Adapt or perish!

In the post-doctoral academic world there is a saying, “Publish or perish”.  In the IT world the corollary is, “Adapt or perish”.  Both worlds are ruthlessly Darwinian in nature. 

“What”, you may ask, “does this have to do with Office365 and other cloud services?”  Glad you asked!  Office365, Azure, Amazon and others have completely changed the IT marketplace.  The changes are impacting consumers of such services (you) and the traditional providers of the kit that provided the same services on-premise (me, my colleagues and all of our competitors) in a very big way.  For you it can mean significant cost savings as well as access to services that you might not have been able to budget for in that past.  For us it means waving “goodbye” to a general business model that has been in place for decades in what has been known as “the Channel”.

The Channel is the moniker attached to the group of businesses that sit between you, as the end user of IT kit and services, and the distributors which handle the distribution of products from the IT vendors.  We are a diverse group but, as a whole, we have have relied on the age-old model of providing you with kit (hardware, software) and services to build out your infrastructure and then services to keep it all running.  And, on average, we do it all again every three to four years.  There are variations on this theme and there are the “add-ons” such as Managed Services but, for the most part, this has been the Channel model for pretty much the last 30 years or so.

Office365 (and all the others) has blown a gaping hole in this model and it has left those of us in the Channel with the task of having to staunch the bleeding in our business model.  I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the next 3 – 5 years will see a massive “clean out” of the Channel with many firms going by the wayside.  Why?  Because they will refuse to adapt to this sea change in the way the IT business operates.

We (itgroove) know that the business is changing on an almost daily basis.  We know that we have probably performed our last on-premise Exchange install and we certainly see the complexion of the SharePoint business changing because of 365 and Azure.  We understand that we have a choice to make of sticking with the old model as long as we can and maximize short to medium term revenue or embrace some new model and “ride out” the short term revenue loss.  Not an easy choice to make from a pure “bottom line” point of view.

We have already made the choice and that is to embrace the changes and find a new path going forward.  We choose to adapt.  This means we keep our customer’s best interests at heart and if going to the Cloud (365 et al) for some or all of their IT needs is the best option for the customer then so be it.  On the surface it may seem like we are cutting our own throat by choosing this path but I don’t believe that is the case.  Today’s IT end user is a much more savvy animal than in the past.  I *might* be able to convince you to go for one more round of on premise upgrades and make that short term revenue BUT it’s also a good bet that will be the last time I get any significant business from you.  Why?  Because you will eventually twig to 365 and its brethren and you’ll be more than a little bit bent out of shape with me that I didn’t, at the very least, present the option to you.

What everyone has to understand is that while the whole landscape is changing and the old models and methods are dying off, the new landscape presents new opportunities.  You will still need “us” in the long run but your needs will be different as will be the services that those of us who adapt and remain will deliver.  SharePoint will always require expertise to maximize its value.  There will be all sorts of needs in the “hybrid cloud” space.  There will still be a small on premise component to support LOB apps that aren’t Cloud friendly.  And, no doubt, other services will appear to meet a whole new set of needs that we haven’t even thought about at this point. 

It’s going to be a very interesting time over the next few years for you and for us.   We will be here to help our customer’s maximize the return on their IT spend be it on premise, in the Cloud or some hybrid.

Adapt or perish!