Don’t Be Proactive, Be Preactive

IT in business is always reactive, something goes wrong and it gets fixed. Even with all the monitoring that companies offer, you are still waiting for a problem to happen before you deal with it. What if there was another way? What if you could skip over their being a problem with the IT completely?

In this week's episode I talk about how this can be a reality, why the ‘Cloud’ is the solution and that no matter how many ‘tickets’ IT companies love to boast they have solved, their approach is fundamentally flawed.


[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to episode five of no technobabble. Your host today I've told this episode. Be proactive be proactive. I think is a good place to start with were actually talking about by being proactive because proactive doesn't even kind of sound like a real word whereas proactive is something we're all familiar with. Proactive means being ready for something before it happens already for something when it happens so that we can deal with it better. So I'll put it in perspective of what the podcast is about about I.T. and technology and your business. Back in the old days of I.T. when something broke you went out and fixed it. There wasn't even any proactiveness in those days you simply sat there wait for the phone to ring when a computer broke. You ask what the problem was. Most of the time you went out there in a van and you fixed the problem.

[00:00:50] I was pretty much standard stuff that was 20 odd years ago then about 15 10 15 years ago we started to do stuff in I.T. where you monitored things for faults and you start to look for trends or predictive faults coming and then you reacted to those so that made you sort of proactive you were looking for things to go wrong. But really you are still knowing about it faster than the customer was probably what it really was. So rather than it breaking in the customer ringing you up saying this is broken you would know it was broken before the customers you'd ring them and tell them it was broken and then you do something about it. That was all your proactive way of working. Now neither of those are really very good for our business and here's the reason for it. In either case something's broken. Either way you know about it first or I know about it first but whichever way it is something's broken. And now ultimately that's not what we want. We don't want things that were broken. We want things that dont break. So how do you do that. Well you can in many ways it's not possible to see the future.

[00:01:54] We know that for sure but it is possible to think about what are the problems that might happen in my business and then avoid them or skip over them and that is what I mean by being proactive.

[00:02:06] How can you predict what it is before you need it. How do you know what it is that you want before it happened.

[00:02:13] I have to think about what the outcomes are that you want from your system and then you can plan to design systems or put things in place that provides you with what it is that you want.

[00:02:22] So a classic example of somebody might say well I always want to have access to my email and always have access to my files as a simplistic way of dealing with it.

[00:02:32] But there's not one of us who uses a computer in a business that doesn't want that access to our files and access to our e-mails is very comments standard. So let's say we put that in place and that's what we want to have.

[00:02:44] Whats going to happen if were working.

[00:02:45] As we work at the moment well the chances are we going to be working around a proactive system.

[00:02:53] We're going to be working on the basis that a fault will occur and when it occurs someone is going to fix it for us but were probably already in our mind comfortable in thinking we're going to fix it really quickly. And that's the bit that I want the most. You only have to take a look at the websites of most I.T. support companies out there that look after other businesses look at their website and you will see all over websites companies boasting about how many tickets they've resolved in a period of time. Tickets being the I.T. term for a problem how many things problems that they've solved in a period of time. The number might be counting up on some of them it might be in the hundreds or thousands depending on how big the companies are. You're constantly going on about how many problems they fixed but when you think about this who wants to know about how many problems somebody has fixed it's kind of like going to a doctor who tells you to eat a specific diet and when you get ill because you eat that dire. At some point they'll be ready there to help you. It would be more sensible for the doctor to tell you about diet that wasn't going to give you this problem. It would make more sense for the doctor to advise you what it is that you should eat that will cause you not to feel unwell. That would be more what we would want in a health sense. None

[00:04:02] Of us would take it in a health sense if the doctor told us you eat this dire and it will at some point make you really unwell but when you are really well you I’ll be ready for you in minutes. I'll be really fast and ready for you. That just seems pointless. Why wouldn't we want a diet that never made us ill and made us more healthy which means that we could focus on knowing that we could do whatever it is we want to do and there wasn't going to come a point in which we were going to be ill and it was going to spoil our day. This is something that sadly massively it's lacking in it it doesn't exist. Everybody now pretty much everybody everybody is based on this reactive proactive reactive um going to fix your problem as fast as possible when it happens. They whether they say that they are proactive or reactive it's the same situation someone's monitoring something and they're going to react to it quickly when it goes wrong but the problem is it's still gone wrong. And that's what we want to get rid off and that's what I want to talk about about being proactive how do you be proactive in your business with your I.T. technology so that you can minimize the chances of anything going wrong. As much as possible because I'm not going to put myself into cloud cuckoo land and say that I've got solutions for things that will never go wrong Im not naive enough or grown enough to say that that's the case. However it is possible to put things in place that can minimize the amount of times that things go wrong way above other ways of doing things.

