The cake is here, the candles are lit – Keyzone officially turned 40 on 16th December, 2022!

The technology

If you don’t remember IT in the 1980s, our LinkedIn page is taking a light-hearted look at some tech from when we were founded and comparing it to what’s available now. 1982 itself was remarkable for being the first year that CDs were launched in Japan, and the year that the 3.5 inch floppy disk format was formally agreed. Since then, a lot has changed.

For one, the breadth of technology available has increased. There are more and more devices available for IT users, from a much wider range of brands than ever before. It can make it quite hard to choose what’s right for you – but it also means it’s much more likely that the right thing for you is definitely out there! It’s funny to think that when Keyzone started, our first product was 16-colour cards for Apple computers – and now we now have access to an almost unlimited range of products for clients, ranging from computer peripherals to KVM technology to purpose built fully monitored data centres.
Cloud technology and other advances including virtualisation and mobile technology have changed the relationship between hardware, software, and users. We’ve seen desktop computers go from a luxury item for high-end companies, to a mainstream device in every household, to being supplanted by laptops and mobile phones in a lot of cases. Your computer can remotely control another computer, and in fact the computer you’re using might not actually be a true computer at all – you might be running a virtual machine on a thin client instead.  
Lastly, predictive technologies such as AI and machine learning have come into being, empowering computers to complete increasingly complex tasks and provide personalised services to users. Siri, Alexa and Cortana are already firmly embedded in personal devices, but AI is already advanced enough to predict and prevent cyberattacks before they happen, and helping improve patient experiences in healthcare.
Becky Froud, Senior Key Account Manager, says, “IT has always been a source of competitive advantage, but since Keyzone was founded it’s also become a hygiene factor – it’s almost impossible to do business at scale without IT now. The landscape is now so varied in terms of devices, software and services that clients might need, which is why as Keyzone has grown we’ve continually embraced new technologies and offerings to help our customers.”
In 1982, globalisation was already well underway – but since then, it’s become much easier for companies of any size to do business globally, not just multinational corporations (MNCs). The number of MNCs has risen too – in 1977 there were around 7,000 MNCs, and by 2018 there were around 60,000. But the growth in these massive companies has also made it more difficult to get things done, sometimes – getting lost in call centre queues, online chats that don’t solve your problem, and being shunted around from department to department are all depressingly common in 2022.

“At Keyzone, we still give each of our clients one point of contact for everything, from product selection advice and sourcing to delivery and aftercare” says Becky. “We’ve always found that customers like being able to deal with one person who they know and trust – it helps ensure that things get done, and that we’re always giving our customers the best service possible.”

The pace of business is also much faster in 2022. If you can’t deliver something next day, your customers will go to someone who can. Clients often want to collaborate with you in real time via Teams or Zoom. It’s definitely a change from 1982, when the fax machine was still the gold standard of communication.
Back in ’82, personal computers were still in their infancy; while some of us used them for work, they were relatively rare and lots of workplace tasks took place on paper – including storing business data. Contrast that with now, where companies routinely provide employees with high-end laptops – in 2022, everyone is an IT user, and every company, in a sense, is an IT company.

Those changes have in turn made other differences to how people work. Remote working was only possible due to the advances in IT, and is now a staple at most organisations in the wake of the pandemic.

Like the rest of the world, Keyzone had to transition overnight to a remote working environment at the start of the pandemic. We also extended our opening hours to support customers as they managed huge changes to their business. It’s a source of pride to everyone at the business to have supported our customers through that immensely challenging time.

On the whole, since 1982 the world of IT has grown more diverse, exciting, and human as technology has moved from the expensive and incomprehensible to the user-friendly and intelligent. But where will the next 40 years take us?

Sustainability front and centre

“We’re at the point now where practical steps to make your organisation more sustainable are necessary to remain in business,” asserts Leslie Fernandes, CEO. “Many organisations are asking vendors about their sustainability credentials at RFP stage, and it’s having a material impact on their choice of vendor.”

The continued drive towards sustainability might manifest for some organisations as a move away from private to public clouds, which are generally more sustainable to run; it may also include a growth in circular IT, where organisations can recycle their old equipment, and choose refurbished equipment instead of buying new to control costs and their carbon footprint.

Security will run through everything

While information security is a distinct discipline, there are no areas of IT that security doesn’t touch on now. “From device selection to network configuration to the way your colleagues send information to each other, security is going to have to be a consideration at every stage,” says Becky. Organisations will likely be looking for equipment and software that isn’t just secure now, but that is designed to remain secure even as unknown threats in the future come to prominence.

Storage capacities will keep on growing

Users are creating and storing more data than ever before – and that doesn’t look set to slow down any time soon. “I believe that storage media is going to continue to grow in capacity,” says Becky. “The volume of data that companies will collect, generate, process and need to store is going to continue to grow exponentially. However you mix public cloud storage, private cloud storage, physical portable and backup hard drives, you’re going to need more space.”

AI will come into its own

Businesses are already starting to use AI, and tools such as Siri and Alexa are well established in the consumer world. But we’re only scratching the surface of what AI can do. Becky says, “the main areas for growth that I see are process management, business intelligence, and management applications. AI-powered tools can go beyond aggregating and analysing data, to delivering genuine insights to professionals which help them do their jobs better.”
Businesses are already familiar with software, platform, and even infrastructure-as-a-service. The model has extended to hardware, too. “Hardware is often accelerating at a rapid pace, meaning that the traditional buying cycle for hardware may no longer be the best way for businesses to keep pace,” says Sunil Nathwani, Managing Director. “Companies like Nokia are already trialling a subscription service for their handsets aimed at consumers, where they can upgrade at any time. I believe that many B2B hardware vendors may adopt a similar approach in the future.” As well as enabling businesses to spread their costs, this model could help organisations handle the disposal of their old technology more responsibly, both from an environmental and an information security standpoint.
Hopefully this blog has stirred a few nostalgic memories of time gone by, and got you thinking about the future of IT. We’d like to end with some thank yous. Firstly, thank you to all our customers, past and present. We’re proud to have helped your business, and thank you for helping ours!

Secondly, thank you to everyone who has been on the Keyzone team over the past 40 years. We pride ourselves on being a tight-knit business, and everyone who has contributed to making the business the success it is has done so through hard work, positivity, and by supporting their colleagues. So thank you, all.

And, of course, here’s to the next 40 years!