president and CEO of Pierson Computing Connection Inc.
Q: Tell us a bit about your company and its history.
A: Pierson Computing has been around for 19 years. I started the business after leaving IBM, wanting more flexibility to raise a family.
Over the past 19 years, we've grown from primarily a public management firm to a firm that does installation of technology of all kinds — PCs, laptops, wireless networking, interactive whiteboards and other school technology. It's across the gamut of technology.
How is emerging technology changing what your customers buy? Are more customers looking at mobile products?
I would say that is the case. A lot of what we're seeing is a move into wireless networking as a need that is caused by mobile products. You bring your iPad or iPhone into work, or into schools, where they're talking about what is called BYOD for “bring your own device.”
That puts a strain on the network. The network has to be available, be secure and be able to handle all the additional devices we're bringing all the time.
Why would you recommend a business get its technology locally?
Well, I would say service is the big thing. Local companies provide great service. It's nice to see. Especially in the Harrisburg area, we have a significant footprint of very well-developed technology companies that serve state government agencies and, because of that, expertise other businesses can benefit from as well.
How do you see technology changing education in America?
I see technology changing education in multiple ways. I think we'll continue to see the flipped classroom, where teachers use their classroom time to help students with homework projects, and they record video lectures and other technology initiatives for the students to work on at home. Therefore, (they are) really being able to provide the one-on-one help needed during class time and still providing information to students.
I see that as well as, between all the mobile devices we have and interactive technology, students becoming more and more engaged.
What technologies would you describe as “must-haves” for any small business?
For any small business, I would say the one technology that we wouldn't do without is our wireless network, along with our iPhones or other mobile phone devices. We're always on the go, so communication happens 24/7 between our team. That and my trusty laptop are two things I wouldn't go without.
What do you feel should be the role of women in business? How does your company benefit from having a woman at its helm?
I would say women need to define their own roles in business, and that is different for every person.
One of my great employees is a mom who stayed at home until her kids were in junior high. She does our bookkeeping. She works 20 to 30 hours a week, and I wouldn't trade her for a full-time employee for anything. She has been able to balance her family and her life, and that has been terrific for us.
It's hard to say women should do 'this' in business. Women need to define their role, what is best for them and for their family. For me, I think our business is very sensitive to that because of me raising my family as I started the business. Therefore, our work policies tend to be very family friendly, because I needed them to be for me and didn't want to take a benefit I didn't also give my employees.
What emerging technology or new gadgets are you most excited about?
I currently have an iPad I use to take notes, send emails and sign documents. I would say my next investment would be one that also has cellular, wireless capabilities so that I can have that connection even when I don't have Wi-Fi. That's my wish list as far as technology gadgets.
Originally from southeastern Massachusetts, Debra Pierson now lives in the Mechanicsburg area. She graduated from Messiah College with a computer science degree.
In her spare time, Pierson can be found reading on her iPad or running. She and her husband, Jeff, have two daughters, 19-year-old Jacqueline and 17-year-old Elizabeth. They have two dogs and two cats.
Pierson Computing Connection Inc. of Mechanicsburg employs about 40 people.