So, how did we go from software and services to hardware (and, more specifically, Microsoft Surface devices)? Here the story from the people who lived it.
In the Beginning, there was Chaos
When Protected Trust first began, it wasn’t a company that dealt with hardware (except as needed for our people to use internally). The machines we used internally were an eclectic hodgepodge of different manufacturers, models, and operating systems (OSs)—some we’d buy direct from national computer makers, some we’d get from local computer stores, and some were the personal computers of employees.
From Dells to Macs, from Windows to MacOS, we used virtually every kind of computer and software you could think of. It was a bit chaotic. As I say in the video:
“Over the years, we have accumulated computers. That’s how it started: we bought Macs, we bought Dells, when a new employee showed up unexpectedly—like a new hire—we might run down to the local office supply store and buy a computer… there was no consistency in the hardware. The software was all over the place, all different versions of software—even the applications on them were all different versions.”
The problems caused by having so much uncoordinated and obsolete equipment came to a head a few years down the line. We were visiting with a client, and Chris had a big, clunky computer on him with a bad battery. As soon as he unpacked, he needed to plug his computer into the wall outlet within 10 seconds, or his battery would die and he’d lose his work. The power cable was this big, bulky affair that looked bad and created a tripping hazard in the client’s office.
Worse yet, the outdated computer and software on it was so cumbersome and difficult to handle that it kept Chris from getting work done on time.
Frankly, the whole situation was embarrassing. After that bit of shame, upgrading the company’s hardware to something sleek, modern, and more reliable became a much higher priority for me.
Getting the Ball Rolling with a Hardware Reset
Even though the “Chris Incident” was a bit of a wake-up call for the company, it still takes time to transform a company’s computer sourcing strategy. As I note in the video: “It wasn’t until a few years ago that we decided that ‘this is crazy,’ having all of these different platforms and different software and different computers… we just decided to wipe out all the computers and start over.”
The hard reset on our computer tech didn’t catapult us all the way into becoming a Microsoft Surface company. At the time, we had ordered a bunch of Dell XPS units, which were quite good for our needs. As a side benefit of switching to a more standardized hardware and software loadout, productivity throughout the company rose significantly. However, there were more steps on the road to becoming a Microsoft Surface sales partner.
Leveraging Microsoft Office 365 for the Company
The next thing that started driving Protected Trust to using, and then selling, Microsoft Surface devices was our decision to start using Microsoft 365 to the fullest. Why did we start using 365 more? Because we were frustrated with our old file sharing solution. As I say in the video:
“We took our local file share and got it up into the cloud. I was frustrated because I would be on my mobile device at home or somewhere and couldn’t get the files from the office. I’d have to VPN in and remember four or five different passwords that I could never remember, and it still wouldn’t work. So, just sharing files or getting files was really cumbersome. That was really [when we] embraced Office 365.”
Using Office 365 for faster and easier file sharing, where everything was on the cloud and anyone on the team could access it from anywhere, really made life easier for everybody. Eventually, this shift to Microsoft Office 365 file sharing got us to experiment with other features of Office.
Like many of our clients, we hadn’t been taking advantage of all of the features of the software subscription. But, once we got started, there really was no going back.
Embracing the Microsoft Surface
Leveraging more of the Microsoft Office 365 software suite’s capabilities led to us looking for a platform that could really take advantage of the subscription and bring out its full potential. And then the Surface happened.
Microsoft Surface devices are a bit unique. As I point out in the video, “Surface is not something that everyone can sell. It’s a very unique group of partners that can have access to Surface [devices]… Eventually, we got access and got invited by Microsoft to be a partner of the Surface and go through certification and training to go sell Surfaces.”
I actually got to use one for myself as a kind of live demo. In fact, in the video, Stephen kind of blames me for getting our company started down the path of using Surface devices exclusively, saying:
“I can tell you who started it, though… You [Ingram]… When you would walk around or go into a meeting or something, and we would walk by and see you on that [Surface]. Then, we would look at our [computers] and be like ‘aw, man’… you jump-started the whole thing and everyone was just really jealous.”
Soon enough, as more employees saw everyone else with these chic, high-performance business computers, the use of the Surface became more widespread. Between everyone in the company using Surface devices, and being invited by Microsoft to become a Surface partner, we saw an opportunity to carve out a new niche for the company.
Want more details about Protected Trust’s history and the products and services we offer? Reach out to us!