What’s New in Rep Business Technology? Presentation by: Matt Pansing & Gary Yantis Midtec Associates, Inc. 2007 Basics New technology appears constantly so keep up to date yourself. Don‟t wait for an ERA or Snowball seminar to learn of a great sales aid some of your competitors have been using for several years. Subscribe to at least one general technology (mostly computer) magazine. PC World (not other magazines with very similar titles such as PC magazine) is, by far, the best all around hands-on technology magazine. www.pcworld.com. If you have several employees who you think have enough interest to read it, buy them all subscriptions. Most will scan rather than read every word. One may spot something really important that others missed. The magazine changed last year from 100% computers to include virtually all of technology both personal and business. Everything from reviewing LCD big screen TV‟s to cell phones to PDA‟s to --. If you like, you can stay up to date with just one magazine. Some techie talk but mostly written so you understand what you‟re reading. Basics You sell technology so use it! Don‟t be part of the stereotype that “everyone over 40 is, and will always be, computerphobic”. Hire out the “heavy lifting” such as setting up and maintaining your company computer network but do other tasks yourself that are not time sinks. Yes, your time is valuable but technology stopped being an option in our business years ago so you MUST know how and where it fits into your business and when to use it (or not). Remember: EVERYTHING new is rocket science at first but becoming generally “technology literate” is no more difficult than learning, say, auto mechanics. It just takes some time and desire to learn. If you hire out everything, you‟ll end up with products and services you do NOT need or were not the best choices and possibly miss out on important new technology. Important point: the learning never stops! Read PC World magazine! Plagiarism is good! Be inquisitive and notice what others do and use in their companies. Basics Now – for several REAL Shocks!!! Basics Technology is NOT always the answer! If “the old way” still beats the latest technology then stay with it! A good example is Midtec still manually compares invoices to commission statements (making sure we are paid and paid correctly) the old fashioned file folder way. Yes, there are programs that will do this for you. They require invoice numbers, part numbers, customer names and so forth all be typed in exactly correct and exactly the same way (i.e. ABC Electronics and ABC Elect. are considered to be two companies by most programs but not to a person reading the invoices). Yes, there are other reasons for such programs including principal requirements but, if it is “your call” then be pragmatic and always follow the path of least resistance. Do what works best and is most cost efficient. Be it a computer program or a #2 lead pencil. “Keep it simple” is still allowed! Putting Your Best Techie Foot Forward Making maximum use of “what makes sense” technology in your company is good. Every person in your company only has so many hours in a day. The primary purpose of technology is to maximize the productivity of those hours. It is USUALLY a good idea to feature your emphasis on using technology on your Web site, to your principals and to the world – but not always. Rule #1 of any rep interview – make your rep firm “special” from all the rest. Excelling in the use of cutting edge technology works for most -- but not all. Being “high-tech” can also sink you like a rock. Know your audience. Some years ago we lost out on a potential line with the interviewing sales manager telling me afterwards “we need a more „hands on‟ rep firm”. It was obvious he was intimidated by our use of technology thinking we use it to replace old-fashioned selling. Not true of course; it just enhances the selling but, to someone who is technology- phobic, it can hurt you. “Know your audience”. Gadgets, Software and Services R/W CD’s and DVD‟s are dead for transferring moderate amounts of data from PC to PC. Flash memory is now everywhere. In cameras, cell phones and anything that requires non-volatile memory (meaning memory that doesn‟t go away if power is lost). Flash memory is appearing instead of hard drives in a number of high-end laptops. Flash memory is, being solid- state, lighter weight, smaller and more reliable. But not cheaper (yet). The price per gigabyte (Gb) is dropping fast. $10 per Gb is now common down from $50 just a year ago and $250 three years ago. There is no end in sight. Unlimited (almost) free memory is on the way. CD‟s and DVD‟s are for archival and program storage. Not as a means of data transfer. The market for CD/DVD “read/write” is over. Cell phones, PDA’s, etc. You can now have almost every technology gadget a rep needs at a customer site in one hand-held unit. Do you NEED all you can have today? If you‟re a tech‟s techie then the answer is always “yes”. Even if you‟re wasting money and ending up with something so complex that it borders on unusable, it can be fun. Assuming you nix “fun” as a reason to spend company money, just be aware of features and functions that are now hand-held and can be combined into one unit. Then you decide. Cell phone (remember those?), camera (still image), live video transmission, GPS, music, Web access, company network access, radio, television, digital memory pad (PDA), address book, XM and Sirius radio (satellite), video and/or audio recorder, fax to e-mail, text messaging, alarm clocks, flash light and more are being added. There seems to be no end in sight. NEEDED: smaller fingers and 20/10 microscopic vision. ANSWER: display holography that transfers much larger images, tactile keyboards, etc. onto nearby surfaces. Coming soon! CAUTION: Some customers will not allow cell phones with camera function on their premises. Some don‟t take chances and ban all cell phones and even all electronic devices. As much as your salespeople may want “camera cell phones”, the phones may spend a lot of time sitting in guard shack storage lockers. So give it some thought before you buy checking out the policies of your major customers. Internet Services Google has recently leapfrogged everyone else (what else is new?) by putting Office-type programs on the Web (free). Equivalents to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so forth. A big advantage is that many can participate real-time in the creation of a document. How often do you do that in the rep business? Not to often at least in Midtec but it can be a big aid in some businesses. Do you want your important data and documents on the Internet? Even as a second copy? Microsoft said last year “the era of the PC is soon to be over”. That was when THEY thought they were going to rent everyone copies of Office but do so on the Web. We‟d all return to the days of “dumb” terminals with all the computing power residing in a master server. Microsoft assumed this was their path to the steady income stream they have searched for but haven‟t found. With this new service plus others, Google (and others) have come close to ending reasons for Microsoft to exist! Free-market monopolies are NEVER permanent. Internet Services Rather than try to list all the services, features and functions Google now offers (for free), visit their Web site and click on MORE then read through the different categories. Pay special attention to LABS. You may wish to download some or much of what you see. Except for the operating system, a new PC today can function quite nicely without Microsoft. Instead of: (use) OFFICE Open Office www.openoffice.com Internet Explorer Firefox www.mozilla.com Outlook Thunderbird www.mozilla.com *** All are free and all are actually better than the MS equivalents! Open Office files are 100% compatible with MS Office files. Note: I admit to still using most MS products out of habit except for Firefox (love it!). Of all other software a rep does, may or should use, a free version of it probably exists. www.download.com is the portal that should be used for all free software (they test each one – this is from PC World magazine). Free software MUST be safe so beware! Programs like Gold Mine, Quicken, QuickBooks, FrontPage, Publisher, and so on exist as a free version on www.download.com but may or may not be 100% compatible with the $$ software it mimics. If Linux ever becomes 100% compatible with XP or Vista then, at that point, does the world still need Microsoft? We’ll take a vote! Internet Services Skype www.skype.com Finally! A PC to PC audio/video telephone service that really works plus seamlessly connects to the “real world” phone system (free if PC to PC and one to five cents per minute if PC to telephone – everywhere!). The days of countries and hotels stealing from you by charging $5 a minute for overseas calls is coming to an end. Just be prepared and know what‟s available where you‟re going. Get stuck in an out of the way foreign location where you MUST make a call but have no clue what the cell $$ cost is – be prepared for a nasty shock! Be sure you will have an Internet connection and you will have a phone connection – worldwide!! Everyone in Midtec has a camera/microphone on their monitor and are only a mouse click away from a “videophone” connection. www.midtec.com Internet Services – Wi-fi Wi-fi (wireless fidelity) Fidelity? Who picked such an odd name is lost in history. As a carry forward from the page on Skype, a “wi-fi compatible” cell phone is one that seamlessly looks for “hot spots”* and switches your call to go through a hot spot when one is in range. But the cellular company has to include this service. This is common in Europe but uncommon (today) in the U.S. Because of our many F.C.C. regulations limiting competition, we now rank #14 in the list of countries considered to be the “most connected”. As an example, Singapore is blanketed with a wide area version of wi-fi called Wi-Max providing high speed Internet to everyone. “Skype compatible” cell phones are appearing where their calls route through Skype. The hardware exists but U.S. cell phone providers are naturally resistant to this as it drops the cost of a call to almost zero. “More or less government?”