By Kimberley Donoghue PBN Web Editor Twitter: @ kdonog
Five Questions With: Lisa Shorr
"DUE TO the volatility of the recession, some of our clients put off upgrading their networks preferring to 'band-aid' any issues they had. Now, they are feeling more confident in the economy and are investing in technology," said Lisa Shorr, the vice president of marketing for Warwick-based PC Troubleshooters.
By Kimberley Donoghue PBN Web Editor Twitter: @ kdonog
Shorr is the vice president of marketing for Warwick-based PC Troubleshooters, which provides IT support to small and medium-sized businesses.
She took a moment to talk about her tech predictions for next year, when the 15-person company celebrates its 20th anniversary. The “PC” part of the company’s name, she hinted, may be on its way out.
PBN: You have slated three tech items/ideas are going to be hot next year: tablets, virtual desktops and BYOD – bring your own device.
Businesses have been using tablets en masse for at least a year now – at the very least, most have bought one to try out. What specifically are Rhode Island businesses going to be doing differently with tablets in 2012?
SHORR: The launch of the iPad in 2010 raised the bar and set the stage for exploring and implementing workplace mobility in 2011. Consumers instantly enjoyed all of the capabilities of their smartphone but with a larger display, lighter weight and less cumbersome to carry than a laptop. As these devices saturated the marketplace, business owners began to demand more functionality from the tablet than just internet browsing, e-reading and a fun game of Angry Birds!
For 2012 we will see a wider adoption and integration of business processes via the tablet. To help propel this adoption is the upcoming launch of Microsoft Windows 8, intentionally designed with the tablet in mind. Complete with touch-screen functionality, Web browsing, and an abundance of applications available and of course the Microsoft Office Suite, the user will enjoy the colorful easy to navigate interface while analyzing spreadsheets, sharing documents and reading e-mail.
Like Windows 8, more and more business applications are being written for tablets – 2012 is the year of the tablet!
PBN: Let’s talk about virtual desktops – who are they for, how much do they cost – what’s the 411 that a small business owner needs to know?
SHORR: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) shifts individual workstations in a company into one central data center. Users are able to access shared corporate information from anywhere around the globe thus eliminating the need to be tied to a desk. Traditionally, VDI was designed for and implemented by enterprise-level corporations who were seeking to reduce IT hardware costs and streamline operational functionality.
Today, there is a growing need for VDI in the SMB arena, where connecting with the “pulse” of the business does not necessarily mean sitting at a desk. Pricing for VDI is done on a case by case basis. As the technology evolves, it is becoming more affordable for the SMB.
There are many benefits of VDI for the SMB. A few are:
Mobility: Accessing your corporate information from anywhere at any time on any device.
Flexibility: In the past, when a small business expanded its work force, there was not only a payroll expense but an IT hardware expense as well, purchasing laptops or desktops for each new hire. With VDI, the hardware expense can be spared! A new user can be added to the network and accessing corporate data within minutes.
Security: How many times have you broken or lost your smartphone? The beauty of VDI is that the data sits on a central server so that if the device is damaged or lost, the data remains secure.
PBN: Why is BYOD important to small businesses? How are IT departments going to handle having to do tech support on 60 different phones? Will it save businesses money in the long-term since they don’t have to buy iPhones, etc., for their employees?
SHORR: Looking at the growth of smartphones and tablets and virtual desktops, the Bring-Your-Own-Device movement is a natural adoption in the new SMB business model. An SMB business owner must also take into consideration their hiring pool of applicants. Many are tech-savvy college graduates that are looking for a flexible work environment.
How will tech support troubleshoot 60 phones? The beauty of BYOD is they won’t. It will be the responsibility of the device owner/user to handle hardware fixes with their provider. Implementing VDI, all software updates are managed by an IT administrator via a central server. This is an area where true cost savings are realized not only in hardware but IT administration as well.
PBN: Do see a lot of local small businesses upgrading their equipment now, after putting it off during the recession? What are most people investing in?
SHORR: Due to the volatility of the recession, some of our clients put off upgrading their networks preferring to “band-aid” any issues they had. Now, they are feeling more confident in the economy and are investing in technology. Clients are buying new servers, laptops and desktops, of course mobile devices and cloud back up solutions.
PBN: “PC” almost seems like a dated term now – do you ever foresee changing the name of your business? Where are the next 20 years heading for the company?
SHORR: Let me answer the second question first: PC Troubleshooters Inc. is excited for the future. Thanks to embracing innovative technology and fostering exceptional client partnerships, we have grown each year for 20 years. As we look ahead, our strategy is to enhance and expand our SMB niche to become an integral part of our client’s success.
As for a corporate name change, rebranding has been part of our strategic discussions. Our current name does not reflect who we are today. Stay tuned …