Recent events reminded us how important is to ask any technology firm or consultant one simple question:
Do you have in-house developers?
It seems odd — you probably wouldn’t ask your automobile service department if it had in-house mechanics. But we are finding it to be entirely too common in technology.
Two recent events illustrate this need:
- One of our competitors, a national firm offering IDX service (one of the better ones, actually) was exploited by hackers. Data was compromised, including buyer/seller leads.
- Several of our clients reported that their WordPress sites (hosted in various places) were hacked in a variety of ways — including redirecting all inbound traffic to foreign sites.
Picture it. You have one or more of these products, are compromised, and you need resolution. You call your tech consultant. But that person isn’t actually “technical” — they can’t look at code and deduce/fix a problem. Sometimes they have a freelance developer they can ask for help, but that person doesn’t have a vested interest in the product, only in working a bunch of hours to bill the consultant (and eventually, you).
In the past several years, technology has changed to the point that non-technical people can do things like set up a website, create/edit content, and install “plug-ins” that add cool functionality. And this technology is great! But beneath all of that point-and-click stuff is code — and when the doo-doo hits the fan, it takes a coder to fix it.
To be clear – there are many, many great tech firms out there. We have collaborated with several really good ones over the years. We just do “data,” so it’s very common that we work with designers, developers, copywriters, etc, whom our clients have hired. The message here is to be wary and ask questions before you commit time and money to a consultant.