After Hours

An IT manager explores COMDEX: Day 2

An IT manager checks out the new gadgets and goodies on display at COMDEX. In an effort to retain a valuable staff member, he faces a dilemma—should he buy a slick, new laptop for this employee? Join the discussion.

Editor’s Note: This week, the IT Manager Republic will feature journal entries by Mark D. Gonzales, an IT manager for the county department of emergency management in Pueblo, CO. Gonzales attended COMDEX in Las Vegas.

8:30 A.M.
I notice that the freebees this year at COMDEX are better than the typical canvas tote bags and T-shirts. Many vendors are giving away laptops and digital cameras as well. A few vendors are even holding raffles for Chrysler PT Cruisers, the type of incentive that will attract event-goers even if it means sitting through a 30-minute presentation.
Read Monday’s installment to get caught up with this week’s diary.
10:45 A.M.
COMDEX is a good opportunity to try and locate a vendor I have been trying to contact for three weeks by e-mail to ask about a software upgrade. I am hesitant to upgrade because the company does not have a great track record for customer support. I experienced the problem firsthand because I could not reach them by phone because their number is not published.

I know you're wondering why anyone would ever do business with an organization like this, but they do have an exceptional product.

When I reach the company booth, a representative explains that their e-mail server was down for about two weeks, and this could be a reason why they haven’t answered me. He also explains that they don’t have the support people to answer phones because they are a small company. I am very uneasy now because I am not sure if he is being honest. In my business, we can’t afford to have our e-mail server down for even one day. I wonder, since their phone number is not published for questions or orders, how much business have they lost over two weeks?

It all adds up to a bad feeling as I leave their booth. I am going to look for another vendor who can supply the same type of software. If you know of a good Web site promoter software package, please post your recommendations to this article.

1:30 P.M.
We take a peek at a few e-commerce sites and even get our own Electronic Cash card. This is an ingenious idea, which allows you to complete online transactions with the feeling of total security. Here’s how it works: You obtain an Electronic Cash card from a bank, deposit money into the account, and then purchase items online.

The transaction is secured by the fact that you don’t actually pay with the card until the merchandise is delivered to your door, an arrangement that protects both the buyer and the seller. This is definitely the wave of the future and something I need to learn more about.

3:00 P.M.
I head over to the Sony area, which is much larger than a typical booth. The space they utilize would be enough for a small company. (I wonder how much this area is costing them.) The Sony site is always a must-stop because they always have some very cool toys. Uh, what I mean is tools, not toys.

I discover a new gadget that will help make my business travel easier: the new Sony VAIO GT laptop. It only weighs about 3 pounds and includes video and digital camera functions.

4:00 P.M.
My computer specialist is with me on this trip and is very interested in the new VAIO slim line notebooks that are being demonstrated. He mentions that he would like to pass on his current laptop to someone else in our office in hopes that I can justify buying him one of these new notebooks.

I can probably justify giving his laptop to someone in our office who needs it, but I am not sure if this is the right move. The computer specialist is thinking of looking for a higher paying job in a few months. I don’t want to lose him, but I also don’t want to put myself on the line by trying to justify why he needs a new laptop. Also, I don’t want to create an atmosphere of favoritism back at the office. He is good at what he does, so this is going to be a tough decision. How far should an IT manager go when trying to keep a quality IT employee?
How far would you go to retain an employee? Mark has paid for his staff member to attend COMDEX, and now the staff member is hoping for a new laptop. Would you buy the laptop? Post a comment to this article or send us a letter.

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