Archive by Author | Computacenter

Gearing up your Organisation for the Internet of Things

Picture this – your alarm clock goes off, you reach across the bed and take a look at your phone; it’s woken you up 30 minutes early – why? Well you have a meeting at 9:30am, but your car is running low on fuel so filling up will take 15 minutes, and traffic is a little worse than normal, so it will take an extra 15 minutes to get to the meeting. Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT) a world where your phone can play your day ahead and your fridge knows when it’s running dry and orders the groceries itself.

IoT has captured the imagination of industry visionaries and the public for some time now; devices sending and receiving data, opening the door to a futuristic world previously the stuff of science fiction.

As the cities we live in grow into digital ecosystems, the networks around us will connect every individual device, enabling billions of new data exchanges. Industries will enter a new era, from medical devices that talk directly to medical professionals, to the emergence of smart homes that manage themselves efficiently, ensuring energy usage is checked and bills paid on time.

In the workplace it’s equally easy to see the potential advantages of the connections between devices, from intelligent service desk support through to printers, computers and other devices interacting with each other to deliver tangible user and business benefits.

The service desk is a key component for businesses in the digital age, acting as a communication hub for IT issues, a reference point for technology requirements and a tool for asset visibility. Organisations must ask themselves if their current service desk has the technological capacity and capability to manage the multitude of device and operational data in an efficient manner. An intelligent service desk can be the lifeblood of IoT implementation within businesses and enable automation to be realised.

A connected printer in a business ecosystem, for example, could effectively self-serve its own peripheral needs and order its own supplies when needed. However, the management of that data, effective registration and logging of the incident, as well as notification to the financial and technical teams would not be possible without an intelligent service desk – especially when you elevate this to an enterprise scale, with possibly hundreds of connected printers or devices.

When discussing the “connected office”, IT managers will understandably raise concerns around security. The more devices that are connected, the further the periphery is pushed, increasing potential entry points there are into a network.

An intelligent service desk will enable whitelisting to be integrated into communication protocols. This is a process which gathers and groups trusted individuals and their devices into a known category. This will enable any unusual requests from either IoT enabled devices or employee requests to be automatically flagged and questioned before action or access is given.

It is in this scenario that IT managers can reap the benefits of IoT, service desk and employee synchronisation. Through the IoT device communicating with the service desk, the service desk effectively managing all end points and the employee working in tandem with the service desk software, the minimisation of internal security risks can be achieved.

While much of this sounds quite out of reach, the benefits of IoT and service desk communication are already evident today, through use cases that are currently very fluid, personalised and often driven by an imaginative use of existing and sometimes emerging technology. Peripheral IT product vending machines holding keyboards and mice, for example, allow the realisation of this relationship to be seen.

However, with so much data being transferred and the IoT still very ‘new’, there are a number of challenges, the most critical being visibility of assets connected and operating under the network.

Communication between all end points and visibility should be fundamental considerations when planning for an IoT based implementation. Intelligent service desks, that can enrich the IT support experience as well as integrate and communicate with the business ecosystem, can host the technology capability to have oversight, communication and visibility of device end points communicating with a network.

While this may appear to be a straightforward concept, often enthusiasm to implement and complexity of service desk and technology transformation has a tendency to drown out and bypass the fundamentals – leaving potential backdoors open.

To ensure that there is a holistic approach toward securing connections with the IoT, organisations must challenge all stakeholders (vendors, integrators and consultants) to apply secure IoT principles to the service desk solution and IT operational unit, right from the “drawing board” phase.

My hiring story – Dennis Hamaker

I started to work here on 8 November, 2016.

My interview was pretty thorough. It became clear that (as with every changing environment) there were pros and cons to consider before stepping in.

The individual teams had gone through the setup and (partly) stabilisation phases, and now headed for the next phase which was increasing quality and pro-active services.

That’s exactly where I see the challenge now, empowering our team members, extending quality, growing the centre and as such the possibilities for all our valued team members.

