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What to Look For in Managed IT Service Providers

desktop computer, technology, managed service provider

There’s one thing that all businesses have in common – we all rely on technology. When a company is just starting up, it’s IT department may consist of a couple of techs who manage a small number of tasks and operators.

But with bigger company growth comes a more complex IT infrastructure. This complexity, combined with rapidly developing technology, can make it enormously challenging for an internal IT department to keep up with a business’ needs.

Additionally, the stakes are higher with multiple operators, transactions, and customer needs to manage quickly and efficiently for the business to remain competitive.

That’s why IT managed service providers are the obvious choice for mid-size businesses and growing enterprises in Australia.

An IT managed service provider can provide appropriate levels of support to meet a range of business requirements, while also relieving internal staff from having to keep up with staff requests, changes in technology, and system maintenance.

That being said, not all managed service providers are equal. It’s important to ensure that the provider you choose to work with is able to meet your business’ specific needs. After all, hiring an IT provider means outsourcing an important arm of your organisation. So it’s worth your time to ensure the right fit.

What you need to know about managed IT service providers

When searching for an MSP, you first need to make sure you work with a company that can bring your technology and business goals together. Any MSP that says ‘let me take care of your IT so you can focus on your business” is doing you a disservice.

While a service provider’s primary focus is to ensure the safety and availability of your infrastructure, they should do so within the context of your broader business strategy. The MSP’s role should be to bring your tech and business needs together.

A key requirement to look out in an MSP is that they demonstrate how they will help you to use technology to drive profit in your business. They should be able to equip you with understanding and insights to make great technology investment decisions.

More specifically, A reputable MSP will:

  • Ensure the strategic alignment of IT with business goals
  • Manage servers, workstations, switches, and LAN
  • Manage messaging and email communications
  • Manage security, virus protection, and spam filtering
  • Provide a data back-up and recovery service
  • Offer Service desk support
  • Provide software deployment management and support
  • Conduct network monitoring and incident remediation
  • Offer internet access and VPN management
  • Provide vendor management and hardware replacement

To help you select the right provider for your organisation, we recommend you lookout for the following considerations:

Availability

Your computer network works 24 hours a day, which means problems can occur at any time both day and night. When it comes to your IT support, you want a provider that’s always available to deal with any issues swiftly and efficiently.

A good service provider will have adequate resources to provide both remote management and monitoring, and also offer first call support on a 24 x 7 basis.

Response time

Being available for calls is one thing, providing fast answers can be another thing entirely. Some IT managed service providers outsource their calls to a call centre, meaning your request will likely bounce through a few departments before it actually gets dealt with.

Make sure your provider offers a guaranteed response time.

Local maintenance and support

Using a local provider can make life much easier when on-site works are necessary. Local providers can have a tech out to your business within hours to fix problems, upgrade hardware, and provide in-house assistance.

Vendor relationships

A big advantage of using an IT managed services provider is being able to leverage their relationships with third party suppliers. A good provider will have strong relationships with multiple manufacturers, saving you the time of tracking down multiple vendors for service and support.

Chances are that some problems will occur with your technology that requires the manufacturer’s assistance to resolve. Look for a provider that has access and experience with specialised support and tools across every vendor your business uses.

Daily backups and cloud services

Your business’ data is its most valuable asset. But what happens when disaster strikes? Fires, water damage, theft, accidents and other threats can wipe out your company’s precious data.

Your IT managed service provider should provide automatic and consistent backups on a safe, remote server. Having your data safely stored this way means should some catastrophic failure occur, your business can weather the storm and be back to normal within hours.

Security monitoring

Cyber crime is on the rise, with hackers targeting more businesses than ever in the form of ransom ware, data theft, and other malicious attacks.

This unfortunate new ‘normal’ of doing business means it is crucial you are prepared and protected from online security threats. A good managed services firm will have a plan that includes regular security testing and monitoring.

Proactive maintenance

Technology isn’t built to last, which is why any good managed service provider performs an array of proactive tasks that help prevent issues before they occur. Your partner should work with you to make sure you are up to date with your technology at all times to save costly repairs and upgrades later.

Make better tech decisions!

Partnering with the right managed service provider not only keeps your IT available but helps you to make better technological decisions. Having an expert on hand gives you access to vital support and guidance you can use to keep your services available when you need them.

Investing in the assistance of an MSP is a proven way to make your IT operations more efficient and secure. A good provider will show you what technology will enable your business goals so you can maximise your ROI.

Outsourcing your IT to Network Overdrive gives you access to a full-suite IT department – without the huge cost and hassle. To find out how we can help your business, call us on 1300 368 928.

What Does IT Success Look Like For Your Staff?

Network Overdrive

What does IT success look like in your organisation? And what do you do when tech isn’t working in your business? If the answer is to bury your head in the sand, then chances are you could benefit from an action plan to increase technological utilisation. The challenge of on-boarding and maintaining new technology is a hurdle that managed IT service providers encounter consistently.

The key to breaking down poor adoption is to get to the root of why the company is using these tools and identifying the problems stopping employees applying them. Many organisations have a fundamental disconnect between management’s perspective of technology adoption and the attitudes of employees in the ground.

While 92% of C-suite execs say they’re satisfied with the technology experience their company provides for making progress on their most important work, only 68% of staff agree.

The saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is as relevant to employee productivity as it is to a trusty steed. No matter how many tools you have at your disposal, you won’t start to reap the rewards if your employees don’t use them.

However, enterprises need to acknowledge that poor adoption of technology isn’t always the fault of employees. Sometimes new tech just isn’t up to scratch. As Geoffrey James Contributing Editor of Inc has said, “employees who say ‘no thanks’ to crap software do their company a favour because crap software always gets crap results.”

Regardless, knowing what to do when your technology, systems, and processes aren’t working for you is paramount for building a productive workforce experience. That’s why we’ve compiled an action plan to help motivate your employees and get technology working for you.

What to do When Technology Isn’t Working for You

If your technology isn’t delivering the results you expect, then your immediate goal should be to increase utilisation. Getting employees using the technology in front of them is critical for reaching techceptance (a state of synergy between employees and digital solutions). To boost adoption, we recommend the following process:

  1. Focus on small teams of no more than 20 and look for potential advocates. Advocates are people who want to improve their job and the customers’ experience of the company.
  2. Gather their feedback and review current pain points or inefficiencies. Identify a part of their job where existing technology within the company would allow them to complete their role quicker and more efficiently.
  3. Take a video of the employee explaining their frustrations and ask them what the ideal use of technology would look like. Follow up by creating metrics such as how long it takes to do that job or how often it needed redoing because of technical errors.
  4. Implement a new technological tool or teach them a better way to use the existing technology.
  5. Monitor employee feedback to assess the improvements made throughout the transition.
  6. Use this before and after comparison to help implement the change for other staff.

Following the steps above will help to increase the use of new processes or systems smoothly, and actively educate employees on how to make their job easier. Rather than deploying a new platform and hoping for the best, this approach actively nurtures the technical development of your team.

The core ideas behind the process are:

  • Stay focused on the staff and understand their current workflow very well.
  • Stay focused on improving one key part of their work with technology.
  • Take records so that the experience can be amplified and motivate other parts of the business to look for more ways to improve their work processes.

Applying the Managed IT Service Provider Action Plan

Research has shown that 60 percent of all occupations comprise at least 30 percent of activities that are technically automatable, which can cause employees to have anxiety over adapting. Following the strategy above will help create a stable workforce experience even in the wake of digital disruption.

You can apply the action plan regardless of whether regulatory compliance has forced you to implement new technology or because management requires greater visibility into operations.

Even if you install new technology primarily for the benefit of employees, you can improve adoption by being proactive and finding ways to improve their lives. For example, you can give an employee a faster computer as part of the transition to boost enthusiasm going forward. The key is to be creative!

Of course, active dialogue with staff will also uncover when you shouldn’t deploy a certain technology or remove it from the workflow ASAP. If a piece of technology is going to make the life of your employees more difficult, then you can look at alternative products, or find different ways of using current platforms.

Tell Us Your Experience with IT Success (or Lack Thereof!)

If you have made it this far then the chances are that the technology in your workplace could be better. Do you think there is a disconnect in your business between management and employees on how beneficial the technology used in the company is? Is the right amount of effort being spent finding how to improve your team’s experience?

If you think your company could do with more human-tech synergy or you have a battle-tested adoption strategy, tell us about it, we’d love to know your thoughts.

Is your IT Making you Money or Costing you Money?

Is your IT Making you Money or Costing you Money?


Network Overdrive has developed a new framework to enable the measurement of increased profitability as a direct result of IT investment, addressing the Top 7 Challenges faced by professional services and consulting businesses.

For every $1 you invest in IT, it is possible to deliver and demonstrate a direct link to revenue generation and cost reduction outcomes. By both increasing revenue and reducing costs, increased profit is a given. Without the right approach, attempting to do so can easily drown a good management team in a sea of complexity. Where do we start? How do we prioritise necessary actions? How do we decide what investment will make the biggest difference?

Hidden value is present in critical areas of your business and the right IT, optimised strategically and aligned with your business planning, will help you uncover and deliver that value to your customers and your shareholders.

We offer a system called “Profit Stacks” that can be customised to your business. It includes a rating system to identify those areas already contributing well to the business and clearly shows the areas that are under-performing. It will also assess potential technologies ability to fix that problem.

It will separate out the cost of technology into operational cost and the Cost of Revenue (COR). It will attempt, as much as possible, to move any technology investment into the cost of revenue sold so that a clear link between technology investment and revenue is made. By the way, I am using Cost of Revenue (COR) rather than Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) on purpose. I will explain this more in an upcoming article.

Over the past 18 years in business, our customers in professional services and consulting have demanded something better. We share with you here an overview of the unique approach we have developed to meet that demand.

Want to know more?

DOWNLOAD OUR E-BOOK:
5 Ways to Profit from Technology with Profit Stacks




7 Profitability Challenges for the Professional Service Business

7 PROFITABILITY CHALLENGES FOR THE PROFESSIONAL SERVICE BUSINESS. DO THEY APPLY TO YOU?


Since 1999, we have listened to 100s of business owners tell us what drives them and what impedes them. We then helped them reorganise their operational challenges and delivered customised technology solutions for each of them.

Book a 2 hour workshop with Greg Clarkson to start this process.

