Group Service Take-on: Managing Successful Change To Enhance Customer Experience

As part of Customer Experience Day (#CXDay2020) on 6th October 2020, we will be sharing a number of blog posts which highlights our approach to customer experience, ensuring the customer is always at the heart of everything we do.


Our customers are facing unprecedented demand for a change in how IT services are delivered to their users. Transitioning a customer from a legacy IT provider to a new IT service can have many complexities and unforeseen challenges.

In this article, we share two Service Desk examples where Computacenter have adapted and delivered new services, with customer experience very much at the forefront.  

Implementing a new dedicated Service Desk in Cape Town

This service desk had to support 28,000 end users across 500 locations and provide a new portal to enable multi-channel service access, aimed at improving the end user experience.

Three weeks prior to the planned cutover date of 1st April 2020, Computacenter had to design, implement and test a new home-based infrastructure solution to enable all the Service Desk staff to work remotely from home. This was the first time that Computacenter had ever implemented a home-based working solution for a dedicated IT Service Desk, and it was successfully implemented on the planned cutover date.

Key to success:

  1. Diligence and flexibility – Computacenter’s ability and foresight were cited by the customer as ever-changing working patterns became a fundamental project success factor.  
  2. Seamless transition – Service levels exceeded expectations right from the onset with customer stakeholders praising Computacenter’s interactions throughout the process resolving challenges collaboratively and with the User experience headlining the outcomes      

User experience continues to be enhanced with use of the Self-Service functionality – including access to Knowledge articles, web chats with desk agents and self-logging of incidents has increased since the cutover. 

Cutting over a new virtual Service Desk and Service Desk Portal

The second customer example required remote working for the joint project team from the design stage through to implementation into service, with no impact on timescales.

Computacenter cut over a new virtual Service Desk and Service Desk Portal (in South Africa, Spain and Malaysia) for 5,000 users across 23 countries in five languages (English, French, German, Business Chinese and Italian) with the Major Incident Management service, as a “big bang” Go Live. Change Management followed one week later in August 2020.

Key to success:

  1. Intelligent adaptive design – Computacenter’s ‘hothouse’ approach to engaging customer stakeholders with the outcome to agree simple IT service interactions for users attracted positive results
     
  2. Highly collaborative – Joint service readiness testing was comprehensive and complimented by Computacenter’s structured approach to controlling scope through Change Management.

The elapsed time for the project was ahead of schedule enabling early adoption. The average daily percentage of self-service contacts made by end users has already exceeded target.

Streamlining the onboarding process for Service Desk staff

In the last year, Computacenter has streamlined its onboarding process for new Service Desk staff.

Further opportunities for simplifying the tools, technology, testing and integration required for our transitions are being investigated. We have recognised that the way in which customers work will not return to how things were prior to the pandemic. 

Therefore, in order to enhance end-user and customer experience we need to continually adapt to help our customers manage change as seamlessly as possible. 

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3 reasons why consumption-based IT is the future

Consumption-based IT is not just a fancy word that companies use on the slides of a presentation about innovation. It is a future model for organisations around world that want to lower IT costs, maintain control over security and compliance, and still enjoy the benefits of expanding their operations to public cloud services.

The COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated that companies need to be prepared for anything. Organisations were already facing several difficult challenges and finding solutions has suddenly become much more urgent. We often hear that flexible and agile companies will survive this crisis and can even become stronger as the competition is struggling. But what do you need to develop these important characteristics of future-proof organisations?

Consumption-based models are still new, but they are rapidly gaining popularity. Hewlett Packard Enterprise was the first to introduce such a model: HPE GreenLake. Since then, the company has been working with customers to add new capabilities and make IT-as-a-service available to businesses of all sizes and all industries.

So, what are the benefits of a consumption-based IT model?

1. You pay only for what you use

Hearing this sentence might sound logical. In fact, why should you ever pay for something that you do not use? Yet many organisations are spending money on capacity they do not need. Overprovisioning is a common practice when dealing with an uncertain future, but modern companies cannot afford to spend huge budgets on IT without seeing the short-term benefits of their investments. The CIO of an organisation needs a fast return on investment if he or she wants to verify expenses.

A consumption-based IT model does not require capital upfront. Costs can vary depending on what you need and use. These models are usually monthly subscriptions that can easily be modified or cancelled. This gives companies flexibility to deal with IT budgets. Overprovisioning is not necessary because extra capacity is always available when needed.

