server, our VoIP PBX offering, is an integral piece of that edge implementation that will deliver in spades.
I can go on until you fall asleep about all the studies and reports that have been done regarding productivity gained by using a VoIP PBX. Blah blah blah. I’ll save that for the folks with nothing better to do with their lives. Here is a real life example of how the UC Server VoIP PBX gives me an EDGE everyday and twice on Sundays. Yes, I do work on Sundays.
10:00AM – finish meeting, get in car, mobile phone connects to the in-vehicle Bluetooth.
10:01AM – start driving back to office. Hands are on the wheel. “Call Office”. Mobile phone responds “Calling Office”.
10:01AM – “You have 3 new voicemails AND 15 new emails. Press 1-1 to listen to new messages”.
10:01AM – Listen to all voicemails. Forward them to appropriate people or save them for actioning by pressing 9.
10:03AM – “Email message from, John Smith, received today at 9:30AM, subject is, Proposal Review”
10:15AM – System reads to me all my emails. Press 7 to delete the junk, and 9 to save the good ones for actioning.
10:17AM – Arrive safely back to the office.
10:17AM – start harassing Technical Service staff, earning myself several disapproving glares from Ali.
I walk in, and don’t even bother going to my desk. Why? Because I don’t need to check my voicemails or even my emails. I’ve just saved myself 20 minutes. I’ve also saved myself from being an idiot and typing emails on my BlackBerry while I am driving. What’s 20 minutes worth to you these days? Action item for you Mr. Business Owner – pickup that old tin can on your desk and call FAR – we’ll set you up on the EDGE faster than you can spell “dinosaur”.
Since the invention of the corporate telephone system, phone services have always been the domain of the mysterious “Voice Guy”.
The Voice Guy would come to your office to do MACs (moves, adds, changes). He would float into your office with a BIX tool, wire cutters, and maybe even a red, funny looking telephone hanging off his tool belt (don’t laugh – it’s called a butt set). You’d point to where you want a new phone to be installed, and voila, it would get setup. Here’s the bill, have a great day.
You’d cringe, both at the cost of the service call, as well as the cost of the proprietary digital phone set, with medieval options that needed a reference book to explain the reference guide that came with it. If you were lucky, you’d know how to get your voicemail, delete them…and that’s about it. Setting up ring groups? Uh…call the Voice Guy. Need to forward calls from your extension to your mobile phone? Uh….call the Voice Guy. Need to get your office voicemails on your BlackBerry when you’re on the road? Uh…don’t bother calling the Voice Guy – it can’t be done.