Listen as we discuss how your technology problems won't go away when your workforce goes remote, they'll just change into different problems.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the JMARK Business Innovation Technology Experience.
Todd: Welcome to another wonderful, awesome session that we’re going to have today, episode… Last, I think it was earlier this week, actually, we had a discussion in one of our meetings about a prospect that we’re engaged with. And it’s a pretty interesting situation. The person that we’re talking to in the organization is just completely up to her eyeballs in frustration with the IT and so much so…
Anyways, the CEO, and somebody else in the organization has a relationship with another IT provider, but they’re sitting there going, “Well, our IT isn’t that bad, so why should we really change?” And so, that’s in direct conflict with this manager and this director that is trying to get things working in the organization. And we’ve seen this at a lot of companies where you just get used to what you’re doing with. It might be a slow computer, it might be a slow network, it may be good enough, but what we’re learning about in the current situation of the pandemic and trying to innovate and get to a better normal is that good enough just isn’t enough.
We have to innovate, we have to create success for our organizations and technology is the driver that creates that collaboration and communication and other things in the organization that help to move it forward and innovate. So, what are your thoughts on being in this situation, having a business and looking at your own computer network, looking at the possibility of change, and you don’t want to change if it’s okay, where’s your mind at? What should we be asking?
Kristina: Well, the first thing that my mind goes to is something that I’ve heard Tom say a lot, which is, it’s working, until it doesn’t. How do you really, really know? Because I know that a lot of prospects have come to us because they are in a bad situation, because all of a sudden what was working isn’t.
Dax: Yeah. I think we also talked about this a little bit. I mean, that could entirely happen. If you don’t know what’s going on the background, all of the automation that we do at JMARK or all the automation that we set up, all of the monitoring everything that’s happening is trying to prevent exactly what Kristina, what you just mentioned, which is make sure that it always is working and that we’re ahead of any problems and not fixing problems after they happen, but preventing problems from happening in the first place and watching out in that way.
Todd: Yeah. And it’s easy to go this direction, and it’s definitely worth talking about for a few minutes. But when you’re working on your computer, when you have problems, I mean, we just get used to certain things. You drive to the store and there might be bad traffic. You’re hopefully not cursing and swearing and flipping people off. You just get used to it. And it’s the necessary evil of going to get the things you want, or going to the restaurant, or whatever it is.
And so, you look at your system, and your network, and your you’re operating, and maybe you have some issues and it’s like, “Eh, I’ll just reboot.” And you’re looking at it from the standpoint of, what I have is working, but you’re creating this false reality in the sense of how do you know if what you have is going to be enough to get you where you need to go? How do you know if what you have is going to prevent a hacker from entering your organization and stealing all your day data? How do we know if a disaster comes, will we be able to recover quickly? How do we know if Sally hits delete on accident, we will we be able to recover the files?
There’s a million of these scenarios that can happen, and they’re not meant to just scare people. They’re not meant to just scare you into changing. Because most people don’t behave that way. You have to have greater impetus to change. But that’s still important because security, just taken at the top, I mean, we’ve seen a massive increase in security incidents since COVID started. I get emails almost daily, I would say, three to four times a week that is a phishing attempt coming from a prospect. Basically somebody we’re sending email marketing to and their system gets hacked and I’m on their list and I get an email.
So, it’s these things that it’s not, they happen to the other guys, it’s not, oh, that kind of thing won’t happen to us. We’re too small. Our computer’s fine. Our system’s fine. That is a load of baloney that you just can’t rely on.
Dax: Yeah. I think it’s one of those things where, even right after I started working for JMARK, it was always like, “Man, we talked about security a lot. We talk about all of these basic things a lot.” And it’s because these are still lessons that a lot of companies need to learn, because like you said, a lot of people can be blind to the fact that they are a target.
And so, that’s very much a, we do not live in a world where you can just have a computer and have it work and be okay and everything’s peachy anymore. We live in a world where everybody is a target and every business is a target, no matter the size. And you need to be prepared for that, and you need to have an IT partner that’s helping you prepare for those possibilities, even if you think they’re in so far out of the realm of reality, because they’re not.
Kristina: Yeah. Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were done.
Dax: No go ahead. I was going to change the subject, so.
Kristina: Oh, okay. Well, what you said just reminded me of the topic of thinking ahead and making sure that your vendors are your partners and they’re helping you think ahead. And it just brings me to COVID and our clients were able to move remote, no problem. Look at things like that.