We  noticed the same pain points re-appear time and time again.  Our experience has identified 7 profitability challenges that we can address through smart use of technology

Those 7 top profitability challenges are how to:  

  1. Move beyond one-off projects and secure regular, predictable and ideally recurring revenue;
  2. Keep the sales pipeline filled with qualified prospects;
  3. Find, develop and keep the right people in the right jobs;
  4. Keep revenue-generating staff fully productive and engaged in revenue-generating activities;
  5. Minimise the cost of operations and rescue the business from failed projects;
  6. Remove time-wasting, repetitive and expensive tasks through automation;
  7. Keep the business agile and responsive to market changes as it continues to grow.

Over the last 18 years, as we have listened to business owners grapple with each of these challenges, we asked the question: how can we turn these challenges into an opportunity?

We identified 5 key areas that, if considered in the right way, can become profit opportunities rather than challenges.  The 5 key areas are

  1. Sales
  2. People
  3. Operations
  4. Finance; and
  5. Structure

The ‘right way’ is to further break these 5 areas into basic building-blocks and identify the technology used in each block.  The building blocks are then re-arranged and made profitable.  Effectively, we are reassembling building blocks into ‘Profit Stacks’

This is the key innovation.  Most discussions regarding business and technology get stuck at the high level of “we need to improve Sales”. This all too often results in an isolated CRM system implementation.  This discussion is doomed to failure because Sales is a multi-step process and each CRM has its strengths and weakness.  Marrying up the two systems will be a hit and miss affair without the clean understanding of sub-processes.

Also, by defining the sub-processes, a business opens itself up to the possibility of using a best-of-breed application for the one process that needs attention rather than invests in a monolithic ‘one-size fits all’ applications.  The age of software-as-a-service can be realised in that business.

This process is then repeated for the other areas of People, Operations, Finance and Structure.

And Voila!!  It’s amazing how such a simple approach to aligning technology and business activities will address the 7 profitability challenges listed above.

To learn more, you can download the book or contact us to run a 2-hour workshop to customise this process for your business.

Book a 2 hour workshop with Greg Clarkson to start this process.

Why you need to be tech savvy when buying/selling a business

Why you need to be tech savvy when buying/selling a business


As my business partner once shared, the two best days of business life is when you buy (or start) a business and when you sell it! I was reminded of this recently when a business I work with called me about a potential buyout of another business.

It got me to think: “So how do you get the deal done?” For some it is the people, others it is the market opportunities and others the financial performance and ultimately it is about the will of the two parties to do a deal.

How often do you hear about the companies doing an investigation of each others technology as part of the negotiation of the value of the deal?

In the post-merger/acquisition, unfortunately operational challenges unravel the perceived value of the merger.

In fact, according to an IBM research paper, only 23% of mergers recover their costs and 50% actually destroy shareholder value!

The damage is often done by either maintaining separate technology systems or integrating them! It can often be a case of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’!!

Given the problem IT can be to post-merge operations it is surprising how often it is overlooked or done incorrectly in any due diligence process.

I’ve also found that many IT Due Diligence Checklists simply audit the IT Stuff in the selling organisation. As such they just become a number on the asset list. The checklists fail to rate the technology in a view of how well the business is doing with that technology. Nor does it marry that seller and buyers technology in a business system to see if the merger will fix gaps or under-performing functions in the buyers technology mix.

To address these issues I developed a system to evaluate technology in terms of the value it delivers to the business. It allows each organisation to quickly determine where the businesses’s technology help (or hinder) their business in their ‘stand-alone’ state and whether the benefits will be amplified and the difficulties minimised or not in the merger. I call this system ‘profit stacks’. Why? Because it breaks each business down into its building blocks. It links the technology used to facilitate each function. And it allows the seller and potential buyer to rate the value the technology gives to each function. Then each building block can be assembled into stacks to determine the overall value to the business. Hence the profit stacks are unearthed and a discussion on valuation enhanced.

So, please, share how you get the deal done and whether technology is part of your consideration while doing the deal.

Has anyone actually walked away from a deal because of the cost of technology integration was too much?

If you in the process of an ‘M&A’ activity, speak to me about using the profit stack method in your valuation discussions.

Why Golf Victoria outsources

Why Golf Victoria outsources their IT services and what it means to their business


Brought to you by owner of Network Overdrive, Greg Clarkson, our Taste of Technology video series brings real life case studies of Australian businesses direct to you. Discover how other businesses are utilising managed service providers to help grow their business.

 

Greg: Okay. Well, welcome to Network Overdrive’s Taste of Technology series. My name’s Greg Clarkson. With me is Brian from Golf Victoria. Welcome.

Brian: Thank you very much. Great to be here.

Greg: It’s exciting to have you at one of these things and it’s exciting to be at a golf club.

Brian: Yeah it’s fantastic. It’s a great golf club, lot of tradition here, and it fits in beautifully with our organization.

Greg: What I would like to do is just spend some time for you to talk about what is Golf Victoria, what do you do, and how do you do it.

Brian: Okay. Well, we’re basically a non-for-profit organization. We’ve been around as a joint body for only about six years now, but both the male and female organizations are well over a hundred years old. They merged six years ago to become Golf Victoria. And as I said, we’re a non-for-profit organization and our role is the state body of golf. So basically, our role is to look after all golf courses in Victoria, whether it be governance, whether it be rules of golf, handicapping. There’s a myriad of different things that we do, including tournaments.

