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What Is Situational Intelligence?

Situational Intelligence
What is Situational Intelligence?
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Situational Intelligence is a proven approach that unites data from across an organisation to provide the context needed for fast, confident decision-making.

Situational intelligence correlates, analyses and visualises massive amounts of disparate data to identify the crucial few items that require attention.

All types of data are useful in situational intelligence, including data from enterprise systems (ERP, CRM, etc.), operational systems (pumps, motors, etc), IoT devices (meters, sensors, etc.) and external systems (weather, social media, traffic, fires, etc.)

Situational Intelligence

The Components of Situational Intelligence

Situational intelligence brings together business intelligence, operational intelligence and location intelligence. Data from every source is analysed and visualised in a single solution to simplify decision-making.

The Benefits of Situational Intelligence

Organisations in a range of industries around the world use situational intelligence to reduce risk, increase safety and asset reliability, improve productivity, ensure regulatory compliance, raise customer satisfaction, lower costs and create new revenue opportunities.

Examples of how these businesses are utilising situational intelligence to make fast, confident decisions include:

  • Anticipate and respond faster to unplanned service disruptions
  • Accurately match variability of customer demand with available capacity
  • Identify and proactively address high-risk assets and situations
  • Optimise asset and network performance
  • Detect theft or fraud
  • Perform root-cause analysis to determine why assets failed
  • Prioritise operational tasks based on financial impacts
  • Proactively inform customers of service delays or failures
  • Improve cross-functional collaboration and communication
  • Optimise personnel schedules under constantly-changing conditions

The Six Categories of Situational Intelligence

Situational intelligence mirrors human brain processes on multi-faceted situations and events as it seeks to fully capitalise on all relevant sources of data. Decision-makers like to be able to digest information quickly and actually see what’s happening (and where and when it happens) so they can connect the dots faster than they can search for correlations within static spreadsheets or text. To this end, situational intelligence focuses on creating multi-dimensional visualisations of data so that information consumers can see, understand, and take action on unfolding situations at a glance. This “360° insight” includes the following six categories of intelligence:

#1: Operational intelligence

Operational assets (such as transmission lines, drilling rigs, cellular towers, delivery trucks, and inventory stores) are critical to the day-to-day performance of many businesses. The goal of operational intelligence is to acquire and analyse the data these assets constantly generate and keep tabs on the health of the assets so that proactive action can be taken to address issues, such as maintenance needs, before they impact service availability, safety, and operational efficiency.

#2: Environmental intelligence

Environmental events such as severe storms, heat waves, wildfires, and heavy snow can wreak havoc on operational performance. In other situations, environmental factors play a role in driving operational success. Consider the importance of wind, water, and solar in supporting green power for smart grids. Environmental intelligence utilises data from weather reports, satellite images, emergency services, and sensors to help organisations respond to changing conditions that can have either a negative or positive effect on their ongoing operations.

#3: Location intelligence

Having insight into where things are happening is extremely important for any organisation with geographically distributed assets, customers, and employees. When a mechanical problem grounds a plane in one city, being able to quickly arrange alternative plans for the delivery of inventory or goods on that plane is critical to avoiding disruptions in service (and profit). Location intelligence helps decision-makers’ actions be more precise and efficient.

For instance, stakeholders can use location information to answer the following types of questions: Where was the plane going? Are technical personnel available near the site to make the needed repairs? Are other planes available at or near the location to deliver the shipment? If not, what other transportation options are nearby? Which customers will be affected, where are they, and what are the revenue implications of non-delivery? The list goes on.

#4: Machine intelligence

Using machine intelligence, organisations can automate complex business rules and processes, identify behavioral anomalies, perform “what-if” simulations, and make reliable predictions about behavior of assets under certain conditions. Common questions can include: What is the likelihood of failure of certain assets over the next 10 years? How will costs and service levels be affected if I deploy new, smarter assets over the next two years versus the next five years? Why are all customers in this area reporting high service satisfaction levels except for these 10 customers?

#5: Social intelligence

The rise of social networks has given birth to volumes of data that can be mined to better understand the experiences of customers, prospects, and even individuals who are using competitors’ services. Social data can also be a useful tool for capturing insight quickly about what’s happening “on the ground.” A map tracking social media chatter can be a powerful visualisation aid, showing, for example, how many customers in the same neighbourhood are tweeting that they don’t have electric service.

