Welcome to the last instalment of the 2015 Associates blog. What better opportunity than to reflect, and give you an overview of my first year at Computacenter.
This year has absolutely flown by. Looking back to when I first joined I was new to the IT industry, was unsure how a large business worked and had little knowledge about what the role I had applied for looked like… what was I getting myself into!? What I believed however, was that I would be joining a programme that would help me through these unknowns and set me on the right path on my journey… I was not wrong!
I was barely four weeks into the programme before I was whisked away to Celtic Manor for the UK Kick-Off. This was the point when I really understood what Computacenter is all about. A weekend of intense learning and vendor engagement followed by England vs Wales at the Milennium Stadium, the awards ceremony and an introduction to the FMES jacket (which I now know stands for Full Margin Equivalent Sales). This was a big highlight at the beginning of the programme and a true representation of how Computacenter Inspires Success.
Onto the programme… I split our time into three areas:
- Understanding the Business
- Understanding the Industry
- Understanding the Role/Customer
Understanding the Business
Although you are continually learning about all three, I think the H1 rotations were all around understanding the business, the way it operates and an insight into how Computacenter meets the requirements of our customers. There was a lot more to it than just understanding the different business functions though. For me, this was about Understanding People Matter. People have been more than willing to assist myself and my colleagues, a really strong value of Computacenter’s that I will certainly emulate going forward.
Understanding the Industry
During H2 we were expected to understand the industry and how Computacenter align our propositions. I spent time going through the traditional lines of business; where I soaked up the knowledge and wisdom of specialists, sales managers and chief technologists regarding the industry, how it’s evolved and why Computacenter are well placed for the future. I felt lost when terms such as two-speed IT, cloud, Industry 4.0 and software-defined were being discussed, but again, the people within the business were there to guide me through. By Being Straightforward I was able to digest an increasingly complicated industry.
Understanding the role/customer
What struck me as an organisation is how we really do Put Customers First. The associates are all aligned to a sector/line of business, where we spend time within our team to learn the role and how to navigate within customers. What’s evident within each sector is our understanding of our customer’s business which, as Harry mentioned in the previous blog, is a necessity in order to provide the right solution for our customers.
“Best of breed is not always the right answer, the latest and greatest is not always the most sensible choice and instead it is our job to cast a critical eye over our customer’s business needs and construct a solution that is proven to help them on their IT journey”
On reflection, what has stood out to me are the ‘Winning Together’ values that symbolise Computacenter. This first year has been a great introduction into the business, thank you to you all for your time and effort, we all appreciate it. Thanks for reading, I now pass the baton over to the 2016 Associates.
Sales Associate, Industry Sector
The Channel Challenge
Welcome to the New Year and a new associate’s blog to get 2016 off and running. In our last blog of 2015 we heard James Cruickshank waxing lyrically about why he chose a career in IT and how he relishes the thrill of keeping apace with the relentless speed of technological change. I thought I’d take this theme further and hone in on Computacenter’s partners – our vendors and the wider eco-system within which we operate. The immersion in our partners of choice has formed a big part of my year at Computacenter and will continue to form the bedrock of my career, so I thought I would take this chance to muse on the stormy sea we swim in. How do we work with our major partners? Which technologies do we back to thrive? And most importantly, how do we help our clients navigate their way through a complex web of technologies and emerge from the vendor maze with a solution that best fits them?
At Computacenter we offer our customers services and solutions that are best of breed and best of need. However, this presents us with the perpetual challenge of staying on top of emerging technology and keeping abreast with how our key strategic partners are evolving. Large organisations are in a constant state of change and some of our biggest partners: Microsoft, HP (recently separated) and IBM are 3 of the biggest players on a global scale. Therefore, as IT professionals we have it as our raison d’être to work closely with our partners to ensure their prime products (that are a result of millions of pounds of investment coupled with some of the brightest minds in IT!) are projected into the market space. We also have to continually deliver value to our customers by keeping them up to speed with how the latest technological advances can assist their business, drive competitive advantage for them and enable their users to work more effectively. Consequently, a large part of our job, and one that can be both fascinating and frightening, is keeping our finger firmly on the pulse of technological change.
