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An update from our 2016 Associates…

First of all thanks to Lowri for the last blog, a great insight into what we have been up to on the Associate programme.

Following on from that, our Helping Clients Succeed presentation gave a really good understanding into how our Sales team feel when they are presenting to a customer. Burning the midnight oil and trying to learn as much as we could about the hypothetical customer was great. As the day came both John Beard and Pierre Hall, who were acting as CEO and CIO respectively, pulled no punches and really put us to the sword. As we faced some tough questions regarding our time scales and commercials, it became apparent that we didn’t know as much as we thought! Safe to say we all enjoyed the process and congratulations to the winning team. We celebrated with a few lemonades and a Christmas meal for all the 2016 associates.

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Following on from this, it was great for us to see how the pressure ramps up and how important our Q4 and specifically December were.  The whole organisation steps it up a gear to ensure we have a successful year end, and it was great experience for myself and my fellow associates to help, where possible, to close out the year.

After the great success of last year’s Kick Off, I know the account teams spent some time doing filming to this year’s theme tune of ‘London’s Calling’. I spent the day with the Financial Services team and we had the “unfortunate” task of racing down the River Thames on a speedboat followed by going round the London Eye. A great day was had by all and I know everyone enjoyed their big screen debut at the Kick Off.

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Speaking of the kick off, this year was my second kick off after last year’s massive success in Barcelona, what an event that was! And what a Kick Off it was this year again! Once again I was blown away by the scale of the event and the output from the vendors. It was great to get round all the stalls and continue to get to know all of our partners. The award ceremony was as loud, raucous and inspiring as last year; huge congratulations to everyone who was recognised on the night.

We recently had our half two development day where we went out to Wokefield Park in Reading where we reviewed the previous year. More importantly we looked ahead to what our learning gaps are and what we think we have left to do in order to become role ready in the summer. Whilst we recognise it is a daunting task, it is one my fellow associates and I are relishing.

With only 3 months to go until we ‘graduate’ from the programme, our final rotation will take us to Clare’s new enterprise sector where we will be helping drive opportunity and generating new business, something we are all looking forward to.

It has been a great first fourteen months at Computacenter, hopefully many more to come!

 

 

An update from the 2016 Graduates

Hello everyone. I’m Meg Roberts and welcome to the third instalment of the Project Management Graduate Blog. This instalment was due to be written by Angela Vane, however she has found another role within Computacenter and we all wish her the best of luck!

The last blog was brought to you by Oliver Lamont when we were nearing the end of our rotations. We have now finished them, and we are Project Co-ordinators! It is scary how quickly the time has gone, but now we are in the role we can see how priceless the connections we made during our rotations really are.

I know the assessment centres are coming up for next year’s project management graduates so I thought I’d take the time to give you a few hints and tips about what the day has in store.

There are two group exercises in the morning, both of these aren’t really to catch you out. It’s important within this role to work well as a team and show that you are able to listen to the ideas and opinions of others. However, it is key you can articulate your own ideas and push for them if you really believe your idea is the best to achieve the end goal.
On my assessment day, the other candidates and I really helped each other and this made us all calmer and I believe improved our chances. When Computacenter tell you these days aren’t a competition, they’re right – the company are only looking for the best candidates for the role. You aren’t in direct competition for a set amount of roles; so work together!

Also there will be a one-on-one interview. This is to get to know you better and to learn how you have dealt with situations in the past. Single interviews will always be nerve-racking but remember you aren’t on a time limit so if you need to pause, do so! One of my best feedback comments from the day was that I personalised my answers with examples not only from previous employment but also day-to-day situations with friends and family. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Project management is all about people skills, therefore demonstrate that you have them. While some candidates are being interviewed, the rest of the group will have the time to ask current and previous graduates, and experienced Project Managers, questions. This isn’t scored, or put against your chances of being offered the role. So use the time to ask the real questions!

Finally, you will have your presentation. The best piece of advice I can offer you is to choose a topic you feel comfortable with and know like the back of your hand. It will make you feel more relaxed, and more prepared to answer any questions. Preparation is key for this part of the day so use your time wisely, and practice. The questions aren’t designed to catch you out – they are just to see how prepared you are, and if you know about the topic you’re presenting.

It seems like a lifetime ago since we had our own assessment days, as time goes so quickly. Overall just thoroughly prepare for the day, and try to enjoy it as weird as that sounds! Oliver and Shivani were both on my assessment day, so remember you never know who is going to be offered the role so ensure you work together.

Good luck to you all!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I have really enjoyed my time at Computacenter so far and I know this is a company has many opportunities for us all. I look forward to what the future brings with Computacenter! The next instalment of the Project Management Graduate Blog will be bought to you by Shivani Mistry.

