August 1, 2011

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Why Buying Local is Good for Business

Pete Ashdown

August 1, 2011

Looking over the menu of a fine restaurant in Salt Lake City, I was struck by the emphasis of local products. The vegetables, the meats and even some seasonings were advertised as being locally cultured. As I drooled towards my entree choice, I realized the attraction of a local purchase. Not only is it more appetizing to know that what is hitting my plate was grown or raised on the hills and valleys of our own Utah, it supports the businesses and people that I want to support first. I apply this reasoning when selecting technology and business services as well.

Although much technology that businesses rely on is manufactured overseas, there are still local choices when it comes to internet services. If a business relies on searching Google, they’re going to find a wide panorama of companies advertising to meet their needs, but what isn’t readily apparent is location and support. Because services on the internet don’t always disclose location easily, your purchases made through searching Google are most likely going to support economies and jobs in other states.

Aside from the economic factors, there are excellent technical reasons for buying from a local internet service provider. If your customers are located in Utah, having your web, email, connectivity and phone services located in Utah makes sense from a reliability standpoint. There is less “network distance” for your customers to reach your business, and therefore they are more likely to be served, and served in a rapid fashion. In addition, Utah’s traditional tag-line, “Crossroads of the West” bears true on the internet. Locating your businesses’ services in Utah gives a more reliable rapid service to the neighboring western states that surround us. More so even than locating your services with a national provider out of California. Our central location and reliable power grid are two reasons the National Security Agency and Twitter have chosen to locate data centers in Utah.

Power, networks and computers all have measurable failure rates. It is worthwhile to check your Internet Service Provider’s support systems for when the “chips are down.” Do they outsource to a call center whose job is to just get you off their line, or do they have in-house staff 24/7 next to the systems they are supporting? Do they document their technical failures honestly, or do they hide behind a website? One factor I use in evaluating companies to purchase from is how easy it is to get a phone number for a human from their website. If they make you fill forms just to ask a question, it is more than likely that they don’t want to speak to you when you have a problem.

Buying local supports your local economy and is also a smart choice for your business efficiency and continuity. Evaluate your technology service choices with an eye towards Utah based internet companies that may have better service and staying power than the lowest bidder on Google. I believe you’ll find that local service and support, like local restaurants and food, won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Internet pioneer Pete Ashdown founded XMission in 1993. An avid Internet user and enthusiast since 1987, Pete established XMission while the Internet was commercially uncharted territory, and essentially unknown to the general public.

Today, XMission, remains privately owned and independent. Pete is frequently credited with having the technological foresight to build a thriving Internet business, and with playing an instrumental role in the emergence of the Internet itself.

Pete studied Computer Science at the University of Utah. Pete lives in Salt Lake City with his wife Robin, and three children.

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