Vendors, IT manufacturers to laymen, are a particularly favourable topic at this time of year as January sees our annual celebration of another successful year at Computacenter driven in large by great harmony with our strategic partners. HP, now split into two entities to better divide and conquer, are the chief sponsors of the event and consequently their latest offerings will take centre stage. As such, we will all seize the opportunity to learn about the technologies HP have developed that will enable our customers to move through 2016 armed with the best equipped Enterprise infrastructure and End-user devices. Nevertheless, at our Kick Off we have a two day vendor village that provides Computacenter the opportunity to host all the key players in the IT world educating us on how their products can best enable our customers. To offer a valuable service we must both be an expert in our customers and our partners.
As you can imagine, the wealth of knowledge can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when many of the vendors overlap in the same space and all have nuanced competitive messages to drive home. This therefore, is our chief purpose: to sift through the noise and make a professional decision on what is the optimum technology for our customer’s use case. Best of breed is not always the right answer, the latest and greatest is not always the most sensible choice and instead it is our job to cast a critical eye over our customer’s business needs and construct a solution that is proven to help them on their IT journey. For whilst investors take a position on emerging IT companies all the time, it is not something that we and our customers can afford to do.
Computacenter can boast a long existence, which is an accolade in itself in such a volatile industry, and it has achieved this longevity by constantly delivering long term customer value. This long term customer value has been accomplished by remaining ‘un-dazzled’ by the bright lights of flashy tech and staying committed to long term proven results. So this weekend in Barcelona I’m sure we will all have our sunglasses on!
Have a great year, keep a weather eye on the technological horizon and bear in mind that the latest does not always mean the greatest!
So why choose IT as a career?
Welcome to the November edition of the associate’s blog, I’m James Cruickshank, a sales associate aligned to the Majors sector. A few weeks ago, as part of Computacenter’s graduate recruitment drive, myself and a few other associates represented Computacenter at a university careers fair promoting CC’s graduate programmes and placements. Whilst there, a common question asked by students was why choose IT as a career? Therefore this month I’m going to talk about IT and why, although an industry that can be overlooked by graduates, it’s a great place to be for any new graduate or school leaver seeking a challenging, dynamic and exciting career.
Firstly, as technology continues to develop, so does the IT industry. New products and innovative solutions entering the market mean the industry is a very fast-moving and dynamic one. Technological developments such as the emergence of cloud and mobility based technologies, for example, have changed the ways in which people work and interact with each other. The fluidness of the market means that as IT professionals we never stop learning and are constantly presented with new challenges. From a personal perspective, being part of an industry that in five years, let alone ten, will be a very different one to now is a very exciting prospect.
Secondly, because IT is an essential component for businesses to optimise efficiency and maintain competitive advantage, it gives IT professionals the opportunity to be at the forefront of some of the world’s largest organisations, recommending, implementing and maintaining the most effective IT solutions. To put the scale and importance of IT in business into context, 20 million British workers currently use some form of IT every day as part of their job. For me personally, having the opportunity to influence the future of large corporations was a crucial factor that drew me to the industry and Computacenter. I’ve certainly not been disappointed as so far I’ve been lucky enough to have been exposed some very high-profile projects where Computacenter are visibly shaping the future of some of the UK’s largest organisations.
Last but not least IT is a great career because it’s FUN! Sure, we work hard but we like to enjoy ourselves along the way. Being on the associate programme I’ve been fortunate enough to rotate across the business, attending numerous Computacenter and industry events. One example of this was the sector volleyball tournament, a great way to have fun and bond with colleagues outside of the office.
Above all, IT maybe wasn’t where I expected I’d end-up but, after 11 months at Computacenter I haven’t looked back. Being on the associate programme, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have received a second to none introduction to the industry.
