30 August 2022

Running up the down escalator of life and business

By Steve Martin, Head of Channels

If you can excuse the Forrest Gump moment, I often think of life as a down escalator. I am constantly haunted by a quote from author, Daniel Keyes who wrote the following in his science fiction classic, Flowers for Algernon.

“If I was standing still, facing upwards on a downward escalator, I’d be going backwards. If I was walking upwards, I’d be standing still. But if I started to run, I’m make some progress and move forward and upwards. That’s a lot like business. If we aren’t constantly innovating, we are falling behind our competition. We need to be running as much as we can to get ahead of the competition and even if we are out of breath, we have to keep walking just to maintain our current position.”

That has never been truer than it is in the present. We have been dealing with a global pandemic, economic turmoil, supply chain issues, escalating energy costs and many other challenges. By contrast, there are also significant innovation opportunities enabled by megatrends such as AI, IoT, 5G, GPS, satellite, cloud, Hybrid IT and multi-service interconnections.

Show me the “new” money

If I have one piece of advice to channel partners about how to be viable in the long-term and how to accelerate growth in these turbulent times, it would be to chase the “new money”.

It can be difficult to keep heading up an escalator that is moving in the other direction but investing in areas where brand new IT projects are being created is one way to drive innovation, differentiation and thought leadership into your customer base.

Industries such as space and renewable energy are booming along with automation of everything leveraging new networking paradigms and artificial intelligence. The application of new technologies to today’s processes provides endless opportunities.

For example …

Some examples I really love where we’ve seen NEXTDC partners applying technology to realise ‘what’s next’ include:

  • Artificial intelligence devices interpreting live traffic CCTV feeds to make real time decisions that prevent accidents by slowing traffic or warning of issues ahead or change traffic light sequences to expediate emergency services.

  • Remote operation centres that are controlling mine sites over 1,000km away, monitoring autonomous plant, equipment and freight plus an increasing array of other infrastructure.

  • Multipurpose smart city light poles monitoring people and traffic, plus inbuilt public address systems, 5G signal extenders and EV charging ports for cars, bikes, scooters, etc.

  • Smart rubbish bins that are solar powered with sensors to monitor the fill-level rates and automatically compact rubbish to maximise their capacity. These bins have SIM cards that ‘phone home’ when they’re ready to be emptied. This results in productivity gains, eliminates bin overflow and reduces transport costs because rubbish trucks are only attending to bins that need emptying. They are even designed to be “bin-chicken” proof.

  • Satellite communications to extend network services and IoT automation to remote locations. This opens a plethora of innovation opportunities in agtech, transport and logistics, data capture from and performance monitoring of renewable energy projects as well as other critical infrastructure and remote working etc.

These are all illustrations where strategic technology partners have helped customers push the envelope across any and all industries.

Broadening the focus

The point I’m trying to make is not about trying to inspire you to merely keep up with (or out-perform) the ‘Joneses’, whoever that might be in your part of the business landscape.

It’s more about broadening your own focus, shifting away from the status quo and honing in on the “what’s possible”. Is it time to lift your eyes to the horizon and shift attention from today’s workloads to tomorrow’s? I would argue the real opportunity to meet customer objectives is to innovate with new solutions leveraging rapidly maturing technology megatrends, as opposed to just improving the old way of doing things.

Related content: Core-to-edge computing: Mines of the future taking shape in the present

Your customers are constantly looking to innovate to reduce risk, improve efficiencies and drive down costs of doing business. In the face of global competition, customers also face imperatives to accelerate time to market of new products and revenue streams to retain and grow market share.

As their IT partner of choice, the more time you spend thinking about your customers’ business and predicting their future needs, the more relevant your business will become to theirs.

The role of infrastructure

At the heart of supporting your customers’ need to leverage innovation for growth and improvement, is to have your own infrastructure platform that is resilient, secure, and scalable so that you too can achieve your flexibility, agility and innovation objectives.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my channel innovation series which continues this conversation by looking at six rules governing channel innovation that helps you make progress as you run up that down escalator.

Meanwhile, reach out to NEXTDC if we can help to embed you in a sovereign ecosystem that takes data centre management off your plate and allows more of your resources to be allocated to creating the next generation of disruptive solutions.