Todd: Yeah. That’s another thing that goes into the same point as before, almost. In a sense of, there’s a human behavior, a psychological effect where when we make a choice, we rationalize in our minds that that is the correct choice. And that can be bad because it creates these false realities in your mind that you’re making the right choice. And so, when you are working with an organization and they are providing reactionary IT services, maybe doing a little bit of proactive work, you can call them and they’re pretty responsive and that’s all fine. And that’s all fine.
But, going back to what you said, Kristina, how are they helping you to strategically get to where you want to go as an organization? Because most organizations, they use technology. I mean, it’s the underpinning base of their organization. It’s running everything in the organization, but they don’t have anybody on staff or as a partner like JMARK to say, “This is what’s working and this is how you need to change. This is working now, but as you grow 10%, 15%, this is going to have to change. We’re seeing new technologies in this area, you might want to look at this. This server is going to be out of warranty at this date, and you need to look at this.”
And there are so many conversations that we have to be having to make sure that technology is a driver to help your organization be successful and that you’re not hiding behind this false reality of, if I make this switch, that means I made a bad decision before. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that, it just means that your organization is in a different place and it’s time to make a new decision, a better decision.
Kristina: Yeah. That reminds me of our topic or theme for the year for JMARK is level up. So, as a business leader, your goal should always be to level up. And a huge part of that is consistently looking at who you’re using, who your partners are and if they’re helping you level up.
Dax: Yeah. I think that’s just it, we talked about this and we’ve talked about this in other podcasts. But I think, to go back to where you started this train of thought, Kristina, with COVID-19, when this occurred, the businesses that had already been putting plans in place for future occurrences, they were the ones who were ready. They were the ones who were able to adapt with much less interruption to their workflows than other people. And that’s what your IT partners should be helping you do is prepare, yes for disasters, but not just for disasters or problems, but also for future success.
And Todd, like you were talking about, all of those conversations, all of those things happen, those things occur so that you can facilitate the success to come down the road so that when you get there, you’re ready for it. It’s like practicing in sports, you practice a million times and you figure out all the scenarios so that when the game happens, you’re ready for whatever occurs. And that’s when you’re in business, the game is happening every day and your partners are the ones helping you prepare for those situations.
Todd: Yeah. I loved it back in April/May timeframe when we were interviewing a bunch of our clients and we didn’t really know what to expect when we were interviewing. We wanted to learn how they were adapting, how they were changing, and over and over and over again, it was, “This wasn’t that big a deal for us. We’ve been prepared. You guys have helped us. It was just sending people home.”
And not to say there weren’t any issues, I mean, there’s always going to be issues when all of a sudden things like that happen. But overall, that shows the positive versus the negative in the sense of these organizations were able to quickly adapt to this new reality. Whereas a lot of organizations, they didn’t even have the ability to transfer phone calls, or to have people work from home, or to communicate with their customers in an efficient manner.
And so, that’s really vital. And when you’re sitting here in this position of, like we started out with this episode of, there’s these executives that are just looking at it going, “Well, it’s working good enough,” you really got to ask yourself, “Really, is it enough? Will I be prepared for the next disaster? Will I be prepared for the next, whatever competitive pressure that hits my industry or economic impacts that affect the industry. And that’s what a good partner will help you to do.
Dax: Yeah, the word that came to my mind, Todd, when you were just talking is agility, agile. And that’s such an important way to be for a business these days, because the world is constantly changing. I mean, that’s another cliche that we talk about a lot. The technology and the speed of change in technology is happening so quickly and that the speed of change in technology doesn’t just mean the speed of change of the capabilities of your workstations, or security, and that kind of thing. Technology drives business these days.
And so, the faster technology changes, the faster the business world changes. And you have to be agile in order to keep up with those changes so that your business does not fall behind. And it’s a matter of not only staying caught up, but also whether or not you want to get ahead, but the bare minimum, another thing that Tom talks about a lot is the minimum right to play. The bare minimum is staying caught up and that means having an IT partner that’s going to keep you agile to make these changes.
And maybe another, hopefully nothing like coronavirus comes along again in any of our lifetimes, but there will continue to be these changes that you need to be prepared for, even on the positive side of things.
Kristina: Yeah, for sure. Todd mentioned industry and it made me think of, we’re talking about the topic of, well, if it works, why change? Something I think that is really important to consider is does your IT company specialize? JMARK has teams dedicated to the industries that we serve. And I think that’s huge.
Todd: Yeah. I think it goes back to what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you’re missing out on that you don’t know you’re missing out on. Going back to what you were saying, when you’ve made this decision that this is how it is and this is the choice I’ve made on my IT and you’re into the contract and everything’s working fine and nothing too crazy or horrible has happened, you still are in this zone where it’s like, what are you missing out on?
