Speaker 1: Welcome to the JMARK Business Innovation Technology Experience.
Todd: Okay. Welcome everybody again to the latest edition of the Business Innovation Technology Experience. We don’t mention that very often because it’s mentioned in our intro, but today we’re here again with Thomas Douglas and the rest of the crew, and we are talking about a very sophisticated and complicated topic, and that is simplification, in terms of IT. How does IT simplification, how is that the ultimate sophistication? Because we don’t, as any business, you don’t want sophistication, you don’t want complexity. You may be want to be sophisticated, but you want to receive it in a simple way. So how do we explain this idea of how IT can be simple yet sophisticated?
Tom: Yeah. Todd, this kind of stems from one of my favorite quotes from DaVinci is that “Simplification is the ultimate sophistication.” And I think the best analogy for that is a smartphone, when you break it down. The amount of intelligence, the amount of technology, the sophistication that exists in the inside of a phone is extremely, extremely sophisticated, but the end user experience is very simple. It’s easy to make a phone call. It’s easy to send a text message. It’s easy to get email. And it was designed that way very specifically. And when done right an entire IT organization should have a very similar set of outcomes. It’s easy to use your computer. It’s easy to consume the resources you need to or produce the resources you need to.
And it takes a whole lot of work to make that happen. It all happens in the engineering and the strategy and the planning so that you know that when grandma goes to her phone and clicks on it, she can actually call someone, and understand what’s going on, and it’s not intimidating. And that’s what we want all of IT to do. And it’s a fun and challenging thing because people have this perception of, “Oh, it’s all those giggy things, and I don’t know.” But when IT is done right, it is not sophisticated. It is consumed in a simple format, and that’s our job.
Speaker 4: That’s a good point. I like what you said, Tom, because I really believe in that, that the best things when they’re done right by someone who’s really good at it, they look easy, because you don’t see everything that’s going on behind the scenes or under the surface or whatever metaphor you want to use. You just see the end result. And it should look easy for the end user.
Tom: Yeah, absolutely. Go ahead, Todd.
Todd: I think a lot of business owners and leaders in general think technology is just complicated. It’s this thing that I don’t want to deal with. I just need to do my job. It’s way out there. And we talked about this a lot, but that is why is it so important to have an IT partner and IT resources to make sure that on the back end, it might be sophisticated, in the sense of mature, but on the front end, it’s simple for you. You walk in, you turn on your computer, it works, things have been taken care of for you. You get reports and you have meetings and you understand where you’re going with the technology and what’s being done for you.
And I think that’s the, the big disconnection there is that we got to stop thinking of technology as this necessary evil, and that as this complicated thing that we have to have, because as we’ve talked about, it’s this enabler for success. And when you have an IT partner that can create the maturity, which can also be considered the sophistication, but do it in a way that is simple, that’s the ultimate goal, that is most MSPs and IT companies just don’t even come close to.
Tom: You want sophisticated outcomes from simple input mechanisms. And that’s what we have to do. I mean, so many organizations have server sprawl and these complicated environments that they’ve not managed over time. There’s not been a true technologist who’s come to the table and said, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, we don’t need 15 servers. We need five. And if we can consolidate down to five servers, we’re simplifying what it means to manage, we’re shrinking the security posture of the organization, there’s less costs, there’s less overhead associated with everything.
Way too often it’s, “Oh, we got to add this, oh, we got to add this, and we’ve got to add this.” And so it just builds and builds and builds over time and it creates this horrible mess. So the job of a good technologist is to come in and analyze all of those things and then create the strategy that, like you say, it creates those sophisticated outcomes through simple input mechanisms to empower people for success. They don’t, nobody wants to come in and work on a marketing activity and worry about the computer, the network infrastructure, the servers, the cloud systems. Nobody wants to worry about all those. They want to click on a button and get access to the resources they need. And that’s what it’s all about, is how do we simplify a network to make sure that that’s easy to facilitate?
Speaker 5: So I have a question. So if the goal is simplicity, as a business owner who has I guess, either in house or outsourced IT, how can they know, as someone who probably doesn’t know anything about technology, if their current IT person or company has overcomplicated their system?
Tom: That’s a really good question.
