Welcome to this week’s Think Tank with Frank Kenney
With decades of analyst and integration industry experience, Frank Kenney is a fountain of knowledge on all things tech. Now, he aims to share that awareness with you. Come back on Thursdays for an occasional dose of thought leadership in this blog from one of technology’s most insightful thinkers and gain perspective on a variety of topics ranging from what’s happening in integration today to what’s on the horizon, poised to disrupt the integration space going forward.
The last week or so has been spent preparing for Hurricane Dorian. At the time of writing this post, it still hasn’t hit Florida and the forecasts of where and when it will make eventual landfall on the east coast of the US is unclear. But there is no doubt that Dorian is a brutal and devastating storm having decimated the northern Bahamas in its slow churning path east.
Our hearts and support continue to go out to those communities and people devastated by the category five storm that unleashed fury over their homes. And for those of you who have never had to go through hurricane prep, and then hurricane watch, let me take a few moments and give you a little bit of a taste into what it means to be a week out from a storm of this nature.
Hint: It sort of feels like a B2B/EDI buying cycle.
Countdown: Seven days out
This is when you first start hearing about the storm. You are all over social media and the first of the cone maps have been published. Typically, the storm is well out at sea, but you can start to imagine the dotted line going directly through your backyard. This is when you start tuning into social media updates from your buddies on Facebook or start a driveway conversation with your neighbor whose psychic abilities are specific to the weather and they prognosticate on what they’ve seen in their lives and how a storm like this one is bound to move.
At the grocery store, while you are early stocking up on water and candles, you hear some folks telling each other there’s nothing to worry about because it’ll probably end up missing. These folks are also buying up canned goods and batteries. Other folks in the store openly wonder if they should start to hoard water because you know how the stores get after a storm hits. (If you don’t know, I recommend reading Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do by Harvard political philosophy professor, Michael Sandel who touches on the art of disaster economics and price gouging after a hurricane in the opening chapter.)
Countdown: Five days out
This is when the evening news starts to carry information about the storm and the cone has been updated to possibly shift over your state. This is when you turn to your significant other and make the comment, “We probably should go and stock up some more tomorrow.”
Something miraculous happens as well, you start to go visit sites on the web or communities on a media platform like Reddit to become better informed. Instead of opening the Facebook app on your phone you immediately go to Safari and navigate to www.noaa.gov which is the national oceanic and atmospheric administration website, you know the folks that publish all the information about hurricanes. This is sort of like you going to the analyst communities and doing a search for EDI and APIs. You may not have any idea on what the majority of it means, but you hope to at least get some idea of how much of a pain the whole experience will be.
Countdown: Three days out
This is when my mother and my brothers start to call. My mother asks, “Frankie? Are you going to be okay?”
I respond, the embodiment of calm, “Yes, mom we’re all stocked up and ready for the probable lack of electricity.”
As you talk, you’ve got the weather channel playing silently in the other room. It looks like the path of the hurricane is veering from the earlier projections. They are now tracking it going slightly further to the east, but you know it’s still good that you prepared for it.
Over the past 48 hours you have taken a crash course in meteorology (the equivalent to an undergrad level electorate I know some of you might have taken to pad your semester with one easy class). So, now you know that a barometric pressure drop in the eye of the storm from 920 to 905 is a very significant drop. It means a strengthened storm. You know the high-pressure ridge over Bermuda, the southerly trend for a high-pressure system coming down from the Great Lakes and the Gulfstream are going to stall the storm and keep it from moving north.
This isn’t dissimilar to the way that you know a company offering an exclusive managed B2B service will find great difficulty in offering any type of self-service and that likewise, an iPaaS will struggle having to support multiple EDI map creations because that’s just not their core competency. You become an instant expert on all things B2B.
Even the conversations you’re having leave people wondering if you should get a job working for the local weather station.
Countdown: 24 hours out
The storm won’t be a direct hit. It will lay down a glancing blow meaning you’ll still be at risk of hurricane-force winds putting the ever-so-fragile electricity grid in your city on edge. It will inevitably go down – it goes down when it’s sunny – leaving you in the dark for hours and possibly days. You thankfully didn’t feel the full force a category-five storm can deliver, but you’re worried about all of the meat in the freezer and how long it will last without refrigeration. You probably should’ve bought that small generator that was on sale at Lowe’s before storm inflation had kicked in.
When you’re in your deal cycle for new VAN service, this is the point you start to second-guess yourself and wonder if perhaps you should’ve gone for the integration solution that lets you both integrate your backend systems and partner-facing systems instead of just facilitating an EDI file transfer and translation.
Yes, the EDI VAN had a lower entry point, but did it address what we needed it to and what happens to our bill when we grow?
It’s one day after the hurricane and you’re carefully assessing property damage. Hopefully, it’s not too great and you can move on with your normal life... until the next storm.
And much like these B2B sales cycles, you signed the deal and implementation is taking place. But don’t be too shocked because September is a long month and a closer inspection of https://www.noaa.gov/ shows that multiple tropical depressions are coming in from the coast of Africa at various stages of development.
You live through the event, the problem and the next horizon of challenges are continually on the rise, but perhaps you prepared for the wrong thing...
Investing for the Long Haul
Somewhat like hurricane preparedness, you’re not buying supplies for the few hours that the storm is moving through, you’re buying supplies for the aftermath and the days, weeks and sometimes months of recovery. The long haul.
Every day I see people buying technology to resolve the simple problem in front directly in front their face while dutifully ignoring the peripheral – the complexity; the underlying cause; their real challenges, and in doing so, they miss the opportunity of a real solution.
Once again, our hearts and minds are with the people of the Bahamas. For a list of reputable charities working to provide aid and relief, please visit: Charity Navigator