If you were to work with an organization that intimately knew your business type, the industry that you serve in that had a team dedicated to just serving companies like your organization, how much more could they help you than a general… We like to use the term Johnny ponytail that just serves a bunch of so much of small businesses.
And it’s a massive difference because there is software applications that are very specific to industries. There are different regulations specific to various industries. There are different security requirements often and privacy requirements. And it’s maddening to try to keep up with it all from a compliance standpoint. And that’s why it’s so important to have that specialization.
And the other thing too that we talked about in other episodes is this idea that, while it’s a real, huge, positive to have somebody taking care of your IT that specializes in your industry, JMARK does a very unique, that is, in my opinion, is a huge competitive differentiator in that, we have specialized teams that are dedicated to the industry. But what we have also is we have this shared knowledge transfer from these specialized industries.
So, you may have somebody in the banking arena that they’re dealing with a very specialized type of security threat or risk. And we might create an automation or create a way to stop that risk or to mitigate it. And we can roll that out now to a manufacturer that may not have as much of a threat of that particular one, but is also more susceptible to the risks often because often they’re using antiquated technology or not keeping up with technology. And so, it’s this combination of specialization and shared knowledge that really is people really don’t know what they’re missing out on.
Dax: Yeah. I think the other aspect of specialization too, is not just with industry, but with area of expertise within IT. IT has become so complex that it has moved way beyond the point where one person or even a small team, so a small company of just a few people, can handle all the various aspects.
And there needs to be expertise in security and in compliance, which are related, but not the same. And in automation. We have people that specialize in proactive, doing these things to watch out for these changes and then be ahead of the game. And that’s, I think, also vastly important because that’s how complex IT is in the era that we’re living in.
Todd: Yeah. I agree. And it is getting infinitely complex every year. I mean, it’s not going up each year in little steps. It’s going up many, many fold each year. And it’s in many parts of technology and compliance, security, virtualization, there’s just so many different areas, and so many different types of threats, and so much technology that’s just changing on an ongoing basis.
I mean, there are times that I get requests from somebody in service for something related to compliance, because I deal with some of the compliance in the organization or something related to a policy question from a client, if they have the right policies internally to help them. And so, that’s the kind of thing where there is just this vast knowledge in the organization that can approach almost any topic.
But then the next part of that is a very in-depth partner bench, in the sense of, when you’re looking at IT providers, or if you’re with an IT provider, how deep are they into the partners that are providing services, or technology for your organization? Whether that’s hardware like computers or monitors, or whether that’s software specialized for your industry, or just general software, whether that’s phishing software or, there are so many different types of things.
And having an organization that knows about that technology and knows how to install it is a little different than having an organization that is in bed with this partner and truly has them at their back to help in any scenario.
Dax: Yeah. I think this entire conversation is about this idea, obviously, of, “Well, if everything is okay, why make a change?” And everything that we’re talking about to me is getting to the heart of this. These are all reasons to change because ultimately the word I keep thinking of is optimization.
You want to optimize your IT for your needs and have an IT partner that can help you do that in every possible way in order to help your business succeed, because IT can be a driver for your success and should be a driver for your success. And your IT provider should not just be fixing problems, they should be optimizing and facilitating that success in order to help you out, and in order to help your business grow and succeed.
Todd: Yeah, and it should be proactive. If you have to call your IT provider and say, “Hey, I heard about this, should I be worried about this?” Or, “Hey, we need to start working on such and such,” potentially then they’re not in the right place because the partners should really be coming to you and saying, “Hey, have you heard about this? Hey, this is something you need to be concerned about. We need to talk about [inaudible],” whatever it is.
But the idea is the difference between proactive and reactive, I guess. The other thing, too, that I think goes into everything we’ve talked about, and kind of almost in a way is at the center of where it is, is just the idea of change. We’ve talked about change before, but the idea of changing IT providers is, some people would rather go to the dentist and think of all the things people say of, I’d rather do this, lose an appendage or whatever, but that’s what a lot of people think. They think it’s just going to be so hard to change providers, because that’s been their experience in the past, but past experience doesn’t necessarily dictate future experience.
Dax: You had another instance where, and we’re talking about this a lot, that we try hard not to make these discussions to RA RA JMARK type of thing. But again, we have an entire team dedicated to making that change painless, and an entire onboarding team. And going back before onboarding, even with during the sales process and everything like that, we know that people think it’s hard and don’t want to do it.
And so, we’ve taken that step to do what we can to mitigate that pain. It is a process that has to happen, but we want to make sure that it’s painless because we understand that that’s part of helping you better your business by having better IT. And we don’t want to interrupt you, we don’t want to hold you back in any way, we want to, from day one, help you start getting better and help you go through this process of changing IT without all that pain that people worry about.