If you’re considering it, take the plunge and apply, you won’t regret it!
In the life of a Service Management Associate
Thank you for watching. Apologies for the song choice!
Next month we will hear from our sales associate aligned to the Major Accounts – James Cruickshank.
Service Management Associate
Last month’s blog by Ed was a chance to reflect over the past 6 months of the programme, and our development within the company so far. We have had some truly fantastic opportunities, as I am sure you will agree, and we are all very excited to see what the next few months has in store for us! This month I would like to look to the future, and how IT is increasingly shaping the world around us. The world is becoming a smaller place as people become more interconnected through social media and more mobile enabled in the way they work. This in turn generates vast amounts of data, which businesses are looking to analyse to influence their business strategy. The rise of cloud computing has given users access to this data at any time. Collectively these trends are sometimes referred to as the SMAC stack (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud), workers worldwide are becoming more mobile, and demanding more from their technology. Computacenter has launched its own Enterprise Mobility Management solution in line with these trends to ensure its own employees are maximising their productivity and workplace flexibility, and I would encourage you to take a look at the promotional video on Browzaplus if you haven’t done so already! I would also like to give you a few personal examples of these trends, the first is one of my personal interests and the second is taken from a project I have been working on as part of the Associate programme.
In 1988 Akai released the MPC60, a drum machine with 16 rubber pads that allowed you to ‘sample’ (record) any audio source, chop it up, and assign these smaller samples to each pad to play the recorded source in any order you liked. The MPC60, with its 750kB of memory (expandable to 1.5MB if you could afford it) cost $3000, and spawned a new era in music creation. If you own a hip hop album from the last 20 years, chances are it was made using an MPC. Fast forward to 2015, and a company called Native Instruments has released the iMaschine app for iPhone. The app costs £2.99, and turns the iPhone into a virtual MPC. The app allows users to create music anywhere (mobile), and if you are particularly proud of your creation, you have the option to upload the track directly to Soundcloud from your phone (social). If recording samples isn’t your thing, you can purchase a variety of sounds from the in-app store and download them directly to your phone (cloud). User demands from their technology for flexibility in music creation and access to new data and sounds led to significant changes to not only how we consume music (think iTunes, Spotify etc), but also how that music is created.
Moving closer to home, over the past five weeks I have been working on one of our accounts on a Service Improvement initiative to establish a ‘tech bar’. Although the solution goes by various names, at its heart this initiative was born out of the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce, giving users increased flexibility and provides instant support for their device. Proposed as a drop-in service, users will be able to have their device supported and repaired whenever it suits them during the working day, rather than relying on an engineer to come to them. This will not be the first site where such a solution has been implemented by Computacenter, as I was able to visit three other sites for inspiration. This trend reveals that consumers are demanding more from their IT service providers, they want to be able to work from anywhere and be supported when it suits them. Computacenter has been very successful in meeting these demands – customer satisfaction was extremely high at every site I visited. I look forward to seeing the tech bar I have been working on being implemented in the near future!
As users are becoming more mobile, they are looking access information quickly and easily to enable them to continue working wherever they are. The demands they place on IT makes our industry one of the most exciting to work in, as we constantly need to be aware of the changing needs of our customers. At Computacenter we have been successful so far in meeting those needs in the solutions we provide, and it has been a thoroughly rewarding experience for me as an Associate to be involved with a project designed to improve the user experience.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to contact me on Twitter (@TomBatesonCC) with any thoughts, and make sure to tune in next month to hear from Glen Bridges, one of our Sales Associates.
Service Management Associate
The Associate Journey so far
It’s hard to believe I have been with Computacenter for over 6 months now. I am sure the rest of the Associates would agree with me when I say that the time has simply flown by. I’d like to use this blog as an opportunity to look over some of the highlights of our first 6 months in the business, which culminated with the Associates H1 review at the beginning of the month.Last month Emily’s blog focused on Computacenter’s values and what better place to start when looking back over the last 6 months. From day 1 it was clear that there is a definitive Computacenter culture and its popularity is evident just by looking at the longevity of many people’s careers here. The CC values are infectious and are epitomized by the amount of people within the business who have given up time in their busy schedules to assist myself and the other associates. I can assure you, we are all very grateful.
