What's Happening in IT Right Now?
By Andy Jonak
We are just over six months into the pandemic as of this writing, and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on where things stand when it comes to IT. How's that for diving right into it this month?
The past six months or so have been extraordinary and surreal for most of us. As for Vicom, we were one of the fortunate businesses that did not have to close down completely when the pandemic hit, as we are considered essential due to all of the work that we do with hospitals and healthcare systems. I absolutely recognize that so many firms were not so fortunate, and many businesses will never come back the same way, if at all, and that is tragic—it truly is.
What these times have done has changed things for everyone, both personally and professionally. Things are just not the same, and in some cases, will never be the same again. What has happened will cause permanent ramifications.
We all have similar stories about how we are affected and allow me to illustrate a few personal examples. Our family typically rents a house in July (see my post in July called Are Blogs Important?), which we were able to do this year, with some restrictions. We usually plan a family trip in August to Florida to see family down there and enjoy some much-needed downtime before school starts for the kids, but we weren't able to do that this year due to Florida on NY State's quarantine list. In October of each year, we make an extended family trip to Rehoboth Beach, DE, and we couldn't do it this year as Delaware is on the NY State quarantine list. We also make trips for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years to allow the entire family to be together for a few days. All of these are up in the air right now and probably won't happen—things that have been a tradition for us going back 20 years.
We were forced us to rethink things and figure out how to make it work. In some cases, we are doing something; in other cases, we are canceling these trips altogether. By the way, it's not the trips that I am upset about (many can't afford to travel right now, I get that) as much as the inability for the entire family to be together—which is what's most important to me. Isn't my family's experience indicative of what is happening to all of us? And isn't that also what's happening with IT? How's that for a tie in? Hear me out.
We've seen firms that continue to do well (or at least OK) during these pandemic times because they've figured it out. It hasn't been easy for any firm, and it breaks my heart to know that many firms won't get through this. Many firms look at what happened and found ways to continue, and not just continue, but to prosper. Like it or not, IT plays a significant role in that.
IT allows firms to continue their operations and their people to work remotely productively and safely. For that to happen, IT needs to evolve, as well. It has for many firms. I think what has happened is that many firms have realized how valuable IT is to their businesses. Many firms still look at IT as only an expense versus a strategic business tool that can help enterprises differentiate themselves and grow and thrive. Don't get me wrong, there are still firms that look at IT as a liability, but many more have come to see IT's value to their businesses. That is an excellent thing.
With what happened, firms didn't have a choice but to accelerate their work from home (WFH) tools and strategies. We saw an enormous uptick in firms needing help in these areas in the March and April timeframe. We've also seen firms need help with endpoint devices to allow their people to work from home and keep them productive. Many items were hard to get at the start of the pandemic. An example, did you know that headsets were hard to find and had limits on how many you can buy because everyone needed them right away. When has that ever happened before?
Next, we saw firms aggressively looking into their cloud and hybrid cloud strategies. They need infrastructure and services to run their applications, or they can't remain in business, much less productive. Interestingly, we've seen a significant uptick in firms investing in storage solutions. They invested in storage to modernize their environments and add capacity and tools to make them clouds enabled. There was a bit uptick in this within our customers.
Also, security has taken center stage. IT security is always essential, but its importance was certainly amplified during these pandemic times. Without IT being secure, how can they remain competitive and relevant, let alone keep the doors open? A telling question. Security in all facets is what we've seen in this uptick: endpoint security, application security, web security, networking, and pen testing to keep ahead of the bad actors.
So what does this at all mean to us, and what is happening in IT? From March to September, firms were very cautious about investing in IT. They know they need these IT technologies, software, and services but are very careful about spending their money. I get it and don't blame them. We continue to work with our existing customers and talk to many new potential customers who have interest but were very leery in pulling the trigger and moving forward on IT projects. Again, I get it.
But then something interesting happened in the September timeframe: firms started to talk about moving forward on the IT projects they had held back on. For now, it's only talking as many have not moved forward but are eagerly planning to do it over the next few months. That's great for the IT world and businesses overall and indicative of all types of firms.
I feel a general sense of optimism with the firms we work with, and I believe that optimism is turning to the momentum that will continue throughout Q4, where firms will continue to move their IT forward, as they know they have to. Firms will start to feel comfortable reinvesting in IT, and I believe that will begin in earnest at the beginning of 2021. I do.
It doesn't mean we are out of the woods yet—but any means—but this is an excellent sign of things to come. I like to believe that what happens in IT, so goes the rest of the business world. So join with me in the optimism coming from all of us in IT and all the other industries we serve as we emerge from these challenging times. This makes me very much looking forward to what is to come for Q4 2020 and 2021, and I'm looking forward to great times ahead.