A new notebook delivery model

Published: January 7th, 2009

When Larry Keating, president and CEO of Markham, Ont.-based No Panic Computing (NPC), announced a new NPC notebook-as-a-service offering for small business professionals this year, he had no idea just how much attention and support the offering would garner from partners and end-users.

NPC, which is a wholly-owned company of Keating Technologies, but is run independently, has partnered up with HP, Intel and Iron Mountain to arm small business professionals with a complete, fully encrypted and worry-free notebook computing solution. Instead of purchasing hardware, software, services and backup separately, NPC’s notebook-as-a-service offering includes all of that for a fixed monthly cost of just $129.99, over a 36-month lease term.

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Targeting SMB pros

Especially with the recent economic downturn coupled with rising business costs, Keating says this notebook delivery model is a smart idea for small to medium-sized business (SMB) professionals who don’t have access to an IT department.

“NPC is a smart thing to do given the current economic conditions,” Keating said. “Businesses can save on capital because NPC has a predictable cash flow every month for 36 months.”

While NPC has been available previously across Canada and the U.S., the notebooks being offered were not HP branded systems. At the time of its new launch date in June, NPC announced an exclusive partnership with HP. The NPC notebooks are currently available in four different sizes. Users can choose the HP 8510p, a 15.4-inch model, the HP 6910p, a 14.1-inch screen-sized notebook, the HP 2530, 12.1-inch notebook, or the HP 2730 tablet PC. Keating said NPC uptake has been so successful that customers are already asking for a 17-inch screen size too, which, he says, will likely be the fifth notebook size introduced from NPC next year.

The notebooks feature Intel’s Centrino Pro processor technology and come pre-configured with Microsoft Office 2007, in addition to anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

“With NPC, the notebooks are completely encrypted and backed up with Iron Mountain,” Keating said in a previous interview. “ Customer data is stored in Iron Mountain’s data centres so if a notebook is ever lost, damaged or stolen, we can replace the notebook with all of the customers’ data…from the last time it was backed up to the Web.”

Customer data is secured, managed and backed up regularly with 24×7 support available too. That way, if something happens to the data and/or the notebook, NPC has the ability to remotely destroy the data before a replacement notebook is sent out. Customers also have the ability to access their data using any Web browser when they are away from their notebook, or while waiting for their unit to be replaced.

While its target market is aimed at SMB professionals, Keating said interest from larger-sized enterprises has also become apparent. Since its launch six months ago, Keating said NPC interest and uptake has been non-stop and intense. The biggest challenge with delivering NPC as a notebook-as-a-service offering though, he says, is in educating the market about a new way of obtaining a complete notebook experience.“2008 has really been a year of unprecedented surprise for me, just in terms of how big the idea (of NPC) is turning out to be,” Keating said. “When you invent a whole new way of doing something, you realize just how much messaging and touches with the community it takes. Customers are looking for competitive edges, especially when times get tough. NPC is about protecting (our customers’) businesses and helping them work better.”

At the NPC launch, Michelle Warren, president of MW Research & Consulting, said she could see NPC being quite popular in certain sectors such as financial, accounting, legal and engineering.“I think (NPC’s) strategy is right in aiming it towards smaller businesses without an IT department,” she said. “For channel partners, opportunities lie with software. Solution providers can provide other elements there with software and additional hardware to bring in more revenue streams too.”

Although Keating said he could not discuss the number of value-added resellers (VARs) that NPC now works with, he did say there has been “good uptake” in the VAR base since the launch. VARs can enjoy easy deployment of NPC notebooks since they don’t have to stock, carry or manage inventory, he explains. What’s even better, he says, is that VARs can earn a commission of $300 for each notebook unit they sell. Once the customer’s 36-month lease is up, channel partners can still make the same amount of margins on the unit when they renew their customers for another three years.

“With NPC, we remotely manage a customer’s notebook computing experience in a way that hasn’t been done before,” Keating said. “To see that unfold in such a short time makes it such an incredible and personally rewarding year for me.”