A Conversation with 3Points Sales Engineering Manager Frank Anderson about the Tech Team, How our product testing Impacts Small Businesses Growth, and the Importance of Eating Your Own
What is the 3Points Tech Team?
The 3Points Tech Team is a group of people dedicated to technology research and development for small business. The group includes about a dozen representatives from all of 3Points’ departments: Help Desk, Project, Operations, Customer Service, R&D, and the Sales Department.
Who leads the charge?
Ryan Hertz is the Research & Development Lead. He’s in charge of the Tech Team and he keeps us organized.
Do you all wear Google glasses and Apple watches to meetings?
Some do! Our real focus is figuring out the best technology for small business. We meet for a full day once a month. The first half of the meeting, we evaluate technology standards, introduce new ones to the group and look at products to replace End of Life technologies. The second half we’re in the lab! We test out and try new technologies on ourselves. It’s important to eat your own dog food.
What kind of dog food have you eaten this year?
1. We researched and tested a product called Wyse the mobile thin client, a technology that allows you to take the old school terminals on the go and connected them to Remote Desktop Server (RDS). The battery life was a problem. We ended up not recommending it.
2. We approved the Intel NUC mini-computer because it is a low cost PC and it fits nicely into conference room settings at about the size of an Apple TV.
3. We successfully launched the 3Points PURE Hosted Server, a hosted solution using virtual private cloud (VPC) technology. The Tech Team looked at the best way to build a cost-effective, elastic hosted environment. After extensive testing, we found the perfect solution that allows our clients to add additional computing resources (memory, hard drive space, additional servers) on the fly as they grow, rather than having to make hardware purchases most business owners are used to with on-premises systems. We now have a number of clients in a completely virtual environment.
How long has the Tech Team been around?
We’ve always had a research and development group in some form at 3Points, but it has grown since our start in 2001. Over the last couple of years, we’ve actually evolved Tech Team into its own department giving it more structure complete with a Manager and Lead.
Why is the 3Points Tech Team important to clients?
Clients benefit because technology and small business growth run parallel. We are an extension of our client’s cutting edge technology standards, a real growth catalyst for them.
We want to get a jump start on new technologies, really know them inside and out, and recommend or not recommend them with data-proven reasoning. We’re the first to touch a new technology before clients even hear about it. We’re the pioneering technology arm of 3Points.
What’s the biggest technology challenge for small business?
Technology doesn’t stand still. We live in a fast-paced world with evolving technology. It can seem that one day, something is a standard and the next day it’s not. With small business, the trend is people using consumer products because they don’t have enterprise restrictions. That’s not always a good idea, so, the Tech Team identifies solutions that work. We also need to stand ready for when clients say: “I’ve heard about this technology. What do you think?” We test and approve technologies to the point where we can confidently say: “No, because we ran into this problem” or “It’s ready to be deployed, this is a good thing for your business.”
Business owners are getting more and more tech savvy and paying attention to what’s out there. This trend will continue. Microsoft 365 is a good example of business owners being well-informed. They know others who have used it or already use it themselves personally. They are getting more educated on what’s out there. As they become more sophisticated, our Tech Team becomes more consultative and tells them about the pitfalls, risks and virtues of specific technology. Our recommendations during audits are based on standards that come out of the Tech Team.
What are three things you’re most proud of with the Tech Team?
We are people who are passionate about technology and pioneering. 2. Standards are critical for us and our clients. The Tech Team helps forces us to be experts in those standards. 3. We document everything: hardware set-up, troubleshooting, installs. Clients benefit from a reliable, repeatable process. We’ve run the technology through its paces.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just read up on it?
We all have PC Magazine in our backpacks, trust me! The lab, though, and our collaborative approach defines the Tech Team’s outcomes. We take all the new and current technology and validate our recommendations with our own two hands. Can we support it? Are we knowledgeable about it? Most people evaluate technology from a cost standpoint. We look at technology holistically: Will this be a good solution for small business? Is it technically viable?
It’s easy for companies to get stagnant with technology after four or five years. We want to be on the forefront. Sometimes that means not upgrading or skipping the latest and greatest techno innovation. Our benchmark is building small business with technology. The Tech Team is on the cutting edge. We’re are always finding out how to do that.
Is Megabit on the 3Points Tech Team?
Of course! He’s our superhero. We’re those guys behind the scenes in the lab working on the solutions, the ones coming up with the fancy tool belt for him. Every superhero has to have his people back in the lab.