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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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Return to Resources for Navigating the Coronavirus Crisis
March 20, 2020 |

Lori Tisinai Wants Her Company, Customers, and Community Ready for “Stay at Home” Challenges

The Chicagoland channel pro is hustling to get clients ready for travel restrictions that go into effect in her home state tomorrow, while developing online resources that she and peers can use to support each other in difficult times.

Lori Tisinai saw what was coming. Her clients mostly didn’t. 

Tisinai is president and owner of Computer Concepts USA, a computer training and support provider based in Lake Bluff, Ill., north of Chicago. Until today, her region of the country had been less severely impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak and associated travel restrictions than coastal areas like California, Washington, New York, and New Jersey. Under orders issued today by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, however, the entire state of Illinois will be under a “stay at home” mandate beginning tomorrow afternoon.

“Things are starting to shut down,” says Tisinai, who has been working hard in recent days to get her customers ready for that possibility. “I’ve been trying to reach out to my top clients to let them know I’m here to help them,” she says.

Their response? Mostly indifference, she says.

“These are well-educated people. This is what’s so mind boggling for me,” Tisinai told ChannelPro yesterday. “They’re not seeing what’s happened in other places. They don’t think it’s going to come here and happen to them.”

Tisinai did her best to get them ready anyway. Some of her customers store their data in the cloud, but many use on-premises hardware instead. “I’m just informing them all that they should take their stuff home with them,” Tisinai says. “If the power goes out or something happens to that machine and we can’t turn it on, we may not be able to turn on that computer for two weeks.”

Until now, at least, such warnings have had little impact. “Trying to convince them to do this is kind of crazy. No one thinks that they’re going to have to leave their office and they won’t be able to come back,” Tisinai says.

Some may be planning to work from a home PC, she fears, noting that plan poses serious security risks. “There’s no backup on that computer. I don’t know what you have for protection on that computer,” she says. “They don’t have a firewall, except a firewall from their internet service provider.”

Tisinai is striving to alert potentially vulnerable telecommuters to risks like that they don’t appreciate. “I’m educating them about the various scams that are going on,” she says. “I’m going to be working on doing some videos to send to them, and then also working with one of my providers to send out some other educational training, just to make sure that people are staying safe and being protected.”

Though many of her clients may be late to preparing for remote work challenges, Tisinai isn’t. “I’m asking people more for personal phone numbers or email addresses, just in case something goes down,” she says. “I want to be able to make sure that I can communicate with everybody.”

Tisinai’s also asking clients what phone system they use at the office. “They may not know how to check voicemail remotely,” she notes, and some of them may still have time to put a far more accessible VoIP system in place.

Getting her own business ready for anything is a priority for Tisinai at present as well. “We’re trying to make sure we have stuff in place, because nothing like this has really come up before,” she says.

Her preparations have included forging just-in-case mutual aid pacts with channel pros on the east coast, in New Mexico, and in California. “We’re working with each other so that if somebody gets sick, we can help them with their business. If we get sick, they can help us with our business,” Tisinai explains.

To get other channel pros thinking along the same lines, Tisinai has been making introductions among the network of peers she’s cultivated through IT Owner’s Compass, the tech provider’s event that she helps coordinate. “I have a lot of people’s emails, so I reached out to people within Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana where we’re all close, just introducing everybody to each other, letting them know if you have a need, these are some people that you can reach out to in our community,” she says.

She’s also talked with several larger MSPs about providing help desk services for channel pros temporarily out of commission. One of those firms, according to Tisinai, is currently putting a white-label short-term outsourcing program together. “Many of us could utilize them and their services to help out if something happens to us or other people on our team,” she notes.

Hoping to make an even broader impact on the channel beyond the Midwest, Tisinai has recently launched a website intended to serve as a clearinghouse of COVID-19-related resources and information. Located at mspcovidhelp.com and currently a work in progress, it will ultimately include a directory of fellow providers that MSPs can turn to for assistance with a problem or answers to a question.

“If this becomes a wave of something, effects all of us, then we need to have a plan together where we can go to one place to find resources,” she notes, adding that she plans to roll out a Microsoft Teams site as well to help channel pros impacted by the Coronavirus crisis share insights and coordinate action.

“I’m working with a couple of other peers to help me build it out, however we’re all a little crazy at the moment,” Tisinai says. “It’s coming.”

Along with more community-spirited initiatives like it, she hopes. Now, Tisinai points out, isn’t the time for channel pros to be thinking about themselves alone.

“Reach out to another company in your area that you may think is a competitor, but don’t think of them as a competitor. Think of them as a partner,” she says. “I think we can all join forces and help each other.”

Return to Resources for Navigating the Coronavirus Crisis

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