During the programme we all have endeavoured to get involved in not only the business but the social side of CC as well. Myself (the self anointed star player) and a few of the other associates managed to get a team together for the annual 5 a side Football Charity Tournament. This was no mean feat considering the team was made up of recent graduates and the start time was 10 AM…….on a Saturday. Somehow we managed to walk away with the Winner’s Trophy and whilst this was great, the opportunity to meet more people from all around the business and raise some money for charity was the real success.
Another highlight was the inaugural Services University hosted by Julie O’Hara (UK Customer Service Director). It was a fantastic day full of engaging workshops and insightful keynote speeches. It was also another great opportunity to meet more of the service management community. The theme for the evening was ‘Beach’, which resulted in a wide spectrum of horrifically bright outfits. I left Celtic Manor feeling energised and with a real desire to turn up the dial and make the most of my time left on the Associate programme.
The culmination of our first 6 months is the Associate H1 review. This is where each individual on the Associate Programme gets the opportunity to present to senior members of the organisation. We each had half an hour to cover the programme so far, our personal development and our plan for the future. The difficulty was covering this all in such a short time slot. Everyone had their own approach and although it was a somewhat nervy experience it ended up being thoroughly enjoyable. In addition it was great to get some precious feedback from some of Computacenter’s most senior individuals. Having spoken to the other associates I think we all took away some valuable advice and guidance for both the remainder of the programme and the future.
We are now a third of the way through the programme. It is time for us all to begin turning up the dial and ensure we make the most of this valuable opportunity.
On that note I’d like to say thank you for reading and hope you stop by again for the next instalment, which will be brought to you by the enigmatic Tom Bateson. I’m sure it will be worth a read!
Let us know your thoughts,
Let’s talk about our values!
I have been on the sales associate programme for 6 months now and often I get asked by friends and colleagues ‘Why do you love working for Computacenter so much?’
For myself the answer is simple…the Computacenter culture!
Computacenter has grown considerably from a single location business to a global company over the years and what is great about Computacenter is that despite the growth internationally it still feels like you are working with a tight knit family.
The Computacenter culture is underpinned by the ‘Winning Together’ values which are at the core of how the business operates.
Here are just a few of the times I have seen Computacenter’s values in action;
Let us know your thoughts,
Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher
My name is Tom O’Brien and I’m going to be talking about those who surround, help and support us as associates. That ambiguously could refer to just about everyone in the organisation, however I’m going to focus on the role of my buddy, coach, mentor and sponsor, who have all been essential so far in giving me exposure and experience in all areas of the business.
Before I dive into that, let me just thank Maria for kicking off the associate blogs in such a cracking fashion! Couldn’t agree more with her assessment of the first couple of months! It was a whirlwind of action, but what an experience (one I’ll never forget).
One thing I’ve learnt so far on the programme is that you are never more than an e-mail or call away from someone willing to give up their time for you, in order to push you forward in the right direction. The supporting network surrounding the associate programme doesn’t just end with the immediate associate team, headed up by Sue Harris (Head of Knowledge & Associate Programmes), who has been brilliant throughout; it extends to various influential people positioned to give you the best support possible.
I’ve struck lucky – but that’s the way we all feel!
My introduction usually goes something like this, “My names Thomas O’Brien, I’m aligned to Mike Mudd and Allison McLean, with John Charalambous as a buddy…” After, a general echoing of approval follows and it starts to sink in just how fortunate I am to have these people “on my team”.
A buddy is as a reference point for someone who’s followed the same path. John Charalambous (Service Management Associate) is someone I can go to with all those questions that crop up along the way, in John’s case, he’s had to put up with an awful lot! John’s also there to share his experience with me, the kind of things that you can only realise as you progress through the programme. He checks over PowerPoint’s, gives advice and generally points me in the right direction using that wealth of Scottish wisdom.
