Archive | October 2016

Understanding Users is Enabling Users

Digital Me is Computacenter’s response to enabling users in the modern digital world.  Amidst the opportunity and challenge in modernising Workplace environments; it is important to remember the success or otherwise hinges on one critical factor, the User.

Digital Me places users at the heart of the transformation. Engaging and empowering users to take advantage of modern Digital tools and capabilities, to improve their productivity, enhance collaboration and ultimately contribute to enhancing the business performance.

In order to do this effectively it’s critical that you understand your users. You may think you already do; but do you really understand how and why users work in the way they do, their frustrations and the short cuts they are taking to get the job done!? Phenomenon such as Shadow IT and BYOD emerged for a reason; that being that corporate IT couldn’t keep pace with users’ needs and expectations – how big an issue is that in your organisation?

A few years back we developed our own approach to enable us to get closer to users and understand how and why they do what they do.  We call this Workstyle Analysis and as the market has matured and the concept of a “User Centric” approach to IT emerged, it’s been really beneficial for our customers.

As I write this today, we’ve asked 16,000 questions over 400 hours of interviews to many hundreds of users. The insights we have gleaned from this have been intriguing to say the least so I’d like to share a few of them with you.

First we need to re-iterate why we feel Workstyle Analysis is so important. Put very simply, when you consider some of the following outcomes from the exercise, why would you not want to do it?

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And now for the findings:

  • Email is still the killer app. In a world where we have millions of mobile apps, collaboration platforms and Line of Business applications, users still revert to email.  As a communication tool, a task management system, a document repository – everybody depends on email!  Some organisations famously tried to force users away from using email, many have tried to augment email with other collaboration channels – but the relatively limited success of introducing new capabilities means that businesses still run on email.  In our findings 74% of users declare email outages as “highly disruptive” to their work.  Is your business prepared for that?
  • Shadow IT is real! Many of us know this to be true, some of us have actively tried to manage it, but is ‘Shadow IT’ a problem in itself or merely a symptom of a wider dis-enablement of users? In our research shadow IT has not been used maliciously, but is done to allow work to be easier, for users to be more productive or to augment deficiencies in the services that IT provides.  Maybe IT doesn’t know the users need these services – hence why both Workstyle and Shadow IT Analysis activities are so effective!
  • Pent up user demand. The candour of the conversations we have with users, allied with the exceptionally high turn-out rates points to users wanting to express their views and to be heard. We report over 90% attendance in our Workstyle exercises.  People with “day jobs” who choose to spend the time talking to us about how to improve their working environment and make their lives easier.  A key facet of successful transformation is engagement and adoption by the users, and it starts by speaking to them.
  • Users are all different. One user says the service they receive is brilliant, the next user complains that it’s poor! How can you reconcile that and establish a baseline? User perception by its very nature is highly subjective – so how can you reliably act upon it? By canvassing a cross-section of your user community you can supress the extreme perspectives.  From here you can focus on key user communities – VIPs or critical functions such as Contact Centres or the Retail Branch environment – but you will know that you’re addressing the right pain point for the maximum impact.
  • Collaboration is missing. One of the strongest insights we have received is around collaboration within organisations.  Whether related to culture or the technical capabilities provided, Collaboration is key.  We know that effective collaboration solutions can enhance user satisfaction and productivity, but we know these solutions have been challenging to implement.  How can we help make this easier for both IT and the users?

These are just the top 5 insights we’ve gleaned from our activities over the past 12 months.  We have much more detail to share. If you are interested in understanding how to better enable your users, then feel free to get in touch!

The Software defined enterprise isn’t “the future” it’s the “now” (musings from VMworld 2016)

Now landed back in the UK after yet another very impressive VMworld event (3.30am start for a 5.50 flight – ouch!). It has been a whirlwind few days of executive meetings (a number of really fundamental catch ups), extremely concise and well-formed session content from the VMware team (congrats to all) and potentially our best customer event yet (every year we invite a number of our key customers to spend time with us at VMworld – with nearly 200 people at the Computacenter event I think you can say it was a success).

This VMworld may prove to be a watershed event. VMware reinforced the perspective a software defined future is no longer optional but instead the “new normal” – now. The business agility and operational flexibility essential for ongoing success through the current ever changing digital age is forcing enterprise IT environments to “act like code” to deliver services, consistently at warp speed. Common to other VMworld events, the VMware team demonstrated the technology is ready (and it has been for quite a while), but human inertia continues to stall the growth of the software defined enterprise as the very last few points of concern are digested and overcome.

