A little more than five years ago, at our annual company Summit, I sat with my team and discussed our future plans. The basis of the discussion was that even though we are excellent at what we do and dominate in our perfect little niches (Canadian Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, VDI Design, Build & Management, Advanced Networking, Front Line Support) we needed to look forward.
My primary accountability at IT Weapons is vision and strategy. I look forward.
At the time of that particular Summit, the big faceless public clouds were struggling with quality, licensing, and support (adoption). The landscape also seemed to be increasingly cluttered with smaller cloud companies struggling with their identity (Break/fix vs. managed service providers vs. cloud providers) and behemoth, faceless, clunky public cloud providers. This translated to us as ‘opportunity’ where we could identify as a partner that could deliver as promised and continue to keep our clients safe through this turbulent time (Global Economic Crisis).
When I network with peers, I witness that most IT companies would be happy with our scenario: a preferred partner, a growing business, award winning. Pretty rosy, right?
However, my job is to look forward…
What we saw was that many of the smaller ‘cloud providers’ were filling the world with doubt and were slowly driving Canadian Enterprise IT departments to the larger companies purely out of fear. The big public cloud providers were slowly (inevitably) fixing their issues – standardizing and reducing prices in a battle of the giants. From my viewpoint IT providers needed to make a major decision – to survive, they must invest in their cloud (7 digits +) or hand their clients over to the public cloud monsters and take whatever business scraps they were granted. Scary times. All through these years, ITW chose to double down – we kept growing, investing in a very mature and robust Cloud. Again, fearless and strong.
Our prediction was that IT departments wanted someone they could trust – to ease them into the Cloud and not demand ‘all or nothing’. Allow them to get Cloudified and still be able touch their data. Our model was perfect. The Clients Data moved offsite into our Cloud and we took great care of it – and whenever a client needed, we could bring them to one of our Data Centers and point exactly at where their data was. Relief. Safe. Sigh….
This is the way this new world of IT must work. It’s the reason I am confident that companies like ITW will continue to participate in the future of the Canadian IT industry. Businesses need smart technically savvy folks to ‘jack in’ to their business and consult on what they need.
Now, the only way these new IT folks can focus 100% on delivering this crucial value to their companies is to truly ‘let go’ of the geek stuff. THAT is the true reason for moving to the Cloud. It’s scary for sure. If you dabble in moving stuff to the cloud, or outsourcing, you are not just distracting your IT folks from making your company great, you are also sharing the accountability for the infrastructure. And as Vern Harnish, the Guru of Fast Growth Companies, says: “If more than one person is accountable, then no one is accountable.” (Verne Harnish, Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t)
The New World of IT has no time for dabbling. The Cloud is NOT bleeding edge. It’s normal. If you were to start a new company today, you WOULD NOT call Dell for a new Small Business Server. Hell, good luck buying that kind of software to install anyway. Ask yourself why you would keep feeding your old dinosaur? You better start the care and feeding of the mammals! IT IS TIME to get on the Cloud bandwagon.
SECRET: Challenge your team. Be it technology or any process – Ask them: “If we started over today, blank slate, how would we do this?” You will find that the old “because we have always done it that way” buried in their minds….this exercise will help retrain them and spawn a culture of innovation. Promise me you will do this!
So, with all that background on how I do my job, and how I look forward in mind, what’s up for ITW right now? We will obviously continue to deliver our award winning hybrid cloud & managed services. That business is growing like gangbusters! We even built a per user model so clients can slowly move to it as their comfort grows with that approach. But, from deep in our lair, we are readying a new multi year roadmap that will see seamless integration with many public clouds. The focus will remain on ensuring our clients will continue to accelerate without fear of being left behind and with minimal impact or risk to their business.