From beyond Wednesday Island in the Torres Strait, to Coolangatta sitting atop the state border, the Queensland coastline ranges for over 6,000 kilometres and plays host to innumerable towns of all shapes and sizes, along with the IT providers that serve them.
The coastal region of Australia’s Sunshine State not only give these technology resellers a sun-drenched paradise in which to ply their wares, it also presents some challenges.
The rise of cloud services, for example, is hampered somewhat by lingering connectivity issues, and hardware sometimes bears the scars of corrosion caused by the coastline’s balmy, salt-laden air.
Computer Troubleshooters has a number of regionally-located franchise locations, including Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, among other locations.
Each business is an independent organisation focused on the local community as member of Australia’s largest IT franchise support network.
The regional businesses tend to have a broader reach across the community with a skew to smaller businesses and home offices.
In business world, we tend to focus on Office 365 as core solution for organisations, and build the secondary technical and support requirements from there.
Our key constraints in regional areas are broadband speeds and reliability, delivery times, and costs for urgent replacement, along with a traditionally-skeptical regional audience on all things that are new.
Efforts to move businesses away from on-premises infrastructure to cloud and hybrid solutions can be difficult to achieve without breakthrough changes in technology, such as the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Regional businesses are certainly more community orientated and relationship-focused than in the city but, that said, clients are often more relaxed and understanding with technological challenges, as they feel they are constantly confronted with them.
Computer Troubleshooters - Noosa
Computer Troubleshooters Noosa operates on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Being a regional support company, our client mix tends toward the small business and home business market. We also have a fair number of tourism-focused customers.
One of the biggest problems that our customers continue to face is broadband speeds. Certain areas have a lack of ADSL2 ports, and others are so far from an exchange that the achievable speeds are not suitable for services such as cloud-based accounting, online backup, and remote support services.
Being away from the city can be a drawback for product delivery from our suppliers. While some are able to offer next-day delivery, others can take three business days or longer. We also tend to miss out on personal contact with the account managers and vendors, due to the distances involved.
On the positive side of being in a regional area, there is a sense of community with most of our clients. We try to keep things local and support each other as much as possible.
One of our main focuses this year is the rollout of Office 365 to more of our customers. This is one instance where being a smaller company doesn’t mean that we have to accept a lower standard of service.
We are also continuing to educate our clients on the benefit of preventative maintenance and remote management services.
Mooloolaba Computers is a locally-owned and operated one-stop-shop for Sunshine Coast businesses, providing a single point of contact for many businesses on the Sunshine Coast, from the small home office to multiple-location, medium-sized businesses.
The single point of contact is a process where we can take care of just about everything for the client. They call us once, and we then find the solution for them.
Whether it is internet or phones, email, and web hosting, hardware, or third party software-related, financed, and managed agreements, we do it all under one roof.
We enable our clients to put all this trust into us. It helps with the problem-solving, as well as getting resolution and results quicker, and more efficiently.
We struggle with internet-connectivity; ADSL is poor in many parts of the Sunshine Coast. The Coast now has some better wireless radio solutions, and we’ve partnered up with local ISPs and installers to be able to provide flexible internet options.
Recently, the NBN has been switched on as well, yet even with that comes challenges. But we’re hoping for the best, as this enables our cloud services like hosted desktop and server side of the business to take off.
Hotels, tourism, restaurants, and more make up the unique portion of our everyday clients. However, customers’ devices can struggle with corrosion in many parts of the Coast, being so close to the water.
Low-cost mini computers, like intel’s NUC [Next Unit of Computing] can really come in handy for quick swap-out and longevity in these environments, even smoother operation when we have a NAS [network-attached storage] onsite.
As we have a wide range of services, a shopfront, online store, mobile services, and business services, most customers we get come by referral.
Being quite spread out and operating in some not hugely populated areas on the Sunshine Coast, plus with lots of new people arriving every week, we do travel far and wide – primarily between Caloundra and Noosa, and into the hinterlands.
In comparison to a metro-based IT provider, I would say that, other than mobile service technicians, we find quieter suburbs do not have the workshop-based competition, and customers are okay to cruise a suburb or two to visit us in Mooloolaba.
Computer Troubleshooters - Mudgeeraba
I have an office workshop in Mudgeeraba, Queensland. The business is part of the Computer Troubleshooters IT franchise, which allows me to provide local IT support, but with a global support network in place.
As a local business on the Gold Coast we offer prompt, professional expert support when customers need it. I provide mobile onsite, remote, and managed services, and a complete range of IT services, including computer repairs, networking, and cloud-based solutions.
As a regional business, my clients tend to be small businesses, home offices, and home users. On the business side, we focus heavily on Office 365 as a solution to provide small businesses with enterprise grade email, and cloud based file storage.
Where we differ from metropolitan IT businesses is probably in the infrastructure we have to work with and how we can make that work. The NBN would be major transformation for the community when it arrives.
Some of the challenges we face in the area in which we operate tend to be around the customers’ network speeds and how they affect cloud based-technologies. This is particularly notable when it comes to uploading files. This factor can sometimes make it tough to ‘sell’ the customer on new technologies and how they can improve their way of business.
Picking up new clients is a challenge in any business, but once on-boarded, they are happy with our service and commitment to them.
This article originally appeared in the November issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here