. The battle will continue well past all of us. *hot spot: an area where wireless Internet connectivity is available Internet Services – Wi-fi Wi-fi provides wireless Internet connectivity. Virtually all laptops today include built-in wi-fi transceivers. The range of wi-fi can vary from 100 feet to 10,000 feet. Technically, just as any radio wave, there is no limit. There are three primary modes, B and the newer G and the even newer N. All are backwards compatible so don‟t worry about buying a G-mode router if you have older B- mode wi-fi laptops. There is some improvement in distance but mostly in speed. But you never know what speed you‟ll end up with. You‟re sharing a connection with others (probably). www.speedtest.net is my favorite speed test site. Fast and accurate. There are books listing hot spots around the nation but new ones appear so often the books are out of date the day they are printed. There are numerous Web sites listing hot spots. Some make it extra easy by just inserting the Zip code you‟re in. Internet Services – Wi-fi The easiest way to find hot spots is to carry a $15 “hot spot detector”. This saves you the trouble of unpacking and booting up your laptop to see if a “node” is nearby. Note: keep in mind some are encrypted so you can‟t gain a connection without being told the connection password. Some charge for it and some are closed to others because they want it that way. Wi-fi pocket sized detectors down to keychain sized are for sale on eBay and most any electronics and computer store for prices from $5 to $50. Just like USB memory sticks, you may be lucky enough to have a principal give away wi-fi detectors as freebies. All detect all three modes. Only the most expensive do such things as indicate the mode (you really don‟t care), display the SSID of the node or the direction. Price can sometimes indicate the sensitivity. Directivity and good range are handy features. Hawkins sells one for $15 that is very sensitive and very directional. Internet Services – Wi-fi My favorite but, as I say, there are dozens including ones MUCH more sensitive than this one but this one is many steps above the typical keychain detector in both gain and directivity. www.ebay.com search for hawking wifi locator. HWL1 802.11b/g WiFi Locater. $35 at CompUSA or currently selling for $6.49 plus $8 shipping on eBay. There are options galore for wi-fi just as exist for cell phones. Extended range antennas being the #1 handiest option. Roof-top cell phone antennas for instance. Wi-fi antennas that go up to the dish level. Google for options. www.hawkingtech.com shows a dish antenna option. Very handy when your hotel wants $10 a day but there is a Starbucks down the street or a hotel next door with free wi-fi. You can also buy a portable router to provide everyone in the hotel free wi-fi from your connection! The options are limitless. The record for long distance wi-fi? 191 miles (really). Internet Services – Wi-fi As a courtesy, (and they will appreciate it!) have a wireless router on your office Internet connection. How many times does a RSM come rushing in asking “where is the nearest hot spot! I‟ve been off e-mail for six hours now!”. Sweating bullets. The younger they are, the more frantic they are. Have a waiting AC power socket in your conference room and an open wireless router so all he/she has to do is “log-on”. If you are not in an urban area (i.e. office building) where others might find your signal and decide to make use of your connection instead of paying for their own, just leave it unencrypted. But check every so often to see if anyone is “hooked onto” your router and, if so, turn off your SSID (the signal that says who you are and your Wi-fi‟s name). This makes it a bit more difficult to hook-on but still not that hard. If you discover others are hooking on and dragging down your connection by using it a lot, switch it to 64-bit encrypted. Tell your visiting fireman what the encryption password is. Newer laptops auto sense nodes and pop up windows asking for encryption passwords. Insert the password and they are hooked on. Simple! Keep the router as an access point only. Do NOT adjust it such that anyone (even with passwords) can gain access to your network. The security reasons are obvious. Instead, use remote connection software (a later slide) to gain access to your network. If you use outside network techies, they will assume you want the router to allow access to your network. NO! (be sure to tell them). Internet Services – Wi-fi There are many types of “wireless Internet connectivity”. Wi-fi is the one you are probably most familiar with and probably already use. Many of you have wireless routers in your home. As an aside, if what you have works, don‟t spend more money for newer types (like N mode). Even b-mode is as fast as most high speed Internet connection. Unless your router is also doing lots of peer-to-peer intranet big file transfers, you will notice no difference “upgrading” to a faster router. Until Internet providers begin to offer 50,000 kbps (which they can already do but the current infrastructure in this country couldn‟t handle the load) a plain old b-mode router is adequate in almost every instance. But you can‟t even buy a new b-mode router today. So g-mode is just fine. N-mode will add zero improvement. They CLAIM to have more range but in actual tests, that is seldom true. If you need more range, antennas and other options are available. Internet Services Remote control of PC‟s. There are many such software programs on the market. Many heavily marketed on radio and TV. GoToMyPC.com for example. There are many such programs that work fine and also cost money. Some are monthly rentals. There is no need to spend a dime! The object is to have remote control just like you‟re at the keyboard of the other computer but have it such that security is like Ft. Knox. Such a service exists. LogMeIn. www.logmein.com. I waited a year before going