Many firms that are online do with one hosting server, but Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter (HANC) has over two dozen and counting. One site is HANC’S own, but its servers store (or, as is more commonly known, “host”) the Web sites of about 28 clients — sites that HANC set up and designed. HANC has expanded its venerable information technology consulting practice into a new niche producing and storing internet sites. Stated Richard A. Hungerford, HANC shareholder in charge of computer services that are consulting “IT has long been a venue for value-added consulting. Our concept is that the Internet is the way business will be transacted in the 21st century. We’re looking to make webpage creation and keeping a profit center.”
CREATING IT’S very own SITE
After months of preparation, Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter went real time using its own site in April 1996. The firm has a technology committee responsible for the content and design of the website, but almost everyone at the company is involved with a way. The layout and design are handsome and easy to make use of: The home page links to explanations of this company’s solutions, investors and supervisors; accounting and finance resources; a guest guide; and a Tip associated with the Week, which staff members take turns writing. (A recent subject was “Lower Capital Gains Rates beneath the brand new Tax Law.”) HANC is nearly entirely self-contained, featuring its own servers. That is, the firm itself has computers that store its own Web site and those of its clients; it does not have to contract with an outside service to try this. Senior Network Analyst Sean Motherway, whom acts as Webmaster for HANC, spends several hours a week on general website upkeep for HANCS website. He additionally assists HANC clients create their web sites.
The site helps in delivery of services in addition to promoting the firm. Tax shareholder John Clark uses the site to send and receive client tax documents. He’s found the site is becoming a place that is popular individuals to post income tax questions: “I’d like to set up a billable service-answering taxation concerns on the internet. And there are various other possibilities under conversation.”
GUIDES TO CREATING OTHERS’
The firm began its online saving and design service to produce services that are additional current clients; however, about half its Web site clients are new to the firm. “Because of the expertise we’ve developed by themselves,” said Hungerford in IT consulting, we’re able to market our Web services. Most of its webpage consumers have actually signed with all the firm since January 1997.
Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter offers a wide array of services divided in to two plans:
* The basic plan: 500 kilobytes of server area (sufficient for a modest-size site), an email target, registration in over 400 se’s, a month-to-month report of access hits, an everyday backup regarding the customer’s information and a target that’s part of the company’s (http:// www.hanc.com/yourcompany).
* The premium plan: just like above, but with 10 megabytes of server area (for a tremendously site that is large, 10 email details (so 10 employees, or divisions, can each have a unique email address) and an original target (http://www.yourcompany.com).
But, Hungerford stressed that each customer gets a tailor-made site suitable for its needs and its market. “For each Web that is prospective site, we perform a feasibility study. We research the sites of local and national competitors. We can work with a client’s staff or its marketing that is outside consultant advertising agency.” HANC’s computer staff of 10 can handle sophisticated programming: Java, used for high-level enhancements not readily done with HTML; file transfer protocol, to help clients add files that their own customers can download; and guest books, so potential customers can leave information about themselves. HANC can register its clients’ pages not only with big search engines such as Yahoo and Altavista but also with lesser-known industry-specific search engines. If a client wants a design beyond the skills of HANC’s staff, the firm has a list of subcontracted designers it can bring in.
Setting up a countertop on a site is an instant and simple procedure, but in addition HANC can provide pages of exclusive data for each client, such as where hits are coming from and the days and the times when the site is most and least active. HANC posts this information on its own site; each client has a password to look at its very own information.
“Our online service has led us into another billable niche: training,” said Sandra Walraven, manager of information systems. Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter can train people that are key a client’s workplace to do simple uploads, so they can alter their site from their desks without involving the firm.
HANC’S website provides links to its clients’ pages, which include a furniture maker, automobile dealerships, some nonprofits and a golf clubs supplier. This not just encourages HANC’s solutions but in addition encourages more hits to its clients. HANC’s own site is getting 900 to 1,000 hits 30 days. All its kept websites, together, normal about 1,500 hits a day.
PULLING IT TOGETHER
Inspite of the company’s technical sophistication, Motherway uses a few of the programs that are same novice Web designers use: Homesite (shareware), Hotdog Pro and Adobe Photoshop (for illustrations). The first two cost about $100 each; Photoshop is about $450. He also still uses Windows Notepad, a simple text editor that comes free with Windows. The company invested about $20,000 on its host hardware.
HANC’s IT staff trains others in the firm so they understand the firm’s Web practice and can discuss it with current and potential clients in relation to other firm services. “As in many firms and companies, our skills that are technological homegrown,” stated Hungerford. “The IT staff keeps up using the literature and now we’re looking at certification on some Microsoft products. But most of our Internet knowledge is self-taught.” Hungerford, Walraven and Motherway have continued their technological education after college.
As time goes on, Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter plans to assist its clients are more sophisticated online. Hungerford stated that although the company’s consumers were happy with the marketing abilities associated with online, they’d be searching beyond to using the internet to actually provide services. HANC is working on solving security issues to make stores that are online e-mail transactions practical. Sooner or later, the company intends to assist clients put up their own servers. “We see the Internet as a huge consulting area,” said Hungerford.
Meanwhile the company is expanding into other areas too, including litigation services and fraud investigations. Numerous old-fashioned firms — HANC was founded in 1941 — found myself in IT consulting as a sideline to services that are traditional. But as traditional and services that are new at HANC, the firm discovers itself doing a 180″ turn. Said Walraven, “We now aspire to seu more accounting that is traditional to our brand new webpage chients.”