NSX (the VMware advanced software defined networking layer) is moving from the background to a centre stage role in the VMware enterprise transformation strategy. As the digital data transport layer that simplifies and optimises traditional networking, delivers a policy based pathway from private, through hybrid to public cloud and back plus enhances security along the way – NSX may offer VMware one of the real keys to the enterprise kingdom. But this event wasn’t all about networking, major enhancements to core VSphere to make it enterprise robust but cloud ready arrived on mass and the additional light shone on the devops world with greater support for containers, workflow and API driven operations ensured a welcome and steady stream of impressive announcements.

The arrival of such a blur of product updates and developments are timely. I noticed a change in attitude and tone with the mass of attendees at this VMworld cramming into the rooms of the “how” sessions no longer deliberating over “why and when” – I think they are now ready!!

Does this sign post a VMware only world to realise the enterprise software defined IT dream, definitely not with the vendor village of eco system partners and past and present competitors all offering valuable services and solutions to enable effective completion of the software defined jigsaw puzzle. But it is clear VMware are leading the charge as they have been for many years and present a compelling end to end, top to toe story of software led transformational business change.

I think the needle has now shifted and the brave new world of enterprise IT still running on high performance hardware, but defined dynamically by software is now upon us and will deliver the hybrid cloud digital super highway that will propel businesses forward both now and into the future. Job well done VMware, the stage is now set for partner, customer and industry cast members to act.

Until next time

Colin W

Chief Technologist Computacenter UK. Networking, Security and collaboration.

Twitter: @colinwccuk

 

 

An Update From the 2016 Projects Graduates

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first blog entry from the new graduates in Project Management. The first ever Computacenter graduate scheme in Project Management began in August this year, and this blog will run over the coming months to provide updates to the rest of company on our exciting journey through our eighteenth month scheme and into Project Management.

There are six new graduates on this scheme- all coming into Computacenter from a range of universities around the country- who will each write blogs over the coming months on our progression at the company. This first blog entry, as well as giving a general overview of the Grad Scheme, will highlight some of my experiences so far and what I’ve enjoyed the most since starting here at the beginning of August.

Time really has flied since the six of us started here just over two months ago. By now, we are all starting to find our feet and after information overload to begin with, different bits are starting to become clear and more and more of the acronyms are starting to make sense. I remember within the first week wondering what on earth any of this all meant, but pieces of the puzzle are clicking into place now and I’m looking forward to learning more and more about the business as the programme continues. Some of the best advice that I was given upon starting and would certainly recommend to any other new starters is to ask as many questions as you need to; there really are no stupid questions at Computacenter, and people are always willing to help you out with information or point you in the right direction. While all six graduates have been set a similar 18 month plan, our experiences and first impressions have all varied greatly already. From visits to customer sites, to the different people that we have met with, it already feels like we have done a huge amount considering we are only just over two months into our Computacenter journey.

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All the grads together on our first day… already feels like a lifetime ago!

What has become evident to me since starting here is the wide range of opportunities that are available from the start. These opportunities are opened up not only by the structure of our programme, but also by the people that we interact with every day. Already I have met a range of people across Projects, Sales, Consultancy and many other departments, that have all been genuinely willing to help us out, introduce us to more people and sacrifice their own time for our benefit.

One of the best examples of this has been on my sales rotation a few weeks back. This was a a two week period of shadowing within the sales department, where I sat in on calls and meetings, met with customers and gained a general overview of the sales division and where they fit into the company. On my second day with sales I was invited to a day with a major UK Bank in Hatfield, where we were providing an update on a particular solution. Over the course of this day I was given an insight into the customer and gained a great understanding of how groups including sales, projects, configuration and supply chain services interact and engage with each other. This day helped me to be able to apply all the information that we have been taught to an actual engagement with the customer. To gain this exposure less than a month into my time at the company was a great learning experience for me, and I hope there is more of this to come.

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All of us again a few weeks later. Not really sure what Ollie’s doing there on the right…

Overall, these first two months at Computacenter have been fantastic. I’ve already learned a great deal and met some brilliant people. I hope that the coming months are as varied and as exciting as the first have been, and that hopefully I will get to meet and work with some of you in the near future. The next blog will be written by Ollie Lamont, another one of the graduates, who will provide another update on our journey through Computacenter. Thanks very much for reading.

