Success Happens At The Edge
William cradled his head in his hands. His elbows spread out over the gleaming, polished mahogany desk in his otherwise spartan office.
Another evening’s golden light splashed through the west-facing windows, shining a natural spotlight on the mounting pressure he felt from the ticking clock and everything working against him, further engulfing his mind with each passing minute. Focusing on his breathing, he attempted to will away the pounding in his head. “Inhale, exhale,” he murmured to himself, careful to whisper so no one else could hear.
The grand opening for the new store was just around the corner, but he was awash in internal pessimism and roadblocks. An hour prior, he’d taken a call from headquarters, states away, where a shaky voice told him, “I’m sorry, but the store wireless and phones aren’t going to be ready in time. There’s been a delay in the implementation, and the subsequent setup doesn’t provide enough time.” William could barely contain his frustration as he feverishly questioned the new delivery dates and possible solutions, swallowing the words he wanted to shout.
This wasn’t the first time technical issues threatened his ability to get this new location up and running and he feared it wouldn’t be the last. Every square footage had to be networked extensively, down to the very last system.
Technology was supposed to help him open the store faster, not nail the doors shut.
But IT was chronically understaffed and it was clear they couldn’t meet the hard-but-attainable timeline the CEO had handed William. There were so many other things to accomplish before the grand opening, but technology seemed to be the problem William couldn’t shake. He didn’t dare tell anyone about his fear that he wouldn’t be able to deliver before the deadline as it would send deathly ripples throughout the organization and leadership team.
Grumbling to himself as he leaned back in his chair, he began to carefully work through the mental process of accepting the day’s defeat. Fighting the rush of exhaustion enveloping him, he took a swig of tepid black coffee sitting on his desk. I’ll just close my eyes for a minute or two, he thought to himself, knowing he shouldn’t. There was too much to be done.
William’s frustration with the complicated technological needs of networking and communication are not unique. Technology is increasing in power and complexity. The explosion of technology will be the defining feature of this age of humanity. But even with the incredible growth and innovation that we see around us, technology and the professionals we count on to help us deploy it can often become an obstacle to achieving our goals and discovering our potential.
The reality is we want technology to perform incredible feats, and we want it to perform in silence and darkness. We want technology to blend into the background and flawlessly support us in achieving our goals. We just want it to work. And work well. Consistently.
When today’s powerful technology is simplified, it clears a path for our talents and efforts to sprint forward on their journey toward success. Networks should just WORK.
Technologists should be a solution but can just as often be an obstacle to this goal. William certainly felt like the disembodied techy voices on the other end of the calls from headquarters were an impediment to getting the new location set up and ready for business. Fast-growing businesses, like the one William works for, often find themselves outpacing the speed of their IT departments, outsourced or in-house. Business leaders are running a race to secure more market share, and too often technology is a pair of worn-out, blown-out tennis shoes.
If technologists can’t offer business what it needs, business will find another solution. Technologists must find or create solutions to quickly and reliably deliver transformative technology when and where a business needs it, or they will find that business no longer needs them. Being a roadblock in the growth of an organization is a dangerous place to be.
Technologists will tell us that there are an infinite number of disparate steps to opening a store or updating existing services like Wi-Fi and phones and networking, and that a tech specialist must own each unique step along the way. Self-inflicted budget constraints often only allow for a limited number of qualified professionals to handle the increasing workloads as technology itself moves higher on business value chain, further pressuring an already finite resource pool.
But we need new sites to open every week. Old sites need to be improved and expanded, and day-to-day technology requirements still need to be met. Clearly the old way of doing technology services isn’t adequate anymore.
Fifteen years ago, to go on a family trip, you would pack your laptop in a case, your digital camera in a case, your digital camcorder in another case, your portable DVD player in a fourth case, your kids’ game console in an old backpack, and make sure the car’s CD wallet was full, unless you were cool enough to have an iPod. Now you just make sure everyone has their smartphone.
Where is this transformation in technology setup and delivery at the edge? Where is your one device that does networking and video conferencing and Wi-Fi and video security and whatever else you need?
We need to be able to send readily deployable technological solutions straight to the new sites, ready to go. What if we could just send the system to the business staff on location and they could deploy it through a simple plug and play? What if setting up a network and the phones and all the other technologies in a new location was as simple as setting up a new smartphone? Does that exist?
It does. Now the setup of networking, Wi-Fi, phones, video surveillance, video conferencing and many other services at the edge locations that used to take weeks can be done in a day. Yes. A day. Just plug and play.
“Wait a minute, now,” a technologist reading this might think, afraid we’re advising they be put out of job, “Why would I ever recommend this to anyone I report to?” True, implementing simpler services could be perceived as a means to drive more efficiencies within an already shrinking technology departments. However, the reality is that with the aforementioned increasing workloads, enabling better efficiencies within IT is the ONLY way that a fixed resource pool will be able to keep up the same service quality levels going forward.
So how do you become the hero of this story? How do you save the day not just for William and the company, but for your job, your team, and your field?
Embrace the edge.
With edge networking, William would receive a call just as he closed his eyes. “Hi, I heard there were problems with phone setup, security, and point-of-sale devices. I’m happy to tell you I spoke with the general manager about the needs of the store and we have them set up.”
“What?” William would ask, certain he’d fallen asleep. “How is that possible?”
“Easy,” you’d say. “I asked what you needed, filled out a few forms, and everything is up and running.”
Sound too good to be true? Not anymore. Welcome to the edge.
Improve your experience at the edge with these tips:
- Find technologies that simplify your organization, not increase the complexity of your edge environments. It’s already hard enough to operate retail outlets, schools, and utility plants, etc. Why complicate your environment by using complex, less effective technology? Consolidate edge services with technology that seamlessly and simply integrates them. Technology should serve those that use it as well as those that manage it. Pick technology that delivers premium, reliable services at a fair cost.
- Too many vendors use sellers, engineers, even administrative staff to provide project management in order to save money, which sets you up for failure and missed deadlines. This supposed reduction in labor fees can be extremely costly to your organization. Whenever your organization is dealing with multiple sites, multiple technologies, and multiple vendors, the critical element is ALWAYS professional project management. Look for discipline and trust in those who serve you.
- We don’t want to be slow, yet we want to be right. We don’t want to be a barrier, yet we want it to work the first time. Is there a way to have both? Yes. You need a system that will integrate the scope of your entire project and simultaneously take years of experience and automate what used to take weeks into the push of a button. Is that even possible? Yes. And if your solutions provider won’t provide this, they don’t truly provide solutions.
Technologists finally have a choice today to be more relevant to their organizations by automating tactical tasks adding time and resources back toward developing thoughtful technology solutions to address the business’ strategic goals. With edge networking solutions, instead of working from a place of scarcity in time and resources, IT departments add value to the organization through developing solutions that benefit the business as a whole. Instead of being buried under help desk tickets, technologists would be free to use their knowledge and skills to improve the bottom line, instead of just tripping over it. What could your organization accomplish by using these professionals to their fullest, rather than setting up phones and networks and being stuck in reactive mode day after day?
In my experiences in technology, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting businesses to the tools they need to allow technology to blend seamlessly into the background. I enjoy the sense of relief and flexibility discovered by our clients when they find transformation in their organizations through tools and resources that were previously unknown to them.
If you find yourself struggling with networking that doesn’t just work, with technology deployments that keep your organization from getting up and running like William, if you want to be the hero of your own story, contact us to find out how we can help.