Viewpoint: This Is How It Is Now

Joe Dunbar
(Image credit: Future)

I won’t beat on about the current state of things, supply chain (opens in new tab), logistics, blah, blah, blah—because you already know the deal. Some people have some things and sometimes they get more, and sometimes (sometimes for a long time) they don’t, and we all must make do.

That is the way of the world right now, and many people are being forced to pick between some not-so-great options. I would contest though, that this where progress and growth lie. Picking your best of the often only bad options and committing.

“Because that’s how we have always done it" is not only antiquated, it’s a genuine disservice to the partners we work with, if we can’t stand there and explain why it’s still the best way to do things.

I think often we get stuck in the mindset of “right” decision or “wrong” decision—when the truth is it’s just “this path” or “that path,” and the rest is what you make of what you encounter on either path. To me, the companies that are growing and trending up right now are ones that were willing to entertain creative solutions and step outside their comfort zones.

As many of us have, and many of us will, I have had the awesome and rewarding experience growing through quite a few roles with quite a few companies, in different parts in the supply chain and in different periods of the of my career thus far. Inside the vacuum that has become our world post-COVID, I have had a microcosm of that career: systems integrator, manufacturer, distributor. Reflecting on that kind of smaller scale has made me realize that my experience, which once was probably a little more unique prior to COVID, is now extremely relatable, as many people have and are going through similar experiences now.

When COVID shook the job market up and I faced some changes, it didn’t faze me that much. Not because I’m Captain Cool or anything (for the record I am), but because I have been through it before, and crazy as I may be, I tend to thrive in the whirlwinds, even if I do crave calm.

From all that, I have been wanting to share my perspective, having had these experiences, and to ask each of you what your perspective is on this, having had your experiences. It all stems from people and webinars and marketing material and everything about “return to offices” and "back to normal”—and I just can’t imagine looking in the mirror and telling myself that joke. So, let’s talk about “normal” with a nice and easily palatable topic, like the supply chain.

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There’s no way anyone can look me in the eyes and tell me you’re not having one hell of an experience with procurement right now. Shortages and delays are still lingering in ways that are painful for everyone. Wireless technology and USB extension have been hit particularly hard in our world.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news (no I don’t, I love it and anyone that knows me will confirm that), but this is how it is now. I’m not saying it will be this way forever; quite the contrary, I see many reasons for optimism now and ahead. I’m saying the unpredictability is real, and this is how it is now.

Our almanacs are no longer the North Stars we once used them for, so to speak. “Because that’s how we have always done it" is not only antiquated, it’s a genuine disservice to the partners we work with, if we can’t stand there and explain why it’s still the best way to do things.

Relative to procurement, that means the “just in time" business has shifted dramatically. Then, look what that has done to sales and buying cycles over the last few years. Thrown entirely askew like everything else, there is a hint of these cycles returning to some form of normalcy, but I think that’s a bit of a misnomer.

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While we have seen more of a glimpse of normalcy, let’s say, in the education space, the enterprise space is in a weird space right now. Some companies are currently doing huge rollouts, signing up for more, and putting in orders to get inventory secured, while others are struggling to make a choice about what to do in their one huddle room. Some systems integrators are finding huge growth in their areas of focus, or with the brands that they have always been using, while many are being forced to adapt, get creative, learn other platforms, change their offerings, and broaden their offerings.

All that to say that normal isn’t normal anymore. So, if this is how it is now, then what must we do from your perspective to innovate instead of stagnate—so that how it is now isn’t how it always has to be?

Joe Dunbar is a technology professional invested in mutual partnerships that build long-lasting growth and opportunity for everyone involved. He is the Midwest sales manager at Sennheiser and a member of the 2020 Class of SCN’s The Nine (opens in new tab).