One Size Does Not Fit All

Just because a technology solution works for one company, doesn't mean it's best for yours. The key is tailoring the tools to fit your needs.

working well in our scheme when there’s a hot new something on the market.” The keys for us, again, are functionality and cost-effectiveness.”

The company currently spends about 3% of its operating budget on technology. That percentage stays about the same each year, but as McNeil Technologies’ budget continues to grow, the amount of money allotted to technology increases. For example, five years ago, the company spent about $20,000 on technology. Last year, that figure rose to about $300,000, with third-quarter figures totalling $228,000. Most of the allotted funds are spent on software and specialized software tools. A portion is budgeted for employee training. “We probably initially spent $10,000 to put together a working environment and approximately $4,500 a year, thereafter, to keep employees’ skills current,” says McNeil, who explains that given the company’s complex technology, investing in yearly training is worth the money.

In addition to traditional Internet, PC, and network technologies, the company also uses specialized hardware and software, particularly in its language-translation services. “We use translation Workbench products that help our language translators speed up their ability to translate literally anything — like text, graphics, databases — into multiple languages.”

Unlike some businesses that choose to lease equipment,McNeil Technologies buys its hardware and licenses its software as needed. “We [also] license our foreign-language-research products and technologies to other entities, both for research and commercial purposes, ” says McNeil. “For example, we license our digitized dictionaries and reference material technologies to Systran and other companies providing instant-translation sites on the Web.”

Initially, McNeil chose to outsource much of the company’s technological needs. Today, the firm’s technology-related operations are managed by in-house staff, who refer to outside sources to address highly specialized situations.

SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY
McNeil realized that his investment in tech resources would eventually pay off. “Our increased use in technology has enabled us to do more things for customers, to offer more services to potential clients, and to expand the types of customers to whom we market,” he says. This translates into increased breadth, credibility in the marketplace, and growth in both revenue and income. “Technology-related revenue has grown to become about 50% of our company’s overall annual revenue, and this is an increasing trend. We anticipate this percentage to increase sharply going forward. Our bottom-line performance has improved.”

It is this kind of optimism that has enabled McNeil Technologies to enjoy continued growth. The company’s revenues topped $25 million for the 2001 fiscal year. “We continually evaluate our use of technology, what we want or need it to do for us at various size and volume thresholds. Business growth allows us to augment, enhance, update, and replace technologies as we go along and reap the benefits of improving and changing how we do things.”

A COMPANY WITH A MISSION
Company: WebCTel
www.webctel.com
Revenues: Approximately $500,000
Cost per employee: $2,500 per year
With 10 employees working out of its Cambridge, Massachusetts, offices, WebCTel is a software infrastructure service provider (SISP) with a unique mission and philosophy. “We develop best-in-class Internet applications that are fueled by solar-powered components,” says Adrienne

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