“Building stable organisations in turbulent environments” was the title of an Oxford Brookes University roundtable event last night, where I presented four reasons for Riverbank’s success in the turbulent environment of information technology.

  1. Learning. All our technical experts have to keep on learning. One example is the Windows Server operating system. When Server 2003 was released, people had to learn it and achieve a Microsoft qualification, a process that takes months. They do that and then along comes Windows Server 2008, so there are more months of learning and another exam. Then along comes Windows Server 2012 and the process repeats again. And all that effort is just to stand still. If they want to progress, they have to work even harder at their learning.
  2. New products and services. The ever-changing technology presents new business opportunities, so we are always on the look-out for ways to develop new products and Riverbank services. We are compelled to have a process of adding new services at the front end and retiring old services at the back end.
  3. A mantra of “doing something different every year”. If we stand still we will be left behind. If we try as hard this year as we did last year we might increase the sales but we won’t maintain the same percentage growth. To do this we have to change the company every year. It could be by focusing on a new market segment (bioscience, 2009), appointing our non-executive chairman (2011) or it could be by committing to putting Cloud services at the forefront of what we do (2014).
  4. Growing up. Many of us started a business because we were good at something and realised we could do it for ourselves instead of working for someone else. So we start with the doing

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the vision. We still live in a world in which IT is inherently unreliable. There is still a need for a business that can take away the hassle and provide systems that will help other businesses to flourish. That remains our vision. The structure of Riverbank delivers this and it remains relatively constant, even though the services we deliver underneath this are is a constant state of change. It’s important to keep a firm focus on the horizon instead of being buffeted by every new wave of change. As one person at last night’s round table event said, you have to focus on the business plan, not the budget.