My first days at Computacenter confirmed already that we have great people on board. Any job in a helpdesk environment is a challenge, as it is all about providing the right help to another person in need of that help at the right time. How to do that the best is the game we are in, reminding ourselves that we are customers too, and how we expect to be treated has a lot of influence on how we fulfil this role to others.  Why I mention this is because I believe top down and back the agents are the real backbone of our service, and we should take care of a good positive environment, good training to increase the skills, and provide the right setup for them to be able to do their job right.  For example some of our agents are freshly graduated, so it is our responsible is to make them feel comfortable in the new environment, but also into a working environment and industry in general (as this is their first chance to experience this).

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I believe that one of the best vibes within a centre you can have if everyone feels they are part of it, not only within the specific account, or Budapest, but globally. I see people are most of time locked to their account, but in 2017 we should really start to feel as one. This requires bringing people together and make them understand what everyone is doing to add to the total picture. Help us to help you and you to help us is what we call winning together, and alongside our recent comprehensive development program (called ascension) I’ve already seen examples where our team members are moving forward into 2017 into different roles and adventures providing their next steps in career.

My work  will be (and is) much more diverse then expected, which is good. I see a lot of things have stabilised, but there are still a lot of areas where we have to manage and develop, not mentioning the incoming new projects that need to boarded.

We have to create the culture of growth, development, and making this place not just a workplace but a home for people. Computacenter is not as well-known  (or established) as others centres in Budapest yet. That is actually one of our targets, to get into the top three of the best centres to work for.

After the first two months, I’ve not change my mind or perception. We are re-structuring some of the operational management layer, we are looking at how we can provide more tools and information to our agents to be more agile, and I can see in general plenty of examples of small steps being taken throughout the centre which will define the base for leaps taking us forward.  If this does not sound like we are moving forward, then join us, and see for yourself.

Dennis Hamaker, Head of Operations – Group Service Desk, Hungary

Empower your Users, Empower your Organisation

In the quest for digital transformation and its numerous benefits, user adoption and behaviour is often overlooked as part of the transformation process. A clear understanding between organisational culture and technology is essential to ensure that tools, processes and systems realise their full potential and are not left by the way side as “another” failed initiative.

The Tech-Savvy Employee

As a plethora of devices and applications continue to find their way into working lives, organisations need to create a dynamic workplace environment which fosters a self-service culture among employees in relation to technology. The more compatibility  that enters an organisation, the more potential issues that may arise when using these on a daily basis, which all have to be managed and responded to accordingly. Organisational culture should be focused around making the employees feel supported and empowered enough to manage and resolve any issue themselves, especially when related to technology. Issues should be prevented in the first place, however when issues due occur, encouraging users to solve their own issues, results in a workforce that is agile and able to act faster and more effectively; to seize opportunities, resolve issues, improve quality, and ultimately exceed customer expectations.

Visibility of available supportive resources is important, and digital tools, such as mobile apps and intuitive web portals, ensure that employees are able to access the information they need, from a wide range of locations, at any time. This serves to drive overall operational efficiency, as employees can self-serve their own IT issues and gain knowledge articles or support, to future proof their device issues in relation to general issues, e.g. password resets or software upgrades. Over time this will deliver positive outcomes that will result in behavioural change, as employees will not be dependent on IT or technical teams to resolve the majority of issues that arise, minimising employee and system downtime. It also enables employees to collaborate across departments and locations, improve decision-making and critically reduce time-to-market.

The key thing to remember here is that successful digital transformation should enrich working lives, promote improved work/life balance and improve productivity and therefore results – a win-win for employer and employee.

Business Champions – Digital Transformation Leaders

As the IT service desk evolves, its role as the central hub for technological innovation within the workplace remains. However, the first step in a transformation strategy, is culture. Culture incentivises behaviour, and companies must begin by ensuring workforce behaviour is well-suited to the technology solution at hand, to truly maximise its adoption and use throughout the workforce.

