Solving problems isn't always a function of caffeine

A friend works for a local internet based company here in Chicago. They don’t have the funds to bring a full time IT person in, so I do odd side jobs for them and get paid an hourly fee.

This company specializes in exam preparation and individual tutoring for bar exams and LSAT. Much of their business is based on their website, that allows students to customize content for their particular interests. This content can either be downloaded as mp3 files, or sent as audio cd’s.

Yesterday, I did something that enabled them to cut some of their costs almost in half and provide a more streamlined experience for their customers.

Hmm…. “cut costs” and “streamlined experience” ? Sounds right up my alley, considering I make my living building enterprise software to do just that.

So I must have built a super new front end for their customers? Nope.

Surely, I reduced the amount of code that their site uses, and reduced maintenance costs? Not even close.

I got it! I must have come up with a new vision & strategy for expanding their current offerings and acquire a larger market share? HA

What did I do then? I showed them how to burn multiple audio tracks onto one CD.

Since most customers choose to receive the audio cd’s, they send out ~150 audio cd’s with every order. Most, if not all, of the cd’s contain a single audio track. Now, the number of cd’s needed can be slashed, as well as the cost of shipping.

Simple? Absolutely.

“Boring” and “Uninteresting” compared to other more “sexy” technology solutions? Yup.

Vital to their business? Yes!

And yet, I was able to have a dramatic impact on a core business function, content distribution in this case, with out writing a single line of code.

I got into this business to help companies just like this, by using technology to make things more efficient. Sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of this and fall into an academic state of building software for software’s sake, when in fact, we should be solving problems first.

Technorati Tags: ,