While the road to Hell may be paved with good intentions, this doesn’t stop many of us from making one or more New Year’s resolution – even if it’s only the resolution to not make any New Year’s resolutions! This year, inspired by a family friend and not a few glasses of red wine on New Year’s Eve and the knowledge that 2018 sees me reach the ‘Big ‘ 50, I’ve made plenty of resolutions or, as I like to think of them, plans. I know that many of them will remain just plans, but even if I can cross off a couple of the items from the long list I have made for both work and leisure time, then the exercise will have been worthwhile.
The 15th of January is the dreaded Blue Monday – supposedly the most depressing day of the whole year. Christmas memories have faded, and the next holidays are a long way away; the bank account is begging for mercy and there are still two weeks to go until pay day; the weather is gloomy (right now it’s extremely windy and rainy); we’re in desperate physical shape after too much eating and drinking.
But what better way to beat those New Year blues, than by making plenty of plans for your business? And here, I hope, is a helpful reminder of some of those 2018 resolutions that should keep you focused, if not excited, as the days get longer and, before you know it, Easter has come and gone and the Great British Summer looms large on the horizon. So, make sure 2018 doesn’t pass you by without resolving to find out more about:
- GDPR - It’s not too late to make sure that you understand what the General Data Protection Regulation will require of your business as of 25 May. Do you need to appoint a Data Protection Officer? Are you ready to deal with customer requests to see the information you hold on them, maybe transfer this information for them, or even delete it? There’s really no excuse for not knowing how the GDPR affects your business – the hype around it has been long and detailed.
- Big Data – Not unrelated to the GDPR, as it involves using the database(s) your organisation has built-up over the years. Make 2018 the year that you understand exactly what information you do hold on your customers and how this information can be used to develop the relationship you have with these customers, so that they will remain loyal to you and, maybe even spend more money with you. And don’t forget that using outside resources (colos, managed services and the like) could be the most cost-effective way of organising a Big Data project.
- IoT – Not unrelated to Big Data. Anything and everything in your organisation can be monitored, measured and analysed thanks to the Internet of Things. And the data thus gathered can be turned into priceless information that can help you run your IT and your overall business more efficiently and more cost-effectively, and be a differentiator with your customers.
- AI and ML – Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning take us towards the Brave New World, where robots no longer just build cars, but take on more and more tasks once performed by humans. It’s still early days in terms of understanding what will be the key wins, and which industries will benefit the most from this ‘sci-fi’ stuff, but you’d be foolish not to get some understanding of what’s around the corner.
I guess we could add blockchain, the edge, maybe even the Hybrid Cloud, colo and Managed Services to this technology ‘learning list’, but the important thing is that you make sure that 2018 doesn’t pass you by technology-wise. If you’re not working out how technology can improve the service you deliver to your customers, rest assured that your competitors are.
Alongside the technology resolutions that will benefit your company, how about some personnel-related plans?
Make sure that you, and the people you manage, are given some tangible objectives to help keep you focused during 2018. After all, if you have none, how will you know whether 2018 has been a success or not? Clearly, these targets will vary from person to person and company to company, but do ensure that they are achievable, of benefit to individuals and the business, and that meeting or exceeding these is rewarded.
One piece of advice I still remember from my sports coaching days was the importance of trying not to set a limit on an individual in terms of assessing their performance and motivating improvement. Typically, you might mark someone on a scale of 1-10. But what happens when a person achieves the perfect 10, where do they go next?
And make sure the targets consist of a mixture of doing the current work tasks well, and also taking on new tasks and learning new skills. Continuous improvement/development should ensure that employees remain motivated and enthused about work.
In summary, make 2018 a year of planning, preparation and, subsequently, implementation. Plan the changes that you need to make; prepare for these changes, both in terms of the technologies and personnel required to make them happen; and then get the projects up and running.
Along the way, challenge tradition. If it stands up, all good and well; if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to do things differently. For example, many businesses starting up today don’t see the need to own many, if any, IT or data centre assets. The fact that plenty of them are thriving might just be an indicator that the agility, flexibility and OPEX advantages they enjoy are worthy of exploration by more established businesses.
One thing is for sure – if you don’t investigate the new technologies and ideas that are underpinning the digital transformation that is happening, like it or not, right now, then you might not be in a position to make any New Year’s resolutions for your business ahead of 2019.