One approach to ensuring desirable behaviour is instilled amongst the workforce is through the deployment of “business champions” when adopting new solutions or technologies. These are appointed members of the workforce who help foster change and act as a conduit for feedback from the wider workforce, ensuring behavioural change matches working needs.

A recent example of where this has worked is with Hays Recruitment who wanted to provide employees with a broader choice of engagement channels to interact with IT service teams. This was in a drive for increased productivity enabled through the minimisation of system downtime. Hays have historically been positioned as the leading digital recruitment agency, being the first in the industry to adopt truly digital recruitment selection and placement. Revenue generation at Hays is dependent on the productivity of its 2,200-plus UK sales consultants, and with technology playing an ever-increasing role in the selection and placement of client’s, employees’ IT queries and issues need to be dealt with quickly. If using webchat they can continue to work whilst getting help.

At the end of 2015, Hays became an early adopter of Computacenter’s Next Generation Service Desk (NGSD) solution. The NGSD offering was well positioned to manage the business needs of Hays, providing a consumer-like, user-centric experience with anytime, anywhere IT support and knowledge delivered via an intuitive online portal and mobile app.

Although the NGSD solution can be integrated to existing infrastructure, the success of the solution was not simply a silver bullet. Instead, Computacenter and the team at Hays needed to create a desirable business environment that would encourage the whole workforce to truly understand the capabilities of the technology, adopting the behaviour into their working norms. In order for this to take place, Computacenter offered a new approach to service desk deployment asking internal employees to agree, nominate or suggest business champions for each team, division or office.

Proof is in the Productivity

In the case of Hays, NGSD helped to transform the employer – through service desk interaction – and the proof is in the productivity. Hays reported over 60 per cent of transactions take place directly through the portal – well above the original target of 50 per cent.

What’s more, in an age of messaging apps, online chat capability remains imperative. Hays registered approximately 1,180 chats per month since the adoption of NGSD and over 370 self-logged incidents per month compared with 40 previously.

Importantly, self-service portals such as NGSD are 24/7, so employees in any location, working any particular hours can log incidents at all times instead of having to wait for the service desk to open.

The bottom line is simple – by taking a user-centric, digitised approach to IT support, organisations can maximise staff productivity, drive profitable growth, and both attract and retain the very best talent inside a cutting edge digital workplace.

‘Retail Analytics’ A Modern Day Revolution

The first industrial revolution started just over 250 years ago. It was followed by a second industrial revolution just under 150 years ago. In my opinion, we are now in the midst of a third industrial revolution. Rather than steam power or electricity being the catalyst, this revolution is driven by big data and datImage 2a analytics. Data is the new currency.

I often hear the terms ‘big data’ and ‘data analytics’ being used interchangeably. I am not particularly precious about terms. What I am completely focused on however, is enabling the realisation of busin
ess value and competitive advantage from the promise of this third industrial revolution.

So, what is retail analytics? The answer is refreshingly simple. It is data analytics in a retail context. In other words, the prevailing use cases are retail focused. Data analytics is essentially defined by its use case. With this in mind, it can be shaped to pretty much any context. For example; service analytics, business analytics, digital marketing analytics, security analytics. This list goes on and on

Ultimately, the basic goals of data analytics and consequently retail analytics are to:

  1. Transform data to information, to knowledge and to wisdom
  2. Drive the creation of actions based on this resulting wisdom (insight)
  3. Anticipate what is likely to happen and prepare for it
  4. Influence what may happen to gain competitive advantage

I have also heard this described by Splunk as ‘making data accessible, usable and valuable to everyone’. What sets data analytics apart from traditional business intelligence is that the focus is on real time insight, allowing today’s decisions to be based on today’s data. The art of the possible in terms of queries do not need to be specified ahead of time. Once you have the data, you can ask whatever you like, however you like. I must admit that I tend to favour the term ‘right time’ over ‘real time’. Use case workshops are very useful in determining how quickly data needs to be collected and reported or acted upon. Real time does not be an incendiary concept. It needs to be a standard option based on business requirements.

