Hurricane Sandy Exposes Vulnerability of Cloud Content
Text messages help N.J. integrator reassure his clients as Hurricane Sandy brings doubt to the viability of cloud content.
If you’re an integrator in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania or the Washington D.C. metro areas and you’re able to read this, you’re one of the lucky ones. You have power when most of your colleagues and customers don’t. My prayers go out to you that all is safe.
Hurricane Sandy is bringing to light vulnerabilities of how integrators communicate with clients and cloud content.
First, how should you be communicating with your clients during this difficult time without appearing to be an “ambulance chaser” wanting to sell them a backup power system? Most of your clients probably don’t have power, especially if they didn’t heed your advice to get a whole-house generator. So they can’t get your emails and probably don’t want to get a phone call from you right now.
It’s likely not “business as usual” right now for you either. Even if you (or your technicians) don’t have damage to your homes, you are likely in the dark, don’t have the ability to put gas in your truck, and even if you could, roads might be impassable.
“Nitro Nick” Tamburri of Aggressive Home Automation & Design in Newark, N.J., is one of those integrators. He is literally “in the dark” but still communicating with his clients the best way he can: via text message.
“They don’t want to talk with you right now, but they do want to hear a friendly communication, from anybody. I am just texting them asking, ‘Hey, how are you?’, and letting them know I can help ... a reassuring voice [or text in reality],” he says. (News reports say 25 percent of cell towers are still down in the affected area four days after the storm.)
Prior to the storm, Tamburri packaged $750 Honda generators with instruction sheets on how to power up the generator and a full 5-gallon gas can for $200 over his cost. That instruction sheet also has other disaster-preparedness tips for clients, including:
- Use LED Christmas lights to illuminate your house (like Nick is currently doing inside his own powerless home)
- Load up on food and water
- Fill plastic Ziplock bags with ice
- Use coolers in your home for milk, fruit and other oft-eaten items that would normally require you to open the refrigerator door (letting out cold air)
He sent some of that advice to his clients before the storm.
For whole-house systems, Tamburri works with his electrician as a trade partner.
“I keep a record of everything I try to sell to every client, so I know which ones bought the generators and which clients did not,” he says. He has already heard from numerous clients (who bought generators) praising him for his foresight.
“The Sunday before the storm, my electrician and I installed a whole-house generator system for a big client, but we couldn’t fire it up until it is inspected. We did the pressure tests and everything. Finally, the customer was able to pull some strings and get the inspector out,” he says, noting what an ironic situation it could have been. The client’s power is out from the storm and Tamburri has already heard from them via text thanking him profusely.
What about the Cloud?
Cloud content is all the rage, but Sandy has brought to light a weakness in cloud content. If you don’t have power or Internet, you can’t access it.
“Of my clients who have generators, the first priority is their safety, of course,” says Tamburri. “Well, now they are all sitting around bored stiff because they have no Internet and no cable TV. Those DVD and Blu-ray players I sold them are now worth $1 million to them because they have entertainment.”
Nitro Nick says he has never been a big proponent of bringing cloud-based systems to his customers, advising them, “I want something I own and I can put a screwdriver in.”
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]
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