Horse Sense #89

Toys for Techs

Why not treat your technical staff to the things they have been asking for all year long? It will give them the chance to familiarize themselves with new technology and equip them to handle even tougher situations in the new year! You can improve morale and make your organization more effective at the same time! If you do not have anything left in your budget, worry not!  Some of my ideas are free!  If you want something that costs money, we can help you plan for next year too!

Why Do it?


I have been recommending Toys for Techs for over 10 years and everyone who has tried it has gotten good results. Why not try it in your organization? You do not have to do this during this holiday season. Any time of the year can be good for toys for techs. Heck, if you want to do it quarterly, go right ahead!

The subject of this message sounds silly, but it is not. Sometimes simple things can make a big difference. Many studies have shown that company holiday parties are an enormous productivity tool. They introduce people to each other in a relaxed atmosphere and allow them to talk about themselves and their jobs. Often, very significant discoveries are made ("We are doing WHAT?"). Similarly, studies have shown that more technically oriented people like to "play" with new toys. It improves their productivity and job satisfaction. It also can benefit the organization because the toys the techs are playing with today may become critical tomorrow. If someone would have told you fifteen years ago that web sites and e mail addresses would be ubiquitous, you would have probably laughed them out of the room.

So, it can really make sense to buy toys for your people and let them play with them. You can even make it tax deductible. Using the Section 179a tax deduction, you can expense rather than depreciate a toy over several years. The tax savings can be substantial (up to $500,000 in 2010).

If you are Ebenezer Scrooge, you can stop reading now. But, if you want to know more about how you can make Toys for Techs work for you and bring happiness to techy girls and boys, click here:


The Rules


To make this game productive and fun, you must have rules:

(1) The toys must have a business use.

(2) The toys must cost less than some dollar amount you set. More than one person can get together and pool their money. You can beg for more from Scrooge if you think it is a real business need (good luck) or he will play with the toy too (now you are talking!).

(3) Toys must have a cool factor. Someone else has to think it is cool, too. What is the good of a toy no one wants to borrow or use? e.g., it probably is not a good idea to give your wife a vacuum cleaner as a holiday present.

(4) Toys cannot take you away from your job too long. In fact, it is best if you can open it right away and be playing with it before the year comes to an end. The holidays are a great time of year for doing things that you otherwise could not do because vacations, parties, and the holidays themselves can allow you to do things, like rebooting a server during the day, which you would never get to do at another time of the year.

(5) A tech could be anyone who is using your computing resources and thinks they see a way to get more out of them. Toys can be especially valuable to non-geeks.

(6) Shopping is part of the fun and a learning process in itself. So is negotiating with and talking to coworkers over what toys to get and in sharing them once you get them. This game is a great way to break down communication barriers. You can make a substantial improvement in your business and motivate people by letting them take on a project and run with it with management support. Be open to new ideas.  Ask a trusted advisor like Iron Horse what they would recommend for you.

(7) Have fun and be open to surprises and new ideas.


Gift Ideas for Good Techy Girls and Boys

Consider these toy suggestions:

-The best toys are ones you want to play with all the time. Anything that will make your work life easier or more fun over a long period of time is a great toy idea.

-Give a toy.  Some people would rather give than receive.  Let them spend their effort and their funds in giving a tech toy or tech help to someone who needs it.

-Break down the barriers to using a computer:  Speech recognition software and a microphone can help those who do not type well or who have motor difficulties, dramatically improving their productivity.

-Learn how the world works: Training has a great return on investment. We suggest security training for the organization, but you might also benefit from application training or network administration training. Typing and language tutoring software might be a good idea as well. The computer is a tool. People should be trained how to use it well. Few tools work well in untrained hands.

-Stretch your imagination: Consider hiring Iron Horse for a network security and business analysis. Have Iron Horse look at where you are and have been and then point you towards a more profitable and desirable future. Something that sounds like a luxury can still produce many desirable results. Toys need not be physical. What is more fun than imagining a better day and knowing you can make it a reality? The best toys get your imagination working.

-Uncover what was previously hidden: I have written about the Cymphonix network appliance before. I have had two customers tell me it paid for itself in less than one day! We will be happy to tell you the stories. This toy can find and manage what otherwise would be invisible.

-Keep up with the other techs: You may not transition to the newest software or hardware right away, but someone should know something about it and try it out first.

-Tools can be toys: Utilities can keep your computers running smoothly or restore them to their former glory. After removing unnecessary software and files and using Diskeeper disk defragmentation software I have seen 400% improvements in speed!  Antivirus and firewall software can safeguard your information. You do not have to install this software on every machine. Try a pilot project and see how it goes.

-Keep your toys safe: Buy a better backup solution than the one you have now. Disk to disk backup, disk imaging, continuous data protection, data deduplication, and automatic remote backup are available now. Are you using them or are you putting all your work at risk?

-Fix a toy you have: Maybe your antispam is not working as well as you would like. Maybe you think your computers could use a tune up. Get a professional like Iron Horse to help you.

-View the world differently: Large high resolution flat screen monitors are proven productivity enhancers. A second display also improves productivity (you can even connect them via USB ports!). Newer flat screens can also lower electric bills and save desk space. You can have immense productivity improvements by choosing the correct keyboards, mice, monitors, chairs, telephone headsets, paper holders, keyboard drawers, laptop backpacks, docking stations, extra chargers and batteries, and other items a person uses to interact with their computer. The easier and more natural it is to use a tool like a computer, the better.

-Hand me down toys: If someone gets a new toy, their current toy can go to someone else and become their toy. For example, an engineer gets a higher performance computer, while someone in accounting gets to swap out their computer for one that will crunch their spreadsheets better, and their old computer goes to a school so kids can surf the net.

You get the idea.  If these toys are not for you, we can help you pick out other good ones.  Who says toys cannot be fun and make your business better?


Even More Ideas

For some previous ideas on toys, many of which still ring true today, look at:


Call Iron Horse Today!
iron horse
Delivering Better, Safer Networks
Toll Free Sales Hotline:
Telephone: (703) 866-6413
Hours: 9AM to 5PM Eastern

©2010 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse