The slogan we’ve been using ever since ITQ was founded in 2001 is Passion for Technology. But it’s not just a slogan; it’s our ‘raison d’etre’ and the reason we have a future in the world of IT.
The world moves fast, very fast
A few years ago, during an ITQ team meeting, I stated: “In the future, only two kinds of IT-professionals will exist: the one that gets it and the one that doesn’t”. Admittedly, it’s a bold statement, but sometimes it’s good to take a stand and to determine in which direction developments are leading. I will even go so far as to say the group of IT-pro’s who get it will be smaller than the group that doesn’t. There’s no doubt IT developments move fast: I notice software development is moving at a fast pace and hardware combined with software is developing really quickly. Especially datacenter developments like networks, storage and compute are radically changing and virtualization will be the main focus for the years to come.
During a breakfast meeting with Carl Eschenbach (President and Chief Operating Officer, VMware) my views were confirmed. He too states IT developments are moving fast and they will stretch both consultancy skills and client comprehension. Do clients have the ability to turn new technological possibilities into chances for their organization? For years, IT professionals were asked to specialize in one specific field of expertise, whereas the world today requires an approach encompassing knowledge of adjacent areas of expertise. Change is needed from a ‘vertical’ approach to a ‘horizontal’ one and we need to get rid of traditional lines of thought.
Beating the competition
I’m convinced companies can win their competitive battles by optimizing their IT-departments in order to make their business processes more efficient and achieve more interaction with their clients. However, ‘continuous innovation’ is needed to retain this competitive edge and stay ahead of competition. Additionally, having a flexible IT department is essential to be able to follow company strategy. Both IT-costs and IT-department should be flexible and business support should be optimized by scaling up and down when needed. ‘Automation’ is crucial here: focus will shift from maintenance to design, deployment and flexibility (DevOps). Of course, Cloud services (DaaS and IaaS) will be supportive in this proces. What about the consequences for organizations? IT-departments will require a smaller team, but these professionals will need to keep up with speedy developments and formulate vision and strategy. In addition, organizations will have to rely more and more on implementation partners for expertise they are unable or unwilling to provide for themselves. In this scenario, IT-departments will take on a more ‘directive’ role. Of course, this scenario will take several years to materialize, mostly because of legacy. Like Carl Eschenbach said during breakfast: “God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, because he didn’t have any legacy”
What to look for in an implementation partner? Obviously, cost is a factor, but should this be the deciding one? Can a partner who offers the lowest prices also be innovative? Or do they employ professionals at a low rate? And might these professionals fall into the category of IT-pro’s who don’t get it? Maybe large IT-companies and their customers are facing the same problems. Nowadays, IT consists of large vendors and following each other seems to be the rule (“nobody ever gets fired for hiring the big five”). It makes you wonder: what is the best solution for the future?
Passion for technology
For a small IT organization and knowledge/implementation partner to survive and differentiate itself, it needs a clear strategy. This brings me back to our slogan “Passion for technology”. I’m referring to the passion one has for their work. I recently read a book called “Sales de baas” (In charge of Sales) by Edwin de Haas. He mentioned the most important quality of a Sales person is their “AQ”. AQ stands for the passion, enthusiasm and fire one has for the product or service they sell. I completely agree with his statement, which applies just as much to an IT-professional. I believe being in love with the work you do, makes you good at it. I don’t consider myself to be particularly smart, but I do possess empathy, love people, love IT and I enjoy building a business. Intrinsic motivation like this is ground for satisfaction from what you do and it fuels self-development. Organizations need to select suitable professionals and subsequently offer them a platform to nurture this passion and internal motivation. Small organizations have an advantage in achieving this, where large organizations tend to struggle with conflicting internal goals (The Big Hairy Ugly Truth).
A month ago at PEX2014, I had a conversation with an investor and a true entrepreneur. While talking, he shamelessly called me a bad entrepreneur. Why? I’m leading a company that won’t rely on foreign capital, is satisfied with an annual growth of 25 percent and has a mission that is based on the technological development of its staff rather than ROI and growth. Although this shows our strategy might not always be appreciated, our vision remains simple: to employ the best consultants in the Netherlands, based on passion for technology and innovation.