By Andy Jonak
This month I was thinking about what I want to write about, and until just the other day, I didn't know where I wanted to take things this month. What often happens with my blog posts is something hits me from some every day, non-IT thing, which then reminds me of something to do with IT, which allows me to relate that thing or experience to what we all do in IT. Confusing? That's how it happens for me. That's the case for this month.
This past weekend, my son and I resealed and stained our backyard wood deck as we do every few years. The deck needed to be redone after four years, and the stain/sealer combo I use—so happy to don't have to do each separately, as in years past—was wearing out and chipping. If we don't re-stain and reseal it, the deck will rot and fall apart and, therefore, will be of limited (or no) value to our family. Will my deck be able to withstand the changes the weather and environment will bring upon it over the next few years unless I do something about it? No, it can't, as it's at the point where needs help, attention, and updating to continue being valuable. So I had a plan knowing that I would have to redo it around this timeframe, so we prepped for this.
Hmm…that got me thinking. Isn't IT like that? What do I mean? Well, let's talk about it this month.
Our IT solutions are one of our businesses' key and foundational parts, as we all know. For many, IT is what allows the function of a business to happen. But what happens if we don't take care of it periodically and give it the care and feeding it needs to continue to provide the value we need and expect? Notice I mentioned the "value we need" here. If we don't give IT the "care and feeding" it needs in terms of making sure it's current, update to date, fully supported, and helping users be efficient in assisting them to do their jobs better—not when it was implemented, but now—is it still serving its purpose? Or is it just like my deck after four years where the stain is chipping and desperately need of help? Too much of a stretch for my analogy here? I don't think so.
We tend to see two types of firms out there. Firms that keep their IT just current enough and only supported enough to keep going things going. Their systems, technology, and their IT support practices dictate this. Let's keep using what we can for as long as possible, and if something happens, we will address it. The second type is those firms that look at technology and IT as a strategic and vital tool to help the business grow and their people to thrive. Sadly there are many firms out there who subscribe to the first one.
This can be a big mistake, especially today, with the pandemic where we are so much more reliant upon our technology, and IT is even more important in all we do. Because of what is happening in the world today, firms cannot afford not to be ready. Change forces that. Generally, when do you see firms make changes to their IT? It happens when regulations dictate it, when technology gets older and doesn't perform its functions as expected, when something bad happens, such as a ransomware attack or other impactful event, through business growth, or when something outside of their control forces it, such as the pandemic we are in today.
Business is changing with everyone working remotely, and firms are looking for—and the innovative ones are finding—new ways to do business today and be successful. Don't firms owe it to themselves to be ready for whatever lies ahead so that they can figure out how to be successful, no matter what happens? Of course they do, and a big part of that is ensuring their IT will help provide whatever is needed to help.
So that poses some questions: is your IT up to date? Does it still fill your needs? Does it help your people be better at what they do in adding value to the company? Is it supported as it needs to be? And will be able to withstand something game-changing such as a pandemic? Only you and your firm can help you answer those questions and, if you need help, reach out to a trusted and strategic partner to get their take as well. That's why they are there.
With what is happening right now, your technology and overall IT strategy are even more critical during these times, whether you know it—or even like it—or not. It's also more than just looking at today (which is what many firms do), but looking at what's next and what it means for my business and my people as we move forward, so we can not only survive during these times but figure out how to thrive. If we work towards it, we can do it if we treat our IT as one of the most valuable business tools we have in our arsenal to help us get through to whatever is next. We need to be prepared to "stain that deck" when we need to and have a plan for it well in advance.
So my advice is to look at how your IT is doing all of its aspects, including technology, software, apps, cloud, people, and support. Then evaluate and make decisions on what you need to do now and what needs to be done to support the business going forward. I know I will, and no matter what, I will continue to "stain the deck" to make sure I'm ready for the future.