According to research conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HPE GreenLake as a consumption-based IT solution leads to 30% capex savings due to the eliminated need for overprovisioning. Imagine how many resources you can use to drive innovation in your organisation …

2. You get faster value from IT projects

Speed has become essential for companies that want to flourish in a changing world. So if the IT department is slowing things down, it can be very frustrating. In the past, it could take months to properly deploy a solution. Thanks to consumption-based models in a hybrid world, it now takes only a few minutes before you can start using software and tools.

Consumption-based models give organisations the ultimate freedom to choose from a wide range of readily available technologies. They offer pre-packaged options to speed up implementation, but you can also request a new solution whenever you need it.

The same research by Forrester Consulting states that HPE GreenLake has reduced time-to-market of deploying global IT projects by 65%. Consumption-based IT models not only save money, they also deliver faster value

3. You retain control of sensitive data

Most organisations understand the benefits of a public cloud environment, but data and applications often cannot be migrated due to security and compliance issues. A hybrid environment is the only solution to enjoy the financial benefits and flexibility of a public cloud service without sacrificing control. Whatever you do, you are always pulling the strings to manage performance, latency, risk and cost.

Consumption-based models will also increase the productivity of an IT department. Because these solutions simplify IT operations, your people can focus on more valuable tasks than routine jobs. They can think about innovation and experiment with technologies that will ultimately benefit both your customers and your organisation. Forrester Consulting’s research about the effects of HPE GreenLake has calculated that IT productivity increases on average by 40% when reducing the support load on IT.

Other important but less quantifiable benefits of consumption-based models include access to the latest technology, reliability and transparency with growing workloads and business requirements, improved security, and improved business productivity due to fewer system outages and faster application performance.

Want to know more?

Download our free e-book about upcoming IT challenges or visit our website to discover how we can accelerate digital transformation in your business.

Why companies are shifting to IT-as-a-service

Fast access to the software and solutions you really need. This has become the cornerstone of any successful organisation. Many enterprises need to keep their IT budget under control, but they also require a swift response to changes in order to continue doing business. The answer is to run IT as a business rather than a fully controlled department. IT-as-a-service has the ability to shift depending on the needs of an organisation.

We live in a very different world than ten years ago. Most of us did not have a smartphone, and the word ‘tablet’ wasn’t automatically associated with a mobile computer. Since then, the emergence of these devices has changed every dimension of our society. There is nothing in our lives that is not connected to the internet. For almost every problem we have a digital solution at hand. This digitisation has been very challenging for businesses and entire industries, but there is always one clear winner: the customer.

Customers have an abundance of choice in products, services and even the way they interact with a company. Just a few years ago, a digital interface was a nice thing to have for a brand. Today, businesses simply cannot survive if they don’t provide their customers with digital solutions. Digital transformation is part of the short- and the long-term strategy of almost every company in the world. It changes operations and processes in all departments of an organisation. Digitisation runs like a thread through every business model.

Simplifying IT

Every decision now ultimately leads to one department: IT. The boys and girls that we used to run to with our hardware issues are now at the centre of every operation. Speed and flexibility have become the most important words in a company’s dictionary. That is why many enterprises are frustrated when the IT department is unable to keep up with their demands. They want fast access to software and tools, but it often takes a long time to deploy solutions within an organisation’s infrastructure.

Simplifying IT is probably the most common challenge for modern enterprises. Customers want to be served in no time and companies expect the same from IT services. To keep up with demand, IT departments also spend a large part of their budgets on overcapacity. It is impossible to predict the future and they don’t want to risk shortages. Overprovisioning is costing companies a small fortune. Chances are that this extra capacity will never be used, so you can probably imagine better ways to spend this money.

IT-as-a-service

The features of IT-as-a-service are simple: it offers companies much more choice, it allows them to pay only for what they use, and they get access to solutions much faster. This also changes the role of the IT experts in a company. They no longer need to focus on routine jobs anymore just to keep the light on but can shift their attention to finding innovative solutions that benefit the customer and the organisation.

Another important advantage of IT-as-a-service is the fact that companies can better predict their IT costs. Models usually work with monthly fees, while subscriptions can be easily adjusted or cancelled. As the business grows, scaling becomes easier without additional costs that often come as a surprise.

Organisations are also struggling to move their applications to a cloud environment. Many companies cannot migrate all data and applications to the public cloud for security and compliance reasons. However, IT-as-a-service can introduce you to a hybrid environment where enterprises enjoy the best of both worlds. It brings the benefits of a public cloud experience to the on-premises infrastructure of organisations.