Greg: That’s right and you have a major one every year, is that correct?

Brian: We do. The Victorian Open, which is a state championship. So that’s a combination of “open,” meaning open to professional golfers and amateur golfers alike.

Greg: How many people would attend that sort of a tournament?

Brian: Are you talking spectator?

Greg: Both. Like in terms of participants and…

Brian: During the four days of the tournament, around about 20,000 plus people or spectators would turn up at 13th Beach down on the Bellarine Peninsula. Fantastic location. We moved there around three years ago and it’s an absolute winner. It’s a perfect time of year to go down to that area.

Greg: And how many people work in the organisation?

Brian: Our organisation, full-time, 25 staff members in the office. We also have six Regional Development Officers that actually work out in the field.

Greg: And some of those would be focused on the tournament, like you describe, and others would be focused on training or development for people?

Brian: The organisation is broken up into different areas. So we have an Events Team, we have a Development Team. Now, the development could be junior development or adult development. The Regional Development Officers, they work directly with country golf courses. So their role is to assist those golf courses in all areas.

Greg: Fantastic. And what’s your role in this organisation?

Brian: I get all the boring stuff. So my job is Business and Technical Services Manager. So I look after external contractors, such as yourselves, Telstra and all those interesting ones. But the technical side is more rules of golf, course rating, working with golf clubs on their governance so…

Greg: Yeah, because for me, technical means technology, but for you it’s about how to do a golf swing.

Brian: Not so much. It’s more the technical aspects of the handicapping system and how it works in the golf club environment. So, I might work with a golf club on their rating of their golf course. And that doesn’t mean it’s the most popular golf course, it means it’s a technical side of the business whereby we’re allocated a number. And it’s so the handicapping system will work.

Greg: Okay. So, I wanna ask about technology itself, computers and IT. How does Golf Victoria use technology at the moment?

Brian: Well, at the moment, every staff member would use a computer. So we can’t escape it. We have an interesting mix of staff members. So from very young to my age. And none of those are technical in the sense that they don’t specialize in technology. They’re golfers, as such, and so they can use technology and they need to in their day to day work. So as I said, we use computers every single day. We’d be in real trouble without them.

Greg: Yeah. So let’s list some examples of some of the challenges of technology when things don’t quite work for you.

Brian: Well all our tournament entry forms are online. So all payments, bar a very minor few, are done online. Whereas if we go back, say five or six years ago, it was all done by fax. So it was literally…

Greg: Yeah. Big change.

Brian: Yeah. Paperwork. And now it’s all done via the Internet. All our events are run through computers. All our tournaments, when we go and run a tournament, all our live scoring is done through either…it’s a real challenge at the moment, because we’re using technology through, say a handheld two-way radio system back to a central base. Well, we’d like to change it. That’s something that we’d like to look at in the future.

Greg: So although you’re embracing technology, you can certainly see ways that technology could help you even more in the future.

Brian: Absolutely. It’s changing every day from our point of view. So we’re coming from a very low base, as I said, five, six years ago. And it’s getting the staff to understand the new technology and embrace it. It’s been quite challenging.

Greg: And in my time working with you, I can certainly appreciate that different people have different needs. So you’ve got one group of people that are into multimedia because they’re doing communications and marketing. And they have to work with video companies, they have to work with online content, print media. And so they work with large files as a result. Somebody else, they don’t want technology. They’re maybe even afraid of it. All they wanna do is just get out on the road and meet people. But also, you can see ways that they need technology to do their job better. At the very least, they need email to work wherever they are.

Brian: Absolutely.

Greg: And they need to be able to report that back for your own grants or your own planning for are they making a difference on the road, are they actually reaching out to young people, or are they working with the clubs in the way that you want them to.

Brian: Exactly right.

Greg: And they might be afraid of it or they’re not really sure how to use it.

Brian: And that’s what I was saying about earlier. We have a broad range of ages across our staff and a broad range of experience in using technology. We’re also coming from a volunteer based organization five to six years ago to now, pretty much, being staffed professionally. So, in other words, each time we employ a staff member we’re actually removing a certain number of volunteers that we’ve needed in the past to do certain roles.

Greg: Well, before the camera started you were talking about that sometimes you’ve needed IT support quick, and on one hand you’re thinking, “Oh, it’d be nice to have a local IT support,” like a local person working in your office to do that. But you don’t. How does the decision on whether to have internal IT support or outsource it, how did you come across that decision? How have you found working with a third party organization like ourselves?

Brian: The interesting part about it is, as I said, none of our staff, we don’t have a tech team as such. We have individual staff that’ll know a little bit about this and a little bit about that. We have one contractor who knows a little bit more than everybody else. So he tends to be the go-to person. But since we’ve been working with you guys, it’s been great to be able to just pick up the telephone and say, “Hey. I’ve got a problem with my laptop,” or, “I’ve got a problem with a software program,” and to be able to get tech support immediately. I did last week and it was fantastic. Within 10-15 minutes I was back online.

Greg: And sometimes, even if you have a local person, they’re not there when you need them anyway. They might be having their coffee.

