As the first in a series of articles on technology in business, we’re delighted to hear from TSG’s CTO, Paul Burns, on the trends that will influence IT decisions over the coming months...
Could you pinpoint one issue to sum up the last 12 months?
We’ve talked about it before but the pace of change has really ramped up.
I manage a team of 20 specialists who are all tasked with identifying emerging technologies and how they will benefit our customers, and we’re busier than ever.
If you take Office 365 as an example, we’re seeing new features released on a monthly, if not weekly basis and Teams is certainly revolutionising the way we work internally, massively reducing email traffic but at the same time making it far easier to share knowledge.
For some time, we’ve been delivering discovery workshops for our customers to help unlock value and as a result we’re pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with tools like PowerApps and Flow.
However, there are still many businesses that aren’t aware of what they have at their disposal from their Office 365 subscriptions and will be at a disadvantage without regular enablement sessions; and that’s not only around collaboration but also compliance and security.
For many Office 365 is the first step into the cloud. Where will that journey take them next?
Demand for public cloud services such as Office 365 is certainly on the rise and another logical step for many SMBs is hosted telephony.
The announced end-of-life of ISDN is not too far on the horizon but there are more compelling reasons such as flexibility, built-in business continuity and predictable billing with most actually making reasonable savings over their contracted term.
Legislative issues such as the requirement for call recording in certain industries and innovations such as fixed-mobile convergence, which provides users with a single number regardless of location or device, also add to the benefits a hosted solution brings.
Should we all be looking at cloud-based everything?
I read an article recently bemoaning the hype around cloud and there are still plenty of traditional technology providers who haven’t remodelled their businesses to offer subscription-based solutions.
We’re now managing an increasing number of services in the cloud through central consoles, including security, disaster recovery, telephony and even networks.
These solutions were once the exclusive domain of the enterprise but ‘democratisation’ of technology is cascading down into the SMB space and opening up new affordable and achievable options.
Having said that, there will still be occasions where it makes sense to remain on-premise. For instance, why would a manufacturing site put its core systems in the cloud and risk outages caused by connectivity, when all users and operations are distinct to the site?
There might be a requirement to share some data with colleagues in other locations and that’s where ‘hybrid’ fits in and protected networks become increasingly important.
A couple of years ago, hybrid was seen as a stepping stone to cloud as the final destination but it’s increasingly the case that hybrid will be the destination. And by hybrid, we mean the most effective combination of public cloud services, private cloud and on-premise.
Ultimately, that will depend on specific requirements and if you take TSG as an example, more than 40% of our users now work from home, or more correctly work from wherever they need to be to service our customers.
How do businesses make the right technology decisions?
Historically, there has been a tendency to regard the technology refresh cycle as a relatively straight like-for-like replacement but with more powerful kit and some upgraded features.
I think there’s a real danger of drifting into the classic ‘if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get the same result……’
Whatever triggers the need for a decision on technology; an office move, aged equipment, consolidation or a company-wide transformation exercise; you should be offered choices. If you aren’t then it’s essential to ask why?
New technology can bring new ways of working, which in many instances are long overdue.
However, most important is that businesses look to answer two key questions when they’re considering the solutions that will move them forward: will it help to make more money; or will it help to drive efficiencies?
Adopting technologies such as workflow automation can help businesses respond more quickly to customer enquiries, speed up the order to invoice cycle to improve cashflow and eliminate the legacy of unnecessary manual processes.
BI or business intelligence tools allow businesses to answer key questions and pinpoint the areas they need to focus on to be more effective, and ultimately more profitable.
And as we create more and more data and become increasingly reliant on the systems that underpin our daily lives, the right technology will keep everything secure, compliant and available.
In many ways, the technology you choose becomes far less important that understanding why you should choose it, and that’s why we run regular events and webinar to educate, inform and provide insights for our customers so they are empowered to make the right technology choices.