Moving to IT-as-a-service can be a challenge for organisations but will ultimately provide the speed and flexibility to thrive in a changing world. Processes and operations will become more efficient, while creating the resources for companies to meet their customers’ needs. Who knows what the world will look like ten years from now? One thing is certain: we must be prepared for any change that comes our way.

Computacenter is a trusted IT partner of several organisations. To simplify our customers’ IT, we propose HPE GreenLake. This is an IT-as-a-service offering that brings the cloud experience to your on-premises infrastructure.

Want to know more?

Download our free e-book about upcoming IT challenges or visit our website to discover how we can accelerate digital transformation in your business.

On-premises or public cloud: how do you choose?

Almost every organisation in the world is aware of the benefits that the public cloud has to offer, but most of them still prefer an on-premises environment for their workload. They weigh the advantages of a public cloud solution against the risks and decide that security and control are too important to give up. However, the question should not be what to choose, but how to ensure that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

The public cloud has convinced enterprise leaders in all industries. According to a survey by 451 Research, commissioned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a staggering 97% of more than one thousand questioned IT decision-makers think the public cloud is a positive experience. Despite this clear belief in public cloud solutions, many enterprises keep their workload located on an on-premises infrastructure.

Even when they decide to shift to a public cloud, they often return their data to a private environment after encountering the many pitfalls of this new world. Not every organisation is the same, so choosing the right cloud environment can be different for every company. That’s why we must look at the main benefits and disadvantages of private and public clouds. Which path is the right one for your organisation?


Public cloud

We start with the public cloud. Why are so many enterprises convinced that shifting to the public cloud would offer them amazing benefits that could transform their business?

  • Organisations need to keep their IT budget under control. Especially after the COVID-19 crisis, cost-efficiency will be an important factor in all business decisions. But IT is also more than ever the backbone of any organisation. A public cloud solution enables companies to simplify their IT and pay for what they use. In a private environment, businesses often invest in more capacity than what they need, just to be on the safe side.
  • To keep up with changes, organisations should be able to respond quickly to trends and developments. In an on-premises infrastructure, IT often slows down the business. It can take months to deploy a new solution and this is an eternity for a modern company. In a public cloud, resources are hosted on the premises of the service provider. Enterprises can access new resources whenever they want.

Public cloud environments are saving organisations time and money, both essential ingredients to flourish in this rapidly changing world. On the downside, you can only enjoy the full potential of the public cloud if your company is willing to give up control over security and compliance. It is no surprise that those are the most important characteristics of an on-premises infrastructure.

Private cloud

The lack of control in a public cloud environment already makes it clear why companies continue to work with a purely private infrastructure, although this is by far the most expensive option.

Some organisations have no choice but to run their applications locally:

  • In a private environment, organisations are in control of all data. They decide where this information is kept, who has access and how it is used. Privacy concerns and strict regulations are important reasons why companies hesitate to shift data to a public cloud. Especially if your enterprise is operating in a highly regulated industry, you need an extreme level of control over your assets.
  • Sensitive information should always be handled with care. This is no guarantee when data is stored in a public cloud environment. Your organisation would depend on the cloud provider to ensure the security of the data. In some sectors, such as the banking industry, the sensitivity of data is simply too important to risk security issues. Ultimately, the loss of data can be much more expensive than missing out on the financial benefits of a public cloud solution.

Security, compliance and privacy are the main reasons why companies want to retain control of their data. It is of course frustrating that they have to miss out on the profit and flexibility that a public cloud computing model would offer them. So what if we tell you that there is a way to enjoy these benefits without giving up control?

Hybrid cloud

Many organisations already use a multi-cloud approach. This means that they are running more than one private and/or public cloud solution. An even better strategy is migrating to a hybrid world. This would allow you to shift applications to a third-party public cloud environment and keep specific data or tools within a secure on-premises infrastructure.

A hybrid cloud solution provides companies with the control they need to ensure security, privacy and compliance, and it still gives them access to the financial benefits and the flexibility of the public cloud. Especially if your company is using a lot of sensitive data, a hybrid cloud can open a new world of opportunities. It ensures faster, simpler and more cost-efficient IT while your IT department is still pulling all the strings. A consumption-based model that focuses on your needs allows you to pay only for what you use.

