So, for the umpteenth time in this last year I was yet again asked what it is we do at Gardner. Most who ask the question have looked at our website and even when it has just been updated they still aren’t sure. Why would they be? We have been offering changing services for well over 30 years. We work in a dynamic and ever-changing arena where each day takes us in new and previously unexplored directions. It’s not quite Star Trek but it can feel like it when the pace of change and challenge to our clients seems to be ever increasing.
Perhaps the simplest answer is we do for our clients, whatever their size or sector demands right now. We still do what we always did in terms of maintenance, hardware and software, applications and support. So, if they want us to source something for them, we will - and most competitively. The downside for many computer resellers in the past was that with the advent of the internet it was a bit like the impact on high street retailers; they were an unnecessary additional cost. Nowadays however the “Channel” or our IT supply chain, has also changed enormously. We are now able to use the global marketplace to buy on behalf of our clients without them needing the expertise and experience to know what is technically sound and indeed even supported in the UK. We’re in no small sense buying rather than selling.
These days too, the vast, majority of hardware and applications work seamlessly with one another and that was certainly not always the case in the past. There is the danger then of a build-up of acquired hardware and software which is almost random. It has no obvious common purpose or business benefit. Installed application base often looks like a random overlapping acquisition of various point solutions; they have no common strategy.
Equally the internet, not exclusively, has exposed all to security attempts upon our respective virtues like none other. Who is going to untangle this Gordian knot without exposing us to risk and giving us the platform to evolve a competitive advantage? We all want to have unfettered global access yet deny unwanted vulnerability.
What really has changed is the complexity of business strategies. For instance, an IT strategy is not the same as a data strategy. The latter may include IT, but the two are quite distinct. We are often asked to produce an IT strategy for a given client and that is indeed a most laudable goal. It is important to point out however that it is the data which is hosted and analysed which is the real output for any enterprise and its’ management and protection is paramount. In short, your IT provision may work very well but does it adequately protect and manage your data?
Strategies be they data, IT, business continuity or any other, also need a defined goal of course. Nobody ever argues with that. Equally it is very rare for a prospective client not to totally accept that our place in the supply chain places us closest to emerging technologies and their sources. Everyone wants a guide to help them source and deploy the very best and latest at the cheapest possible price and why wouldn’t they?
The challenge usually comes when we point out that in any change management we need to know for certain where a client is right now. It is not difficult to map out a future goal, but we can only define a route to it from where we definitively are right now.
So back to what does Gardner do
then? Well we take on board all the impediments and client concerns which might be preventing them from constructive change. These include cost concerns, skill shortages or lack of confidence. It really doesn’t matter what the problems are. All can be overcome with some thought, consideration and of course experience. The last 34 years’ have provided us with plenty of that.