[00:05:28] So let's go back to that classic case after files and emails that we were talking about. I mentioned that everybody has access to now usually in earlier smaller business or even you know can be a big business. There's a server that holds those files and buy a server I mean that's a computer that's in the building somewhere in the company it's a physical object it's electronic big computer that holds all the data and at some point if it's particularly those who worked in a small business we probably heard the expression other servers down which means it's not working. And that's when you call your I.T. support company or if they're proactive they've already told you oh yes we've predicted that your servers are going to fail in two hours and then it fails and then it will be out soon to fix it. Here we come.

[00:06:10] We've got to fix that problem for you.

[00:06:13] What you've got there is you have got a system in place in your business that you know is going to fail because it's a piece of electronic hardware and electronics are consistently unreliable when they are run in a singularity when you run one individual instance of them so when you run one server device the chances are that at some point in the lifespan that you own it's going to have a problem particularly since it's hardware and software at the same time. So that's hardware means it's the actual physical electronics that are inside that piece that box that's the circuit boards hard drives that store information the CPQ that processes information and of course the software that runs on it. Most likely most businesses run a Windows server but you might run a Linux server you might run even an Apple server they're quite rare but you know sometimes they exist but the chances are you running a Windows server in your business. So you've got an issue where the software might go wrong and we all know this. We've all worked on Windows computers I'm sure and we know that sometimes the software goes wrong and something doesn't do what it's supposed to do and that's when you get have you turned it on and off again from the I.T. people and that kind of thing. So if we base it on the idea that if you've got a server in your business the chances are at some point in the lifespan that you own that server the hardware is going to go wrong or the software's going to go wrong and your chances are statistically pretty high of that. So what you're doing is you're already committing yourself to a direction that say's I know a problem's going to occur. What I want to know is how do I deal with it when that problem occurs.

[00:07:41] Why do we accept that. Why do we accept that. Is it because it's all we've ever done.

[00:07:46] Possibly because it was all that was possible there wasn't another approach to it. Over the last 15 years there wasn't 20 years there really wasn't another way that you could do that in a business year if you want to share data with other people in your company you had to have a server to do it. And the best way of doing that was to have a server in your office in the corner of the room.

[00:08:06] But those things have changed and yes we can plan to have spare parts available for our equipment and yes we can have a relationship with a local company and yes they can be monitoring it for us that they know about when it fails.

[00:08:17] Before we do all of these approaches ultimately are fundamentally flawed. We're accepting that the system will fail. So how do we get past the problem how do we get past the problem. Well what answer might be wider to get rid of the server that's in the office completely. Because if it's not there then it can't fail. Okay there's some logic to that but what are you going to do. How are you going to do that. So if the servers are not there what's going to do what the server did.

[00:08:45] Now that didn't used to be an answer to that you couldn't do it was very difficult to do that sort of 10 15 years ago there was no other alternatives.

[00:08:53] However over the last five years or so the access to what's called the cloud is what's replaced that and this is really what you should be looking at in your business if you've got business businesses to it anywhere between you as a solo individual and it's up to thousands of employees really.

[00:09:14] It covers all scopes but um talking is particularly relevant if you're on the one to 100 employees sized businesses.

[00:09:20] You do not want to be having a server in the corner room you don't want one server to service 3G on any given day when any of these things because they're going to go wrong on you they cost money to look after they've got money to buy their used electricity up they take space up they're noisy. There's a myriad of reasons why you don't want to have a server you've got to back them off. There's all sorts of stuff you have to get involved in wouldn't it be better if we could open a piece of software and our computer and have access to the data and and have access to the data in our teams and we could have what you might even call a virtual server invisible server but wouldn't that be a better way. Well this is what you can do now by using the cloud. And when I say cloud cloud means data centers that are run by big companies like Google Marcas often numbers and great big buildings full of have thousands of computers that you access over the Internet and use.