To discover how your company can benefit from a hybrid cloud solution, you can rely on the expertise of a trusted IT partner. Computacenter introduces its customers to HPE GreenLake as an effective consumption-based model. Do you want to know how you can also benefit from this solution?  

Want to know more?

Download our free e-book about upcoming IT challenges or visit our website to discover how we can accelerate digital transformation in your business.

4 pitfalls to avoid when moving your business to the cloud

Moving to the cloud has become a necessity for most organisations. Although companies understand the benefits of the cloud, a significant proportion of them decide to return their workloads to a private environment. Why? Concerns about security and lack of control are two important explanations. In this blog we describe the most common pitfalls to avoid when shifting to the cloud. We also explain how to solve these issues and still enjoy the full potential of cloud solutions.

The cloud is an essential aspect of every business strategy that focuses on digital transformation, but it also appears to be a very difficult exercise. An IDC report recently indicated that 80% of companies are expected to repatriate workloads that were primarily part of a public cloud environment. The research states that about half of public applications are expected to repatriate to an on-premises environment over the next two years. The most important reasons are security and performance, but also costs and lack of control.

Moving to the cloud can indeed be extremely challenging for organisations. Here are some of the main pitfalls to avoid:

1. Lack of Vision

Cloud transformation may seem like a technical challenge at first sight, but it will have an impact on the entire company. It can change the way a business operates in many different areas. Think of budgets, productivity, daily operations and development. That’s why a shift to the cloud should always start at the top floor of an organisation. The IT department must be fully supported by the board and have access to all the necessary resources.

Unless the management of the company understands both the benefits and risks of moving to the cloud, this process will almost certainly fail. The cloud holds many mysteries, even for well-trained IT employees. It is a good idea to support them with advice from cloud experts and consultants, especially if you want to avoid the other pitfalls we are about to explain.

A powerful cloud strategy also involves thinking about which workloads can be moved to the public cloud and which workloads require a more private environment. The benefits of the cloud are often so attractive that companies forget to think carefully about the risks.

2. Security Risks

This brings us to the most main reason why, according to a 451 Research commissioned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, two-thirds of the workload is still located on-premises despite the fact that a majority of companies agree that the cloud offers a positive experience. Data breaches are common news and companies invest a lot of money in the protection of their infrastructure.

Storing data and important files on external services always exposes organisations to new risks.

Of course, you can expect a cloud service provider to handle sensitive information with care and create an highly secure environment. But lack of control is a real concern for many enterprises when shifting workloads to the public cloud. Security issues can cost companies a fortune and the reputational damage can even be beyond repair.

Here are some things to consider when you switch to a public cloud strategy:

  • Make clear decisions about who is supposed to have access to specific data and resources. Not all employees should be able to see all information stored in the cloud.
  • Always take a risk-based approach when moving assets to the cloud. This also involves securing the devices used to access a cloud environment.
  • Encryption is key to all your actions.
  • Train your team to understand how to mitigate security concerns in the cloud.

3. Underestimating Costs

Cost efficiency is one of the greatest benefits of a public cloud environment, but many enterprises still underestimate the investment that is required. Providers will usually not charge any costs for the implementation of data, but the transfer can take you several weeks depending on the volume of the data. Many organisations also buy more storage space than what they need.

As the footprint of technology in all businesses continues to grow, companies need a model that develops in alignment with their technological life-cycle. In the end, a 100% public cloud strategy will not always be the most cost-efficient solution. Security is one reason to carefully consider which workloads can run in public and private cloud environments, but cost is definitely another important factor to keep in mind.

4. Compliancy and privacy issues

Security and compliancy are closely related. Especially when you are dealing with sensitive and personal data, changing regulations about privacy are a real concern. Think about the strict privacy rules that are imposed by GDPR obligations. Many enterprise lose track of their data in the public cloud and don’t know who has access. This lack of control can be a real nightmare as you don’t want to risk irregularities. Sanctions are very expensive, but once again reputational damage might be the highest price to pay.

The more data, software and tools an organisation uses, the more challenging compliancy becomes. IT must be able to monitor the tools that are used and where the data is located.

The solution: hybrid cloud

These concerns are the main motivations for companies to return their data to a more private, on-premises environment. Of course, the benefits of cloud solutions are extremely important to remain competitive and to successfully transform your business. This is why many organisations are now discovering the potential of a hybrid cloud solution.

