Like individuals who resolve to lose weight or save more, businesses have resolutions or goals, many of which do not get executed or even incorporated into the upcoming year’s business plan. Just like “I am going to lose weight” needs a resolve to change exercise and eating habits, so too do business objectives require the thoughtful and deliberate strategy to deliver the desired outcome.

So when security integrators look at 2021 as the year that they hope to grow RMR, remember that being hopeful isn’t a strategy for change and an action plan is needed. After all, has there been a time in the last 50 years where an uninterrupted revenue stream would be more valuable? With the uncertainty of capital and the ongoing changes throughout our country, corporations and institutions, the need to transition to service-based integration programs that include RMR rather than project-based is clear. This should not only be evident to us, but to our manufacturing and service partners and penultimately to our customers. Collectively, it is time to sit on the same side of the table and assess a new strategy where not only the costs and the technologies are assessed, but the operations and the benefits — the enhancements of use and the costs to expand, maintain and manage.

This managed services approach is not a line item, a product or a maintenance plan; it is a transformative change that requires planning and commitment.

This challenge is not new. Look at IBM. If you go back to the 1980s, IBM was the model of corporate success in America. IBM stock was celebrated, as revenue and market share for their computing hardware grew. Less than a decade later, all that changed. In 1993, IBM posted what at the time was the biggest loss in the history of corporate America: $8 billion. IBM had missed a number of key technology shifts and customers were abandoning them for new competitors who out-innovated and out-serviced IBM. IBM was lost and their future was uncertain.

So, IBM changed. The most apparent way IBM changed was in its product mix, shifting away from hardware to a software and services model. But IBM changed at its core and in the market. Bridget van Kralingen, general manager of North America for IBM, stated, “Complacency is a business killer and banish it from your thinking. You must understand that transformation is a constant and continuous process that can never end. And you must embrace the notion that when faced with tough times your goal must be not merely to survive but to succeed; and success comes through leadership.”

The COVID-19 pandemic disruption to the economy and the workplace presents both the opportunity and motivation for our industry to change. Disruption accelerates the adoption and willingness to change as the traditional risks and uncertainty of a new approach are offset by the current risk of doing nothing or not changing.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan left Cisco Systems in 2011. At the time, Cisco and Polycom controlled the video communications industry with expensive, proprietary on-premise end points and bridging solutions with interoperability, user interface and cost challenges holding back adoption and growth. Though WebEx and Skype existed, they were primarily used intracompany or for “one to many” rather than the ubiquitous video and bridging Zoom promoted. Fast forward to today and the world is meeting on Zoom calls; Cisco is an afterthought in a niche of corporate video communications and Poly is owned by Plantronics. How Zoom transitioned the industry to the cloud as an RMR service is a great lesson. Rather than improving the video endpoint, or reducing the cost of the hardware, Zoom provided a subscription-based service for mobile, desktops and conference rooms and succeeded where others treaded water to obsolescence — a compelling parallel of an industry changed by a disruptive offering with RMR, higher margins, and interoperability through a managed service.

Change can be incremental or transformational. For organizations, every new strategy involves transformational change. IBM and Zoom did not simply face a shift in sales and marketing. These industry transformations addressed the organizational approach, processes, and management systems developed to transform the business from focusing on selling projects to delivering customer solutions.

By adding modest RMR, incremental change can help and, in some cases, provide meaningful benefits. Is this a year that our goals fade as we approach the second quarter or will 2021 bring transformative, foundational changes that alter our businesses’ financial future?