Speaker 4: That is.
Tom: It’s not easy to answer, but it’s a great question. One, I would start by evaluating the experience, because if the experience is really easy, not only to consume technology, but if you think about how much the IT team has to run around with their hair on fire, that’s going to be a really good indicator, because if the IT organization, whatever that is, is constantly dealing with fires and constantly having to chase their tail, and, “Oh, there’s this other problem.” Chances are it’s too complicated. So that’s probably the first indicator that I would point to.
The second one would be that there are benchmarks in every industry as the amount of money that should be spent as a percentage of an operating budget in IT, and over complicated environments have a couple of different scenarios with that. One, you have a whole bunch of really old legacy equipment that you never get rid of, and so your budget is too low because you’re trying to get everything to last as long as possible and so you’re under spending on IT, and that creates lots of legacy systems that have never been retired, and so that’s part of the hair on fire stuff. Or you’re overspending because you’ve gotten too much IT in the environment, and you’re literally having to spend lots in time and resources in order to keep the wheels on the bus because it’s gotten too big for your organization or you’re overspending and the environment. So those are two really good indicators from a business owner perspective.
And then third, bring in a third party. We bring third parties into our organization in different areas of the business all the time to make sure that we’re using best in class, whatever it is, whether it’s accounting principles or whether it’s in IT, we’re bringing those resources to help our organization make the best choices. And there’s nothing wrong with getting a double check on IT to make sure that it’s being done properly.
Todd: I was thinking about when you said that question, the organization guru, is it Marie Kondi? I think that’s how you say her name. She has this process where basically you’re trying to organize things and you put it all in a pile and you pick up something and you ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” And I was thinking about that from the standpoint of IT. And that’s not a bad question to ask, does it bring me-
Todd: Does it relieve my stress? Is it enjoyable to work with? Or is it complicated and frustrated and do I want to throw my computer out the window or? The other thing too, that’s important is, I don’t want to set this up that technology is just can be set up and just be super simple. You have to have passwords, you have to have security. You’re not going to get everything you want because there are risks in IT. But the frustrating stuff can be overcome so that you’re optimized to create success and have an enjoyable day that you can go back and touch your computer and say, “You brought me joy today.”
Tom: Yeah. I love it. I think that when we deal with sophistication in IT, it’s because it’s unknown. And if you think about popping the hood of your car, you don’t necessarily, or not everyone, understands everything that’s under the hood. You have concepts that you understand, you’ve got a battery and the spark plugs and you’ve got the components that make up your engine. But that doesn’t mean that if you tore it apart, that you could put it back together and make it work again. But yet it does sophisticated things, and it gets you places, which is a simple outcome. It drives you across town. And if you think about IT the same way, you don’t necessarily need to understand all the complexities of what is going on in the environment, but you need to understand there’s pieces of it, but when it’s done right, it’s simple to execute, it’s simple to get things done, and it doesn’t create those frustrations. And if it’s not, then what does she say in order to purge it? She says, “Thank you for your service.” And you give it away.
In this case, you say, “Thank you for your service, old server from from 1980.” And you retire it, and recycle it. And so I think it’s incumbent upon IT as a whole to really bring that to the forefront of the organization and say, “You know what? We’ve overcomplicated this. Let’s figure out a way to make sure that we’re actually getting out of IT what we want.” Still go on and say that when that happens, it empowers the organization for innovation and some of the other cultural things that we’ve talked about, is because it’s not this horrible thing where you’re just hearing, I mean, if your executive team is hearing about IT problems every day or the security thing or this other, it’s like, no, no, no, no, it shouldn’t be what you’re hearing about. You should hear the outcomes of IT, not the problems of IT. And so that’s another good indicator that help an organization to know one, I’ve got a problem, or two, things are on the rails. And that gives us permission to innovate and drive the culture forward.
Speaker 4: I think another aspect of it, we talked about this in a podcast last week with Jeremy Hill, and we talked about partnerships. And I think as an organization, JMARK, our job is to be the partner to these companies and do the work of simplifying for it, do the work, all this behind the scenes work you’ve talked about with an iPhone, Tom. Our job is to do all that stuff so that the interface for them is simple.