An update from our 2016 associates…

This time last year I was sat reading Glen’s blog  giving advice on how to apply, along with some helpful tips around the Associate Programmes.  This must mean that it’s the time of year again where we starting looking to bring new talent into Computacenter via the Sales and Service Associate Programmes.  Normally in this blog you would hear from either a Service Manager or a Sales Associate, however this month you will hear from both Callum  and myself, in a combined article to give you an insight into the later stages of the recruitment process and some helpful tips.

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I’m going to touch on the face to face interviews and the first evening of the assessment centre before Callum goes on to talk about the second day.  Together we will cover the tasks that you need to complete, some essential advice and what we learnt when we went through the same process 12 months ago.

The face to face interviews are going to be with a member of Senior Management and also a current Associate.  This is a competency based interview, and therefore it is important that your answers are detailed and that you can accurately demonstrate what you have done.  Although face to face interviews are a daunting prospect, it’s important just to be yourself because everyone else is taken.

Remember; they want to see your personality, hear what you have done which has led you to this point and why you think you would be an asset to Computacenter.  At the end of the face-to-face interview the senior manager will leave the interview and you will get the opportunity to talk to the current associate around the programme and any other questions you may have.  This is a great opportunity to gain some further insight into what you might be doing a year from now.

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Once you have completed stages 4 and 5, it is time to pack your overnight bag and travel to Hatfield for the two day assessment centre.  It’s a great experience, and a real positive about our application process is that Computacenter allow time to really get to know you before making such an important decision around your future.

On arrival you will meet some of the other applicants, a great time to meet some of your potential future colleagues as well as some of the current associates before a briefing session that will give you a better insight into the next 36 hours.  There will be a dinner with the senior management who will be involved in the 2 day interview process, which allows you to get to know your assessors before you’re in an interview scenario.  This shows how invested the senior executive team at Computacenter is in the Associate programme, something the successful applicants will come to realise quickly once you start!

More importantly this is a great opportunity to sit down over dinner and ask some questions of the leadership team, so think carefully about what questions you ask and the answers you give as you are being assessed from the outset.  One final piece of advice; enjoy the networking afterwards, but know your limit!

I will now hand over to Callum…

 

So, thanks to James’ tips, you’ve had a great evening with the other candidates and have started to impress the assessment panel.  Make sure you get plenty of sleep and get some breakfast in the morning, because trust me you’re going to need that energy today at our Hatfield head office.

This is your chance to really shine – with multiple opportunities to demonstrate your capabilities in different areas vital to Sales / Service Management, and prove that you’re right for the role!

You’ll be given a group task, where you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to be part of and maybe even lead a team, and then present back to the assessors as a group.  You will also be set a topic for, and, having been told your stance, be given the opportunity to debate it against your fellow applicants – remember here that subject knowledge isn’t the most important thing – the assessors will be looking more for skills such as calmness under pressure, logical thinking and ability to listen to others and communicate effectively.

Next it’s time to outshine the other candidates with the individual assessments.  First you’ll have to put pen to paper again for another written and numeracy test – you’ve all had similar tests earlier in the process though, so don’t panic!

As if having dinner with him last night wasn’t enough, you will have 10 minutes one-to-one with our CEO Mike Norris. In this time, you have the opportunity to ask Mike just three questions, so make them count! Mike takes time out of his busy diary to meet each of you, so try and make your questions interesting, meaningful, and memorable.

Your panel interview will be with 2 or 3 members of the leadership team, where they will try to find out a bit more about you, why you want the role, and why you think you’re suitable for the role. The advice I’ll give here is to be honest and open, and try to pull on experiences from your academic, social and extracurricular life wherever possible. We aren’t just trying to recruit people that are perfect for the Associate programme, but want people that will suit Computacenter too.

The last chance you’ll get to impress the assessors is the famous “Why Me?” presentation. They’ll give you 5 minutes to use as you wish – make sure you leave a lasting impression and that they come away convinced that you are right for the Associate programme.

Come to the assessment centre prepared and ready to engage, but most of all try to enjoy it. At lunch, and throughout the day, current Associates will be on-hand, so don’t be afraid to chat to them and get some further advice.

Once the assessment centre’s finished, those that are successful will get a call from Mike Norris with the presumptive close of “see you in January”!

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions around applying for the Programme or the Programme in general, then please don’t hesitate to drop either of us an email.

Most importantly, enjoy it and good luck!

Callum Hepworth

Service Management Associate

07824 056289

callum.hepworth@computacenter.com

 

James Crook

Sales Associate

07725 945224

james.crook@computacenter.com