[00:10:06] So this is how you do it this is you reactive. You'd be by being proactive what we've done is we've looked at the problem the problem is we've got a server in the office and the server might fail. So let's get rid of the server and that's what we do by skipping past that and removing the cause of the problem. So now what you do is you have a system like Google Drive where you open the software you open the web browser or you open the Google file stream software that you've installed on your Windows computer and you will have access to all of your files as if they were on a server.

[00:10:34] In fact it will even look like that. So if most of you are familiar with working with Windows servers you've probably seen a mapped network drive or drive letters that drive debride hate drive that kind of thing it tends to be where people keep their data and they know how to find it. Oh it's in the F drive.

[00:10:50] Well if you got Google file stream installed you'll see a G drive in your computer and it look exactly the same as the drive you've got now. Except not on a server in your office it's in a myriad of Google servers online. This means that straight away. That's not going to go offline on you. If there's a power cut it's not going to fail. It's not in the corner of the office he's not gonna use electricity it's not only use he it's not going to make any noise it's not going to need an expensive support contract with a company to look after it. None of those things doesn't exist.

[00:11:17] It's online.

[00:11:19] Yes you can share it with your team members. So two of you can open it. Three of you can open the drive and see the data. And yes you can have personal data and yes you can have a folder for accounts and a folder for sales and a folder of charred but not allow everybody into H.R. but some people into sales and then some people into account. All that kind of permissions stuff that you had on the server where this person's allowed into that you can do all of that in the cloud with Google Drive as well. So you can completely replicate what you did with the physical server but you can do it in software without actually having to own the server which means you can skip past that problem so you no longer need to think about who is proactively monitoring your system for you because there's nothing to proactively monitor because you hadn't read that off to a massive organization like Google who are taking care of that for you.

[00:12:08] With any sensible humans going to know that a big organization like Google has got way more resources to look after your day than you have or any local business has on your behalf. Who's more likely to have a failure your server and your office and your premises under your electricity and your environmental factors or a multi billion dollar organization like Google or Facebook or any of those other organizations. How often are those things off line. Extremely slim. So you start to see why when you move your small business to using cloud technology you are going to get its reliability and predictability that you can get when you own your own kit. Let me give you another example. Phone systems. People always say but I got a phone system because I need people to call me. Thats phone if you want to get inbound inquiries of be business people need to contact you. Totally make sense. With that I'm not knocking that in any way but phone systems themselves tend to be expensive and when people call you and your not in the office the phones ringing in the office but it's not ringing on you. What do you do for example if you've got a snow day people can't get to work but it's not going to impact what your business does your business might be a solicitors your business might be an accountants where people can do things when they're not in the office but the phones are ringing in the office because it's snowy and no one can get there. Well the answer isn't to have a phone system that forwards it to mobiles that are proactive that's being proactive as monitoring for when there's a problem doing something else pretty active in this instance would be to have a phone system does not rely on being in your office.

[00:13:38] I.e. get it a cloudbase phone system. And what I mean by that is that the actual phone system that way inbound phone calls on the phone number go to is in data centers again is in the cloud and you have an app on your mobile phone that rings so your mobile phone becomes your phone and that's very clever way of working because everybody has their mobile phone with them. Now you dont again have to buy a load of mobile phones for employees either because I bet you bottom dollar your employees have got great mobile phones. Most people don’t spend a lot of money on them and they like their phones and that their phones come with most likely unlimited data plans unlimited phone calls unlimited text messages so they've got one fixed cost anyway and they are going to use them. Well if you install your business phone system app onto your mobile phone their phones can ring as if they were in an office. It’s the same thing. And whats the chances of somebody being without mobile phone 4G signal these days or why fly. Its really really really slim everybody’s got this kind of stuff everywhere. So now you are looking. By being proactive you’re skipping past the problem of how do I take phone calls when Im travelling when I’m not in the office when there’s a snow day.