And Todd, you mentioned business leaders who don’t want to deal with IT because it’s complex. They think it’s going to take a lot of their energy to understand it. And that’s, we, part of our work is to do that. And then we do that work. We sit in meetings sometimes where we discuss, other people are talking about stuff, and I’m like, “Wait a minute. I don’t know what you guys are talking about because you’re all technicians and you guys understand this. That’s not my background. I don’t understand. And if I don’t understand, then a lot of our end users, a lot of our clients, aren’t going to understand. So how do we meet in the middle and make sure that everybody understands?”
And that’s part of the reason why we’re doing these podcasts is to demystify IT so that business owners can have that knowledge and be empowered to make better decisions for their business.
Todd: Of simplicity that both of you touched on is simplicity that doesn’t even have to do with technology, simplicity in somebody else taking care of something and reporting to you on that technology. So one of the things that we do, for example, and many IT companies do is we go in and have these meetings and I mean, JMARK takes it to a whole new level. We have five year technology plans and budgets and we are taking that burden of figuring out the strategy off your shoulders and doing it with you, and doing the complex work behind the scenes, and then delivering you something simple that you can make a decision on, because while we’ve been talking about this idea of simplicity and technology, there’s no doubt that there are just some situations where the technology is complex, but it’s not complex to, I mean, it’s complex to me, but it’s not complex to the technicians on our team. That’s what your analogy of the car.
But the idea is that we are coming to the table, whether it’s a report, or analysis, or strategy, and showing you what we’ve done, showing you where we’re going, showing them the strategy for the next year in terms of their technology. I mean, that’s huge. That strategy piece is just as important as the technology piece.
Tom: Well, and what that turns into, so you kind nailed on a big piece of it, is you design a network not only to create outputs, but you design a network so that it’s supportable, for a reasonable amount of energy. If you design it in the most complex way, then you have to have the most complex, capable engineers. You have to have more engineers, you have to have more automation in the backend. You have to have a lot more training. And so it starts to stack up over and over and over again. So, you take the time to understand the outcomes that are necessary today in the business and in the future of the business, and then you design a network infrastructure that is supportable, and that’s the technology stack and that’s our backend automation and the scripts that we do. And we spend so many hours on the back end, not only engineering it, but running scripts and running processes on the backend to make sure that the infrastructure stays running and that’s because it was engineered to be supportable from that perspective.
And so when you put the plan together with the supportability then you create a much better experience. And it really does simplify what it means to run IT as a whole.
Todd: Yeah. And I think that brings up an interesting point that we’ve talked about a little bit before in other conversations in that when you’re looking at an IT company, an IT vendor, MSP, you want them to have a bench of people that understands the complexity of technology. If it’s a small company that only has a few technicians, there’s no way they can understand everything about technology. Do they have different levels of technicians? What are the certifications that the organization has received in different vendors? What kinds of scripts do they run? What automation has been developed? What knowledge do they have in the specific industry? All of these components, a lot of people don’t look at. They are the core of how JMARK makes complex situations simple.
Tom: Yep. And then what you’re describing is, in business, over and over and over, you have specialists. When you go to the doctor and you have to have a special kind of surgery, or you’re dealing with a certain circumstance, there’s a specialist for that. And in every organization, you have to have the SMEs as we call them, subject matter experts, in order to take those complicated things and simplify them so that it’s a repeatable outcome, it’s a guaranteed outcome in that environment because it’s been engineered that way by a specialist so that it facilitates the expectations of the clients.
And so you’re exactly right. It’s not only do you have the specialists, but do you have the specialists in redundancy so that you can take the complexities around virtualization, the complexities around a wide area network and SD WAN, whatever those crazy things are that make one location talk to another, we don’t need to over geek it, we have specialists that do that. I want to click on a button when I’m at a branch location and make sure that I can open up an application just like I’m sitting in the office, and that’s all done by those specialists who create the simplified outcomes.