#6: Business intelligence

Traditional BI tools are designed to slice and dice archived information and churn out pre-defined reports. Although BI by itself may not be able to meet the requirements of dynamic organisations, combining it with the five other categories of intelligence is unquestionably powerful. Imagine, for example, that in addition to looking at “sales by ZIP code,” a business user can view a map showing the majority of sales by city, neighbourhood, street, or any user-selected geospatial area. Perhaps a business wants to identify the effect of severe storms on sales in particular stores, view the impact of social media initiatives in various cities, or make more accurate predictions about buying patterns at different stores.

Supported by situational intelligence, BI becomes infinitely more useful, giving businesses the insight to be one step ahead instead of one step behind. The best part is that emerging technologies are enabling users to obtain this insight through a single software environment.

Security Unified Security Operations Centre

This unification is a clear differentiator to other ‘dedicated’ SOCs. Dedicated SOCs might justify themselves by saying it is better as they ‘only do security’. Our experience, however, is that unification enhances our security capability and gives you a better outcome. This is because we can more quickly and correctly determine what is a threat and the best course of remediation for a business when we have greater understanding of your business’s operations.

Learn more at https://www.netoverdrive.com.au/services/security/security-unified-security-operations-centre/

Source Link

https://web.archive.org/web/20161105025841/http://situationalintelligence.net/what-is-situational-intelligence/

https://tdwi.org/articles/2012/11/06/Situational-Intelligence.aspx

*We reproduce this article from the old website (https://web.archive.org/web/20161105025841/http://situationalintelligence.net/what-is-situational-intelligence/) as it has been offline now.

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3 Steps to Protect Your Data From COVID-19 Scams

3 STEPS TO PROTECT YOUR DATA FROM COVID-19 SCAMS

Coronavirus (COVID-19) isn’t just a growing threat to public health – it’s also a growing threat to your company’s cybersecurity. From using scary subject lines to adopting faux official letterhead, bad actors are scrambling to use the climate of fear and disruption caused by COVID-19 to their advantage. Disasters, emergencies, and global pandemics provide a target-rich environment for cybercriminals to launch phishing attacks and employ other dirty tricks to gain access to your data. It only takes one staffer opening a bogus email, clicking on a dangerous link, or downloading a malware-laden attachment for them to succeed.

Australia, in particular, has seen an increase in cyber risks and threats amid the intensifying outbreak. That’s led the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to release a new threat update exposing the patterns of these schemes through a series of case studies.“Cybercriminals are very opportunistic and we are seeing an increased targeting of Australians through COVID-19 themed malicious activities,” said the acting head of ACSC, Karl Hanmore. Over 100 scam cases have been reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch in the last three months with a significant surge in malicious cyber activities affecting businesses and individuals since early this month. This is why the new threat advice update also outlined practical security measures to be practised by businesses and individuals alike, as private networks can be a lot less secure than an organisation’s patched up operating network.
 
Here are three ways that you can act immediately to prevent a potentially disastrous Coronavirus-related data breach.
1. Plan, Preserve and Protect 

Use expert guidance from agencies like CISA to prepare your organisation for risks posed by COVID-19. Is your cybersecurity plan adequate for the unique challenges presented by increased virtualisation if your staff is quarantined or working remotely for safety? Two-factor authentication and other tools like VPN help keep your organisation’s data and systems safe even when workers aren’t in the office.

2. Trust but Verify 

Get updates about COVID-19, scams and frauds related to the Coronavirus pandemic, and its impact on cybersecurity from trusted, official sources, and encourage your staff to only use vetted information for planning and communications. Be wary of any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink. Avoid sharing or clicking on social media posts, text messages, or IMs offering Coronavirus information, vaccination, treatment or cures.

3. Make Prevention a Priority 

Refresh every staffer’s training on how to spot phishing scams and online fraud. Remind your staff that government agencies will never ask for sensitive personal, financial or business information via email. Reinforce that clicking on links or opening attachments from unfamiliar sources is a quick way for scammers to infect your systems with malware. Employee Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulations can help make sure that your staff is ready to spot and defend against attack. Constant vigilance against cyberattacks is a smart strategy for any business. In these uncertain times, we’re happy to be your trusted source for the tools and strategies that you need to keep cybercriminals out of your business.

