A Non-Apology

Dear Marks and Spencer Manchester. It was me, and I’m far from sorry. I took my basket of Dine in for 10 goodies, selected from your specific chilled shelves to your self-check-out. Your staff manning the area ignored me, watched me struggle with my laptop bag, basket and shopping bags and drop my basket on the first available self-check-out.

That check-out was dead. As a dodo. I thought it was just saving energy with the screen off (Remember your Plan A because there’s no Plan B – Although Plan A is to make 5p per carrier bag on convenience shopping for many years before it is to become mandatory), so tapped the screen and nothing. I work in IT, I have heard of Power Save and Energy Star.

Your staff had the opportunity to help me, they didn’t. Not even a helpful out of order sign on the machine was to be seen.

I found another machine. Lugged my stuff over, and scanned my items to find my dine in for 10 was over 20 pounds at the payment screen. I looked around, remembered the staff hadn’t helped me earlier, wondered if they could be bothered now and realised I was doing their work anyway. I walked out.

Yes it was me, I left that bag of goods there and I ‘simply’ walked out of your M&S…

A Silent Protest of Poor Service and Bad Technology

My better half asked me what my silent protest achieved. Well I did point out I wasn’t terribly struck on what I was buying anyway and to have to deal with an impulse purchase that was surrounded by bad customer service and dysfunctional technology it wasn’t worth my time or money. The dysfunctional self-checkout probably saved my waistline and wallet.

The irony is not lost on me that I’m a Managing Director of a company that implements business cost saving technologies.  A self-checkout could be one of those!

This got me thinking. Last weekend I was off doing a relatively large Cisco Meraki project up in a high-tech manufacturing facility. I should say that the Cisco Meraki stuff is lovely kit. My opinion of what may happen to Meraki inside Cisco is another question, but for now let’s forget about that!

Cisco Meraki stuff just works, I have never really implemented technology that I haven’t found frustrating, scary and puzzling at first (that’s on the implementation side, not on the user side I may add). Although I do tend to be a quick study. When I did my training a few years ago (hi @merakisimon!) I flew through the engineers training faster than usual as I found it that easy.  Never mind all this datacentre hyperconverged stuff and the guff that is Internet of Things. Meraki is the future of Cisco, provided Cisco resist their Borg mentality to layer it in TPS reports and such like.

Technology that just works…

The kit is so good that during my long weekend of roll-out, whilst we were awaiting areas to be patched into the core switches the wireless access points had automatically found each other, clustered and started serving clients on the network – prior to us even getting a direct LAN connection patched into them. One of the AP’s had also caused a head scratcher, when it was serving clients in cluster mode, despite being plugged into an active LAN switch. Turned out we hadn’t quite clipped in the AP’s network cable.

Equipment so good it works when the engineers haven’t quite done their job right!

Yes there are things that it doesn’t do that I wish it could, but I can understand it, I don’t walk up to it and think it’s gone into power save like my self-checkout nightmare. There’s an understanding between the human and the tech, not just on the user front end, but the back end of the technology that us IT Pro’s use.  This is a real game-changer when it comes to technology, quite often the interfaces that us techies use is largely left as rough as it can be with little thought going into it.  We’re all under pressure to reduce overheads and IT department costs, this is how that process should start – with kit that’s easy to administer.

Cisco, traditionally has created its own language, its own ecosystem and made sure that without CCNA and other accreditations you weren’t going to touch it. I know a lot of IT Managers who say their life is difficult enough, why use command line these days. I agree too.

We all just need kit in our lives that is easy to use, no learning curves and causes no fear, confusion or frustrations. Networks should be things that can be easily visualised and modified and Meraki makes this easy, command line does not.

With help when you need it

I’m sure I’ve mentioned customer service on this blog before… maybe just a little! That’s all important too, those that have had a Cisco experience a bit like my Marks and Spencer episode of being ignored when I had a problem, you need not worry with the Cisco Meraki brand. The whole platform and ability to raise tickets directly based on the equipment you’re having a problem with is built into the dashboard.

Cisco and Meraki are currently taking what’s good about each other and putting it to good use. The enterprise resilient hardware technologies and methodologies are coming from big Cisco and being incorporated into Meraki’s hardware. Essentially allowing Meraki’s cloud based management and dashboard to be used to make enterprise hardware easy to use and configure is a real time saver for ever-stretched IT departments and IT organisations. In return, Cisco are leaving Meraki to keep some independence…

If you want to experience Cisco Meraki yourself and possibly get yourself a free wireless access point, then click here. Otherwise you can also contact us and speak to a real human who’ll explain all you need to know about Cisco or Cisco Meraki.

We don’t do self-checkouts, but if we did, they’d work and we’d always be there to help!