The Wheels on the Bus: Navigating Change (part 1)

It’s that time of the year when we pull out the crystal ball and look forward.  2016 is pretty well in the books.  For the most part, outside of certain industries, it has been a good business year.  There were some outliers like oil and gas, and agriculture to name a couple of industries that struggled, but the majority of companies we work with and observe have had a good year and are poised for a great start to 2017.

We held our HTG 2016 review and 2017 kickoff with our internal team last week.  I had a chance to talk about the future and give some perspective on what I see coming in the industry months and years ahead.  In many ways my message to them was ‘more of the same.’

We’ve been through a series of business model transformations since the modern technology industry began to impact small business back in the early 80’s.  As I think back through my career in leading SCCI/HTS for 27 years, it was an ongoing cycle of adaptation and transition as we moved from one business model to the next.

This is not unique to technology.  It’s how every market segment matures; and, believe it or not, the IT industry is still a relatively immature industry overall.

Here are some of the high level transformations this industry has lived through over the last few decades:

IT Business Model Shifts by Decade

Or looked at in another way:

IT Business Model Shift Diagram



More of the Same Means More Change

Change is nothing new.  We’ve be adapting ever since this industry began, and we will be required to continue to adapt.

However, I do see some dynamics impacting us today which differ from the past.  Primarily – it is the number of simultaneous change elements we will be dealing with over the next few years that will make this the most difficult transition we’ve ever faced.

Let me see if I can illustrate this for you.  Pretend for a moment that our IT service company is a bus.  Historically we have gotten used to changing the tire while the bus is going 75 MPH down the highway.  There is no luxury of pulling off to the side and taking a leisurely break to adjust and put a new tire on.

We have to build our new business model while we maintain our current one.  That makes it a bit more tricky, but we’ve gotten pretty adept at paying attention to the old ways while learning and implementing the new.  Maybe not the most efficient way to run a company, but we’ve all made it work (if we’re still around).

So what’s different?

What’s different for this change?  We’ll still need to change the tires while driving the bus down the road.

One could argue it’s now going faster.  But more importantly, we’re going to have to change multiple tires at the same time.  That’s what is different.  In past transformations, we’ve basically been dealing with one area at a time.

I believe in the next 12-36 months, we’ll be facing multiple major shifts that will require us to change at least four tires on the bus at once.  That’s a much more difficult thing to do than we’ve ever faced before.

In the next post in this series I will introduce you to the four areas that I foresee shifting and will then share about the changes in each area.  The news is not all grim.  These changes will mean hard work, but they also provide a wealth of opportunity for the wise and prepared.  My goal is to help you see the coming shifts so you can successfully jump curves.


2018-05-07T16:18:04+00:00 December 29th, 2016|Peer Power Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

Arlin Sorensen serves as the CEO and Founder of the Heartland Companies which includes HTG Peer Groups. When he is not traveling to speak and consult, Arlin is home on his farm in Iowa with his wife Nancy. He is a proud “Pop” to four precocious grandchildren who serve as daily reminders of why he is intentionally living to leave a strong legacy of faith and integrity. He loves making a difference in the lives and companies of small to mid-market business owners.

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