To say it’s been an historic, hectic, chaotic and revolutionary few weeks is an understatement. The uncertainty that Covid-19 has delivered to our doors is unprecedented. It has affected every aspect of our lives. So, nothing we didn’t already know, right?
The virus outbreak that was to change the face of the business world and also our own personal worlds ended up being biologically, not computer, based. That was ultimately a huge surprise to us all.
So, the Coronavirus is here, and business has changed. However, has it changed the face of business for good or for bad, for the short or the long haul? For many businesses, ours included, those first few days were full of stomach-wrenching conversations and blind uncertainty. A lot of companies were closing and felt unsure as to whether they would be opening their doors again at all.
This is how it has been panning out for us, and I imagine for the large majority of business and business owners, especially those that have fallen between the cracks of the various government schemes.
Then, something amazing started to happen.
The first week for Aztec Glass involved us calling all our clients. Those that used Georgina or Clarity Classic wanted to start the migration over to Clarity Air. For those already on Clarity Air, when we called to see how we could help, the resounding response was ‘we don’t need help, thank you’ or ‘can you put it on my home PC / laptop for me?’ You see, all our Clarity Air clients were running as normal because, thankfully, Clarity Air is the only cloud-based solution available for the glass and glazing industry. Ok, facilities are closed, production stopped to a large degree but their businesses have not. These businesses have spent the past few weeks costing, admin and updating. Not sitting and waiting, not worrying and panicking.
Instead, they have been planning and streamlining their operations to suit what we believe the new business world has, and will have, to offer. We all use Office 365, a lot of us use SharePoint for document storage or software similar. As for their business critical software? Well, that was cloud-based also. These guys are not having to remote in to desktops in their offices, dealing with lag, delays, disconnections and the general grief that these processes involve.
Teams and Zoom have made a massive impact on the business world, but still, what about your business critical software? What about your accounts? Are you still using Sage rather than Xero? Do you really need to pay way over the odds for old fashioned software that hardly makes any use of your new super hardware you just paid for, or is it dragging your network speeds down to 1990’s speeds?
The second week. Well the phone started ringing, a lot. Not support calls. Calls for requests for information and demos. Requests for advice from business owners on how they can face the future and grasp the new opportunities in the industry. Make the most of the tools that are available and reduce costs, we advised. We began booking demos, closing deals and securing opportunities.
Why was this happening?
It’s simple. The vast majority of businesses still run servers to handle their ageing apps. These cost-intensive solutions to run archaic software, the majority of which cause massive issues if trying to run alongside anything above Windows 8.1, are counter intuitive. Yet businesses still insist on using it! The typical excuse of the business owner is, we don’t have time, we’ve used it for years, it means learning a new system. Cost!! etc etc. That’s how you are going to face the new challenges of the industry ahead? Would you use 20-year-old vans to deliver your products? No of course not? So why use ageing software?
A few warning signs
- Are you charged support fees to fix your issues with their software? Does keeping the software working come out of your pocket?
- Yearly contracts. None of us expected this shutdown, nothing like paying for licences you cannot use for months.
- Upfront billing. Paying your supplier upfront for the year, great for them but not great for your cashflow.
- Per PC install costs rather than per user. Don’t tie your staff’s hand, being charged per user gives you access from every pc for your licensed users.
- No flexibility to your staffing needs. Can you increase and decrease your license count as you need on a month by month basis – or a yearly basis?
- Compatibility issues. Legacy software never plays well with new solutions. Your system will only go as fast as the oldest software will allow.
- Paying for updates. When did your solution provider last call you up to tell you about a new update, that’s included, no cost?
- Modular software rather than complete packages that cover your needs. We all know the score, 80% of what you need is in one module the other 20% is in 3 other modules forcing you to buy all 4 modules. Annoying in the 90’s- poor business practice in 2020.
- Servers to run the software in-house. Legacy software needs legacy technology ideals and expensive equipment to run at slow speeds. Cloud software needs a web connection – that’s it.
- Lack of customisation. With the lack of updates and constant development comes lack of customisation. Your business applications are ridged, forcing you to work to their workflows not yours. This is not an issue, except you started this business to be unique…
- Apps that look like windows XP, if it looks like XP then it was probably designed for XP! Ie: You want the best from your staff, so avoid letting them sit in front of drab grey clutter for 8 hours a day.
- Microsoft killed support for Windows XP, it went end of life 8th April 2014, with Win7 following suit on 13th Jan 2015, Win8 on 12th Jan 2016 and now we should be on Win 8.1 or Win 10. When used with modern apps designed for this technology you will see the return on your investment, not to mention its updated and secured.
The point is, if your business-critical software was designed for an age that no longer exists, written on development software that is no longer available, on an operating system supplied by an organisation that hasn’t supported it for over 6 years. Then isn’t it time your suppliers gave a newer release, not an upgraded update of a patched system? Or perhaps that’s the problem, complacency. A desire to keep billing you for outdated outmoded solutions. Monthly contracts keep suppliers on their toes, yearly contracts keep them in a lifestyle.
Well now we do have the time to review to trial, learn, adapt and streamline your business. Update your business models software. At Aztec Glass, we have used our time to investigate, trial, learn and update our businesses.
That being said, we have been inundated with calls from small business owners grasping the opportunities offered and moving forward. Reducing costs and overheads. Moving to cloud and proving that social isolation isn’t the end we all feared, but an opportunity to reflect, adapt and improve. Retaining the old ways of business… now that’s the end.
I hope that we may never get this sort of opportunity again. But while we have it, let’s make the most of it.