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Narich specialises in creating simple solutions for sometimes complex problems using non destructive light and spectral techniques

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Narich and Social Media

As a cutting edge technology company we have two attributes in our DNA. We are early adopters, and we like to make complex problems simple for our customers. Our first interaction with a website was with a very slow Hayes Modem connected via a Telkom landline to our local Bank. It was hard to see from the slow trickle of pixels on the screen eventually turning into hard to read data that this process would take the world by storm, but it was immediately clear that if a bank balance can be called up like Granny on her Birthday, this had to be good.

As the Internet took shape around us, we then discovered e-mail. Peers in their thirties generally dismissed this as a passing fad for Nerds, despite Bill Gate's warning that "Nerds will rule the worlds" , and proudly claimed that they would or could not be seen typing their own messages. These were the same peers thirty years later that could not communicate by e-mail or Skype with their grand children now living and working in foreign lands.

The on-line explosion is still ringing in our ears, but from a one man band sitting in a spare room, I could start to compete with any other company in the world.

As we grew, we limited products that we utilise to those which strictly served customers, so we established a grotty website, mailed and not faxed customers and suppliers, and communicated with each other internally via networks, and bought the third cell phone sold in the waterfront in the first week of a new company opening up in a cubicle called Voda something.

Things rapidly became complicated as devices proliferated. PC's, laptops, PDA's, scanners, printers, ever changing cell phones, and early  shareable server space, now called the cloud, challenged our spending and thinking patterns. What was have to have versus nice to have. 

So what has all of this got to do with Social Media. Well, we used it from birth.

Early adopting some of its features though were costly and time wasting, so when on line products started to proliferate, we first wanted to see how they would help us and our customers.

Once we had our networks, communications and website (Slightly less grotty than version 1) in place, we looked into what else would help and how. This is what we decided:

As a company with colleagues and co-workers all over the country and in other countries, we thought that a Cloud based CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) would be ideal, and we found the ideal and affordable product, Workpool. This product allows everyone of us, working on any platform, to access our own and every other shared bit of data about every task we do.

We decided to move to a fully compiled and commercially enabled website based on WordPress technology which will be launched shortly. This site will incorporate full analytics, allowing us to see what you are looking for and to make sure that you get it.

MailChimp for analytics based mail campaigns. These are targeted to existing customers to keep them informed of upgrades, specials, events etc.

AnyMeeting Webinar software. Combined with TeamViewer and Skype for remote support and training.

We have established a Facebook Page where customers can chat with us and each other. Typically this is where we can talk about events or gatherings on line about any product or process related issue.

We have established a Twitter handle @Narich for those last minute updates and if you don't get those, direct SMS services from our server. So you may be looking for our offices or service centre and we can tweet or smeet (SMS) you a quick phone friendly link.

Linked in is reserved more for peer to peer discussions. We use it to post our announcements on the Narich page but more importantly if we cant solve a technical problem through normal channels, we try this. It usually gives us technically accurate, unbiased answers to complex questions. Sometimes we also answer them.

What else should we be using?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cutting Edge Tehnology

Visit just about any manufacturing company today and while waiting at reception one often has time to read stuff company's say about themselves. Amongst the BBBEEE ratings, "Best Supplier" and other awards and mission statements, some a bit jaded now, you often find reference to this company being a leader in its field, with Cutting Edge Technology. (CET)

How come then, when you offer CET to a production manager or senior technical person, one of the first questions to be asked is: "Who else is doing this?"

So is Copy Paste the same as Cutting Edge?

Uber is cutting edge. Everyone else is copy paste.
iPhone is cutting edge.
New Zealand Rugby is cutting edge.

The best way to explore a cutting edge project is firstly to realise that it is a process that requires more than one input. As a manufacturer, you may have a very clear idea of what outcome you desire. An equipment supplier may be able to meet parts of that desire, and a system integrator completes the circle. Academics may know what has to be integrated, and appropriate engineers will know how to do it.

If you are in the happy position to have assembled the Dream and the Team, then don't wait for someone else to prove it can be done. Be secure that cutting takes effort, and if you have a running start, your competitors will always be catching up.

Customisation is always the goal when looking to rise above the herd. It not possible for everyone to do the same old same old (so-so) things and expect customers to be excited, and excited they want to be.

Purchasing managers know that an adversarial relationship with suppliers is more expensive than a more collegial approach. Suppliers will go the extra mile to make an outcome possible with a customer who is both willing to experience the odd blip on the way, as well as contribute to the costs of trial and error.

One huge advantage German manufacturers have over their competitors is small cutting edge company's working together with a University or Academic Specialist and a major manufacturer to perfect some tine part of their overall processes. For this reason we have set up "Centre of Excellence" relationships with Academics as a bridge to "Proof of Concept" trials to allow Try before you Buy experiences.

This process seems a bit slower, requires more planning, meetings, clarifying and trust all round. The results are not a tweak or gloss to an old process, but a whole new way of doing things.

Light and Spectroscopy is in the fore field of CET. If you don't understand it, get to grips with it and reap the rewards.