Coming back from hockey practice last week one of my daughters made the mistake of asking me what I did in high school. I got a little carried away with my answer I guess because 20 minutes later she stumbled glassy-eyed from the car vowing never again to ask me for guidance. The essence of my answer was that many people’s personal development stops at the first blush of self-actualization. This normally happens in high school. They stubbornly stick to their high school self-concept and refuse to embrace the personal changes that life’s journey might otherwise introduce. It is a mistake to shut yourself off from life’s adventure, but it is similarly foolish to ignore the grounding you got in high school. To a greater or lesser degree, we’re all based on what we were when we graduated from high school. So the question is, to what extent.
In a similar fashion, Quartet is still based on what we were when we became successful. We’re based on a high service approach to IT infrastructure management. We’re geared for smaller companies and we leverage the economies of skill and scale that an outside organization can bring. But we’re embracing change as well and that’s what this letter is about. I was planning to discuss the impact of technology, customer and competitive changes, but I don’t want your eyes to glass over, so I’ll just stick to technology changes and what we’re doing about them.
Technology Changes IT is finally fun to be in again. The advent of VOIP-based unified communications, process re-engineering being simultaneously driven by top down and bottom up initiatives through Sharepoint, ubiquitous use of hand-held wireless devices, software as a service taking off and other trends have made IT rewarding and fun. The impact is not just being felt by companies big enough to ignore near term business case imperatives. Business cases are no longer based on vague, new-age metrics. They are based on measurable, repeatable and continuous process improvements and the costs are now so low, that virtually all companies should be involved.
Essentially, it now makes financial sense for smaller companies to do more complicated things with IT. This means their service IT providers require deeper skills across more technical disciplines. Voice, networking, server, data and security expertise is required to configure, maintain and develop these systems. This also means that process re-engineering and consulting skills are required to make the most of these newly accessible IT capabilities.
These technology changes have had a huge impact on Quartet. We’ve always had a comprehensive approach to infrastructure management that included network, data and telephony expertise. We’re maintaining that edge. But there has been a blurring of technical management and process improvement responsibilities recently. Certainly the exchange zone between these disciplines has widened. Accordingly, we’ve enhanced our consulting practice, have introduced new leadership services and have accelerated our transition from reactive to proactive services. Greater critical mass is required to economically house our broadened skills sets and you’ll see substantial growth at Quartet in the next few months.
All this is by way of introduction to our new consulting group; Quartet Consulting Solutions. We recently acquired a small consulting firm called Strategic Telecom Advisors (a former client and supplier) and just last week, we adopted en-mass the heart of the Nex Innovations professional services group in Toronto. The result is an 11 person consulting team with a broad skill set and comprehensive mandate. I’ll let them tell their own story on the web site once they get settled in, but our design and integration skills have expanded significantly and we’re excited about where we are heading.
I’ll be writing my next letter on the impact of customer changes on Quartet after I attend the 50th Anniversary Reunion of my high school (Lorne Park Secondary School in Mississauga). It’ll be interesting to see how much life there has been after high school among my classmates, interesting to see if my daughters care or not and interesting to see how our new consulting services settle in at Quartet. In all, my next letter should be free of glassy-eyed moments and I hope you’ll tune in.
As always, please call or write me with your comments, suggestions and criticisms. A little smile goes a long way at Quartet and we mean it when we say a complaint is a gift.