Day Dreaming Over Coffee

1 December 2005

This morning I’m writing without a solid outline. The topic blends the recent news about TextDrive, Joyent and hosted (ASP) applications. The thoughts are partially fueled by Seattle’s Best made too strong this morning, but also by this entry in the TextDrive forums.

I’ve bought, sold and invested in way too many businesses to have any of the sense of ownership and control that some members of the TextDrive community have. I’ve received more than a fair ROI from my two purchases of lifetime hosting from TextDrive. I may never use the disk space, bandwidth or domain counts that I’m allowed. Yet, when I think of the entire investment as education, I’ve gotten quite a return.

Now, how to build from here. I’m no designer. I’m no programmer. Yet, I’ve spent thirty years watching small to large companies manage and mismanage information technology. I’ve watched driven owners tell the receptionist to just pick a phone system. When he can’t get his email, he yells, “call the computer guy.” I’ve seen overloaded CIO’s commanded to build Rome in a day.

What can we bundle together that makes it easy for a 5-person business or a 50-person business to get all of the services they count on from technology? How can we get to the benefits without having to pore over every specification? Security ought to be a major part, but it shouldn’t require a hacker to set up, operate, monitor and verify. Simply providing great contact management and follow-up isn’t enough.

Email is part of the need. Shared calendars and documents are needs. But, what if you’re attempting to create this week’s “call list” and you want to also mention past due accounts to those who have them? What if you’re calling someone about a new promotion, but they have orders pending? How do you make sure the caller (your employee) is made aware of those pending orders and their status in advance of or during the call?

It goes beyond project management. It’s more than collaboration software. The need bridges the acronyms. ERP, CRM, SFA, SCM and the rest of the alphabet soup doesn’t lead to bottom line results for businesses. Rather, tools, processes and techniques that allow proactive and preventive actions with coworkers, suppliers and customers create profit.

What might it mean to be a “Joyent VC” in the TextDrive meaning of VC? How might that be used to benefit small businesses? What are the differences between installing a Joyent Connector and a “server appliance?” Remember the Cobalt Qube? What are its equivalents in today’s market?

I recently helped a client install a fully-managed and hosted VOIP system as part of a larger I.T. project. Rather than buying and managing Cisco switches, they have subscribed to a point-to-point T1 line, and the datacenter is hosting 100 telephones fully equipped with all the features of Cisco’s VoIP technology. How do we drop that service into a business along with Joyent, along with NetSuite, along with the ISP, hosting and other I.T. requirements that any growing company needs?

I don’t want to spend all of my time making the technology work, either. I want to help businesses (i.e. owners) get the benefits. This isn’t about selling gear at cost just to get paid for support, training and configuration time. Remember, we’re talking about businesses that may not realize that they need I.T. and phone accounts in the general ledger. Some of them track copier costs more closely than personal computer costs.

Perhaps this is a search for something that doesn’t exist. However, the first one to find it wins big. Enough. We’ll figure this out.

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