[00:14:43] You've got past them because you've decided to put your phone system into the cloud and then you decided to leverage the power of the device that the person's already got in their pocket that they're already paying for that so that you don't have to pay for it but in return what you're giving the employee as they don't have to use two mobile phones carry them around with them and they don't have to use a crappy mobile phone that you've bought for their Ammianus crappy because you don't want to spend a 1000 pounds on an iPhone x for all your employees to take phone calls. So why not leverage the phone that they've already got and then you don't have to pay for it and they get the bonus of using the phone that they love it doesn't cost them any money because they've already got an unlimited data plan and if they don't have an unlimited data plan then you could agree that with the employee by giving them a small raise to bump up the cost of their mobile phone to give them an unlimited data plan. So you are doing okay so you're paying for it then as the business but you're paying for is a little bit in their salary raise for them but you don’t have to have a phone system on site you don't have enough support for that phone system that's on site you don’t have to buy multiple set of mobile phones through employers so they can simply make phone calls. You are thinking smart and jumping over the problem. You jump over the problem then you don't even have to have desk phones in your office any longer. And if you don't have desk phones in your office then you don’t have to have expensive network cabling in your office and that saves you a load of money too and you can run everything off why.

[00:16:07] And isn't that just easier because then people can sit anywhere they want. They gonna have cables in the floor and they don't have to have desks next to cables sockets and the whole thing extrapolates out into a really free and easy way. Now your business can operate kind of from anywhere because you know not to talk about it in this podcast but I advocate that all businesses should always buy laptops now and never buy desktops and monitors any longer just buy laptops they're more versatile they're only a little bit more expensive 100 150 more expensive than the desktop by the laptops. And then you've got complete flexibility people can work from any desk anywhere with a mobile phone as long as they've got wifi or they've got 4G signal and the chances of somebody not having Wi-Fi available or not having 4G that they can tether and by tether I mean you can connect your laptop so it goes out through your phone.

[00:16:53] So if you go somewhere and there isn't wifi that you can use a customer site they don't allow you to use their wifehood for example when you can connect yourself to your mobile phone and use your mobile phone to do it. So the limit your limit unlimited knowing where you can work from.

[00:17:09] This makes a lot more sense to me than doing it in the old way the old way of putting a phone system into your building and paying for an expensive phone system and a maintenance contract for your phone system when actually all you really need to do is pay for a cloudbase phone system that brings in numbers your phone number for your business and runs it through that phone system through to the app on the phone. So you do have to have a relationship with somebody to do that for you. But it's a lot less complicated. You get to pay a company for the number of employees that you want to have phone calls you might have one phone number that comes in and it gets answered by a couple of employees spread across like you used to like a reception or you might have direct done numbers you know and you pay for that per user and each user has the app on their phone or on their computer as well as you can do that too. So you could have you know the laptop can ring as well if person people want to work in that way. But there's no need for you to have a phone system on site and expensive maintenance for the hardware for the phone system on site you don’t need to lease it over years and years you can move to an environment where you pay a company for the amount of users that you want over a period of time it might be month by month it might be a 12 month contract but it's a lot less rigid than some phone system contracts I've seen where people have signed up for five years or seven years for a piece of hardware who wants to buy a piece of hardware for seven years it's going to be like an antique.

[00:18:27] By the time you've finished with it and you're paid for it 10 times over.

[00:18:32] It's not a sensible way to work the way you want your business to work is as flexible as possible so that you can adapt to changing times in the way that you can do that. With these subscription base services and this is exactly the same when I'm talking about why you don't want a server you buy a server and you going to have an investment over a period of time usually three to five years was what people thought about doing. So you can buy over three to five years with an associate maintenance contract for three to five years and it's got to physically sit somewhere in your building and use electricity for three to five years.

[00:19:01] Well what if you bought access to your files in your storage on a per user per month basis and that's exactly what you do if you are using Google. You don't even have to sign up free annual contract you can buy Geest week on a per month basis so you can gear up your employees for a six month project and then down your employees when you're finished. This works really well with the gig economy that we're in at the moment where we hire people as contractors to come in do something for a period of time and then leave the business again and all of this gives you the flexibility to gear up and gear down as you need to.

