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  Guest Editorial

Choosing the Right Computer Hardware for Your Automotive Business

Posted 7/9/2004
By Frank Muehleman

If it's been a few years since your business' first investment in computer technology, you may be considering an upgrade to your hardware. Choosing the right infrastructure to support an automotive business and related software can be a daunting task. However, in the past few years, many companies have begun to develop product lines and services specifically geared toward small business. Today, there is a full range of state-of-the-art products and services at affordable prices that can make all the difference in how you serve your customers and greatly improve the efficiency of your business. Following a few simple guidelines will help you choose the right hardware and get on the information technology road to success.

First, evaluate how your company will use the hardware. Speak with other small business executives, especially other automotive business owners, for lessons learned. Information technology experts and computer sales people can also help. At companies such as Dell, teams are dedicated to helping small business operators pinpoint their needs, and online tools and resources are available to help "de-mystify" computing for small businesses.

Consider how many of your employees will need PCs, whether you will be networking your business, how much server capability you will use and if you need data storage capabilities. If you are currently sharing files by connecting PCs directly to each other via a network switch, consider moving to a client-server network, which is more secure and manageable.

Many small businesses today are just using their PCs for storage, which can slow the overall performance of the system and network. Small businesses now have the opportunity via network storage such as Network-Attached Storage to improve performance and enable file sharing for just cents a megabyte. There are many storage options available today that are easy to use and affordable for small businesses.

Understanding your software, and anticipating upgrades to it, will also help you determine the operating systems needed to support it. Will you be storing heavy graphics or high-resolution images? Or will your systems be used more for e-mail, inventory, file sharing or financial applications? To protect the software, as well as the systems themselves, be sure you maintain the security on the server as well as on each PC, storage device, switch, notebook or peripheral connected to the network.

Another important option to consider is "laptop" or "notebook" computers and wireless Internet connectivity, especially if you have remote employees. Recent studies have shown that notebook users gain up to 11 hours of productive time per week.

Finally, consider taking advantage of the attractive leasing options offered by Dell and other computer companies. Also important is whether your hardware provider offers a full range of service and support and sufficient warranty protection. By working with a provider who has a complete understanding of your business needs, you can be confident in the decisions you make about your technology investment.

For more information on these products and other tips for your small business, please visit www.dell.com/smallbusiness or call (800) 917-DELL.

Frank MuehlemanFrank Muehleman is senior vice president and general manager of Dell's Small and Medium Business Segment.

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