Todd: Yeah. Pain in technology is often a result of poor implementation of technology. So, changing providers, for example, having somebody that is poor at that onboarding piece, at that being able to switch over the technology services and get everything to the way they manage it. I mean, the pain is in the experience. And that would need to be taken into account when you’re thinking about this.
Because if you’re not changing because of the pain of change, then your past experience has been based on mediocrity and you’re basing your future on that past experience of mediocrity. And that may be hard for people to switch because you’re like, “Ah, I’ve done this three times in the last 10 years, this happened and this happened, I couldn’t access my system for three days,” or whatever it is.
And all these bad memories come back to you because you were making this assumption that is going to be that experience again instead of making the assumption that… Or even not even assumption, but asking the questions of how is the experience of changing not going to be the same as my past experience?
Dax: Yeah, it’s a lot like the same thing we already talked about with just living with mediocre network or computer that’s working but not working out the best for you. Not optimized, again. To come back around to that term. It’s the same things where people expect the situation to be painful or expect it to be mediocre and expect that they have to just live with it rather than seek out the solution that is much, much better.
Todd: So, I was thinking, somebody that’s in the situation of, “My systems aren’t really that bad. My service isn’t really that bad,” they’re not living under the idea that their systems are mediocre because they have psychologically made this choice that this is the right choice. Therefore they’re viewing that choice in a positive mindset. So, how do you wake somebody up to realize that they actually are not okay and they, in reality, are living in chaos and mediocrity?
Dax: I think one of the things that people need to be doing are, well, the first thing that came to my mind when you started talking about this, Todd, is we actually have a series of blog posts on our JMARK blog, jmark.com, that we talked about cognitive biases.
Todd: I totally forgot about this.
Dax: The tricks that your mind plays on you. And anybody listening, if you want to go to jmark.com and there’s a search bar you can search cognitive and find these, but we can also post these across our social media, links to them, when we’re done. So, that was my first thing is that, and that’s just a lesson for all of us to constantly be learning about these things, to be aware of them. But in a more general sense, you should always be exploring for better solutions.
So, asking other business owners that you know what their IT experience is like and finding out the people that love their IT, why do you love it? What’s different? Why is it not just this tool that you use every day, but this tool that you’re excited to deal with? Or why do you feel like your IT provider is a partner and what do they do for you? And asking these questions and also, again, not being afraid to explore. And constantly looking for the better solution.
I think that’s one thing that people get afraid of, especially with something where they know that they might have to talk to another company, because people are afraid that they’re going to get sucked into this cell cycle, which is also this pain that they’re afraid of, but you’re not going to find out, you’re not going to know if your neighbor’s grass is greener, unless you go to look over the fence and then ask the neighbor, “How did you get greener grass than I have?”
Todd: Yeah. I think you’ve hit on something there. You have to be comfortable enough to recognize that your reality is not real. You have to be comfortable enough to go, “Okay, my employees are saying this, but I’m experiencing this. Why is that different? Do I just have a better system than they do, does the IT company treat me as a VIP and they’re not treating the other employees well?
I think that’s the first step is, okay, is my reality actually the truth? And when you talk to your employees about technology, and talk to your partner about technology, and talk to potential partners about technology, where is the confidence coming from? Where are you getting educated in? Generally, in most cases, we don’t find people that are just in this horrible, horrible scenario. Sometimes we do. But oftentimes there’s some truth in the middle, where, yes, there’s some bad things. Yes, there’s some good things. Let’s build upon the good things and fix the bad things and make it all better. But I think the first thing that you have to have somebody willing to do is just say, “Okay, what is the reality not my reality.”
Dax: Yeah. Another thing that occurred to me is something as get a network assessment, have an IT company come up there and look at your network and say, “Yeah, here are the flaws in your network. Here are things that could be improved.” Find out. I mean, that’s the thing is you have to seek these answers, and they might be uncomfortable, or you might find out that, “Oh, we are optimized. Everything’s perfect.”
And hopefully that’s the case, but it’s this idea of people not wanting to go to the doctor because they’re afraid they might get bad news, but you’re also not going to get any healthier if there is bad news that you’re avoiding.
Todd: I think that’s really true though, because I think that a lot of companies and business owners, they have enough to deal with. They’ve got plenty of things on their plate. If I look too hard under the covers, I’m going to find something that’s not working and that’s going to be something else that I have to deal with.
And I think that’s one of the reasons why people don’t look, people stay in their little reality and just continue on because they get so busy with everything else, they don’t realize what they’re missing on the technology side and how that could actually fix the other things that they’re spending all their time on and could help them to be more successful and push the organization forward. But yeah, it’s back to what you said. You got to be willing to look under the covers and do a network assessment, or at least just look at the problems and see what is the truth.