[00:19:32] Whereas if you buy the server and then suddenly your business expands dramatically in 18 months you'll find that what you bought 18 months ago isn't good enough for the 18 months where you are now and then you've got investigating to do an upgrade or maybe you've got buy a new server and if you're dealing with a company that's a bit unscrupulous in what they do in I.T. and they do exist out there they're going to tell you you need to buy a new server and invest again in he you go down the expensive route of buying in again and buying more hardware whereas if you skipped over that whole problem and you put yourself in a position where you are using a Google search Google GCE then you can add people as you one of them you've got a cloudbase phone system as well you can have people you want removed them as you want to do you're in a really flexible position and all of your costs are easy to work out their operational costs and you can predict your costs every three to six months ahead instead of hope to look at five year contract and all this kind of stuff.

[00:20:26] There is a lot of sense in being proactive in looking at the problem you've got with technology in your business and finding a solution that skips past it.

[00:20:34] Stop this idea of having something in your business and then having a solution for what you do when it goes wrong. That's old school new school is looking what the problem is and skipping past it was something that doesn't go wrong or something that fits you better than what you had before. Now you might say to me okay but what if Google goes down.

[00:20:57] What do I do then. Clever.

[00:21:00] Okay well let's have a look at probability because probability is something that affects most of us in our life and I'll give you an example here of flying loads of people have a fear of flying. Lots and lots and lots of people do not enjoy flying and they find very anxious and upsetting when they fly. They're nervous they think they're going to die. They can't help it. You know it's not rational but it happens. Yet when they drive to and from the airport particularly on the drive home from the airport and it's middle of the night and they're tired they don't have any worries about that whatsoever. Now statistically you're way more dangerous are way more dangerous driving the car particularly when you're tired you way more likely to die or be injured when you're driving the car than you are when you're on the aircraft. The aircraft is a well maintained piece of equipment that has rules and regulations for its maintenance. It is operated by professional employees who are checked and verify that they can do what they need to do and are trained to do what they need to do in an emergency on a consistent basis whereas you got your driving licence when you were 18 years old and that's it. And the maintenance on your vehicles whatever you choose it to be there’s no schedule to manage it you can do what you want you get em out once a year but that doesn’t mean that you are safe to drive by any long shot.

[00:22:09] However most people will agree that they'll feel more comfortable driving their car to and from the airport than they will when they're on the airplane. If they're not a good flyer and this is all about your perception of something rather than the reality. So your perception back to the case is that while Google goes down your perception is that I’m at risk because Google may go down there reality statistically is that Google's not going to go down. The reality is that your system your server in your office is way more statistically likely to break than it is for Google to go down. The statistics are that they are more likely to have a power cut in your office than you are then Google to go down because remember if there’s no power in your office your server doesn’t work and you can’t do anything about it and thats it youre stuck. But if there’s a Parker in your office and you’re using Google then you can go to a coffee shop or go home and your employees can work. They could pick up their laptops and take them home or from somewhere else. So only your office that’s limited but if your servers in your office you are stuffed until its back. If you have if you’ve got your server in your office and you’re not connected to the Internet because your internet connections down you’re stuffed. Whereas if your internet connection is down in your office for whatever reason someone’s put a JCB through their pipes outside you can send all the employees home or send them to shared why fireplaces hotels coffee shops.

[00:23:22] There’s so many places you can go to and they can work so you have to look at statistics rather than your perception your perception is that it's better you're more comfortable to see yourself in the corner of the room in know it's yours you're more comfortable to not believe the hype and believe that you are less likely to have a fault than these big big corporations and where my data or in all of this. But statistically it's the complete opposite like flying statistically you are way way less likely to have any faults when you put your data with a provider like Google when you have it in their data centers when you're working from the cloud.

[00:23:56] Statistics show that you're safer and more secure than your ever be in your own office but it's your perception of another one that somebody might say to me Well what if you're wrong.

[00:24:08] Why are you wrong about this. What if you're wrong about moving to the cloud. I moved to the cloud and then everything changes and it goes back to other thing goes back to something different. Now I'm going to jump back on this trend what if you just said everything you're talking about is just trendy. Well there's always changes in technology and things that start small get big. The smartphone as we know it has only been around since 2007 so it's 11 years now for the smartphone i.e. the touchscreen phone with the icons on it like Apple stirred with social media didn't really exist before 2003. Everything is pretty pretty new and this trend to the cloud of working via connectivity and through your phone and your laptop and tablets and everything being online and not in a server in your office is a fairly new concept and like I said it was. It's been around for 10 years but it's really only been easier to do in the last five years and it's very simple to do today. So yes in a sense you know somebody might say well what are you wrong about this.

