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    « BIM Will Create More Demand for "Content Brokers" | Main | Education Feedback Desired »

    April 28, 2006

    Years to Build – Lost in a Day

    As AEC commercial reprographics firms take on more responsibility for controlling project critical construction content, the perception of reprographers is improving.  My cousin who worked for an engineering firm questioned why I would want to buy a company that sold to “blueprinters”.  Three years later he commented “I get it now.  We are turning over more and more responsibility to our blueprinter”.  This was also confirmed in my meeting with Gensler.

    Stakeholders in the construction industry are feeling more and more comfortable with their reprographics firm being the custodian of their project critical content.  But what happens when they can’t get to that content or it gets destroyed?  A minor blip is manageable, but frequent minor blips or a serious data loss could loose that customer forever.

    Salesforce.com is one of the fastest growing customer relationship management technology providers.  Their business model is a hosted model.  They do not sell software, and all of your data is stored on their server.  PLP uses Salesforce.com.  It is a very powerful application, but there was some hesitation on our part having somebody else with our mission critical data.  We use it for opportunity management, customer service, and inventory.  Recently Salesforce.com has had some blackeyes.  There have been hours at a time where we can not get to important data.  When that happens the natural reaction is to start looking at what you are paying and what the alternatives are.  If we were to be down for a day or more we would start looking as fast as we possible for another solution, as would many other companies much larger for us.  The risk posed by downtime is huge for Salesforce.com.

    I have seen reprographers with amazing disaster recovery plans and solutions.  They could have a fire in their server room and be up and running very quickly at an offsite location.  I have also seen reprographers with vast amounts of project critical data with very little disaster recovery plans.  Even if the data is backed up that is not enough.  You need to focus on customer up-time.  Going several days without their data could be disastrous for them.  Imagine if you had to go a couple days with no printers.

    As your customers become more reliant on you to store their content, the opportunities increase, but the risk also increases.  You could loose the trust you gained overnight.  With every challenge is an opportunity.  You can sell different levels of disaster recovery service.  Your level of service can be variable, and your price can vary.  The higher the requirements the higher the price.  You just better be certain that you can perform at those levels!!

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