Moving through unprecedented times

Dear String friends,

I feel it’s safe to say that we’re experiencing an unprecedented use of the word ‘unprecedented’ at the moment.  Or are we?

Following its first use by John Finch, Speaker of the House of Commons, in 1641; the word unprecedented had its first opportunity for unprecedented use after only 24 years of existence.  In 1665 The Great Plague of London took 100,000 lives, killing a quarter of the population of London in just 18 months.  Of course, this was just in London.  Over its 488 year history, the Plague claimed over 80 million lives.

So, does the scale of The Great Plague mean that today’s crisis is not unprecedented?  Not at all.  I would argue that the complexity of our modern society, with globalisation, our high dependence on technology and a broadly democratic planetary population; does make the current crisis unprecedented.  Putting the COVID-19’s terrible human toll aside; new historical records are being made each day and, regrettably, none of them are good.

From my perspective, as the leader of an IT company, how do I start to think through the current crisis and into the near future?  How will my company look?  How will my clients’ needs have changed?  Nothing’s certain, however I thought I’d share my thoughts for those of you in a similar situation.

To the first question, “How will my company look?”.  The answer is actually rather simple; it’s intimately tied to the second question, “How will my clients’ needs have changed?”  After all, it’s been our clients’ needs that have shaped String Systems over the past 20 years.  From distributed desktops to modern workplaces, from physical servers to virtualised instances, from local apps to Everything-as-a-Service; it’s been our ability to recognise new and changing technology trends, and to deliver them to our clients to solve real business challenges, that has made us successful.

So, if our clients’ needs dictate how my Company will look in the future; what are their needs?  What are they now, next week, next month and next year?

Our Clients Right Now

At time of writing, three weeks into the lockdown, our clients have now begun to adjust to the current, albeit temporary, situation.  The initial rush to work from home, which we’ve named ‘JGAD’, or Just Grab Any Device, was challenging, for our clients and for us.  We worked closely with them however, and they’re now all able to be reasonably productive in their new work mode.

Next Week

The reason I’ve just used the word ‘reasonably’ is that, for many of our clients; their solutions were deployed, by necessity, in a rush.  The next week or two will see us complete the second phase of our support, wherein we are revisiting all of our clients (and rather a lot of unanticipated new clients) to make sure that their home working solution is secure and, where possible, optimal.  By deploying or re configuring their Microsoft Teams, virtual desktop and security solutions we are helping to make their home work forces a lot more productive.

Next Month

Hopefully next month, or maybe in the next two months, we will start to see a phased resumption of ‘normal’ business activities.  We are anticipating a second wave of support activity as we help our clients to re-integrate their previously remote work force.  That’s OK, we’ve planned for it, and we’re ready for the moment we’re needed.

Next Year

It’s the time after ‘normality’ returns that is going to, I believe, see a seismic shift in the way organisations perceive their IT service.  If they weren’t already, I can say with certainty that the majority of organisations have found a renewed appreciation for the role that Information Technology plays in their productivity, their profitability and the level of their employees’ engagement.  This won’t be changing anytime soon.  Having experienced the ability of technologies, such as Microsoft Teams, to make individuals more productive, and teams more collaborative; there will just be two types of organisation: those who already have it, and now want to absolutely leverage it in every way possible; and those who don’t have it, and do not want to be without it when the next pandemic arrives.

Thankfully, only 2 months ago, I decided to put every single member of my technical team through their MS100 Microsoft Teams certification.  Why?  Because, 2 months ago, I bet String’s very future on the capabilities and reach of Microsoft Teams.  With its associated technologies (SharePoint and OneDrive), and its IaaS counterpart (Azure); Microsoft’s cloud offering is expected to address 80-90% of my current (and future) clients’ information technology needs over the coming years.

Given all of the above, how will my Company look in the future?  That’s now also a simple question to answer: the same as it does now, just growing faster and, as ever, continuing to listen to our clients’ needs to guide us.  After all, they haven’t let us down in the last 20 years.  I guess all that’s left to say is that some things are better off when they are very, very much ‘precedented’.

Please stay safe and, as always, please stay in touch.


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