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Join the 21st Century

Sometimes you just have to know when it’s time to give up the past and move into the future. I’m talking about technology here. Watching the revelations in 2016 and 2017 about Hilary’s email server and Mike Pence’s AOL account that he used as Governor of Indiana until it was hacked it bringing up a series of conversations I’ve been having with clients of late. Basically put – it’s “get with the program” when it comes to technology.

So many things in our lives trend in a direction that makes them more expensive and more inaccessible – food prices, real estate, rental rates… Prices go up, selection goes down, getting what you want gets more difficult. One area that trends in the opposite way, and has for decades, is technology – in particular, computer technology. Your iphone has more processing power and storage than your desktop had 5 years ago, and costs a fraction as much. A 1 terabyte hard drive – capable of storing a ridiculous amount of data, can be had for $89 now – in 2004 that would have cost you closer to $12,000.

I consult to many organizations on their overall online strategy – and this often includes areas like Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) as well email handling, web hosting, site security, PCI compliance and more. Just yesterday I had a conversation with a client who is frustrated because the antique exchange server they use to handle 30+ email accounts in her office has so little storage space that she has to delete thousands of emails to make space – as do her colleagues. Losing those emails is frustrating, counter-productive and potentially bad for business as she is losing the history of her conversations and contacts in the process. Downloading and archiving the emails can’t be done because some long-ago and now absent IT person disabled that capability and no one in her office has the skills to reverse engineer it.

I suggested that we move her organization to Google’s G-Suite for business – this uses Google’s massive technology backbone to host all of your organizations emails, documents, cloud services of all kinds – for $5/month per email address…. $5… The total bill to the organization would be about $1800/year and for that you get ALL of Google’s great tools for collaborating and sharing, tons of storage, access from any device, great security, spam protection, etc….

Her boss – the executive director of the organization – said “No”.

I get it – change is hard – and certainly if you are some massive organization with thousands and thousands of employees and complicated requirements a solution like Google G-Suite wouldn’t be appropriate. You would need to engage in a long-term, deep-dive into planning, specifying, getting bids from vendors, etc. If you are a small cultural organization with 30 employees running antique hardware with no IT support, the answer to “should we use Google” should be “Yes”. Continuing to run and invest in outdated systems is like driving a horse & buggy – quaint and obsolete.

The technology you get to use today is cheaper, better, faster, more secure and more capable than what you used last year – or ten years ago. By a factor of 1,000% – it’s just waaaaaay better.

Dive in – the water is fine here in 2017. These tools work well. If you believe that your particular set of requirements isn’t met by what the market has to offer, it might be good to consider if you are falling for what I call the “one exception” – that single reason or function that you need which precludes moving forward. It might be time to modify the requirements and move on instead of sticking to your legacy systems.

Still using AOL to handle your email? Please – get over it. Sign up for a gmail account and let it go. Please.