 

Time now for collaboration and action harnessing the best of UK tech

The much anticipated and long awaited Government Transformation Strategy (GTS) was published last week by Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, The strategy provides a clear and solid framework for the future direction of public services transformation, looking ahead to 2020 and beyond.

The priorities identified in the Strategy are all sensible and highly relevant. They include back-office redesign, a focus on securing and retaining the right people and skills, better use of data, cross-department collaboration, developing Government-as-a-Platform and internal government transformation, giving civil servants the right work tools.

So far so good. The ambition, vision and aims are all spot on.  It is also clear that the market has been listened to and the more ‘collaborative’ style of engagement with all is welcome.

However, as the GTS document notes, that is not to take-away but build on the very significant progress towards digital government and public services transformation over the last five years.

What next? Here’s our take on two areas in the Strategy that GDS and departments should prioritise:

Right people and right skills: the GTS aims to tackle deep change, transforming the way Government operates, from the front end to the back office.  To do this, it needs to urgently develop a plan for ensuring greater investment & focus on developing the right commercial skills and understanding to enable a genuine partnership with industry and in doing so create a level playing field.  The likely impact of IR35 needs to be urgently understood and gaps addressed.

Transparency & strong engagement: as a centre of digital expertise, GDS needs to take a leadership role and support departments to develop early market engagement mechanisms into their business planning as well as give civil servants the skills to have a robust and effective dialogue with suppliers based on transparency and trust.

Home grown British tech companies, large and small, are the engine of our economy.  The Industrial strategy launched earlier this month makes an explicit commitment by Government to using public procurement to drive innovation and deliver more diverse supply chains. The benefits are clear – allowing Government to harness industry expertise and knowledge to become a more demanding customer as well as help commissioners and policy makers experiment and innovate more successfully with technology.

Computacenter are proud to be working with the UK Government and challenger new entrants like us have an important role in the delivery of the Strategy and in ensuring UK remains a global leader in its approach to public service delivery.  We will support the implementation of this strategy both directly as a supplier to the public sector and through our leadership roles with industry body’s techUK and CBI.

Let’s now work together, on the detail and the plan, to deliver the transformation we all want.

Click here to find out more about Computacenter’s Public Sector work.

Business success in the digital age – Are you, will you be “brave enough”?

Darwin is frequently quoted in the midst of furious discussions about change. Whether it’s the mention of “the survival of the fittest or the most adaptable” (and not forgetting many question whether either statement was made by Darwin), change consistently invokes one human emotion with the power to nullify every others – “fear”.

Information technology (IT) for all of the seemingly endless change over the past 30 years has been somewhat consistent. Technology, with every new product launch via an endless release of “features” often dictated the “potential” for human benefit. And the result, technology vendors & the IT industry told the story of the future for an eager business (and more recently social) consumer to consume.

There was a reduced need for the IT buyer or user to appraise to a granular degree how the technology delivered impact or benefit, it was almost assumed that “newer” was better resulting in an upgrade to the “next or latest version” becoming standard behaviour. The balance of power rested with the “technology industry” and the user / consumer was at times a passive recipient of endless technological advancement. But as we enter 2017 the power base is shifting (some may say has “shifted”).

The user or IT consumer is now the power broker with the ability to dismantle 30 years of elegantly crafted IT system and process via a move to hybrid systems (combining traditional with public) or fully public IT service delivery. ‎”Feature glut” no longer rules the day, replaced by the need for consumer realised benefits or “standard service offerings with the potential for agile evolution”. This wholesale reset of everything deemed normal in IT and business is here and here to stay. But a move away from the safe “the old way” requires courageous decision making.

But the winners, whether consumer or IT service provider may not be those to accept “safe” or “old normal” but instead those willing to “be brave” and challenge “the old or known way” to evolve to a sustainable service consumption or delivery template viable for the dynamic, digital age. The buzz words are endless with digitisation, hybrid cloud, IOT, mobility, just a few. However with “solution relevance” a key consumer buying criteria, “buzz word bingo” will no longer find an audience, instead replaced by “win win” consultative solution selling driven by the value of positive disruption and “measurable” benefits for the consumer.

“Being brave” may result in human destabilisation as the status quo is defended and protected and “risk” as existing service delivery approaches move away from safety but the benefits are not potential, they are very real and highly realisable. The gateway to a new age exposed by the digitisation drive is positively transforming IT, business and the user with all likely to embrace a sustainable, enhanced experience. But that change of experience starts with a level of bravely not everyone can muster. “Can you, will you, be brave enough”?

