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Friday, February 12, 2010

A Customer Visit

I'd like to share with you a visit I had last week with a decent sized insurance carrier. This company is looking to migrate their current mainframe environment to Windows Servers. Management at the company has looked at the costs, the benefits, the pitfalls, the time it will take and decided it makes the most sense for their company to do this to remain competitive as well as profitable. The management looked at all the numbers and laid down an edict to be off the mainframes by a specified date. Nothing new so far, right? I mean this is happening more and more. One would think, imagine, even expect the people "in the trenches" to be ready to mutiny! No one really asked their opinion or advice? No one asked is it technically possible? No one asked them anything. But you know what? It turns out they didn't have to, and to quote Paul Harvey..."and now... the rest of the story".

Insurance companies have taken quite a financial hit. Not only lately, but over the past decade or more. Costs are skyrocketing, resources shrinking, looking where to cut costs has become the mantra of todays' insurance companies. IT seems to take a hit every time. In a lot of companies costs are slashed, staff eliminated and those left behind have to deal with the fallout. This company was similar, they've had recent staff reductions. But the remaining staff saw an opportunity. They realized the ways of doing business were changing and they needed to look at new and innovative ways to save their company. Yeah, even though they lost friends during the last round of layoffs, they still considered the company a great place to work and wanted to help as much as possible. So that's the background.

In most companies I've been to the first, or nearly the first, sentence out of anyones mouth is "It'll never run off the mainframe" or "You can't run that on a PC". You know the first words I heard from these people? It was "Cool, what do you need to make it happen?". Attitude. They had a positive attitude and were looking for ways to not only strengthen what they currently had, but expand what they were doing to make it all work better together. Better integration. Better performance. Better code analysis. Better production runs. They saw this as an opportunity to better not only themselves, but their company.

I can't relate how refreshing it was to see this attitude. A lot of people would've been pessimistic. They were optimistic. During the engagement we exchanged ideas, worked out solutions, did a lot of 'what ifing' and came up with solutions. I'm not saying all other accounts I've visisted have been depressing or not helpful, but there was an electricity at this account. Apprehensive? Yes, but optimistic as well. All about the attitude we convey to others.

Now you may ask "what has this got to do anything"? Really not a lot, and really a whole lot. On the surface it's a feel good article about someone and someplace most of us will never go to. Deep down though its about the attitude we bring to our daily jobs and the ability to see outside of our defined box and want to expand it and ourselves. Look outside your box, look for opportunity to grow and expand yourself and your capabilities. You may be surprised at what you can do!

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