If IT just worked

For many years I worked in corporate offices, but for the last five years at risual, I’ve been home-based. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed my working life very much at all. risual is wedded to the cloud so I can work, access my things, and talk to people from anywhere… Except from my home now it seems.

Web-surfing, social media, streaming music and videos, even Alexa switching on the living room light; we’re all at the behest of the internet and the cloud. I can’t imagine life without this stuff. Now in lockdown, my wife works from home, my youngest daughter has her university lessons at home and my eldest daughter does nothing but live on Youtube. We’re all trying to find space away from each other in far corners of the house with no signal. My WiFi just couldn’t handle it all. 

I needed a new WiFi router fast, but I wanted to do this only once and needed it last. After some research only the latest and greatest mesh system would do, future proofed with all the features I could ever hope for. I bought one. I followed the baby-steps guide and it was done. Well… not quite. I wanted to keep SSIDs and passwords, reserved IP addresses, firewall ports, DDNS, and still wanted my living room light to turn on, so I hit that “Advanced Setup” button and set to work. Within an hour or so it did what I wanted. Within a day or so kinks were ironed out and everything is working nicely, thank you very much.

“Have skills, can travel”

This got me thinking. I’m a Project Manager and left my hands-on technical background by the wayside 20 years ago. Over the years I’ve learned to trust my teams to do all the hard stuff. They keep up to date with all this fast-paced changing technology and I don’t have to. I do know IT though, enough to make me dangerous at that!

With a modicum of networking knowhow, I had to dig deep and Google often, but the swathes of advanced settings made me wonder if every household has the knowledge to set up their technology safely. I was conscious that one false move could have a hacker in my fridge, buying a crate-load of caviar through Amazon’s One-Click system – if I had a smart fridge that is… The concern here is that none of this technology is truly smart or hands-off. My knowledge could only take me so far and it would be nice to have some expert support.

As I get older I feel less need to tinker with technologies, and more need for longevity and reliability. I just want it to work without a hitch for as long as it can, so it can do its thing while I can get on with something more important. The modern approach of consumerism doesn’t care much about that. It’s seemingly better to sell us something new and often (and relatively dumbed down) than to make something do everything that we need, do it well and for a long time. We accept built-in obsolescence and new features are a way of selling us “new and shiny” products. We’re forced into changing stuff all the time, but do we ever really use them to their full potential? I mean, I want a fridge to just keep my food cold, not do all my food shopping for me!

Value for money

I have the feeling that all the wonderful features that were on my router wish list that I was too scared to set up will never be used. I bought something future proofed, but I need to make a further investment in my time to learn to get the most out of it. This is commonly known as the “Consumption Gap”.

Organisations have this same dilemma. Whether they’re forced to change through “new and shiny” obsolescence or through drastic measures like the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a whole host of considerations to make. New devices replace old devices, new software replaces old software. Engineers need to learn new skills to configure them. Support staff need to learn new skills to look after and improve them. End-users need keep abreast of all the new rules and features to take advantage of them – and with Microsoft’s Current Branch those feature changes could be happening monthly.

Often the reality is that most organisations make their way through changes and carry on doing the same things as they did before. All the while paying through the nose for little return on investment.

Many of my projects have delivered new and shiny technologies to organisations. Our teams are rushed in to upgrade something or other, usually because it’s out of support, and a couple of years later we’re there again to migrate to the next version. What happens in between can be very little. How many data centres have lifted and shifted to Azure and never optimised or transformed to get the best from the cloud, for instance?

Projects with more

What would those organisations do if IT just worked, kept working and took advantage of new features continuously? They would have market leverage, see value for money and have the time and resources to do more productive things.

To answer this, both consumer and commercial industries turn to subscription models providing managed “evergreen IT” services, which have longevity and reliability at their core. This is not a new concept and I’m sure you can think of many examples in your daily lives. For a fee they make sure your services are always available, safe and optimised. They add new features to keep you hooked and they’re intuitive so don’t rely on you having a deep knowledge of technology to operate them. They’re effectively giving you a standard service while taking away a management burden from you.

My best projects are always strategic. When an organisation has longevity and reliability in mind, we can build in ways to keep IT working to their advantage. At risual, not only do we offer consultant expertise at risual to transform technology, but we can also analyse what’s being used, identify underutilised licensed services, introduce new ways of working and engage with end-users to ensure they’re always using everything at their disposal and to their advantage. We know what’s coming in the future and can roadmap improvements and benefits over much longer periods to achieve that return on investment.

Even better is when those organisations no longer worry about IT anymore. Our risual Managed Services team can be trusted to take away that management burden. With some of the most up-to-date [Microsoft] qualified engineers available they offer a wide range of support, monitoring, optimisation and change services that keep organisations’ IT in tip-top condition for as long as needed.

A full strategic solution from risual means you don’t need to concentrate on the latest security threat or on deploying the latest patch; you don’t need to concentrate on keeping services “lights on”; you don’t need to concentrate on keeping your support staff and end-users up to date. You can trust that your IT just works and can concentrate on winning more business.

… For me, I feel like I’m an accomplished network engineer. I have a fancy WiFi mesh system and I’m a hero in my household – for 10 minutes at least. I’m going to have to find time to dig into those advanced features so fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong and I don’t receive any crates of caviar any time soon. In the meantime, I’m going to need help to pry my daughter away from Youtube… It’s not going to be easy.

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