Living on the edge

This isn’t my normal kind of post on the Merchant Stand. It gives a glimpse into my IT background.

It occurred to me yesterday that there is pattern developing in my work life of living on the edge of technology in my company. None of the companies I’ve worked for have been part of the early technology innovators. So what I’m talking about here is the early adoption of a particular solution, program, or technology within the boundaries of the company. In each job, I’ve been a technology advocate for new technology adoption to benefit the greater business goals. Here is a look at some examples of what I advocated and built.

Siemens Energy & Automation (early 90s)

  • Microsoft mail. Before it was really called email, I was helping the organization use email on those PCs that everyone was getting. We had to run something of value on them right? It wasn’t long before the PCs primary use was terminal emulation and Microsoft mail.
  • Microsoft Windows.  Bye, Bye DOS and 3270 terminals. Of course using Windows brought the need for 3270 emulators. That’s a story for another day.
    • Ethernet. When I started working at Siemens, all of the PCs were on token-ring. At $350-$400 per card compared to $89 for an Ethernet card it was easy to see why the company changed over. We had to replace all of the network cards in the PCs and network HUBs and switches.

    Entex Information Services (mid 90s)

    • Microsoft SMS. I was working at a client site that wanted to use Microsoft SMS servers to push out software updates as part of the workstation login process and to collect information about all the workstations on the network. We actually deployed an auto upgrade to Windows 95 with it.

    John Harland Company (late 90s to 2007)

    • Electronic Price Cards – Price cards were essentially a printed version of the product catalog that had a grid view of all the prices. Why print them when we can generate them electronically and let clients view and or print? So we built a site to use internally to generate the price cards which could then be distributed to clients. I never received funding to deploy the service for external use. The project sponsor didn’t think it would work despite the success of the internal pilot.
    • Check ordering via the Internet. The concept was simple. Allow banks and checking account holders to order checks over the Internet. Build an application for each experience. We’ve come a long way since then, but early-on there were growing pains with both deploying a real time transactional Internet site that hooked to a mainframe and getting bank branch PCs to talk to it.

      Harland Clarke (2007 to present)

      • Social media. My newest challenge is advocating social media within my organization. There are a lot of employees using social media outside of work, but there haven’t been any concerted efforts to use it to benefit the business. I have hopes it’ll catch-on. I’ve done my fair share of preaching ideas and sharing research. Now only time will tell what will happen.

      If you’ve been living on the edge too let me know…