with it to make sure it was indeed bullet-proof. It is. It is now installed on many millions of computers and has not been hacked even once. I have it installed on several of our office pc‟s as well as various computers where I help others with their computer problems. No more service calls! As long as they are hooked to the Internet, I can hook to their pc and operate it just like I was there. Go to their site to learn more. Like all free software, they try to sell you their pro version but it‟s not needed for what we do. If you need or want remote control over any pc, this is the Web-based service to use. You can control another pc from any other pc with your log-in name and password. And the other pc has to have the software installed and it set to allow you in. As I say, it seems to be bullet proof. I have our server with so many security walls installed that it is like Ft. Knox but this gets in as if no security was on the server whatsoever. LogMeIn has saved me considerable time and effort working on other pc‟s plus it gives me direct remote access to our network (through one our office computers). Gadgets There have been few new “revolutionary” gadgets the last few years. At least in industrial and business computing. There‟s been the iPOD and the Wii video game. As well as other consumer items such as the “Slingbox” and so forth. But not much new for us. Just improvements of what we already have. For instance, ink jet printers (unless you REALLY need color) is now a BAD investment. Good quality laser printers and copiers have dropped below $100. No more messy ink jet cartridges and laser cartridges last MUCH longer. Thin, light-weight LCD monitors. Hopefully, you‟ve dumped most of your old CRT monitors! Have you “upgraded” to Microsoft Vista? If not and you‟re still thinking about it – DON‟T!. Bugs galore and it is a royal mess. Virtually all Vista sales have been to major corporations who are under contract to buy whatever MS is selling today. Stay with XP as long as you can. Midtec continues to buy almost new Toshiba (favorite brand) laptops on eBay at VERY good prices and desktops built to order from Microcenter. www.microcenter.com. Microcenter has everything you need, at good prices and tech support that is more than someone in India reading from a script. GADGETS – lots of new consumer items but little for business. We seem to have hit a plateau. That‟s good! Personally, I‟m tired of having to junk everything and start over every three years! Let‟s hope this respite lasts! Backups What!!?? You‟re not backing up all your data every night in multiple ways?? You are skirting with disaster. 43% of all companies who are highly dependent on their files and records who suffer a catastrophic data loss (lose everything including their backups) NEVER reopen for business. Of those who do, 54% close within the next 12 months. There are multiple methods of backup. From RAID in your server, to individual backups, to flash memory sticks for very critical data to Web-based automatic backup companies to – the list goes on and on. Have at least THREE forms of backup of your most important files. And keep at least two in separate places and at least one off-site. An on-site copy in a fire-proof box or safe is a good idea. And make sure you are REALLY backing up. More than half of all catastrophic data losses happen to companies who believed they were backing up. But their backups were also corrupted or were blank! Periodically, look at the data on your backup media to make sure your backups are really happening! Services - VOIP VOIP – what is it? “Voice Over Internet Protocol”. Basically, it is routing telephone calls over the Internet. Your long distance carrier may already be doing some of it and you haven‟t noticed. Should you opt for “VOIP” when you buy a new phone system? Never say never but VOIP is often standard or is inexpensive as an option. Buy it and leave it for the future if you like. BUT You may never use it. VOIP drops the cost of long distance calls to nothing to a few cents a minute. Have you looked at your LD bill lately? It may be the only expense that keeps going down. “Land-line” LD averages 5 cents a minute today. I suspect you pay more for your cell phones than your LD. “VOIP only” commits you to the Internet for LD calls unless you keep your LD carrier as backup. In spite of claims, VOIP still has occasional glitches and delays. LD is already so cheap, is VOIP worth the effort? You decide. Midtec is VOIP-ready but we don‟t use it. Maybe someday. If you want to save on LD, encourage your salespeople to use their cell phones (if your cell phone plans have unlimited or usually unused LD minutes). In Closing Wi-Max, T1, T3, cable, satellite, microwave, point-to-point, DSL, ISDN, 100Base-T, analog, digital, ad-hoc, SMTP, POP-3, authentication, fixed IP, DHCP, SSID, encryption, WLAN, DNS, WAP, pass-through, HTTP, HTTPS, spread spectrum, bandwidth, SSL, NETBEUI, packet, yada, yada, yada – How ever much technology you farm out, do NOT let them snow you! Write everything down and look it up. EVERYTHING can be “Googled”. Let yourself be snowed and you needlessly open your wallet and may or may not get what you want! Checking the calendar, we are well into the 21st century and there will always be a need for reps – who are pragmatic and change with the times! That includes adding new technology WHEN and IF it makes sense to do so.