[00:25:07] No no not the hard trend the hard trend is everything is moving to the cloud. Do you see anything in any industry moving back to being small based out of your office or is every single thing that you look at moving to being run on any where any time basis over Wi-Fi. It's the latter.

[00:25:26] There's nothing that's going in the other direction and this is exactly the same for your small business. Everything is going to go to the cloud so you don't want to be fearful of this. You need to let that fear go isn't it a misguided fear. It's right to be skeptical sometimes and not to get pulled into something that isn't right for your business. Totally understand that do due diligence but the direction of it is going to the cloud. That's the hard trend that's where it's going to be for the next 20 years at least. There's no absolutely zero signs of it going any other direction. And what happens is we're not at a tipping point at the moment. As Malcolm Gladwell writes about in his book we're not at the tipping point when it changes and everybody jumps on the bandwagon but pretty pretty close to it now. So there's still time for you to get get in and get ahead of other people and save yourself time and money and effort by getting involved in this. So when people talk to you now if you running a small business and someone says you know it's time to upgrade your server you really really want to question that. Why. Why do we need to upgrade my server. Why don’t I move to using cloud based systems.

[00:26:28] And if your I.T. provider doesn't talk to you about cloudbase systems or insists that you want a server you really want to be questioning whether those people have got your interests at heart or if they got the interests in what they sell more than your interests. Every frustration that you've got in business to do with technology you want to have a look at and ask how can you eliminate it. What frustrates you about what you do with technology in your business and then ask the people that you work with your I.T. provider your I.T. manager Haddaway eliminate this not fix it not react to it eliminate it skip over it bypass it get past it remove it.

[00:27:04] That's what you want to be doing and if the people you work with can't do that then you've got the right people. Simple as that and I call this out many a time and people don't like that or call it out but this is the end of it there's a lot of people who work in I.T. that are geared up on their skillset 15 to 20 years ago kept up with it a little bit and are not interested in the fact that the whole industry is completely changing and they don't like it and it pays them off and they don't want to do it. And you're the one who pays for you the customer is the one who pays for it because they'll keep selling you the same old rubbish that's been around and I'll sell it to you again they'll sell you another server for 5 years and yes you can buy a server that doesn't mean that this is their end of servers in every part of a business. It isn't by a longshot because remember these big servers go into data centers and companies put them into data centers make their own clouds. So the reason the stuff still for sale is because someone is buying it and somebody does need it. But if you're a small business you don’t teach to not need to do this. You can remove all of this stuff from your life. You can read all of these headaches you can reduce your costs you can simplify how you work. You can have this situation where you open your mobile phone and you open your laptop you open your computer at home in all the date that you want exactly as you left it is there and it's safe and secure it is available any time you can have all of this stuff.

[00:28:18] By adopting the cloud by moving to services like Google Geest week that are you that's how you do this kind of things and this is about being it is about asking questions about what is the problem in my business that bugs me how can I overcome it how can overcome this day.

[00:28:32] How can I overcome if my building burns down. How can I overcome this problem. Not if your building burns down we will rebuild your system in X amount of days. That's rubbish you don’t want that what you want to do is how do I get rid of the problem to my business with my tech with my data if the building burns down so that I don’t have that problem so that the building can in fact burn down and I don’t care. I’m not that inconvenienced by it and I know that sounds like I'm being a bit flippant about it.

[00:28:55] But anyway I'm going to get into a bit of a tirade and a rant now so I can't now because that's the end of this week's episode.

[00:29:05] No technobabble. Be proactive. Be pretty active I've it's been helpful for you.

[00:29:11] So this is episode 5 Now we also have a sister podcast which is free talk Friday on a Monday which you'll also find on our site so please God give that one to listen to. If you can leave a review for us on Apple on unstitched that helps people find us and get bigger audience which we'd like to do because I believe that we've got some things to say here that are helpful to you and your business. Again. Haiti you can find out more about what I do at Kimberlee dot com that's where our business is based. Thank you very much for listening and I look forward to speaking to you on Episode 6.

Kyle Heath