A coach helps to focus on performance in the targeted role and general development of skills. Coach Mike Mudd (Senior Service Manager) ensures I’m on the right path. Supportive is Mike’s middle name, I’m never far away from a great piece of advice or an insight into the life of a service manager. He’s ensured that I’ve gained a rounded understanding of service management, and that I’m exposed to any learning opportunities that come my way. Spending a lengthy time with him and his team on site at the Morrison’s account has advanced my skills but also given me a real picture of the complexity of managing an account.
A mentor’s role is help, support and advice provided by an experienced person in order to develop and assist the progression of an associate.I have the great fortune of being aligned to Alison McLean (Service Director), who holds a wealth of experience. Alison is able to place a perspective on what I should be aiming for, she reminds me of the bigger picture and relates back to the journey she’s been on throughout her time at Computacenter.
A support team would not be complete without the backing and sponsorship of Julie O’Hara (UK Customer Service Director). This level of buy-in coming from such a senior position within the company enables all of us as (service management) associates to gain exposure to the wider business and strive to be the best we can.
Thank you for reading this month’s associate blog edition. Next up we have Lewis Bates who is one of our Sales Associates in the Financial Services and Retail sector. Should be a cracker!
Let us know your thoughts,
Service Management Associate
A Brilliant Start at Computacenter
Welcome to the first blog written by Computacenter’s 2015 intake of new associates. This year the intake includes 7 Sales Associates and 5 Service Management Associates.
Stepping through the doors of Computacenter the morning of the 12th of January 2015 was an adrenaline-fuelled jumble of feelings from overwhelming excitement to extreme anxiety. Fortunately the wonderful welcome from everybody calmed these nerves and the last two months have flown by. I’ve experienced a whole host of additional emotions since, although some of these can be attributed to being so close to the England Rugby Team at the Millennium Stadium for our annual UK Sales Kick Off!
Our first three weeks in the company were based in Hatfield for our induction. We had many introductions from some inspirational speakers, such as Mike Norris (CEO), Chris Webb (Group COO) and Kevin James (Director of UK Country Unit). Pete Groushko (Sales Manager for Workplace), Mark Griffin (Datacenter Solutions Manager), the Sector Directors and many more also gave us their personal Computacenter journeys. Aside from the crucial insight from senior managers, we had a number of extremely useful sessions including the IT solutions life cycle 101, sales 101 and current trends in IT.
One of the most interesting days included in the induction was Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) training. SDI is a self-assessment tool that helps us understand what it is that gives us a sense of self-worth and what’s important to us when relating with others. It allows us to understand what motivates us and therefore how to build effective relationships both professionally and personally. In relation to the sales process this will improve performance through: effective communication; more positive thinking; creating energy within individuals and teams; enabling more constructive debates; reducing stress and the cost of conflict.
Following on from our induction we have all been on rotations through departments in the company. So far I have spent time with Inside Sales, my own sector (Capital Markets and TMT) and look forward to the Partner Management rotation next month. A successful team makes a deal happen. Therefore, rotations enable us to grow strong networks and develop the underlying skills needed to be a great salesperson and work together as a business to succeed. A fundamental understanding of roles and responsibilities within a team is imperative to maintaining the complex relationships established during a sale bid, successful win and a mutually beneficial, long lasting relationship with the client.
I would like to take this time to thank Sue Harris (Head of Knowledge & Associate Programmes) and Adriana Mills (Knowledge Campaign Manager) for organising a brilliant and invaluable three weeks and all those who took time out of their busy schedules to present to us.
Thank you for reading the first blog brought to you by the 2015 Associates. Tune in next month to hear from Tom O’Brian our Service Management Associate where he will be covering the important roles of our buddies, coaches, mentors and sponsors.
Please send us your thoughts,