Until next time.

Colin W

Twitter: @colinwccuk

Chief Technologist: Networking, Security and Collaboration – Computacenter UK

 

Adoption is Key for Digital Workplace Success

I speak to many customers.  Each of them has their own unique challenges, and each of whom are at various points in what we would term their “Digital Workplace” journey.  Clearly we have those organisations whose businesses are being fundamentally disrupted by Digital.  And we have those for whom this disruption is yet to really manifest itself.

The point is, everybody seems to be doing something – and many organisations are doing quite similar things.  If I were asked for my top 3, businesses are seeking to:

  • reduce their legacy footprint;
  • exploit new collaboration and mobility solutions;
  • consolidate their platforms to a number of key vendors

The last one is interesting in many ways.  We’ve ridden a wave of customers looking at “best of breed” and I now see a trend back towards suites of functionality – where the functionality is good enough to meet their needs, but that being balanced against the integration benefits of using a sole provider.

In each of the objectives above Adoption remains a key, but often little understood concept that can make or break the initiative. We’ve seen a general shift towards a more user focused approach, however it continues to surprise me how little focus is placed upon ensuring the use (Adoption) of the solutions both immediately post deployment and critically through the life cycle of its use.

In order for an initiative to be successful, it needs to be used and valued by its users (think about all those mobile apps you have on your device that sounded great as a concept, but are little used!).  This is where the adoption cycle comes in.  When I speak to customers about Digital Workplace transformations, refer to the following five points:

  1. Ensuring the solutions fit the users
  2. Engaging users in the journey
  3. Balancing user ‘want’ to business ‘need’
  4. Measuring satisfaction
  5. Democratising feedback

Point 1 is easy to talk to, as I’ve covered it several times in terms of understanding users.  Solutions like Workstyle Analysis can and have helped many customers in this area.  This starts the user engagement process but it is important to continue this throughout the life cycle of the initiative to maintain the engagement and enthusiasm of your users for what is about to happen (think of any good teaser marketing campaign you’ve seen in the consumer world!).

However many fear that with such an approach you will create a ‘bow wave’ of user expectation, the proverbial shopping list of wants from users that cannot be rationalised to budgetary, timescale or other constraints that the business may face.  The interesting thing I’ve observed is that while this may be thought of as a disincentive for people to engage the process for fear of this consequence, actually tackling it head on and engaging the users simply builds more understanding and support.

The final two points are really important.  Clearly you should measure the output of your initiative.  This is 101 stuff.  However equally important I’ve found is in democratising that feedback and results, making it available not only to the project sponsors and decision makers, but to the users also.  In being transparent, you can unlock the next level of feedback and support in something of a virtuous cycle that allows you to build upon the benefits and extend their applicability, as well as collectively managing any challenges that may have occurred.

 

These are just my own perspectives on Adoption.  Such is the importance of the topic, and the range of debate it attracts, we’ve created a full Insight Guide featuring myself and a number of my colleagues from Computacenter, Intel and QA.  You can find this here

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.

2017 “Don’t let mediocre become your GOOD”.

Straight talking time (again), “Don’t let mediocre become your GOOD”. I have realized, in fact I have always known, that I have a problem with “mediocrity”, I really do. We live in potentially the best version of society to date for self or group learning to allow us to make our bad better and our good better than good (just have a look at how much life help exists on YouTube).

So why are so many people settling for, “OK” or “alright”, that’s not what this version of life should be about. Now I’m not talking about Olympian grade investment in skills or sacrifice, far from it. I’m just talking about wanting a little more, investing in knowledge (and self) to improve or gain more skill, to feel better / do better and through it refusing to settle for “OK” or “mediocre“.

If living for all of the amazing joy it delivers is hard, and it is, surely one rung higher than now is a better life than one rung lower or the same. Whether self-taught, peer taught or life taught, today is the day to decide you want a life better than this (even slightly) and that’s the life you are going to “invest in” to realize everything you seek with intent.

And don’t instantly think I’m talking about monetary gain, acting “better” as a person is as valuable as “earning” better. Sorry about the rant but its January and I see so many people already tolerant or at times happy with “mediocre”.

No not this time, not this year, not this life. Aim just a little higher as you surely deserve better. When 2017 ends I care not if I’m 1%, 5% or 100% better than the person I was in 2016, I know I will just be better as I will not tolerate staying the same – that’s not what I deserve or am here for.

Until next time

Colin W

Twitter: @colinwccuk

Chief Technologist Computacenter UK – Networking, Security and Collaboration

 

Note: All views articulated are my own and do not constitute an opinion or recommendation from Computacenter.