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How to thrive during decades of technological change

James Ward, Managing Director of Hammer, looks back over the 25 years since the firm’s foundation and ahead to the coming decades.

There is a lot to celebrate these days at Hammer: a growing vendor base and rising sales, all backed by a plethora of industry awards and recognition.

Silver celebrations, in fact, as Hammer was incorporated and began trading in the latter half of 1991. It’s at times like these, as you look back over events and developments, that you realise just how much has happened and changed in those 25 years.

I’m not just talking about events at Hammer, although they are impressive enough. We saw sales of just over £4m in that first year and today our turnover from storage, servers and end-to-end IT solutions is £155m. In the last five years alone we have shipped a total of 175 petabytes of HDD and SSD capacity. That’s about the current size of the datacentre at The European Organisation for Nuclear Research - CERN - best known for its hadron collider.

In those 25 years we have seen staff numbers grow to 165 with branch offices opened in Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, France, Germany and Sweden. Most recently, of course, is our acquisition by Exertis, part of the publicly-listed DCC Group.

On that front, little will change for our customers and vendors. We will continue to operate as Hammer but with the added ability to leverage a worldwide supply-chain, an extended portfolio and additional investment across Europe as a result of being backed by a FTSE 100 company.

So, yes, it’s been a great 25 years and we have plans in place to ensure the next 25 will be just as good. Hammer aside, it’s amazing to look back over those 25 years and to see just how much innovation and change there has been in the sector as a whole. It wasn’t until the year after we started selling storage and servers, for example, that the first text message was sent! That medium of communication is now so commonplace, so matter-of-fact to so many of us, yet it didn’t even exist when Hammer opened its doors in 1991.

Can you imagine life without the internet? The world wide web had only appeared earlier that same year. Google – now so ingrained in our lives that it’s been elevated to a verb in the English Language – wasn’t going to arrive for another seven years. In 1991 we were still five years away from the launch of Hotmail.

Here are a few more: as Hammer celebrated two years of trading in 1993, Intel launched its Pentium brand of microprocessors. The following year came jpegs, which facilitated images on websites, and Yahoo! was formed. In 1995Windows 95, the first graphical user interface OS, came to market and both Amazon and eBay were founded.

All these things, which today are part of the backbone of our culture and society, have all appeared during the time Hammer has been trading. Twitter, YouTube, Skype, LinkedIn and Facebook were not even ideas on a sketchpad when Hammer made its first sale back in 1991.

This puts into perspective just how flexible, responsive and adaptable Hammer has been in order to grow during such disruptive times from those early days into the business we are today, with our global reach. Last year we saw 17% growth and that is set to continue. We expect to pass the £200m revenue mark next year (2018). How’s it been done? Two things, mainly – the quality of our people; their dedication and expertise, and the underlying Hammer ethos of adding value at every step.

This period of rapid technological change and innovation shows no signs of slowing. Which is great news for those of us in the data storage sector! What’s in store in the coming decades? Who knows? Just look back at that list of developments in the past 25 years and clearly what will be commonplace in 2041 is most likely not yet even a grain of an idea.

In the more immediate future we have some sort of idea of what will be disrupting our world, because that next wave of change is already here. There is artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing for starters.

AI is the catch-all term for robotic machines that can think and act like humans – better and faster in many cases. They learn from their actions. AI has such far-reaching potential to impact every corner of our lives and it will become a major part of our societies. It also generates massive amounts of data.

3D printing is another big disruptor. Instead of a single layer of ink on a page, 3D uses successive layers of plastics, polymers and metals. Car components and human body parts are among the items already being 3D printed. As it relies on detailed 3D designs, it is incredibly data-heavy.

What else? Self-service IT, the Internet of Things, mobile payments and the next generation of wi-fi (with increasing free access in public areas) are all technological innovations that will result in major changes in the way we work, and create a lot of new data.

It’s such an over-used statistic that we are in danger of treating it with a degree of complacency. But here it is again: 90% of all the data that exists today has been created in the past two years. Remember – big data is here and getting bigger all the time so that concentration of data creation will only increase.

For those of us in the data storage and server sector, this means only one thing: our next 25 years should be as good, if not better than our first!

Source: Hammer
Published Date: 09/02/2017

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