Kristina: Yeah. That’s like we talk about at JMARK a lot, which is the concept of slowing down to speed up. And I think that good leadership will be continually doing that.
Todd: I agree. I think one of the other things that’s really hard in making this decision is the relationship aspect, because we may have made this decision that this IT company or vendor is the right company for us. We’ve been with them for a few years and they’ve done okay. It’s not great, but so and so is a really great guy. I love having a drink with him. I’ve gone golfing, and I’ve done this and done that and whatever it is. And you’re putting this relationship before your employees, putting this relationship before the success of the organization. And that’s a touchy topic.
There’s nothing to say that you should just give up on relationships. That’s not what we’re trying to say, but there is this concept with IT services called the guaranteed outcomes. You are signing an agreement with an organization to get something done, get something performed. And those outcomes are often dictated by those agreements through service level agreements and other things. But they’re often the unsaid outcomes that you get with working with a good partner in that they’re going to help speed up your organization, help you to innovate, help you to adapt, help you to know what you need to do strategically to move your organization.
And so, it’s very touchy on this relationship aspect because we get in so many situations where a prospect knows and has admitted to us that we have a better solution for them and we would be a better company for them, but they can’t make the choice because there’s a relationship with another individual.
Dax: Yeah. That can be very difficult, but you’re right, Todd. You have to remember that you’re making this decision for the sake of a different set of people that you have a relationship with, who are your employees and your customers, your own customers. If your IT is holding your employees back then that’s holding back the service that you’re providing to your customers at some point or another. And so, you have to remember that relationship as well.
And one aspect of these relationships that can be overlooked sometimes is that you might have simply outgrown your IT provider. That happens. It’s happened with JMARK where we’ve had clients that have outgrown us. And it was a shame for us to lose them as a client, but we also could recognize that it was better for both of us. We couldn’t provide them the service, those guaranteed outcomes that you’re talking about, Todd. We couldn’t provide the level of service that we wanted to provide for them because they were too big for us.
And so, neither of us were getting what we needed and that’s not a bad thing. If those relationships, those friendly relationships can continue, even when that happens, when you have to move away from each other so that each of you can continue to grow and be the best version of your business you can.
Todd: I think that’s a important question to ask a potential partner. What does your ideal client look like? Because there have been times when somebody has come to our organization that wants to work with us, they know our reputation, they know all about us, but we say no because they don’t fit the profile of what we generally take care of.
And that’s not a negative for us. That’s a positive for our clients, because if we started taking on clients that were larger than we target, that are smaller than we target, that are in a different industry than we are used to, then all of those things are going to pull time and pull resources away from servicing our clients that are our ideal target.
And so, I think that’s a great thing to ask because most IT organizations, smaller organizations or partners, they take anybody and everybody, and especially right now during, during COVID where people are holding onto their wallet a little more, there’s a lot of IT providers that are just taking anything and everything so they can get by. And that’s a huge differentiator to an IT provider that should be considered.
Okay. It looked like you were talking, Kristina. So, along with the guaranteed outcome, I think it’s probably a good thing we can end on this point of this false reality. We’ve talked about you’re in the situation, you feel like things are going well, but you have previously made a choice that is actually working against you because it’s making you think that you made a great choice.
And while at the time it may have been a great choice, it may not be the right choice going forward. And so, I think the lesson from all of this and everything we’ve talked about can be summed up into this idea of, we have to figure out what is the real reality? That even is a phrase, but what is the reality that we’re actually living in by talking to employees, by understanding what they’re experiencing, by putting your employees and your employees’ dependents above a relationship, a golfing relationship or a drinking relationship.
It’s about being willing to know that past change does not dictate future change and that that experience can be different with the right IT provider. And so, if you’re sitting there wondering to yourself, “I’m not interested in changing IT providers because everything’s okay.” Well, I think it’s important to ask, is it truly okay? Are you ready for the next thing? Are you ready for the next disaster? Are you ready for the next shift in your industry? Are you ready for the security threats that are bombarding everybody?
And so, of course JMARK is here to help anybody that has any questions. As Dax mentioned earlier, we have, I think it’s six articles, is that right, Dax?
Todd: That are about cognitive bias. They are fantastic articles, easy to read, not too long. And that talk about this idea of the psychological aspects of making a choice with IT. And then we’ll post some links and have a wonderful week.
Speaker 1: Thank you for attending this podcast. We hope it has been informative and helped 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 804 44 JMARK. Thank you for your time. And we look forward to seeing you again.