In my last article, I talked about computers and why getting a “good deal” really isn’t! If you missed it, or want a refresher, you can take a look here. Getting a “good deal” that really isn’t applies to other portions of your electronic equipment as well. Today I’m going to talk about infrastructure; specifically, networking equipment.
There’s a lot of marketing and hype out there for some of the consumer grade routers and wireless access points (wifi), but that doesn’t mean the equipment is appropriate for a business environment.
Often these products have flashy features and flashing lights, boasting the newest tech and the fastest speeds. For business use, you should be looking for robust, configurable features, strong security, and reliable performance, not quick setup and easy integration with your entertainment unit.
If your network goes down, every minute costs you money. Consumer grade hardware may work for a while, but it isn’t designed for reliability over time. There are several brands that specialize in business quality networking equipment, with proven reliability: Ubiquiti, OpenMesh, Cisco, Meraki, and SonicWall come to mind. Often, these companies have offerings in a similar price range as the flashy consumer grade products, but with far better business results.
Price Vs Value Part 4 – Get the best value
The key is to identify where you can save some money, and when you should spend more to get better value from your purchases. In business, removing obstacles from yourself and your employees can greatly improve productivity. User frustration and ease-of-use in relationship to initial cost is an important consideration.
For example: is your business heavily web-based, or do you have a lot of spreadsheets/documents open at once? You probably don’t need a professional quality monitor (professional in this case refers to picture accuracy for graphic designers and video editors). You may be better off with two standard monitors that don’t necessarily have accurate color or exceptional resolution but instead give you more screen real estate at a lower price tag.
Another example: a wireless keyboard and mouse can reduce frustration by giving you more flexibility. For a $5-$10 premium over their wired counterparts, you get more productive (and therefore more profitable). The small price jump can be recouped in a matter of a few hours of use. Or, a wireless headset can be great for someone who lives on the phone, but maybe a $50 Skype style headset will work just as well as a Jabra or Plantronics headset ($300-$500) if you have a smaller office.
When your trusted mechanic recommends specific brands to use or to avoid, they do so from the vantage point of having seen things every day that a single driver may never see. Often it’s better to consider what outcome you want before deciding on a maximum spend. If your IT support team is reliable and informed, ask for and listen to their recommendation when it’s time to invest in new hardware.
There are many ways to look at computer products and it’s difficult to see the whole picture if you are only evaluating based on one criteria: initial price.