Brian: It was their day off.

Greg: That’s right. So your local could be having their day off or sick.

Brian: Yep. And this was at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. So it was fantastic. Everyone else’s knocked off and going away for the weekend but it was great to be able to pick up, call, and get someone at the other end who could help me.

Greg: Well, it’s been a fantastic pleasure for us to be working with Golf Victoria and I see you as a very innovative organization, which is why I wanted you to be on this series. That, yes, you’re coming from a non-profit volunteer base but you have an understanding of how technology can make your volunteers and your professionals lives easier. It can make the golfers, their enjoyment of golf better. And it’s been a pleasure to see that evolution as you’ve gone through it.

Brian: Thanks, Greg.

Greg: Thank you for your time.

Brian: Pleasure.

How a real estate agency has embraced technological change

How a real estate agency has embraced technological change


Brought to you by owner of Network Overdrive, Greg Clarkson, our Taste of Technology video series brings real life case studies of Australian businesses direct to you. Discover how other businesses are utilising managed service providers to help grow their business.

 

Greg: Hello, I’m Greg Clarkson from Network Overdrive, and welcome to the latest of our series of Taste of Technology. I’m here with Adam Guest from Wilson Agents. How are you?

Adam: I’m very well. Thank you, Greg.

Greg: That’s great to hear. So tell us about Wilson Agents and what you do.

Adam: We’re a residential agency that has three offices. All network with each other. We manage residential and commercial properties. We also obviously sell real estate as well through the three offices. We manage residentially about 1,780 odd[SP] properties and about 250 odd[SP] commercial properties.

Greg: Wow, that’s a big number.

Adam: Yeah, it’s a big number. And it keeps us on our toes all the time.

Greg: Yeah, I can imagine. And sales, how many people would be in the sales side?

Adam: Sales department, we have approximately about 11 salespeople.

Greg: And I imagine, you never stop…I mean real estate agents, you’re working almost seven days a week.

Adam: Yeah, it is a seven-day-a-week job. You become very, very used to it. You’ve given up your weekends. You just make sure you have more breaks during the year.

Greg Yeah, that’s right. I can imagine. And in that operation, what sort of technology do you use to do your business?

Adam: Well, obviously, the three offices are networked. We use social media obviously to a great extent now, more so than we did from the past. All of our management’s done obviously through software. All the offices are networked together. Our biggest problem at the moment would be speed. As you know, it’s a nightmare. Servers are also a nightmare. So we’re looking at options of going into cloud. Mobile phones…I mean it’s all technology-based, iPads, done for condition reports, laptops for, you know, the salesmen out on the road. It’s just endless.

Greg: It’s endless. And could you imagine doing business without email?

Adam: We actually did once upon a time. I remember those days very fondly. You could actually go with a lot more speed at times.

Greg: Yeah, you would like to go back there perhaps.

Adam: Sometimes, I wish I was back there. Unfortunately, with emails and things of that nature, you don’t actually get a break. No matter where you are, you’re always checking your emails. And it’s always something work-related. And that’s all part of the job now.

Greg: That all part of…

Adam: So it’s 24/7, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.

Greg: And I would imagine that you are fairly large or midsized in the marketplace.

Adam: In management, we would be considered midsized, large to midsized. In sales, we’d be considered, I suppose, midsized. So we’re not the large ones, but we’re trying to get there slowly but surely through organic growth.

Greg: I understand. And you just have mentioned some of the challenges that you’ve had that now as you’re growing and you’re having more properties that the speed is an issue. Every time your IT system’s slowing down, you can feel it. Your staff can feel it. You‘re not getting the results that you want.

Adam: It frustrates the staff. I think part of our problem is one of the softwares that we use for property management must be archaic now by standards of what’s out there, based on, I suppose… When it was first introduced, which is quite a number of years ago, it was the market leader. And as things changed, it progressively got better. They just bolted on things on to the same platform. And what you got now is a very large platform that has a very, I suppose, clunky product. So we are looking at options at the moment.

Greg: I think this is like what would be called “technology debt.” You’re carrying a technology debt. You had a system that worked well for you in the past. And now, it’s becoming something that’s holding you back. And thinking about…how do you deal with that? Where do you go with that?

Adam: I’m pretty open with change. I mean there are people that don’t change with the times. I have a very open mind. I know there’s always something new out there. It’s obviously a question of cost. I don’t like to be the first person off the rank to get into that software because it just changes so quickly. There’s new products every single day. There’s always something new. There’s something else. If you go back, I suppose, to marketing and advertising, you had in the old days the H[SP] which controlled the real estate marketing total for marketing advertising. As time went on, some young company came up called realestate.com. And no one really wanted to take shares. You know, a couple of people took a part. And we thought they’d never take off the ground. And…I mean that’s all obviously history.

Greg: Now, they’re the market leader.

Adam: They’ve effectively decimated… But that mistake that they’re making, they’re actually doing what the H did. They’re now, I suppose, in almost a monopoly situation. And they are putting up the price accordingly. And for what they provide and for what they’re charging, I don’t think it’s balanced, unfortunately. But in saying that, I think that as the market…oh, not the market, as technology moves on, there will become alternatives to realestate.com. And I suspect that what will happen in turn, they’ll possibly go that same as the H did in time.

