Have you ever heard the phrase “I don’t know what I don’t know”?
Being in the IT field for over 20 years, I have often heard to this phrase related to IT — especially from business owners. To many businesses, IT is one of those black holes. No one is quite sure what it is or what to make of it, but they know it is there. With its enormous size, rapid pace of change and blur of technical acronyms and jargon, IT is often referred to as an area of I don’t know what I don’t know.
Because I encounter this mindset so often, I decided to dig a little deeper into the concept to better understand Fluid customers.
The Wisdom of IT
If we don’t know something, then by default we have no awareness and thus no ability to react or respond in an intelligent way, and certainly no ability to be proactive. The best we can do is hope our instinct dictates that we respond in a positive manner.
Take the following example:
You are riding your bike on a mountain trail for the first time and you haven’t referenced any map or trail guide. Each bump, hill, valley, twist and turn is unknown and new until you literally reach it.
At one point there is a sharp right turn and navigating this turn is critical because if you don’t you will find yourself plummeting off a 50 foot cliff. You pray that you navigate it successfully without going over the edge, because if you don’t, it’ll be a cruel lesson in “what you don’t know can kill you.”
You successfully complete the ride and are invigorated by the thrill, the risk and adventure, while at the same time you have faced your fears of the unknown. The next time you venture on that same trail you will have the knowledge of it and will naturally be more proactive and anticipate the dangers around that same right turn.
With this knowledge you ride more slowly and deliberately to navigate the turn. Some more risk-averse riders may choose to get off their bike and walk it around the corner, while some may avoid it altogether. But you now have choices you can make based on your knowledge and personal acceptance of taking risks.
What if we took it one step further and embraced the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know? Instantly this awareness makes you better off than being in complete ignorance.
Especially in the world of IT, becoming more aware of what you don’t know actually puts you at an advantage. You become more proactive, more confident and less fearful of change.
We believe this so much at Fluid, we spend a great portion of our time with clients helping to educate them on just enough to have an awareness — and then ultimately intelligence — about the great unknown of IT so they can make better business decisions.
It is a balancing act between sharing too little and going too deep into the technical abyss.
The Growth of IT
Information is a living thing, growing at an exponential pace. So while we are still trying to understand and learn more today, we know that there is an even greater volume of information to learn from tomorrow. So while I and my team continually educate ourselves, we in turn carefully and consciously educate our clients.
You can see in the diagram below that, as we learn more, we gain more intelligence, always taking a bit more out of an ever increasing pie. Over time, this continual cycle means we are experiencing some of the same things over and over while always adding new experiences. Experience is what we covet so much in life and business and why we view our elders as being wise.
If we are more deliberate about this evolution, think how better prepared we could be. There is even the potential to compress the amount of time required to learn and make better decisions.
I believe that this information-gathering-and-sharing process is critically important, and I also believe that every one of our clients should be able to choose for themselves where they want the line to be drawn between just enough information and too much. Ultimately this is where their voice and vote lies. Not sharing enough eliminates their opportunity to vote.
The Business of IT
Let’s take the Fluid Cloud as an example. Many of our customers have chosen to move their systems from their office to our cloud. Why? Partly because of the stability, uptime and reliability; partly because of the flexibility to increase or decrease in real-time as business demands; partly because they can start small, with only what they need today rather than over-invest in technology.
But a majority of them move to the cloud to get out of the business of IT.
They have an awareness that IT, for them, is a vast chasm of I don’t know what I don’t know, and they have made an educated decision to remove it and all its risks from the equation. By doing so they have simplified the environment they must work in and freed more time to devote to running the business.
For our clients, it doesn’t mean that all their IT problems vanish or they can completely ignore IT, but it does mean the business can focus on improving their business and getting the most out of their customer-facing solutions.