As a general rule, the quicker you can put in to the finger tips of the decision makers, those beacons of enlightenment, based on what has actually happened, the more resilient and effective those decisions can be. This is especially true if decisions need to be made in real time and there is an appetite to automate decision making and instigating process and work flows based on those decisions. Automation should of course be for known good processes.

One of the most critical decisions an online retailer can make is when to put up a holding or busy page on their website to protect it from being overwhelmed by sheer load from visitor traffic. This decision has profound implications for key success factors such as customer experience, ability to trade and brand credibility. We have all seen the newspaper headlines around ‘Black Friday’ trading. Optimised application of well-formed data analytics can make the difference between glorious peak trading and painful peak profile.

 

A Review of 2013 – A view from the Sales Associates of 2012

Tim Murphy, one of our Sales Associates of the 2012 programme, takes a look back over 2013

Its been a while since the Computacenter Sales Associates posted on here, so there is much to catch up on…

The first important thing of note is that we have now been joined by the bigger and better than ever Associate Programme encompassing Sales, Line of Business and Services Associates.  We would like to wish them the best of luck over the next 18 months we are sure you are going to love it!

“A fantastic understanding of the work that goes on ‘behind the scenes'”

So what has happened in the last year?  Well there’s too much to cover for one blog so we have picked some highlights. In the first six months, we spent time with the Inside Sales, Partner Management, Bids, Marketing and Propositions teams. These rotations provided us with a fantastic understanding of the work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ to make for a smooth and successful operation. We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who took the time out to help with our development and teach us what we needed to know for the future.

The second half of 2013 had more of a technical and sales focus where time was spent within the various lines of business; Workplace, Software, Datacenter, Networking and Physical Infrastructure.  Plus at the end of the year, we spent time with the Projects team. A great deal of time was spent within these teams where we experienced the technical landscape in which we’ll be working in the future.

Some concepts certainly seemed daunting at first but working with our specialists to break down their knowledge of technology and help us get to grips with it has benefited us hugely. On behalf of the Sales Associates, thank you to the teams involved for their time and effort.

The second quarter of 2013 was certainly an interesting period!  As the rest of the business was very busy in closing the year, we were also in a very important period of our development.  As part of our sales training we had to deliver presentations to some very senior audience members.

The first of these was a 30 minute session with Mike Norris (CEO, Computacenter). In this Mike played the role of a fictitious company CIO who was experiencing budgetary pressures and had difficulty in procuring software.

“We all came out of the experience feeling positive about our progression”

Our goal was to show Mike that we had learnt from the sales training process we had been though, and that we understood how to position Computacenter as a partner to help him achieve his goals. The feedback we received was invaluable – certainly a good audience to pick up from feedback from!  We all came out of the experience feeling positive about our progression since starting the associate programme, but recognising we still have a long way to go to be performing at this level successfully in the future.

The second part of this process was a more in-depth, group-based project on qualifying the challenges of multiple stakeholders within the same fictitious business (played by Computacenter people) and providing a solution. The final presentation was to John Beard (Sector Director, Financial Services and Retail) and Pierre Hall (Line of Business Director, Workplace and Mobile).

The subject matter of this solution was more complex in detail.  It exposed us to how Computacenter identifies challenges, provides solutions and articulates the business benefits succinctly.  It was certainly a difficult process but working together with the Lines of Business Associates we all managed to come through it having learnt a great deal and put some new techniques into action.

In order to get this solution built and be able to understand and articulate the benefits we had to draw upon the experience of a wide range of people – all of whom we thank for their help.

“An experience that really put the last year into perspective for us”

A final activity in which we have been able to get involved was the recruitment process for the Associate Programme 2014.

This was an experience that really put the last year into perspective for us since it was only a year ago that we were going through the same rigorous assessment process ourselves.  Being sat on the other side of the table this time, helping out candidates where possible was certainly rewarding. Working alongside the senior members of sector sales, lines of business and services for the respective process gave us the opportunity to reflect on the last year and the knowledge we have been able to build up through working on such an involved and structured programme.