Control is an important aspect of this hybrid cloud environment. It allows an organisation to move part of its applications to the public cloud, while another part remains private. This enables the IT department to stay in control of the most critical operations. They can manage all data and establish protocols for how particular data should be handled. A hybrid cloud environment is also a very scalable solution that will significantly lower IT costs. A purely private cloud is often extremely expensive and time consuming.

In short, hybrid cloud solutions combine the security and control of an on-premises environment with the versatility of public cloud computing. To find the best strategy for your organisation, you can seek professional assistance of a dedicated IT partner. Computacenter has the expertise to understand your needs and introduce a hybrid cloud solution that will benefit your company in the short and in the long run.

Want to know more?

Download our free e-book about upcoming IT challenges or visit our website to discover how we can accelerate digital transformation in your business.

4 trends that are shaping our future

At the start of 2020 I was thinking about our customers, our partners and the market.  I was trying to identify the key trends that are, or will, impact all these areas.  In the course of that reflection, I came up with 4 key words describing this complex dynamic.  Those four words were Velocity, Vulnerability, Sustainability and Experience.

What I hadn’t foreseen or accounted for was Covid-19, and the impact this would have upon our customers, our partners, the market and the wider world.  But when I think about the past 5-6 months, I think there’s a context (somewhat different to that which I’d intended!) that gives those 4 words a powerful relevance and meaning.

That aside, as this isn’t another blog about Covid-19 – I see people, and businesses starting to plan and look towards their future.  These trends feel as relevant now as they ever did, perhaps even more so.

I thought I would share my view of how I see the market, expressed through these 4 words.  But before you read on, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then this short video should hopefully set the tone for what I’m about to write:

Velocity

Industries are changing at an incredible pace.  Look at the technology market as an example, but the same applies in retail, manufacturing, public services and beyond.  We used to call this “digital transformation”, that term is fatigued now – but nonetheless it’s true that the pace of change is un-abating.  What this means to our customers (or ourselves) is that the ‘time to follow’ is so much reduced from what it was before – literally in some instances from months and years to days and weeks.  This creates tension and challenge, as much more that we must deal with is “new”, and there’s no established blueprint or playbook.   This does however create the opportunity in co-creation and partnerships, identifying and leveraging specific expertise to unlock value and creativity to deliver the innovative outcomes that our customers demand and that offer us competitive advantage…. for the short while that that lasts!

Vulnerability

It would be easy to presume that I mean Vulnerability as a proxy for Security.  Security is paramount, particularly in the context of the changes we see in the world and in the technology landscape.  But I see vulnerability as a far more profound issue.  It covers the full breadth of impacts and disruption that organisations face, that they did not choose nor often foresee (look at Covid-19).  Every business, every person, everything is vulnerable, so the mitigation to this is to be flexible and adaptable.  Those that are flexible and adaptive can potentially thrive, whilst those that appear strong today, but are inflexible will not.  Time has offered us many examples that prove this to be true – Blockbusters, Kodak etc.  You cannot eliminate vulnerability, but it can be managed and reduced.

Sustainability

This is SUCH a huge topic now.  Sustainability/CSR or whatever label you wish to apply has, in recent years, moved from being a peripheral consideration to something that sits at the heart of businesses’ identity and values.  Consumers, partners, suppliers are no longer expecting, they are demanding that organisations operate responsibly and in a value driven way within their communities and ecosystems.  When it comes to partnering, businesses will choose to work with organisations that share similar visions and values and will penalise those that do not.  This topic is not just about “green credentials” – sustainability is about supporting communities and people – themes of equity and inclusivity start to be introduced (check out the concept of the “Triple Bottom Line“).

I speak to many large organisations with “big visions” for their future, and for the world.  Being aligned to these visions and supporting them is not optional anymore.

Experience

I have spent a lot of time talking about experience from the perspective of Workplace solutions.  This is still relevant, providing great Employee Value is key in the ongoing war for talent we see across markets and industries.  It has been proven that providing a great place to work leads to better customer satisfaction, leads to better returns, and the cycle continues.  The trend of experience also encompasses the experience of the consumer of the services.  Providing compelling and engaging services and touch points is imperative in the battle for the consumer.  We all see, experience and act on this in our home lives – we are increasingly intolerant of poor experiences or those that do not meet our expectations.  A relentless focus on experience, both internally and externally is key to success.

Summary

When I think back to all the conversations I’ve had with customers, they anchor back to one or more of these trends.  There are nuances by industry as you would expect, but they form a bedrock to help understand the challenges and opportunities businesses face as they look towards their future.