How to Enable Your Staff to Work Remotely During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

working from home, coronavirus, work remotely

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe, more and more governments are advising people to stay away from crowds and public places to limit the spread of the infection. Such guidance has made business owners anxious, as the workplace is one of the most common ways that people come into contact with others.

Many business owners are struggling with the dilemma of doing the responsible thing and closing the office or staying open and trying to make ends meet. Staying open raises the risk of spreading infection, but widespread closures could seriously damage the global economy, making post-coronavirus life much bleaker.

Thankfully, remote working offers a solution. In 2019, 62% worked remotely. While remote working isn’t an option for every company, there’s a substantial amount of work that doesn’t need to be done in the office. In this article, we’re going to look at how you can prepare your employees for remote work and stay productive in 2020.

1.   Computers

Nine times out of ten, your employees will need access to computers to work from home. Depending on the device management controls/restrictions you have in place, there are two main options:

  • Allow employees to take computers home – If you already have employee laptops, then it makes sense to allow employees to use these from home. Desktop computers can be a little trickier as there is a higher risk of damage to hardware, but it’s still possible to migrate.
  • Allow employees to use personal machines – Most, if not all, of your workers, will have their own devices, so using these for work is a natural choice. You can choose between using the machines directly or enabling remote access to work machines through Virtual Desktop environments.

2. Software

Software is the key to successful remote working. If your employees don’t have access to the right tools, then they won’t be able to do their jobs. Businesses that have already moved to the cloud have an advantage because users can already access cloud services from home.

You can access popular CRMs, ERPs, communications tools, and other cloud solutions, whether you’re in the office or at home. With the right software, your employees can work from anywhere.

If you haven’t moved to the cloud, then you can support remote access by allowing access with a VPN, permitting remote access to local desktops, or even by adopting cloud-based services. Choosing a cloud-service can be done on a short-term basis and then refined to a more robust setup later on.

3. Phones

Depending on your business, access to phones can be a big or small issue. If your employees use mobile phones most of the time, then you’re almost good to go. All employees need to do in this scenario is to start taking calls from home.

On the other hand, if you regularly receive calls from customers on a mainline, you will want to have calls directed to people’s personal devices or via the internet to their desktop devices.

4. Communication/Meetings

One of the biggest challenges of remote working is the reduced level of social contact. While working from home is great for working on a task undistracted, there are many problems we can resolve much faster when we can communicate with our peers. Encouraging and supporting staff to maintain communication is essential for getting the best results. You can do this by adhering to a few things:

  • Pick up the phone and call! – If you need to talk to someone, don’t forget that they still exist even if they’re not in the room!
  • Use team tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams – These are great tools for sharing knowledge but be cautious because they can also serve as a source of constant distraction. Encourage employees to stay disciplined during chats.
  • Use meeting tools like Zoom – Meeting tools are invaluable tools for scheduling meetings and communicating through video or voice chats online. Many solutions offer integrations with calendars, which eliminate back and forth via email.

5. Security

Security is a significant challenge that you can’t overlook when it comes to remote working. Whether employees are in the office or working remotely, they always have the capacity to compromise sensitive information. If you’re still working with them, then that means you already trust them to a degree.

However, when working from home, it’s essential to educate your employees in security measures so that your data stays safe. Instruct employees to:

  • Only using secure/trusted networks.
  • Lock their computers any time they walk away from it.
  • Connect to cloud or remote services via a secure connection.
  • Have an up to date antivirus.
  • Clean personal machines before use.
  • Keep sensitive files in a consistent location on machines for easy removal.
  • Report any concerns immediately.

Use Technology to Unlock the Possibilities of Remote-Working

The abundance of technology solutions available gives you 101 different ways to support remote working. Network Overdrive has prepared to help clients during this time of uncertainty by partnering with Aryaka, to deliver clients a Secure Remote Access solution designed specifically for remote teams. The solution increases application performance, so remote workers don’t get sidetracked by poor connectivity.

