Change is in the air. It’s unmissable, it’s everywhere. This year’s Microsoft Conference in Toronto just served to highlight that theme more than ever. It was larger, with more attendees and more noise. But behind the numbers, there is a significant shift in the way IT serves business.
[header2 text=”The theme is disruption. The message is innovate.” align=”left” color=”#336A40″ margintop=””]
Technology can streamline your business, and it can grow your business, and the role of your IT partner is to help you do that, but you have to ask. The traditional need to keep the email working, and the PCs reliable is still there, whether you use your own server, or the cloud or both. However the opportunity exists to really change things up. The cloud makes it possible to do new things in new ways – whether you are the next Uber, or Netflix, or, closer to home, MyFoodBag. These businesses are all finding newer and better ways to help us buy the services and products we want to consume, but there is no reason that you can’t also innovate within your existing business to find new clients, or reduce costs.
When was the last time you needed a bank teller? Imagine booking a hotel or flight without using an online booking tool. Go back a few decades to the times when every lift had a lift operator, and when you needed an operator in the phone exchange. I visited the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit , a truly amazing shrine to innovation, both technological and social. They have a graphic illustration of progress – the DC3 introduced the idea of commercial airliners barely 30 years after the Wright Brothers first flew. There’s a major installation that highlights the work and impact of Thomas Edison, not just introducing recorded sound, and the light bulb, but also the introduction of power generation and distribution. The museum shows progress in our homes, in our transport and in our social structure – I was deeply moved by the exhibit honouring Rosa Parks. It’s all innovation and a reminder that times change and so must we.
[header2 text=”This innovation impacts all of our businesses” align=”left” color=”#336A40″ margintop=””]
We need to reduce our costs, and increase our markets, and if we aren’t doing that, then we need to be well aware that our competitors are.
The cloud allows us to really do IT quite differently. Now we can use the cloud to apply ‘machine learning‘. That’s where Siri or Google Now start to give us useful information we hadn’t asked for. We can apply that to our own business. We can use the cloud to join tools together to automate data flows. We can analyse our business data in new ways, including bringing together outside data sets for comparisons. The cloud doesn’t just let us do what we’ve always done but more efficiently. Now the cloud lets us do new things, and it’s a change that’s as fundamental as Edison’s work introducing electricity to homes.
[header2 text=”It’s called the Fourth Industrial Revolution” align=”left” color=”#336A40″ margintop=””]
It’s the challenge of today’s business in any industry is to be part of it. It will impact everyone.
At the least, it could be as simple as making sure we’re training our staff in the new tools or new versions so they can apply the advantages to the way they work to be quicker and smarter.
Going further, we are now having client’s ask us to help them find efficiencies or opportunities. That’s a big change from managing the IT because it means we have to really understand the business, not just the IT. We have to work jointly with the business in workshops to understand how the business works, what are the processes that underpin the business and what are the roles. Who does what? What are the problems? Where do things get stuck, where are the vulnerabilities. What are competitors doing, especially in overseas markets, or in parallel industries. We have to ask hard questions, and we have to be asked hard questions too – it’s a joint exercise where the IT partner brings their knowledge of technology, and their experience in other clients, and where the business brings their knowledge of themselves, their industry sector and market. It’s also not a once-off discussion but an ongoing one, and it’s a process that can generate some interesting ideas.
[header2 text=”How can we help?” align=”left” color=”#336A40″ margintop=””]
We’ve seen our work change to reflect this new demand over the last year and we’ve created new methodologies to manage it. It’s different work and goes far beyond our traditional support contracts. Our experience and systems and structures challenge is keeping up with demand, because this work is more intensive and we need more people to deliver. So we’re looking for great people, and we’re keen to work with more great clients because these are hugely rewarding engagements.
So that’s the call to action. Work with your IT partner. Check that they know what to do and have the. It’s a step up from traditional IT support, and you need an IT partner that’s made the necessary changes to be able to help you. The final bit is that you need to ask them because this goes well beyond your old service contract.