Archive | June 2014

An update from our 2014 Associates

Where to begin? It’s been a whirlwind first five months at Computacenter and I can honestly say I’ve loved every second of it. I am John Charalambous, a Service Management Associate based in Edinburgh and aligned to Stewart Wise (Service Unit Director – North).

I’d like to start by thanking my blog-writing predecessors for an excellent job, setting the bar nice and high (really, thanks for that). As a recap – Charlotte began with our induction and her first rotation, Ben covered the UK Kick Off and his rotation in Contractual Services Line of Business, with Jack explaining what it is we all do as Associates (other than being fabulous, obviously).

In this blog I’m going to discuss what I’ve learned about why Computacenter is such a fantastic organisation to work for. Everybody has their grumbles in the workplace, but I’ve never worked for, or even visited somewhere so singularly enthusiastic about fulfilling their mission – to enable our customers to achieve their business goals.

The first reason I identified for this is the sheer level of drive from the top of the organisation. People like Mike Norris (Group CEO) and Neil Muller (UK MD) are so passionate about the business, it is completely infectious! Their approach is to include everyone in the business and spread the accountability – ask anyone what our FACE values are or how we performed financially last year. I’m certain that any Computacenter employee would answer correctly and with confidence.

A major reason that I have learnt so much on my Computacenter journey so far is the camaraderie in the company. I have never once been refused help, had a question go unanswered (and I really do ask a lot of questions!), or had any kind of negative experience when stumbling my way through the first few months. I’d like to personally thank the many, many, people who I’ve met and have been truly kind and generous with their time – it really is appreciated.

Another reason I find Computacenter so brilliant – the ‘business case culture’. The notion that anybody, anywhere in the business can build a case for improvement and challenge the status quo is magnificent and something I hope nobody takes for granted. I know of many large organisations that stubbornly operate in an inefficient way, needlessly placing additional burden on their staff. If they’d only stop and listen – the solutions are usually available. At our Company, we can be very proud that should you feel strongly enough about making an improvement, there is the process there to go and prove your idea can make a difference.

Making a difference seems like an appropriate point to finish the blog, go out and start doing exactly that!  You’ll get an update on our progress from my colleague Sean Eyles (Sales Associate) next month.

Thanks for reading,

Service Management Associate

Think faster, act fastest – “it may be time to rethink how you THINK”.

It may be time for a rethink of how you think. The need for speed seems to underpin just about everything we do. Whether at work or in the dynamic social world norm to many, “now time” seems to be the only “time” sought by all. Could that signal a change required in the way you think so ultimately “do”. The self-help, coach yourself to success juggernaut of the 80s and 90s (and still very apparent today) is underpinned by planning, executing and evaluation of results. And there is nothing wrong with such an approach as when mobilised well the results are consistent. However I fear many may have tipped the balance too far the other way and remain in the planning phase so long (due to a fear of failure of negative impact) that the opportunity for innovation and impact is often missed.

It may be time to consider lessons from the major change in IT software and application development, “Agile.”. “Agile” development theories are not new and have flipped in and out of popularity for years. However with enterprises currently operating at warp speed, desperate to gain or retain first mover advantage to maintain market momentum, Agile is now king of the castle again. Put simply Agile is about developing and getting the core application elements delivered quickly, to be evolved almost in real time rather than over an age hidden away in the development back office. It requires a new way of thinking, tight alignment (even tighter than the norm) between the business and IT service/application delivery and a fair degree of courage (as it’s not without risk). Maybe we should piggy back the euphoria surrounding Agile development in IT & business and apply similar principles to our general day to day train of thought.

Surely it’s also time for “agile human thinking” to tap into now time and maximise it. But living in an “agile human” manner, mobilised by “agile human thinking” could be quite destabilising. Picture living in a constant state of flux with minimal potential to benefit from the comfort of a stable state – in fact just thinking about now may be quite traumatic. But I urge you to stop, think again and consider “isn’t this how we live life anyway”, but maybe fail to apply rigour to “accelerated change” and thus become a victim of it. The stage is now set – “fastest” is now the new “fast”. Working and living at the “old speed of life” could see you fall behind the new, younger generation of dynamic thinking, socially driven “agile engines” (fast thinking, fast moving people). Therefore to unlock the potential of the brave new “agile human” world may require a rewiring of the way we think, that drives the things we do. And though it opens the door to risk, behind it is a chasm of opportunity.

Until next time.

Colin W

Twitter @creatingwinners

“Security Breach” – Stop, think, act now – Don’t lose your money or data to “GameOverZeus”

As we continue to accelerate towards a personal and professional society almost dependant on a digital umbilical cord, the level concern and negative impact equally increases. Zeus (the well known malware Trojan) and Ransomware are now the terms on the lips of all as they have moved through 2014 from a security point of interest to an industry-crippling threat. It is written that circa $500m of banking related financial loss and Cryptolocker ransom requests (who knows the true figure) have been paid to date by those unfortunate enough to have critical information sealed under the digital lock & key of the attacker in question, or siphoned off through a malware Trojan secret back door. But that was then, the news bulletins of the past 24 hours have been carefully crafted to heighten the awareness levels of all of a far more worrying threat sitting above us right now.

The NSA, FBI, UK based cyber agencies and worldwide cyber intelligence organisations have targeted a major global banking/ransomware threat and have shSecurity Image 1ut down communication between the attackers and the currently affected platforms (and hundreds of thousands of compromised systems already exist globally).  The multi-faceted attack consists of the well-known “GameOverZeus” banking malware Trojan (that hides until banking applications are launched) and Cryptolocker (locks and encrypts all data on a disk drive until a ransom is paid). At present over 16,000 UK-based computers are affected by the malware payload, but for now, with the attacker communications (command and control) site down or out of reach the malicious payload cannot be launched. However the real worry is those grand efforts are only delaying or slowing an even larger, more destructive attack, as within a fortnight the attacker communications environment could return to service and enable the global attack on any malware-compromised Microsoft Windows-based unprotected device.

For once, this is NOT a drill and now is the time for vigilance by all. Cyber-attacks are now so ferocious with the potential for personal disruption so great, malaise and ignorance have no place. First step, ensure the Windows update operating system patches that underpin your desktop and mobile devices are working and FULLY up to date. Next, ensure all anti-virus / malware signatures are updated daily (irrespective of the external news commentary the paid-for solutions of the leading end point security vendors are materially better than freeware options). Be aware of targeted emails encouraging you to click on links unknown to you or to download files you are not expecting – just don’t !! And most importantly of all (and the option many frequently ignore) back up critical files, documents, pictures onto another offline storage medium (cloud, usb key, external hard drive) – it is imperative that your key digital data assets exist safety elsewhere (to protect against the worst case data loss scenario).

The world’s leading security agencies are highlighting the critical time-frame of a fortnight to ensure all Windows-based computers are fully up to date, with updated anti-virus / malware software and formally scanned to remove any trace of the GameOverZeus/Cryptolocker malware. Fail to act over the next fortnight (on all the points mentioned) and the result could be a compromised machine at the end of that short period (with the potential for data / financial loss).

The IT, corporate and social network communities are used to prophets of doom highlighting that digital Armageddon is just around the corner. That may normally be somewhat over played on the grand scale, but if you personally lose or lock out digital information unique to you, unavailable elsewhere – the emotional, financial and professional impact may be far more than you can bear.

Act now, protect now – tomorrow may be one day too late.

Until next time,

Colin W

Twitter: @colinwccuk