Fostering Usability, Collaboration, and Communication through Innovation

Like so many other small business owners, Andrea Lowery, co-owner and vice president of operations at Prospera Events, has a few things to say when it comes to technology. Lowery’s company, headquartered in Portland, OR, was founded in 2005 and currently has four employees. Her typical clients include technology hardware, software, and service providers, as well as business technology buyers who attend her events to discover the latest in innovative business technology solutions.

AndreaLowery.JPGManaging small business IT issues can be challenging for a number of reasons, including cost, working with the remote workforce, and finding qualified contract support knowledgeable enough to resolve issues in a timely manner.

Lowery (pictured right) is very happy with her current support, but when initially looking, she reached out to her business contacts on LinkedIn and her personal network, asking about tech support referrals who’d proven reliable, reasonably priced, provided fast, quality service, and were locally owned and operated. It’s always been important to Lowery to support other small businesses.

When onsite at one of her events, Lowery puts on her IT hat and solves most issues on her own. Throughout the planning year, the Prospera team works to resolve each employee’s tech issues internally but has hired local IT support (each employee works remotely) as backup.

Build Your Business Around Technology

When asked, “What are your three top technology priorities?” Lowery quickly responded in order, “Consistent usability, collaboration, and communications” — both internally and externally to her customers and vendors. She mentioned the company relies heavily upon Outlook and Lync through Microsoft Office 365 for communication purposes.

The Prospera team collaborates using Office 365 for storing internal documents, exhibitor lists, and other important materials. Lowery says the checkout system of documents provides quality control and allows the team to have one working document at all times.

Another tool that has helped with both efficiency and organization is Dropbox. Just over a decade ago, Lowery would send out logos and other exhibit-related materials to all of her vendors via email, which was time consuming. Now she simply creates a folder that houses assets to be used by various vendors and emails them the location of those assets so they have the ability to grab the appropriate size and file type. Utilizing the cloud provides an additional sense of assurance that documents, files, and assets will always be accessible.

Like other technology-driven small businesses, Prospera depends on laptops, smartphones, and tablets to ensure reliable and fast access to information. Lowery understands the importance of technology and how it affects Prospera’s bottom line. She prioritizes budgets appropriately and ensures her staff is using reliable computers that are running the most current software and recommended security protection. She then caps it off with regular reviews of staff processes.

Stay Mobile, Stay Agile

2009 Austin Innotech Show Floor.jpgSince each employee works remotely, they have found they each prefer laptops, including Dell, Lenovo, Mac, and Gateway. Speed, reliability, long battery life, and big memory are critical to Lowery. With those needs in mind, she favors Dell laptops running Intel Core i7 and Intel Core i5 processors.

Regarding the necessary technology to stay competitive, Lowery feels fortunate that she has exposure to the latest innovations and solutions offered through those participating in her events (pictured left: InnoTech in Austin, TX), as well as those attending them.

Many see being a small business as an obstacle or disadvantage, but Lowery believes that being a small, nimble business allows Prospera to quickly respond to client business requests with minimal red tape that many larger organizations face.

The future is bright for Lowery’s business, as consumer thirst for new technology continues and innovation blazes forward at warp speed. Learn more about her events by visiting InnoTech and SharePoint TechFest.

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