Coming next…. Our response and role in helping to respond to these challenges will feature in upcoming blogs.  In the meantime, check out the  insights from our UK Chief Technologists in our latest publication.

Annabelle Meek, CRN Women In Channel Award Nominee 2020

At Computacenter, we have a strong commitment to promoting, encouraging and progressing the careers of women in tech, and are delighted that this year we have 9 amazing nominees in the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020! To even be nominated is a fantastic achievement for our talented, hard-working and passionate group of nominees and we would like to send a huge congratulations to all of them.

We are highlighting their individual achievements and journeys to show just how well-deserved these nominations are. The next blog in this series is written by Annabelle Meek, our Lead Security Manager, who reflects on her achievements with Computacenter so far and how it feels to be nominated for such an important award.


Annabelle Meek has been with us at Computacenter for almost 3 years, currently working as the Lead Security Manager for one of our most high-profile customers.

“This is a highly complex account which challenges me in every aspect of security management,” she says. “It varies from incident management, patch management, vulnerability management, change management and continual project innovation.”

Within her role, she has played a big part in mentoring a number of our Industrial Placement Students over the years; a role she took on as an addition to her technical day-to-day responsibilities.

“I love to inspire people into pursuing technology careers and enabling our junior members of the team to grow in the cyber security sector.”

Over her 15 years’ experience working in various managed services companies, Annabelle has worked with a range of high-profile customers, which has given her the opportunity to develop her skills, helping her build the foundations that have enabled her to get to where she is in her career today.

“Computacenter has been a roller-coaster of a journey in the short time I have been here,” she says. “I cannot believe how fast time flies when you are having so much fun working in a role you absolutely love.” 

Being nominated for this award is something that Annabelle doesn’t take lightly, and she is immensely proud to be up there among other Computacenter colleagues.

“I am absolutely over the moon to have been nominated by Computacenter for the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020. To have this kind of significant recognition has made me so proud to represent women who work in technology.”

Having had a mentor herself, Annabelle is now a role model in her own right. One of our Cyber Security Industrial Placement students shared just how much of an impact Annabelle has had:

“I feel a deep sense of gratitude for Annabelle. She has shown indispensable support and encouragement throughout my time at Computacenter and beyond. 

She taught me how to work hard and keep going during adversity. Annabelle is a kind, caring, and nurturing person. 

Without her, I would not have been so lucky to receive the opportunities I have experienced to this date. I can proudly say that you are one of my role models.’’

When she isn’t protecting our top customers from cyber crime and cyber security attacks, Annabelle is a mother to two children. Raising children, running a home and working full time keeps her extremely busy, but she still finds time to enjoy plenty of time for dog walks and exploring at the weekends!

When asked about her nomination, Annabelle said:

“I am honoured to be recognised as an inspirational woman in tech. I truly hope I can inspire others to mentor young women to step in to the world of technology, as I have loved every minute of my career in Computacenter.”

Back to computacenter.com

Workspaces of the near, not far, future

Predicting the future is a notoriously difficult business. Nostradamus got away with it by being supremely ambiguous but if you need to be more specific it makes sense to keep timescales tight and start from where you are today. You’ll be unsurprised then, to find that this blog is not about the workspace of 2030, but what will happen in the next 12 months. Considering that the last six months have turned how we work upside down; and things are unlikely to go back to how they were, we need to plan realistically for all that this implies.

I have previously written about the importance of the office. How the tech giants were spending billions creating campuses to entice people to spend more time working collaboratively in one physical space. The world has changed somewhat since then, but those organisations are now well placed to adapt because the workspaces they created are flexible enough for people to work in the ways they want, plus they have the potential to adapt to meet these needs as they evolve.

Speaking to colleagues and friends, what has been obvious is that everyone’s experience of lockdown has been different. It varies wildly depending on factors such as your family circumstances, the environment you work in, the stage you’re at in your career, not to mention the type of work you do. People are social animals and the importance of that should not be overlooked. After the initial enthusiasm for remote working, organisations are also starting to find out that it is not a panacea. Problems can take longer to resolve when people aren’t physically together. New staff and those at the start of their careers aren’t developing and integrating as quickly as they would if they were office-based. Video meeting fatigue is a real thing and productivity is starting to wane as hopes of a quick end to this situation dissipates.

