Looking back on our twenty-five years in business, I’ve agonized over what to say about it that would pass the “so what and who cares?” test. Certainly, most of our company’s “firsts” would miserably fail. I fear the irony of our first transaction is lost on everyone but me. After all, I left the world of computer hardware and leasing for “the ultimate people business” because I much prefer people to humming boxes of microchips and sterile spreadsheets.
So, it was quite ironic that our first ever deal involved the subleasing of a monolithic computer paging device from Alverno Information Services on the south side of Indy to Gateway Information Services on the north side. Never mind the irony of having just moved back to Indy so that I could introduce these long time neighbors to one another. I’m so glad I did, because many years later, Alverno went on to become one of our largest consulting clients.
The irony doesn’t stop there, however. I closed that first deal while standing in my garage on the phone with our soon-to-be first customer. After almost three months of pounding the phone and the pavement, I had taken an unplanned day off. The world of entrepreneurial terror was already taking its toll, as it often would over the next quarter century. But, I learned an invaluable lesson that day…breakthroughs often arrive on the heels of breakdowns.
Though our first office was on Indy’s north side, ironically again, our first consulting client was United Technologies in Huntington. Thanks so much, Julie! Not sure what you were thinking, but so glad you took a flyer on the upstart from Indy.
Also glad we found our first consultant, Jim, up in the Muncie area, an easy commute to the client. Jim had a photographic memory and a penchant for cheeseburgers. If IT could be done on an AS/400, Jim knew the code to make IT happen. Thus, Julie and Jim were the first seeds planted in our quest to grow the ultimate people business.
One final “first”, if I may. We were truly first movers in the CRM space. Our first CRM system wasn’t very sophisticated, but proved quite effective. It was a 3 by 5 recipe card box sitting atop my three legged desk held up by a stack of magazines. Whenever I’d leave a message for a prospect, I would indicate same by turning their card on its end so that it stood out from the others. The resulting “dashboard” provided powerful graphical insight into my sales pipeline. The more cards on end, the more possible incoming calls. When there were more cards on their ends than remaining in the box, my KPI indicated it was time to go golfing and just wait for the orders to come in. OK, so I made that last part up. But, we really were CRM pioneers.
Some thank yous are certainly in order. First, to the clients whom we’ve been so privileged to serve –thank you! Thank you for your confidence in our capabilities, your trust in our character and your patience with our imperfections. We truly couldn’t do IT without you. Second, to the employees and consultants who strive so gallantly every day to deliver on the excellence promised –thank you! Thank you for being wonderful ambassadors for Ambassador and for making us an employer of choice among true IT pros. Finally, to the God who has lovingly “tested us …and tried us as silver is tried” (Psalms 66) – thank you! But for your constant presence in the life of our company, we would have no 25th anniversary to celebrate.
Before putting our anniversary milestone in the rearview mirror, I’d like to offer a few parting thoughts on the future of our industry and Ambassador’s role within IT. I believe the demand for IT consulting services will continue to outstrip supply for the foreseeable future. There are numerous factors at work here, but the one not talked about enough (in my opinion) is the myriad of ways in which our federal government works to increase the liabilities associated with employees. The Affordable Care Act is only one of many examples. Employers can avoid these liabilities by utilizing contract labor for their non-core business functions, IT often being chief among them.
Add to this the severely constrained global supply of IT professionals and a picture unfolds wherein employers will take qualified talent from whoever is able to deliver IT to them. This will increasingly come from firms providing offshore solutions with a proven track record of successfully mitigating the risks associated with such approaches. Offshore success stories are gaining ground on the horror stories of the early adopters.
So, how will Ambassador Solutions play IT from here? First and foremost, we will never lose sight of the fact that IT’s all about the people. Technologies come and go, as do the firms who stake their futures upon them. We will fiercely fight the forces that attempt to commoditize that which never can be…human beings. Second, we will literally scan the globe in our efforts to secure the right people, at the right time, in the right place and yes, at the right price. Third, we will move our “Discover, Invent and Innovate” Value in Action to the forefront, as we relentlessly strive to make a positive difference in every life that we touch:
We believe investigating our curiosities leads to discoveries, inventions, and innovations that improve the world around us. To unleash individual and collective creativity, we must have the courage to test new ideas, confront possible failure and discard obsolete ideas.