Why Settle is 20 years old today. Back in 1996 the technological landscape was very different than it is now. A few clients had email but most didn’t. Their networks were used for databases and word processing. Where it existed, internet was via a dial-up modem and there wasn’t much to do on it. Email soon moved its way onto most of our desktops quickly followed by antivirus software, but I remember one of two people insisting they didn’t need protection from viruses.
Until this point, most of us were limited to who we could do business with by the contacts we had, but the ramifications the internet was about to create have were evident. To capture this sentiment, we chose the name Local Planet Solutions Ltd (which is still our formal identity), alluding to the global village. Technology would soon transform us into a point on a global map of professionals and service providers.
‘Local Planet Solutions’ had a relevant message 20 years ago but well before we rebranded as Why Settle, transforming clients into global-ready professionals was old news; few were good enough to be left out of the revolution and remain in business.
Before always-on broadband arrived around 13 years ago, clients would schedule times for their networks to connect to the internet to collect email. A few back-and-forth email conversations could take all day. There was no expectation of a fast response, never mind an immediate action. Within a short period, being at your desk made you instantly accessible to pretty much everyone you knew.
Then came the early Blackberry adopters, who were first to take email with them 24 hours a day. As more players entered the smartphone market within the last decade a critical mass was reached. Quickly, most of our clients moved from working standard office hours to doing staccato pieces of work until their head hit the pillow. The first and last thing many of us now do in the day is check our email.
In the space of a few years our clients became always-on professionals in a global marketplace. From our IT management perspective, everyone needed everything to work all the time. Fortunately, some technology improved: hardware is remarkably better than it was 20 years ago, but other aspects, like broadband, still has a long way to go.
We were no longer just enabling clients to participate in the global village, we were facilitating them to provide ever-better levels of service. Many now export their services beyond these shores. We know they provide world-class levels of service because they are tested competitively worldwide. This is beyond what was imaginable for many 20 years ago.
Both our clients and Why Settle staff seem to be under pressure to get through more work in less time with each technical iteration. For us, we know there are easier jobs in IT than managing and supporting hundreds of varied networks, but none of us choose that easier living.
We enjoy what we do, the occasionally-stressful challenge of making a client competitive on the world stage is genuinely fulfilling – and we’re good at it, which helps.
We enjoy working with our clients. To a greater-or-lesser degree, we are part of their team. We tell each other, we don’t support networks, we support people. Support the person right and you’ll get there with the technology.
We also enjoy working with our own supply chain (caveat broadband suppliers on this point). The technology we sell and support has to work in an increasingly vulnerable space. Together with our clients we invest time, money, strategy and reputation on making the right decisions. For this, we have to trust our suppliers.
When we discuss strategy with clients now we often ask them to consider aspects they have little grasp of, but the objective is no different than it was on 1 November 1996: We’re going to make you more agile, more resilient and more efficient. We’re going to make you a better employer and a better business.
My sincere thanks to our clients and everyone who does business with Why Settle for their support. You allow us to do what we really want to do in life – help the good guys.