At present, most organisations are not rushing staff back to the workplace. Strategies around the numbers that should return are also being hampered by external factors like childcare and public transport arrangements. Whatever the actual numbers turn out to be, the workplace of the near future needs to be able to flex to accommodate this. Designs, once the exclusive reserve of tech giants and media companies, will need to become a reality for the more ‘traditional’ organisations.

Accepting that it’s unlikely we will ever return to the workplace in the numbers we used to, how do our workspaces need to change? In an article on the BBC website Barclays’ boss Jes Staley has said that the pandemic “has led to a rethink of the bank’s long term ‘location strategy’”. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he predicts that 50% of the company’s employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. It makes sense to me then that more focus is put on regional offices.  The headquarters then become a hub: a central location to bring people together, host customers and hold executive meetings. For this to work, however, we need to re-think how those spaces are used and what experience they offer:

  • Collaboration with remote participants will be the norm
  • Office spaces must better support new hybrid workstyles
  • Buildings need to be smarter to adapt to this changing use and support sustainability targets
  • Employees will need help to make the most of the physical spaces as much as they will the technologies that underpin them

As companies learn to trust staff to be able to know where and how to work most efficiently, there will be a step change in people’s work/life balance.  For the organisations themselves there are obvious benefits in a reduction in office space, fewer expenses, happier and more productive people. Customers too are accepting that most things can be done remotely and spending three hours, each way, travelling to an hour-long meeting is not the best use of anyone’s time.

There are investments that need to be made now to make the workspace safe and begin the return. But the long-term investments need to be in changing how our workspaces operate for the continued benefit of everyone. The office will undoubtedly still be important and play a crucial role in both colleague wellbeing and organisational success. Workspaces will have to adapt to this to thrive and businesses will have to look at investing to compete. The environment you create will be key in both attracting and retaining talent as well as creating an advantage against your competition.

Don’t try and predict the future. Plan and invest for what you know will happen. Prioritise those that need to return, make investments to allow those that want to return to do so and ensure that those working for home don’t suffer from a degraded user experience.  Unless of course, like Nostradamus, you have foreseen the apocalypse in which case you have other things to worry about.   

Claire Harlow, CRN Women In Channel Award Nominee 2020

At Computacenter, we have a strong commitment to promoting, encouraging and progressing the careers of women in tech, and are delighted that this year we have 9 amazing nominees in the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020! To even be nominated is a fantastic achievement for our talented, hard-working and passionate group of nominees and we would like to send a huge congratulations to all of them.

We are going to be highlighting their individual achievements and journeys to show just how well-deserved these nominations are. The next blog in this series is written by Claire Harlow, IT Technical Services Manager, who reflects on her nomination and career with us at Computacenter so far.


My name is Claire Harlow and I am hugely proud and excited to be representing Computacenter at the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020 in the Manager of the Year category.

In my current role as IT Technical Services Manager within Group IS, I manage both a Technical and a Support team, and was bowled over to have been nominated by 4 of the amazing women in my team. Here we are celebrating International Women’s Day earlier this year:

My career with Computacenter

I joined Computacenter back in 2014 and immediately felt at home.

I was lucky to be surrounded by great colleagues and was supported by a manager who was more than happy to help me progress. During the first couple of years, I learnt more about Computacenter as a company and GIS, taking on the role as chair of the GIS Employee Forum and becoming an Induction Champion. We had some fun times, including organising a charity “Lunchtime Olympics” event, Senior Management Q&A sessions and of course those delicious Christmas Buffets…

I had expressed an interest in taking on more responsibility and in 2016 was offered the chance to lead a new team, giving me my first official management role. This was a huge moment for me, and I really enjoyed the challenge. It was especially exciting when my old team was incorporated into my “new” team a year later – followed by the Support team shortly after.

Computacenter provided a suite of management training courses and I was lucky enough to be able to learn from experienced role models in my own management chain. But, looking back, what helped the most was the great bunch of people I was managing.

I was delighted to read the following quote from Nick, our GIS Apps Director, during the awards submission process:

“Claire is a pleasure to work with. Since joining the Group Information Services (GIS) Division in 2014 as a systems consultant, she has rapidly progressed as a leader. Claire is a key member of the divisional extended leadership team. Claire’s success is driven by many factors, including her endless levels of day to day enthusiasm and ‘we can do this’ attitude, her excellent organisational and motivational skills, and her high levels of creativity.”

