him to invest in a router, a device that forwards data from one LAN site to another. Each of his employees could then receive Internet e-mail on his or her desktop rather than having to go m a central computer to retrieve it. This would avoid problems similar to those that resulted from having one computer connected to a printer. It wasn’t until Latimer realized its potential that he conceded the $1,500 to purchase a router.
The company recently installed an ISDN line to facilitate faster transfer of electronic data at a lower cost. Da Streetz creates advertising layouts, designs for Web pages an invitations for events that it gives to clients roughly three times a month. All creative graphics, executed inhouse by Anthony Rahsaan, Da Streetz’s desktop publishing specialist and inhouse computer guru, must be sent to the printer electronically via telephone lines. The printing company Da Streetz uses is located on Long Island, but has an office in Manhattan where its customers can send their files–for a fee, of course.
“It cost $130 plus printing costs for each layout we produced because I was using their facility to send the files,” Latimer explains. The ISDN line cost $250 to install and $69 per month. “On printing alone, I save at least $4,000 a year by having our own ISDN line.” The company also uses the line to transmit graphics to and from its Canadian partner Nu Net Media, which Da Streetz allied with to create Web sites for its clients.
AN ONGOING PROCESS…
KBL James has been working with Da Streetz for nearly two years, implementing different advancements as the need arose–and when James could convince Latimer that it justified the cost. All told, Latimer has spent nearly $30,000 upgrad
ing his system over the past two years, and still isn’t finished. “It’s an ongoing process,” admits James, “but it pays off in the long run because it will save both time and money.” Latimer estimates his company saves $2,500 – $3,000 per month, not including savings from the installation of the ISDN line.
James has also implemented Net Meeting, a Microsoft product that now allows Da Streetz to collaborate and conduct phone conversations via the Internet. Latimer has a laptop equipped with the software and hardware necessary (microphone, speakers, modem) to call the office from his laptop during his frequent out-of-town business trips. Other account managers and Da Streetz clients are also equipped with the Net Meeting software so that they can conduct business via the Internet without incurring high long-distance charges.
Companies that are thinking about automating some of their business processes should make sure they have a thorough understanding of what they want to accomplish. As James says: “A lot of companies think they should have a network but aren’t sharing any files or resources, so they end up wasting their money.” Technology offers many advantages to small businesses but the technology itself should never be the focus. Remember: Technology should be used as a tool to solve a business problem.