Greg: That’s the risk.

Adam: Yeah. Well, I think people are looking out for alternatives by, I suppose, getting databanks of people, just getting, you know, all of your clients that you’re dealing with, tenants that you’re dealing with, putting them on to your database. Then you broadcast to them when you have a vacancy or if you’re selling something. That market will increase. And then you’ll be out to avoid that top marketing.

Greg: I find it interesting because that’s big data, what you’re talking about. And some people would think that only the multinationals or the big business can be interested in big data. But as a midsized business, you actually need to have control over your own data and use that in the most effective way and not just give away your information to other people to make money out of.

Adam: Well, it’s happened gradually over time. But I think that people are becoming more conscious of the effect of cost, and cost is forcing us into a different direction. So many costs… I suppose you control your own destiny by doing it through your own marketing. And when you’re marketing your own product, you’re not competing against other product which is the same on the marketplace, because what you have, you’re specifically and exclusively dealing with your database.

Greg: Yeah, that’s right.

Adam: And that’s what you’re trying to do, just constantly trying to build your database.

Greg: And that’s the tension between going to cloud and all the advantages of cloud. But then, by going to cloud, you might be using the same solution as every other real estate agent that’s out there. And you got to weigh those [inaudible 00:06:39]…

Adam: No, I don’t think that’s issue. I think it’s more the…I suppose, the client base that you can gather over time.

Greg: Yeah.

Adam: You keep or try to keep clients for life. In the old days, you used to have a phone number and a postal address. If they moved home, they change their phone number, and they change their postal address, and you have to try and track them down. Today, everyone has an email address. How often do people just leave their email address behind? They don’t. They take it wherever they go. So you’ve got that constant communication with those people. So that’s all changed.

Greg: Very good. And so with your crystal ball looking into the future, so where do you think things might go in a few years’ time?

Adam: In our industry, I believe it will be more cloud-based. Pretty much, we’d be totally cloud-based within the next five to seven years I would’ve thought, possibly sooner. As far as your database, that will keep on growing, and that will be more valuable. I think that at some point in time, if I was looking at a crystal ball, you may get other, you know, companies, I suppose, pooling their resources as far as their bases are concerned to avoid using the likes of realestate.com or domain.com. That’s just my personal view. I may be wrong, but…

Greg: Yeah, who knows? We’re looking to the future. We always feel that tension between, like you said, dealing with legacy, which is the tried and true but not working exactly how the business is going. And then also you got the new stuff, but you don’t want to be the first cab off the rank to work on that. So how to stay flexible and agile but also you still got a business to run, people who know old systems, so how you move them with you into the new world, whether it’s 100% cloud. And you got different issues with staff as well, I imagine on that.

Adam: You do. Staff training is a very big thing. And again, the younger generation coming through have a very different approach to communication, more so than my generation and even your generation.

Greg: Yup.

Adam: They’re very savvy with communication. Social media, I think, is good and bad at the same time. You know, I personally don’t like it. But that’s where it’s all at. I mean people know everything that you do all the time. You see people putting everything on their Facebook page or on Twitter or whatever it might be. I still scratch my head at times wondering, “What the hell! [inaudible 00:08:56] people wanna know [inaudible 00:08:56] my house?

Greg: Yeah. Well, that’s amazing, Adam. I think you do a fantastic job at Wilson Agents. I see you as a very progressive real estate agency. You’re making more often the right decision in terms of technology, in terms of moving forward and doing that balancing act between getting the features and benefits, the maximum you can out of your old systems as well as grabbing hold of the new things and taking them.

Adam: It’s cost-related. At the end of the day, you really look at the return of the dollars, where do you put your dollars. If you went with every single suggestion that came about, you’d go broke in five minutes. You’ve got to do the best with what you’ve got and add on, I suppose, and gradually and progressively change. When you do make a major change, you’ve got to look at the economic benefits in doing so. And that’s one of the things that I look out very closely.

Greg: Well, thanks again for your time.

Adam: My pleasure.

Greg: And I hope this has been helpful for others out there.

June Newsletter | Malware Increase & Our New Unified Operation Centre

June Newsletter | Malware Increase & Our New Unified Operation Centre


 

 

Whether you are an owner or employee, it is likely that the end of financial year affects you in terms of reporting and planning. And then, of course, there are personal financial matters to attend to!

As you focus on the bottom-line, we too have been working hard to improve that number for you. The easiest way we can do that is by minimising the cost and risk of IT to your business.

In this financial year, the single biggest issue we have had to contend with is stopping organised crime from holding your businesses to ransom through malware that encrypts all your data!

We have had to deal with a number of vicious incidences that were only stopped through careful diligence to backup and security. Any one of them could have cost the associated business tens of thousands of dollars.

Try and factor that loss into your budgets!

We wrote about such risks in this article in October 2015 and unfortunately nothing has changed.

Once again we urge everyone to take care in the type of emails you open and websites you go to in your daily life.

Network Overdrive’s New Unified Operation Centre

One of the articles in this newsletter outlines our strategic decision to unify our security and data protection activities into the one unified operation centre. This will improve our remediation/resolution times when a security incident requires data recovery.

