Oct (10-06) - Uniformity revisitedI have a conundrum. I had thought that taking my inventory to the internet with e-commerce would solve a lot of problems, but it has created one. Back in the old days, we would converse on the telephone. Then came voice mail. We left messages and played phone tag with aplomb. Then came email, and we learned to type and compose as well as we could. Then came instant messenger, which had all the pleasure of keyboard dancing, but with baited breath anticipation of instant response. Now we have the internet and e-commerce, which means no one has to communicate with anyone else. So, while I think the technology is awesome, the result is that I miss you!
While I'm at it, please dont forget to visit and register on our new web site. It has greatly imrpoved your access to information, documentation, work-arounds, and solutions. You can identify parts, buy and ship gear and parts on-line, and keep track of your history. Check it out . Use it. We're continually imrpoving it.
I recently set up a web camera, both here and at the tech center. At first it was fun and exciting, as new technologies often are, but the limitations soon became clear. Connections are jumpy, pixilate, cut off, have terrible sound issues, etc. It's better than not having the visual, but it seems to get in the way of real progress in meetings. The one really nice benefit, though, is that I finally get to see the people that I may have known only by voice for so long. Perhaps it has the potential to bring some human element back into the arms-length relationships we've grown accustomed to since email and IM and voice mail took over the earth. I think it may also hold some benefit for remote diagnostics. We have one set up in the refurb area in order to help our customers identify parts etc.
Speaking of technology, that shiny flat screen LCD TV in my living room wasn't all that I had hoped for. SUre the HDTV is sharp and wonderful, but the non-HD broadcasting looks terrible on the larger screen. And I have also discovered a new phrase: "ground loop" problems. I know they are the latest craze and that the whole industry is peeing its pants with excitement, but I think i'ts way overblown.
I would venture that there are at least a dozen web subscription-based listing services competing for dealer and user attention. For a fee, they'll let dealers and users establish contact and perhaps transact via the familiar e-commerce methods. That is all well and good, but which one to use? How much is it worth to belong to all of them? Well, in my estimation, pick one or two. They're all advertising the same base inventory, since there are usually only a few sources for stock in the narrow specialties being traded. Now, if only they could assure that those advertising the gear actually owned it.
Many years ago I began to try to codify a direction and stand for our company. I formulated a philosophy which has paid off handsomely to those firms that have implemented it. I wrote a white paper on the topic (click here for the whole thing) which has been overlooked by many of my dear clients. So I've cut it down to the following which bears unearthing:
With unrelenting predictablity, manufacturers indtroduce new models to replace the old, leaving users and technicans with a new learning curve with each introduction.
The answer has been and continues to be the only sane way of managing this sprial: Uniformity
Acquiring a standard machine type and model of printer over time achieves several great goals:
a) It's just like the last one, so you'll know its exact configuration, which means that
b) You can support it over time,
c) The hardware and its support gets cheaper as we go,
d) You are not at the whim of the manufacturer's or distributor's discontinuance cycle
e) The installed base is asymptotically minimizing costs.
The cost of supporting uniform networks goes down dramatically over time. When you're ready to establish the next standard, take the next jump. Leapfrog when you're ready. It's much easier to install, configure, replace, redeploy, sell, or upgrade machines that are all the same.
i) Because of your standard platforms, support costs decrease dramatically over time as you climb the learning curve. (Examples: set up, software and device driver configurations, error resolution, diagnostics, etc.)
ii) As time goes on, you take advantage of price decreases and market value deterioration while maintaining network uniformity. Capital costs decline.
iii) Your purchases can be made with an eye on attrition of your current installed base without commitment to onerous safety stock levels usually necessary to assure network uniformity.
iv) Because of the timing of your acquisitions, cash outflows will decrease.
v) Maintenance of the installed equipment becomes much less expensive as replacement parts become more abundant.
The process of initiating and maintaining uniformity requires active restriction of model specifications introduced into an organization. The concept is an integral part of minimizing total cost while "freezing" current variety until a new standard is introduced by management. It is not always possible to have absolute identicality of all equipment; It is a long term goal in reduction of variety and staunch insistance on specific platform adherence.
IBM 2074-002 with dual ESCON
IBM 4530-N01 Infoprint 1130n New in sealed IBM Box
IBM 4540-N01 Infoprint 1140n
IBM 4885-001 M30 MFP Scanner
IBM 4921-001 Infoprint 1354 New in sealed IBM Box
Lexmark Optra Se3455, Se3455n