Now working as buddies to the new associates we will be able to pass on our learning from rotations and help to continue with their growth in the same way that everybody around Computacenter has helped us.

To summarise, the last year for us has been a steep learning curve – working with a wide variety of people within Computacenter and being exposed to many areas of the business. We have six months left on the programme now working with the Contractual Services team and then moving into Internal Account Management.

We know we have a long way to go over the next six months in terms of learning and development but we’re feeling optimistic that by the end we will have achieved our goal of successfully completing the programme, and moving into Account Management. We hope you found this update informative. We will soon be handing over responsibilities for this blog over to the members of the Associate Programme 2014 to give you a view of their journey through Computacenter.

All the best

Computacenter Sponsors Team NetApp-Endura

Computacenter has signed a sponsorship deal with Pro Cycling Team NetApp-Endura for the second half of 2013 including two major Pro Cycling  races, the Vuelta a España and the Tour of Britain.

Look out for our Computacenter logo the sleeves of the team’s race shirts and on the support cars following the race. You can catch all the action on ITV and through the extensive media coverage – TV, online and print.

Vuelta a Espana will reach its dramatic finale on Sunday the 15th September in Madrid, while the Tour of Britain will kicks off in Peebles, Scotland on the same day.
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This year’s Vuelta a España is considered to be one of the most difficult three-week races of the past couple of years. With 11 mountain finishes, it will demand quite a bit from the riders. For the first time since 2003, the route crosses the border into France with in a mountain finish in Peyragudes.

The 68th edition of the race started on the far western edge of the Iberian peninsula, called the “end of the world,” with a team time trial on the 24th August and the routes have wound their way through Galicia, south to Andalusia, where the first Hors catègorie mountain, the Alto de Hazallanas (1,680 metres), challenged the riders during the 10th stage. After a day of rest, the course then took riders from the Sierra Nevada back north to Aragon.

A hilly time trial during the 11th stage wraps things up in the northeast of Spain, before heading to Andorra with a climb up the Collada de la Gallina. From Andorra, the route leads through the Pyrenees to Peyragudes, a ski station three kilometres behind the famous Col de Peyresoude. The final three days before Madrid will no doubt deliver an exciting race with three consecutive mountain finishes: Peña Cabarga, Monte Naranco and the pinnacle stage, Alto de l’Angliru.

The 13-kilometre climb up Angliru, with its incline of nearly 24%, may shake up the general classification a ,bit before the finale in Madrid on 15 September ends in a sprint.

However, Team NetApp-Endura headed into its second Grand Tour with high ambitions, team captain Leopold Koenig is showing no fear when it comes to the difficult mountain stages. “I personally like mountainous terrain, and I’m happy that climbers will have so many opportunities to show what they’re capable of.”

Over the weekend Leopold Koenig won the eighth stage of the Vuelta a España and for his Team NetApp-Endura, the most important success in the team’s history to date. The 25-year-old Czech rider prevailed as the day’s best rider after a 14.5-kilometer final climb to the top of Alto Pena Blancas in the south of Spain, relegating Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Nicholas Roche (Saxo Tinkoff) to second and third place. With his stage win, Koenig went up to 5th place in the general classification

We will be updating this blog with more team news as the drama unfolds and keep your eyes peeled for those Computacenter logos if you’re watching the TV coverage

GO TEAM NETAPP – ENDURA!!!

New Infographic: Is your WLAN ready for the mobile deluge?

More users and devices are flooding the corporate WLAN than ever before, with many using public wifi to access their corporate network. Computacenter’s survey reveals how traditional WLANs are not designed for the heavy demands of connectivity, so organisations need to get their wireless security and capacity right in order to realise the full benefits of mobility in the workplace. Read more at: http://lnkd.in/jPt_XJ

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Is your WLAN ready for the mobile deluge?

Is your WLAN ready for the mobile deluge?