Time to upgrade my laptop; what has changed since the last upgrade?

For the past few months, I have been thinking about what I’m going to do when the time comes to update my laptop. If I follow my normal pattern, I would almost robotically:

- Purchase a new PC running some new Windows operating system with a lot of memory, etc.

- Upgrade my Microsoft Office software

- Upgrade my ACT! CRM system to run on the new Window operating system

- And, fumble with a bunch of other software application updates due to the new Windows operating system.

I’ve been asking myself, “Why must I go through this pain again? What real benefit is it to me and my business?”

It takes days to set up the new system. I’m struggling to come up with a compelling answer. What do I know today that I didn’t know the last time I went through this?

- No one can see anything on my stand-alone computer. My computing architecture undermines collaboration. This is really an inappropriate computing architecture as my business expands.

- I really don’t need new Microsoft Office software—Open Office works just fine at virtually no cost.

- I have to add to my compliment of business applications all the time—there is always some new need.

- I have to back-up my computer and the data on it regularly—if I get really busy and neglect this, I potentially pay a big price.

- I have to update and run virus and spyware applications all the time—if I get really busy and forget, there is a real price to pay there also.

- My 84-year old father just upgraded his PC, got new Microsoft Office software that, while adding no new functionality, changed the user interface adding a whole level of complexity to my life in trying to support him for the few things that he uses. Just last weekend, I added new desktop sharing software for both of us so we can collaborate more easily and eliminating the need to drive to his home.

- I am happy with Windows XP Pro and Office 2003 and my other applications. If I thought my computer would live forever, I’m not sure I’d feel any burning need to upgrade.

- My laptop feels like a luggable—I want something lighter that won’t kill my back.

So, I’ve begun to wonder if there is a better way that will save me money and time and avoid all the non-value-added effort I go to in order to run my business.

My IT colleagues have encouraged me to “avoid the cloud” but even they seem to be backing down realizing that “resistance is futile.” The gravity is just too great. Now that Internet access is so ubiquitous, that is no longer an excuse.

I can now run my corporate email though Google, use Google business applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc., and have my data backed up by Google each and every day for $50 per year. That’s right, $50 a year per email address. There is a Google Apps Store that enables me to add other business applications such as CRM.  This is beginning to look irresistible.

A couple of months ago, I started using Evernote (www.evernote.com), a cloud-based solution for archiving articles, Tweets, emails, web pages, etc. Evernote will eventually replace the information I carry on my PALM PDA. Why am I trying this? I found it very challenging to recover PALM data the last 3 times I’ve gone through that exercise. I want uptime, not downtime.

So, I wondered if Google Premier is just for small businesses. The answer: No! Entire corporations are migrating to Google Premier saving millions of dollars each year. Google claims to run their entire company on Google Premier. And, they aren’t the only one. IT need only provide an Internet connection and Google can do the rest.

Can I ignore this? No. I don’t think so. I don’t think I want to. I think I’m seeing the future. Sorry, Microsoft.

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Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker and blogger who resides in Silicon Valley. His firm helps clients eliminate business execution issues that threaten profitable and sustainable growth. He can be reached through his website at www.gardnerandassoc.com

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