We’re running full steam ahead in 2022, but I want to reflect on how significant 2021 was.
I want to preface that this year since Vicom is now part of Converge, a public company, this is my take and not necessarily our company’s. This blog is just a way to discuss what I think was significant this past year; and as I say each year, while what I discuss isn’t revelatory or anything we don’t know, I feel honored to stand on my soapbox and give you my opinion of the year.
First of all, what a year 2021 has been. It’s been a unique year and what it’s meant for our industry, IT, overall. I think in some ways it’s changed what we are all about permanently, which is not a bad thing. So please join me on my soapbox for the year-end post, and love it or hate it, you’ll, at the very least, know how I feel and what’s on my mind.
Vicom was acquired by Converge
This year, the most significant thing outside of Covid, which is #2, is that Converge acquired Vicom a little over a year ago. We were Converge’s 16th acquisition (as of this writing, they are up to acquisition #27), and we helped them fill a need in the Northeast. Of course, it was a big deal for all of Vicom’s employees; overnight, we went from an 80 person, $100 million organization to a 1500 person, $1.3 billion organization and growing.
That was a significant change, of course, for all of us, but what it did was allow Vicom to join the realm of a large organization that enables us to offer value to our customers in ways we never had the chance to do before. Vicom was known as one of the preeminent IT solution and service providers in the NE United States with an incredible reputation in the IT industry and our customers. That hasn’t changed.
We now have the backing and resources of the 27 other Converge companies. We don’t just offer the value that Vicom has provided over the past almost 40 years, we now offer the value that the other portfolio companies bring to the table to complement what we do. That is something we couldn’t have imagined a little over a year ago and is a wonderful thing. Not just for us, but most importantly, for our customers, who now receive the combined value of Vicom with the Converge companies. That’s a very cool thing.
Of course, the big thing on everyone’s mind for 2021 is Covid. It has affected just about every idividual and business somehow—some more than others. From a business perspective, a significant result is that it caused firms to ensure they have a way to continue to work no matter where their people sit. It also caused firms to evaluate what is really important to guarantee business can continue, and I’ll take about it in the following bullets.
Covid has made firms more diligent and efficient out of necessity and has required them to create plans for keeping IT running, efficient, and productive while protecting their workers. For Converge, we continue to grow as firms still need assurance that their IT can support their IT, business, and operations despite Covid. Our customers continue to make sure that the money they spend on IT is spent prudently and take into account the people aspects of Covid with the needs of growing the business.
This and last year’s big thing continues to be the working from home/remote phenomena. While many firms had employees working from home in 2020 and before, 2021 is the year it went mainstream. Think of how many meetings we all now do remotely. Think of how long it’s been since we’ve seen some of our team members in person. Think of those hiring managers who have never met their recruitments outside of Zoom, Teams, or WebEx.
There’s a great efficiency to remote meetings, but something gets lost when you can’t see people in person. I miss that, but this is the reality we live in now. I find it hard after 29 years in sales to NOT be with people in person; however, I think this will become the norm. It’s a bit sad since business magic sometimes need to be done in person, but I understand the change.
A big positive in this transition is that firms have the tools that allow users to be highly productive working remotely while staying secure. It will be interesting to monitor this over time as new people enter the workforce who primarily work remotely, unlike a lot of the population who have worked in person for most of their career. Time will tell the “goods and bads” and how it plays into work and company culture.
Firms Still Investing in IT
In the tumultuous past two years, a big question was asked: Are firms still investing in IT? The answer is a big resounding yes, and it showed in 2021. When the pandemic hit in 2020, everyone wondered what would happen to our industry, but found that firms did continue to invest in IT.
Firms realized that their way of doing business over the past two years is most likely here to stay, so they retooled their needs and IT spends to accommodate accordingly. Our customers are still investing in projects, but in different ways than before the pandemic. Interestingly, with realigned priorities, we see firms spending the same amount of money on IT, sometimes more.
Security in the IT and data world has and always will be a big deal. In 2020/21, firms realized—or perhaps it was just brought to a head—how vital a secure IT environment is in terms of business importance, especially with so many remote workers.
All firms have an IT security strategy in place, ranging from simple and barely effective to comprehensive, efficient, and expensive. No strategy is perfect; it’s just degrees of risk. Customers of all sizes have been ramping up their security posture over the past few years. We usually see firms take sweeping security actions after encountering a security breach, but after this past year, firms have become more proactive with their IT security overall. That is a very good thing.
Analytics and AI Upstick
We’ve seen a significant uptick in firms researching and investing in analytics and AI solutions. Analytics in IT is not new, as solutions have been around for a while. However, there has been a significant uptick in data and the need to examine that data to make it valuable and actionable. Many cloud solutions are now available to make it relatively easy (and relatively cheap) to implement, maintain, and use robust analytics solutions. So much so that even small firms can use analytics for their business, which was historically not the case. That will continue in the future.
We see firms looking for practical ways to implement AI solutions and take advantage of its capabilities. AI doesn’t always have to be big, complex, and expensive (it’s not SkyNet, The Matrix, or Robopocalypse) but a way for Machine Learning and automation to help in the real world in what might seem like boring, low key methods. AI continues to be exciting, relevant, valuable, and will continue to grow as firms release new solutions that make it easy to get started.
The last significant trend I wanted to chat about is data protection. During 2020 and especially in 2021, we saw firms ramp up their data protection efforts in earnest. Why is that? First, I think the past two years reminded firms of the importance of their data and its value. Second, many new solutions are available to make data protection easy to implement and straightforward to use, especially with As-a-Service, cloud-based options. Gone are the days of giant siloed backup systems and software (though, at times, there is still a place for them) that take dedicated people to administer. These newer solutions are automated, easier to use, and make data protection effortless.
So that’s my review of 2021. I find it fascinating each year to reflect on what I’ve seen and taken note of for the year. As I previously mentioned, these views are entirely my own and not my company’s, but many of the things I’ve discussed have been significant and have affected Converge as well. What a past year it’s been. Amid the challenges that society has seen, I like to think that IT is a bright spot, at least in the business world.
I look forward to and am excited to see how 2022 unfolds, as I believe it will be another great year. What’s your take on 2021? Let me know and [email protected]. As I always end my year-end reviews, I wish you IT and overall success for 2022. I’m pulling for us all.