Another way we help businesses is by growing their revenue through technology-based solutions. We have a number of solutions to help customer service teams retain and acquire customers, and sales teams to remain agile and in front of opportunities. Much of this is through integrating phones with computers, mobility, and cloud-solutions. We run IT planning seminars to review your business and each of its departments to determine the best technology fit for your current and future business goals.

If we haven’t yet done so in your organisation please book in a session with us.

We are also sharing an article on Office365 for you to consider. Many of you may already be on Office365, however this platform is constantly changing with new features that may be of interest to you. Please let us know if you want our help to explore these features. Read more here.

Our responsive and friendly staff is available to minimise any frustration you’re having with your IT and help you increase productivity.

In our ongoing efforts to assist businesses, we offer a fixed price for IT support and management. The fixed price is our way of putting our money where our mouth is. We are focused on delivering results and not eating into your budgets. This allows us to work in true partnership with you.

To get a better picture of how a fixed price service is the best choice for your business, watch this video.

I have been thinking a lot lately about organisational technology debt. Many organisations put off investment into IT for a period of time, especially if they can’t see the immediate return. However, eventually a combination of frustration, productive loss and visible loss of revenue forces the company to make the required investment.

I wonder; what would our budgets look like if we included the technology debt we are avoiding? And what would the revenue and productive gains be if that technology debt were wiped?

Food for thought. There is an interesting article for CFO’s on tech debt here.

You can help shape Network Overdrive’s services

We are very proud of the high level of positive feedback we receive, and are always striving to improve our services to customers. If you would like to offer comments on what we’re doing right or what you feel we could improve, click here

How to Calculate and Minimise the Downtime Cost of your Business

How to Calculate and Minimise the Downtime Cost of your Business


 

 

Most people (especially men) don’t like thinking about bad events and will often avoid going to the doctor, taking out insurance and discussing difficult topics in a relationship.

However, most people experience tremendous relief once they have tackled and resolved the tough problems in their life.

For small and mid-sized businesses, thinking about downtime is similar. Most try and avoid it, but once they finally do address the issue they experience a large weight off their shoulders.

Whether you have measures in place to address the issue of downtime, it’s important to remember it isn’t a set it and forget it scenario. Just like your health, it’s important to be on top of the matter before the symptoms present.

That old adage, “Prevention is better than cure,” has never been more applicable.

Regular reviews and testing need to be a part of your business model.

Our most important recommendation is:

FOCUS ON RECOVERY!

Of course backups are important, but just having a backup can still mean you have extended downtime. So let’s think about the cost of downtime and why you need to get your Recovery Strategy right.

Why SMBs are Especially at Risk

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the biggest losers when IT downtime hits. Without the savings of bigger companies to cushion the impact of business loss and customer’s turned away, even a couple of hours could mean the difference between balancing the budget or forever chasing next week’s funds to catch up.

Statistics show that the average small enterprise can lose between $50,000-$60,000 every year due to IT failures. The biggest loss isn’t the money it takes to fix the problem: it is more likely to be the cost of losing that important sale, losing customers and adversely affecting staff morale.

This is often the difference between being profitable and going out of business!

Causes of Downtime

Downtimes in most SMBs are usually caused by either everyday disasters or sitewide disasters. Those of the everyday account for the lion’s share of downtime – 95% to 98%. Despite their everyday nature, don’t assume they are inconsequential. Something as commonplace as a server reboot, software update or power outage can cause downtime for all of a day’s business hours.

Think about how much your business generates in a day. That’s a fifth of your weekly earnings. Would you flush that away if you didn’t have to?

The issues causing these everyday failures can be myriad. Hard drive crashes, overworked motherboards and fans, and power surges account for around 55% of resiliency issues for SMBs. And we all know equipment under warranty isn’t as important as equipment that works. There’s the hassle of replacing the malfunctioned parts, not to mention the wait for them to arrive and be installed.

Software or database corruptions and deleted items also pose a threat. As can connectivity problems due to interrupted internet access, access and line cuts, and misconfigured networking gear. And, finally, lack of redundancy in systems such as firewalls, switches, Wi-Fi components, routers and servers can all contribute to downtime.

But the blame for the majority of these issues and causes of downtime can be pointed at the one culprit: user error. User errors account for around a quarter of all downtime incidents.

Sitewide disasters hit less often, but when they do you know it. They can mean the end of business for SMBs whose services revolve around IT resources. These disasters are the ones that make the news – touted as “acts of God” and natural disasters. Floods, fires, earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, etc. These are rare, but you can imagine that every business owner who has lost his or her livelihood to them has at some point thought, “It won’t happen to me.”

The truth is it is extremely likely that an SMB will face downtime at some point. Anyone who owns a computer has experienced the loss of work or a systems crash at some time. It’s not a matter of if, but when. What responsible business owners ask themselves, though, is when it does happen, how much are they going to let it affect them. How much damage is that downtime going to do to their bottom line, or their clients for that matter.

Having the contingencies of preventative disaster recovery measures in place to minimise the damage downtime can do is a smart business tactic. But where do you start?

Calculating the Cost of Downtime

Begin with the systems most valuable to your business and staff in performing the functions of their roles. The most obvious will be ensuring the processes through which your customers conduct their business with you. Line-of-business and cloud applications, and other systems through which your usual channels of revenue and service flow. With these also come your usual communication channels, such as internet access, emails and phone.

