I am sorry had to get that out but its true every word of it. Technology is great no denying it and at this point, who could live without it. This is exactly the point of this article. If you lose your cell phone, you have lost all your contacts. Computer crashes no business today. On the road forgot your laptop have to go back to get it. Gets home Cable/DSL router down no web surfing? Where does all this end, has our dependence on technology invaded our very life’s to the core, unfortunately……yes it has.
Let’s talk about cell phones as our first example. I consistently hear people complain about the cost of a cell phone or the amount of the bill itself. Our problem is we only see the phone in our hand not the labor that went into it.
First, we have the assembly of the cell phone that we all know is pennies on the dollar due to foreign labor. (Foreign labor definitely another blog waiting to happen). Although the manufacturing of the phone itself may be inexpensive, what about the engineering of the phone, some electrical engineer (yearly salary $48,010) somewhere had to be paid to sit there and design that little black or silver phone in your pocket.
Secondly, we have the software designer (yearly salary $60,000) who has to design the software that allows voice dialing, surfing the web, speed dialing and the myriad of other features we find in our oh to familiar cell phones.
Finally, we have the network that our wireless signal travels on, this includes the towers that are erected, the many network technicians to keep it running, the satellites that try to prevent our dead spots and of course the many salespeople, marketing teams and top brass who think of the next innovation to keep us purchasing their products. Although I could not find an exact number for this cost, I am sure it’s in the millions yearly.
The purpose of the cell phone breakdown is to open you mind up to the cost of technology. Many people believe that computer technician’s prices are extremely high and this is what leads me to write this article on why technology sucks.
First of all obviously I don’t think technology sucks if I did I would not have invested 12 years of my life into it. What I do think sucks is that over the years it has become a thankless profession in which people feel there are being robbed instead of helped.
When I first began my career in Information Technology the help desk position was almost as good as being superman. You would have a problem with your PC, call help desk then we would put on our geek cape swoop down to your floor, fix the problem, and walk away with the thanks and appreciation due to all who celebrate geekdom.
What I realized after starting my consultant business is the reason we were all so well loved back in the good ol’ days is that our cost was transparent to the users. In today’s day and age as a consultant my cost is anything but transparent. Look at it this way if you work for a fortune 500 company they have all the computer staff you will ever need on the payroll, but if you are running your own company you have the cost of PC support and maintenance to absorb, which means no more happy faces when we come.
Sad but true, we are now looked at like an unavoidable evil instead of an important part of day-to-day business. Fortunately, there are multiple levels of computer users and as the computer user becomes more informed, the better a client he becomes. Lets look at the stages of PC user how they evolve, and how and what, a technician deals with in each step.
Level 1 -novice user, There are not many of these left these days considering a child born in 1980 would actually be 27 years old today. (gees I’m getting old) which means that they have no memory of a life before computers so almost everyone today at least knows what a computer is and knows how to use one…or do they?
The novice user usually has the knowledge of how to use a computer but do not know the best practices on how to keep it problem free. They may download programs or install programs and never delete the temporary files that every program will install during the installation process. They may never use the defragment program that is in every windows based operating system to keep the hard drive contiguous. (If you don’t know what contiguous means you must be the novice user we are talking about). They may never run a virus scan or download the patches offered to keep there system up to date on the last virus definitions. This is the novice PC user, his face has changed over the years but the habits haven’t.
Let’s discuss the problems as technicians we face with the novice user. Problem number one is if you don’t do regular maintenance on your computer, it’s an awful mess by the time we get there. Time equals money, so when you see the bill after we have performed our services you are usually very unhappy. Worse yet is our other problem, this problem I have named Johnny power user. Our power user is not quite a technician but pretty far removed from the novice user, this is the person usually called upon by our novice group to fix the simple PC problems. Unfortunately for all us techs worldwide he usually doesn’t charge for his service so the novice user has become quite use to the idea of having his/her PC fixed free.
Level 2-power user (Johnny) The power user is a far better client in the world of consulting. You see for us he/she has fixed so many other peoples computers over the years that he has gained the understanding that this (a computer technician) is really a job. Although maybe not a technician in his own right, he has gained the insight into the world of a PC tech that our novice user never sees.
She/he may know how to keep there computers up and running and problem free but have also realized that there core competency is far more important to there bottom line, then fixing and maintaining there own computers. At this point they prefer to use outside resources then to be bothered with the day to day maintenance of there own PC’s F.Y.I this is when your power user stops answering your calls when you need him to fix your PC.
Level 3 Power user extraordinaire-This is a tech without the certifications and our favorite client. This client understands networking, client server relationships, the difference between operating systems, Lan/Wan requirements the difference between a Linksys router and a Cisco router and overall could do my job if he wanted to. Why are they our best clients simple they value the cost of our knowledge they understand that a PC is a tool much like your vehicle. Your vehicle needs regular maintenance to provide a nice safe ride to and from work, school, soccer practice etc. Your PC also needs the same attention and our power users know this.
In conclusion- technology is here to stay and you will consistently need people to work on it. Although technology is often overlooked as in the cell phone analogy, it cannot be ignored. The best one can hope for in the world of Information Technology is that you will consistently educate yourself and find a firm that can bring you forward one step at a time affordably and consistently.