By Andy Jonak
We’ve all heard the term “The Journey is the Destination.” It can be a pretty thoughtful and cerebral way of looking at things, that at times can be hard to relate to what’s happening in your life, and for this article, your IT business. From the way I see it, nothing could be more valid than that term when it comes to IT. I believe that that term sums up perfectly what IT is all about. Let’s unpack that a bit this month as I wax philosophical.
Of course, everyone is familiar with this term, but let me give you my interpretation. When you think about what that phrase means, it’s all about how you will never achieve perfection in what you do, how you will never really be “it” or ever get ”there,” whatever “it” and “there” are defined to be. We should take solace and focus on what it takes to get there—the journey. If we strive to get to “it” or “there,” that in and of itself, is the reward. It can be pretty deep if you stop and think about it, but there’s also simplicity in it as well. It boils down to this: embrace and enjoy the journey.
But don’t we all want to strive to be better/faster/stronger (to use the 80’s show pun) in all we do? I believe that we do, and it’s just human nature. We can always find ways to do things better; we constantly want to be more efficient and find ways to do things differently to achieve those goals. We all want improvement in all we do; otherwise, we are standing still. I believe that standing still is never a good option, but I feel moving forward is something we all want.
I feel that we as humans are always looking for ways NOT to stagnate, at least most of us anyway. I also believe, as most do, that staying the same is stagnation. I am enamored with improving and with change. I like change and embrace it, sometimes to the chagrin of those I know and work with, and my family.
Your journey is what makes you who you are. It’s your thoughts, the things you’ve learned, and, most importantly, your experiences. It all guides you on your way. Do you think and act the same way as when you were younger, outside of your guiding values? In most cases, no, we have evolved, due to the new we things we’ve learned and our experiences. Do you react and interpret those things that same as when you were younger? Probably not. Again, that’s the journey and what makes you who you are.
So, where is this all coming from, and what does it have to do with IT? I mentioned right up front that this would be a deep one, but here’s my message that relates it all to what we do: I believe everything discussed above connects to what we do in IT.
Think about it. What you do today in or with your IT is probably not what you did years ago. Some of the underlying principles I’m sure remain the same, but how you achieve and strive for your end goals is probably different. It’s grown and evolved as you have, and your experiences have, and that’s the journey. I also believe that it’s inevitable that things change within IT and that staying the same is not always a good thing. IT must evolve, as we, our businesses, and the need that IT has to fill evolves. That evolution and change is a good thing; in fact, I believe it’s an essential thing in IT.
Here are some specifics on what I mean, as it relates to IT, on what the journey is all about:
Your policies and procedures, are they the same or have they changed and evolved over the years. I am betting that they have changed. As you and your teams learned more, experienced more, tried, succeeded, and failed more, they evolved, and your IT with it. That’s a good thing. Would you want to work for or with a company that hasn’t changed its policies and procedures when it comes to IT in 10, 20, or 30 years? I wouldn’t either. But there are firms out there like that that do not want or choose to change.
IT has gone from being a nagging liability within firms that is continuously a money drain to a critical differentiator that helps drive business forward. IT is now expected to help in business growth and not just be a cost center. That’s a significant change that has happened. Sadly there are still firms out there that look at IT as only a liability versus something useful that helps the business grow. Again, would you want to be part of a firm or work with a firm that looks at IT that way? No me.
Technology has changed from being hardware-driven to software-driven, and this is a big one. Virtualization and VM’s are a significant cause of that. Software took the front seat and hardware became relegated to the back. Software became everything—I would argue it always was—and hardware became less important. If you think about it, what do you consider most relevant to your IT infrastructure, the HW, or the SW? Sure the HW is essential, but it’s the SW that drives everything. Look at how hardware manufacturers are selling less while software and cloud firms sales are growing. That’s says it all.
Expanding a bit on the previous point on our industry moving towards being software-driven, virtualization was so crucial to our IT journey that it deserves its own call-out. We were one of the first VMware partners in the NY metro area, circa 2002. IT changed uniquely after that. People looked to have IT be much more efficient, and it worked. It also provided the foundation of what cloud computing is all about, which without, it wouldn’t be possible. Yes, virtualization has been around since the 1960s with mainframes, but VMware was when it went mainstream.
After virtualization, things moved to the cloud. People didn’t want to host IT infrastructure or IT services anymore and wanted to have someone else do it. I don’t blame them. Office 365 is an excellent example of that, and it has exploded and worked well. I’ve said it before in my posts: our firm, Vicom, is a Microsoft Gold Partner that has helped firms by implementing and maintaining Exchange for 20+ years, and even we don’t host our own Microsoft services anymore. We use Office 365 because it makes sense and allows our people to focus on more what’s important versus just managing email and other Microsoft services.
Now we see firms using a cloud-first strategy, where not only are they moving and replacing on-prem technology and apps into the cloud, they are going there first. A new app is needed, so create it in the cloud. Use DevOps and Agile frameworks to make it happen quickly and get a new app or service out there in weeks versus months or years. And do it again a few weeks from now when things change. This drives business forward quickly—and is a catalyst to change—and again, it makes sense.
All of these things above are part of the IT journey. One generally didn’t happen without something that preceded to be built upon. It’s a beautiful, natural progression and is genuinely a good thing for firms as well as the IT industry in general. There’s never been a better time to be in the IT world, but if you don’t like change and doing things in new and different ways, then IT probably isn’t your thing. That goes for both customers and service providers. Hence the journey and the name of my post.
Speaking of change and the journey, does it make firms like ours have to change? You betcha. But in good ways. If solution providers are not able or willing to change, they have a big problem. They can’t keep doing the same thing the same way. The goals can be the same, but how you do it (the journey) has to evolve, or your firm will be in trouble.
Is the IT journey a good or bad thing? It can be a bit of both. If you are stubborn and can’t or are unwilling to change, it can be a terrible thing, as the IT world will change all around you, and you might not be able to keep up. But if you take what’s there, what you’d done, learned and experienced, and use that to determine what’s next in your IT world, then it can be a wonderful thing for not just for you, but can also be the best possible thing for your company. Take what you have done that is good and build upon it; take what you did wrong and minimize and learn from it as something that shouldn’t be repeated. We all know that sometimes learning what not to do can be just as valuable (in many cases more) as learning what to do. I’ve been there many times myself, as I imagine you have as well.
How do you maximize your journey? Continue to work with your good and trusted partners to help you. They’ll help you flesh our your good and bad past experiences, and also give you all of their good and bad experiences to lean on as well. That’s invaluable and something you take advantage of. After all that’s what your IT partners are all about and why they are there for you.
This journey in IT isn’t rocket science, but it is one that is both complex and simple at the same time. It’s complex in terms of technology as there is always new and many ways to do things, but it’s simple as its goal is not. The purpose of IT is always to help make businesses better through technology. It’s a tool that is meant to help businesses not only grow but flourish and prosper. You’ve heard me say it for years, but if these tools (IT and technology) do not help you do that, then it serves no purpose outside of being cool and neat technology.
The purpose of IT is solved through the journey, and that will help us strive for perfection in how we use it. Will we get there, will we get to a destination? Don’t know but we need to keep trying, as the journey is the destination. The destination might not change, but the journey will continue to evolve. Embrace it.
Thanks for indulging me this month.