I’ve often said we have amazing clients, and I’ve never been more convinced this is true than I am right now! I’ve also heard some of our client owners and senior staff wondering if they’re an island as they boldly move forward with their initiatives and businesses. As I mentioned last month, it’s a crazy world out there. If you listen to the news for more than a few minutes, you may start wondering if you’re in an alternate reality.
It’s interesting. We need to hold two concepts in mind that at first glance may seem contradictory—Protecting against Risk and Rising to the Opportunity.
Inflation is real and it’s not over; the labor market is still very tight; there are real shortages and supply chain issues; and the list goes on. The results of a mostly remote work force at this level and scale, across industries, is still up for debate. If you have cash, there’s a real risk of loss when investing, and ‘safe’ investments won’t keep up with inflation.
At the same time, we see our client base hitting new revenue and profitability highs. Some are expanding their offerings within their wheelhouses, accepting strategic new opportunities. Many are finding opportunity across state lines where their industry is under-represented or where they bring unique expertise. Across the board, we see strong balance sheets and strong cash positions as a result of good stewardship and leadership.
So, we thought we’d share some trends across the many states we serve and hope this will bring some encouragement and confirmation as you wade through the news reports while weighing the opportunities in front of you.
Fifteen years ago, hardware purchases including servers, network devices, workstations, and laptops, were about one-third of our revenue, like clockwork. In tougher economic times, hardware purchases went down, but we saw a new trend as clients invested in maintenance of their existing infrastructure and rolled out our then-new tools for automation of anti-virus, patch management, and monitoring. In 2019, there was a resurgence in hardware orders (with backlogs) as old Windows 7 machines and servers running 2008 R2 faced end-of-life deadlines. Many of these computers didn’t have sufficient resources to run the latest Operating Systems.
This buying trend got quiet again followed shortly thereafter by the pandemic. The ground was shifting, people were forced to work from home, and those with aging infrastructure re-focused on moving shared files to SharePoint, moving server-bound software to hosted cloud offerings, and rolling out security measures such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Clients who were undecided between replacing servers and hosting their critical applications re-engaged in the hosting conversation. Several clients have printed our education-focused documents and brought their notes and circled items to our video calls!
We saw our clients working to manage an increase in bid requests and awarded work in 2021 which seems to have no end in sight (but alas, it will cycle again). With no need to replace server hardware, our clients have focused on laptops, tablets, and multi-monitor displays, often with docking stations. They are better equipping their remote work force, making them comfortable at home and more mobile than ever.
So, what about your business? If you’re feeling ‘stuck’ or having difficulty navigating these trends, there are quite a few places you can turn for inspiration and solutions. Many industries have focused organizations that are meeting in person again and still holding virtual meetings. As we look across the advertised topics, we see things like ‘Making Remote Work Work,’ ‘Moving to the Cloud,’ ‘How to Stay Connected with Remote Employees,’ and many versions of these. We’ve found some clever solutions, some of which are new and untested, others that have solid results over the last months or even year.
At Syscon, we’re focused on automation; answering our phones ‘live’ during the work day; our educational webinars and monthly newsletters; a Teams meeting room for staff to pop in-and-out throughout the day to stay connected; lunch brought in for anyone working at the office; fun outings like our April trip to Arizona for a weekend together; care packages and surprises for our remote teams; constant efforts to stay in communication and stay connected.
What are some of the things you’ve been trying? We’d love to hear them and learn about your results! Stay the course; you’re in good company! – CMW