Right tool for the job

Your IT tools can make or break your business, so why would you compromise?

Paul Wallbank Tech Talk blog

Web 2.0 entrepreneur Jason Calcanis set off a storm over the weekend with his 17 tips to save money in a start up company with his tip about firing anyone who isn’t a workaholic.


I’m not going to get into the merits of employing only workaholics except to note that these stories of punishing and unforgiving hours are one reason why kids are scorning IT careers.


What caught my eye was the suggestion to buy Macs and save IT support costs. This raises an interesting question on what technology is suitable for a business.


There’s no doubt Mac and Linux systems require less administration than Windows. This is partly due to looser security in the Microsoft product, but mainly due to the tendency of many businesses to buy the cheapest computer equipment.


It’s been fashionable to discuss the commoditisation of computer hardware over recent years, but it’s clearly not true; if you buy cheap, you get cheap.


Many computer manufacturers followed the cheap path in recent years with the result of frustrated customers and damaged brands. Microsoft too has been caught by this; pandering to those price point obsessed vendors seems to have much of the grief Vista is now attracting.


None of this is to say Windows computers aren’t a suitable choice for businesses. For many businesses they are the right choice. Computers are tools and we all need to choose the tools that work best for us.


In the case of Jason Calcanis, his business and staff work best on Macs. Your business and your staff, who are hopefully not all obsessive workaholics, may well have different needs. Your equipment has to meet those needs.


Another interesting point raised in the article is the size of monitors. I tend to agree that larger monitors improve productivity. Again though, you pay more for them.


The moral of Jason’s comments is that you actually save money by spending more money up front. Labour costs are the biggest cost for most businesses, so purchasing equipment that reduces downtime and lets your people work smarter and faster will save money.


We shouldn’t lose sight that technology is an investment. A good investment will repay itself many times over. Choose the right tool based on what works for your business, not simply on the buy price.




Paul Wallbank is a writer, speaker and broadcaster on technology is sues. He founded national support organisation PC Rescue in 1995 and has spent over 14 years helping businesses get the most from their IT.

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