If it’s a choice between closing your doors or adopting new tools to prepare for remote working, the latter is a natural choice. Now is a better time than ever before to get your enterprise ready for remote operations, and to give your employees some stability during this difficult time.

If you’d like help or advice on getting your business ready for remote working, please give us a call on 1300 368 928.

The Techceptance Journey: From Denial to Nirvana

workers, computer, technology, teamwork

The path towards on-boarding new technology is as much a mental journey as it is a technical challenge. Moving from denying the value of new solutions to achieving empowerment and Techceptance is anything but easy. But what is Techceptance exactly?

It may come as a surprise, but by reading this article, you’re experiencing a form of Techceptance. The very act of taking the time to read an article on technology shows that you accept the power new tech has over your life and your business. In other words, you recognise that you need to invest in new technology to grow as a modern enterprise.

Techceptance: The Journey to Tech Acceptance

It is no secret that adopting new technology is a tumultuous process. New technology disrupts established operations and changes the day-to-day reality of business dramatically. When on-boarding new tech, there are four stages an enterprise must go through before reaching Techceptance; Denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.

While battling through these stages can be a test of willpower, completing the journey is a competitive necessity. In the digital age, any company that uses technology to do business is a tech company by default. Every company that exists today is a tech company; it doesn’t matter if you’re selling socks or pizzas because you’re still part of the digital economy.

Technological Investment is Paramount to Success

Putting your money where your mouth is and investing in your technology is an important step to enhance your business. Investing in the right solution can refine processes and deliver a substantial increase in your bottom line. Systematically building a complete IT strategy is a great way to drive long-term profitability.

It is paramount that you know what technologies to invest in to get the most bang for your buck and thrive in the modern economy. Investing in new tech should be a hands-on process rather than something you outsource to a third party. Unfortunately, many companies make the mistake of handing over control of IT to someone else based on “expert advice.”

Many technology experts and IT management firms urge companies to take a hands-off approach to new tech that can slow progress. These experts encourage companies to hand over control of their IT so that an expert can deal with the nuts and bolts.

The truth is that outsourcing your IT management is a fantasy because your IT is part of your business, not someone else’s! The “leave it to the experts” approach may be good for the service provider’s business, but it’s not for most modern tech companies. To adopt new technology, you must discover solutions and integrate them into the operations inside your enterprise.

The Right Way to Invest in New Technology

Picking which technology to put your money behind is one of the biggest sticking points companies face. Many CEOs struggle to find the right technology to invest in because there are so many options to choose from, like cloud computing, AI, and automation. Just knowing where to start is extremely difficult.

Furthermore, the technicalities and strategy of adopting new technology is a nightmare. The hassle of on-boarding new solutions leads many CEOs to take a “leave it to the experts” attitude to IT. Nine out of ten times this means leaving IT management to CIO’s, IT departments, and managed service providers to move forward.

However, there is a more effective way to invest in and nurture new technology; the Techceptance Initiative. The Techceptance Initiative provides the senior management of a business with the next steps towards achieving their IT strategies. Enterprises can use the Profit Stacks Framework to examine potential solutions and identify the IT actions that will drive profit.

The Techceptance Initiative takes a scientific approach that companies can use to onboard new technology that brings results and actionable insights that will transform your business. A recent client of our Techceptance Initiative achieved a boost of $100,000 in profit in the first 12 months of engagement! Viewing IT investment through the lens of profit makes it much easier to choose what tools to adopt.

Use Techceptance to Kick-start a Tech Revolution 

Sometimes all it takes to kick start your Techceptance journey is a concrete plan. Stop listening to experts who tell you to outsource your IT management, take control, and start managing your IT yourself! Tools like the Profit Stacks Framework can help you to weigh up IT options, select the most profitable course of action, and transform into a better business.

Taking the time to understand the real-time value of new technology (and the potential profit!) can be an ah-ha moment. Pinpointing a profitable IT action gives you a feeling of certainty and clarity that can only be called Tech Nirvana. Mapping out the road to business success turns digital transformation from a chore into an unprecedented opportunity.

If you’d like to learn more about how to start your Techceptance journey, give us a call on 1300 368 928 or get in touch through our contact form.

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.

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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.