I use technology all day. So does everyone, unless you have settled into an ultra-alternative life as a fisherman/woman in the Faroe Islands, and I bet you’ll need GPS and plenty of digital devices. I am the CEO of a financial services company where we buy and sell shares of stocks through an electronic trading system; move assets for our clients from custodian to checking account; analyze companies via Wall Street research portals; and do everything else that the world does today – email, web search, listen to Spotify, and catch the latest YouTube video of genius cats and wacky politicians.
Usually it works just fine with a glitch here or there. However, lately there is a problem that is driving me crazy, so infuriatingly crazy that I can’t do my job and am reduced to depression and a desperate wish for Aladdin. I suspect that many of our readers will have experienced something similar, including the unfolding of a solution.
Here is the problem. Every company today, no matter how small, needs someone to run its computer systems. We hired an IT firm over ten years ago when we started our business and as we have grown, they have mushroomed in size. The “info desk” and hotline are 1-800 numbers with software engineers answering from call centers in Asia. I make a point of asking if they are in New Delhi, Mumbai, or Manila. Once, all the tech service personnel were all located within walking distance or our offices in Boston.
With size comes economies of scale, meaning that solutions need to apply to a huge number of businesses rather than to one customer’s specifications at a time. That relates to a diseconomy of scale for us, and the risk that our needs will be subsumed by the greater customer pool, unless we happen to coincidentally require the same services.
So what is so bad about having a successful business and an IT provider, also very successful, who needs to run their company strategically with limited ability or concern for individual firms’ needs? Because I can’t paste and copy an attachment anymore!
I travel a fair amount and have always found it easier, whether I am on a plane, a train, or a hotel lobby to just copy an attachment into a word document and then work on that. As long as my laptop is charged, I don’t need to connect to wifi to remotely log into my firm’s server or worry about how many keystrokes I have before I lose the Amtrak connection. There was never a problem with my system for ten years. I would complete editing, writing, or obliterating someone else’s work on my laptop, send it from my laptop to my server and everything would be fine. One book, many HBR articles, and innumerable internal and client documents were produced this way.
That was the good old days. About six months ago, the “CLOUD” began to encroach stealthily into my life. We are supposed to applaud loudly at that introduction, but I cry. The cloud does not like to communicate with mundane devises like my and your laptop. You simply cannot get a document that you see on your screen to actually live on your device. It is, in the modern parlance “incompatible” as if the letter and words would be consumed by a flesh eating bacteria that would destroy your sentences and perhaps infiltrate your mind.