Having had nothing but support and encouragement in my own development journey over the last 6 years, I think one of the reasons I was nominated for the CRN Women in Channel Award is because I’m also passionate about helping others. Not everyone wants to progress up the career ladder at high speed, but most people do want to be supported, respected and given the opportunity to learn and improve in whichever way suits them best. This is what I try to do with everyone in my team and I’m proud of the way the whole team works, both together and within the wider division. I like to think the team is well respected within the division and seen as a team who really ‘gets things done.’

Reading the initial nominations and the (later) supporting statements from the team and management was humbling and something that you don’t often get to do. This kind of experience is a bit strange, because it’s somehow unnatural to shout about yourself from the rooftops; but equally, it made me look back on what I’ve achieved over the last few years with real pride. 

Working through the COVID-19 crisis

The last few months has been enormously challenging, both for me and members of the team. Everyone has had to get used to working from home, juggling childcare, keeping in touch. Strangely, it feels like we have never been busier.

I suppose in a way, that’s a good thing, and everyone has been doing an amazing job both on new customer projects and keeping things ticking over on the BAU side. However, I look forward to a time when we will be able to go back to the office, bounce ideas off each other, spend time in face to face meetings (not too much though) and go out for lunch…

Outside of work

When I’m not at work I enjoy relaxing at home, baking, taking my 2 mini schnauzers out for long walks, and catching up with family and friends. At work, I have office running buddies, and it’s proved a lot harder to motivate myself at home!

I would like to finish with a quote from one of my team, which encapsulates the kind of manager I aspire to be:

“It’s truly motivating to have a manager who is always willing to contribute, as opposed to delegation by default, and I think that this is the perfect time and opportunity for Claire’s efforts to be recognised.”

Having this kind of testimonial from a team member and getting this far in the CRN Women in Channel Awards is truly an honour. I hope it inspires other women to pursue or continue their careers in tech.

Helen Croft, CRN Women In Channel Award Nominee 2020

At Computacenter, we have a strong commitment to promoting, encouraging and progressing the careers of women in tech, and are delighted that this year we have 9 amazing nominees in the CRN Women in Channel Awards 2020! To even be nominated is a fantastic achievement for our talented, hard-working and passionate group of nominees and we would like to send a huge congratulations to all of them.

We are going to be highlighting their individual achievements and journeys to show just how well-deserved these nominations are. The next blog in this series is written by Helen Croft, Workplace Solution Specialist, who reflects on her rewarding career with Computacenter so far.


For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Helen Croft, a Workplace Solution Specialist at Computacenter. 

I joined the Computacenter team back in 2012, following a 10-year career at Bank of America where I was lucky enough to work across several roles, both at individual contributor and leadership levels. During this time I was given the opportunity to work with some phenomenal people, developing their skills and shaping their careers, as well as my own.

Supporting others has always been incredibly important to me, and the pride I felt in my early career years in seeing others develop and progress – while still developing myself – will stay with me forever.  

My Computacenter career so far

I started my time at Computacenter as an Inside Sales Manager back in January 2012, leading two regional internal sales teams who were providing daily support to customers globally.

The team were truly a pleasure to lead; focused, determined, and with absolute drive to strive forwards and deliver exceptional service to our customers. For 4 consecutive years the team progressed, strengthening and growing as a team both in terms of performance and indeed as a group of people genuinely stronger by being a collective. 

One of my proudest moments, in 2015, was when the team were recognised as Inside Sales Team of the Year for their 2014 performance. A fundamental moment for the team and an incredible moment at our annual Sales Kick Off. 

On stage at the Computacenter Group Kick Off event in 2015

In 2016 I took the opportunity myself to join our customer facing sales force, moving into the workplace specialism that I’m still working in today, supporting our customers with workplace services and solutions.   

Moving into the sales team presented a different dynamic; moving towards a unique contributor role, and allowing me to personally explore my true potential within sales. This is an opportunity I have relished, enjoying the customer facing interaction, virtual team orchestration, whilst still working with teams of people to deliver customer outcomes. 

Working through the Coronavirus crisis

2020 has been an interesting year to date. COVID19 has of course impacted a number of plans, but the relationships I have with customers has allowed me to continue progressing our various sales opportunities. I’ve also been incredibly proud to mentor a number of newer sales people into the Computacenter team, and am honored to be nominated in the CRN Women in Channel Awards.

This is incredibly humbling as a sales person, and I am so unbelievably proud to represent the sales team for Computacenter at the CRN awards; it’s also something I hope will help to inspire my two little ladies, Katie and Chloe.