Todd: And along that line, the other thing I can’t, that I need to meet to mention, or I’d be remiss is that JMARK has also these partnerships, that is that bench, is that specialist that you’re talking about, where we have developed such a tight partnership with our partners that we can go to them and say, “Hey, we have this unique situation where we need help doing this.” Or whatever the situation is so that even if we don’t have all of the subject matter experts on our team for every situation, we can go to our partners, HP, Cisco, those kinds of companies and say, “Hey, we need something.” And they can go, “Absolutely.”
And a lot of people don’t have that relationship because there are tons of companies that sell HPE and HP and Cisco, and support those devices or systems and stuff. But there’s not a lot of companies that have taken the time to really develop the partnerships so that it’s a win-win scenario so that when we ask a partner to jump on behalf of a client, they’ll actually jump and they don’t do that for everybody. They’re busy.
Tom: Yeah. And on that note, one of our biggest partners is Microsoft. We’re in the top 5% of Microsoft partners worldwide because of the certifications that we’ve got in our organization. And it goes back to how do you take the sophistication of all of the products and all of these things and you build them together and we call it the JMARK technology stack. And so it’s a recipe that we put together. They create those outcomes, that helps us to simplify, so that the users can consume that great experience. And in all of the partnerships that we work in, it takes that mutual investment. So all of the certifications and the training and the investments into those partners, and then committing that we’re going to stay loyal to certain brands, so that when we have a problem we have the ability to lean on them and bring them in. And they understand that. It’s a two way street, like any business partnership. And because we have put so much time and energy in it, it gives us permission to make that phone call, that hotline that you talked about, Todd, when, when we’ve got a problem that we’re not sure how to solve, that’s okay, we don’t claim that we know everything in the world. We have partners that we can lean on and bring them in. So that’s a really good point.
Todd: Okay. And I want to make, oh, go ahead.
Speaker 4: I was just going to say, you mentioned something that I know we talked about on a different podcast, but just to touch on it again, in case someone only hears it here is you mentioned the JMARK technology stack, and maybe give a little wider view of how that actually simplifies our work going out and supporting our customers by doing that.
Todd: Yeah, it’s a great question to ask. I mean, when you think about the full suite, the full product catalog, associated with technology today, it’s massive and overwhelming, and no organization can be an expert in all of those technologies. So what our organization has done over the last few years is we have really focused on bringing a specific suite of technologies to the table that we know work well together so that we can create those guaranteed outcomes, it’s that recipe for success that I was describing. So there’s a certain set of firewalls and network infrastructure and server equipment and backup strategies and processes that support those, and then training that supports those, and all of those things, certain types of workstations, all the way down to the monitors and the configurations that we bring in. Because when we have a finite amount of technology to support, we can train all of those capabilities inside of our organizations that facilitate that guaranteed outcome.
When it’s, “Oh, we’ve got a Dell this and an HP this and a Lenovo and a RUBA and a Cisco.” And it’s like, “Oh my gosh, we’re dealing with chaos here.”
Speaker 4: The opposite of simple.
Todd: What’s that?
Speaker 4: The opposite of simplicity.
Todd: Exactly. And so what we take the time to do is spend hours and hours and hours in research and development and testing to make sure that when we bring something to the table, that we know that it’s going to create the outcomes and we know how to support it so it’s easy. When you have problems that you already know the solutions to, it simplifies support. When you have problems and you’ve never seen them before, then it’s like, “Well, I don’t know what we’re going to do. How are we going to solve that?” And if that is every day, then that creates chaos in an environment and frustrations for everyone involved.
Tom: Agree. I think that one thing to mention too, as we wrap up today is that if anybody’s listening, thinking that we’re trying to make this a JMARK commercial, that’s not the case, but the truth is that technology and technology services can be extremely complex and opposite of simple. And it’s important to, as business leaders, to look at your technology, give it the proverbial, “Is it bringing me joy?” and decide how you can move forward with a company that can actually help you simplify and make it more mature and sophisticated on the backend.
If you want to learn more about how JMARK accomplishes this, take a look at our website at jmark.com and contact us, and we’ll be happy to engage. Thank you.
Todd: Thanks all.
Speaker 1: Thank you for attending this podcast. We hope it has been informative and help convey that at JMARK, we are people first, and technology second. To learn more and discover additional content relevant to your business, please visit us online at jmark.com or at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You may also call us at 844-44-JMARK. Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you again.