Consider the tangible “hard costs” and those intangible “soft costs” that are harder to measure. The tangible hard cost is the obvious loss of revenue and customer churn. But the intangible is just as important and likely to have a ripple you feel long after your usual systems are restored: the damage to your business’s reputation and drop in customer satisfaction.

Calculating Downtime Costs

Obviously, the soft costs can be hard to calculate, so by focusing your attention on the hard and tangible losses you can arrive at a specific dollar amount that may make implementing a disaster plan the clearest option.

A simple but effective calculation to determine your downtime costs is as follows:

(Revenue/workdays per year) / open work hours

Determine whether downtime would be total or isolated based on concentration of offices or workplace.

Assume your company earns $20 million per year. The company is open an average of 23 days per month, with about 12 operating hours per day. And about 50% of the firm’s mission-critical employees work at company headquarters.

To understand the cost of downtime for critical systems at company HQ, you’d start with that simple calculation:

($20 million/276 workdays) / 12 hours per day = $6,000 lost for every hour of downtime company-wide

Then you’d account for site specificity:

($6,000 per hour lost company-wide) *.50 = $3,000 per hour of downtime at corporate headquarters

While making these calculations, remember it’s hard to put a price on your reputation. These numbers are used to weigh the costs and savings of disaster versus disaster recovery. When communicating these figures to decision makers, it helps to explain that these are minimum baseline costs, and don’t estimate the losses incurred when your customers look to the competition.

Once you have your downtime hard cost estimate, you can start to consider the impact of downtime or outages and how much financial impact your business can absorb without too much disruption.

This will lead you to your clear recovery point objectives — how much data loss can you tolerate? And recovery time objective — how much downtime can you afford?

Some businesses and industries necessitate a minimal tolerance for recovery point objectives. An organisation that runs and relies on deadlines cannot afford to lose a day in its tight schedule.

Another business in a service industry might have low tolerance due to demanding customers requiring 24/7 care. It all depends on the business.

Solution

Once you know the cost and have set your business’s tolerances, you can use them to plan your disaster recovery program. Each component of a disaster recovery program should ensure that any disaster event never results in downtime or data loss beyond the tolerance you’ve established.

These components include:

  • Redundant infrastructure and connectivity.
  • Backup and disaster recovery systems.
  • Services and processes to rapidly recover key systems to mitigate the cost of downtime.
  • Regularly review and test the plan.

The key is not to focus on how long it takes to do a backup, but how you can confirm the data is protected AND how long it will take to restore data from your backups.

The cost to all of this yourself is significant and difficult. This is why Network Overdrive offers to not only install and configure a system that will work on day 1 but will also manage the ongoing maintenance, testing and review of the backups and restores.

We call this ongoing work Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS.

Visit Network Overdrive or call us today for our Disaster Recovery as a Service options and assistance in calculating your business’s IT downtime costs.

Because we know from experience, prevention really is better than cure.

Next steps…

Find out how we can help your business.

CONTACT ONE OF OUR CONSULTANTS FOR A DISASTER RECOVERY SOLUTION TAILORED TO YOUR ENTERPRISE.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)


Three out of four companies worldwide do not have a reliable disaster readiness plan established, according to the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council[1]. That’s 75% of companies around the globe. You might be inclined to shrug, but compare that statistic with the repercussions and what those organisations are likely to face once their systems fail.

Some quick disaster recovery facts

In any given year, approximately 36% of organisations around the world experience the loss of one or more critical applications, VMs or data files for a number of hours, and close to 20% lose them for a matter of days. That’s a lot of business lost. Companies have reported financial losses ranging from between $50,000 to over $5 million in a year due to failing to have disaster recovery plans in action.

How to plan your Disaster Recovery

There are steps you can take to mitigate disaster and ensure your business suffers as little as possible. A Disaster Recovery plan will outline everything you need to recover (from applications and documents to entire sites if you wish). Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO), both clearly outlined, will give you peace of mind as to what to expect during the disaster recovery period, and can be used to determine the disaster recovery of your applications, which, we feel we must stress, should be tested regularly.

Testing your Disaster Recovery Plan

Testing their Disaster Recovery plan is where many organisations also fail. It isn’t enough to create your disaster plan and then forget it. With new applications comes the need for new testing. The abovementioned Annual Report also found some worrying statistics regarding this matter; in that one third of organisations only tested their DR plans once or twice a year, and close to a quarter never tested at all. And when companies do test their plan, more than 65% don’t pass.

When disaster hits

When something does go wrong, how do you want to react? Do you want to be the business owner frantically calling your I.T. department trying to figure out what’s happened, what’s been lost and what can be saved? Or do you want to be the one who knows it’s all taken care of, and your company’s tested and proven Disaster Recovery plan means your data and applications are protected, and this is a minor hiccup to your day?

Help with Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

If you’d rather be the one keeping their head while others are panicking and losing profits, Network Overdrive can help. Take a look at our Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) options and call us today to ensure you’re covered.

[1] The State of Global Disaster Recovery Preparedness Annual Report 2014

Next steps…

Find out how we can help your business.

CONTACT ONE OF OUR CONSULTANTS FOR A DISASTER RECOVERY SOLUTION TAILORED TO YOUR ENTERPRISE.