The Perils of Commuting – Why more companies should help their team work remotely

We’ve all been there, awake at 7 am, thinking about the commute we’re about to face. We wish we can just fall back into our dreams, but really, we must go to work. The work you enjoy… but the journey you hate. READ MORE

4 ways to spring clean your data

Spring is here and it’s the traditional time to remove the clutter from your life.

There’s no reason why your data should be exempt from this. It may not be physically there, but it’s sitting there getting dusty nonetheless. So it’s that time of the year to ask yourself: does your data need a good de-cluttering? Is it time to spring clean your data?

READ MORE

Train strikes & bad weather: keep your business running effectively

train commuter

With wet, cold weather to come this Winter and more strikes planned, it’s time to prepare for disruption.

Here in the UK, we’re not blessed with amazing weather all year round, nor are we blessed with reliable train services.

Imagine waiting for your train, ready to start a busy day jam-packed with emails and calls. Then, the announcement is made. Your train is cancelled. You can’t get to the office – the only place you can access your desktop – and the stress begins to pile up. What do you do? Do you just go home? Do you wait hours until the trains start running again?

Train strikes and weather disruptions are a nightmare for those who can only access everything they need from the office.

READ MORE

Have you ever lost something important?

Maybe your computer froze just before you hit “save” on a document, or maybe a sudden accidental coffee spill fried your hard drive.

Whatever the problem may be, without a backup of information contained on a hard drive – either using external hardware or a cloud subscription – you have to rebuild from scratch.

When it comes to managing any accounts, the loss of information causes more than just a headache for you.

READ MORE

Spending Is Changing With Technology

As companies prepare to roll out their budget plans for the next year and April quickly approaches, there is a lot more to think about with the changes in technology when it comes to the cloud and telephone systems.

Where to spend money is a constant tug of war but it’s not the only battle being fought. How to spend the money can be just as contentious.

Directors have to consider multiple factors to determine expenditures and every year, bring with it a host of changes and market conditions that will impact those decisions.

There’s a growing argument that operating expenses (OpEx) have distinct benefits over capital expenditures (CapEx) that have made it a favoured investment approach by finance departments.

READ MORE

What would happen if…

What would happen if your server broke down with all your data on?

Or maybe your computer froze just before you hit “save” on a document, or maybe a sudden accidental coffee spill fried your hard drive.

Whatever the problem may be, without a backup of information contained on a hard drive – either using external hardware or a cloud subscription – you have to rebuild from scratch.

But do you have the correct disaster recovery in place?

Click here to find out

When it comes to managing any accounts, the loss of information causes more than just a headache for you.

Convenience and peace of mind are the big-picture benefits that disaster recovery as a service brings to the table, and as more companies control DRaaS strategies, the advantages are becoming more apparent in various contexts in use cases.

The market for these services is growing significantly suggesting that DRaaS is on track to outpace traditional approaches to disaster recovery.

But there are even more advantages to DRaaS that may not be top-of-mind for directors.

READ MORE

New Phones For Christmas

As 2016 comes to an end, many companies are concentrating on Christmas parties and New Year plans and leaving all review of infrastructure until 2017.

Business managers and directors are paying out a lot with end of year celebrations to treat staff for their hard work throughout the year, making money and making sure the business works and continues to grow.

So why not treat your business? Buy it a late Christmas present.

Click HERE for a Christmas Present

READ MORE

The real cost of travel delays to your business

How long is it taking you to get to work each day?

In the IT industry, especially when you have a help desk of engineers fixing problems for clients like we do, being on time and at work is essential to customer satisfaction.

There is a lot of money invested into IT support and security by businesses around London and therefore ensuring you have the right systems in place can make a huge difference to your success and efficiency.

But what happens when something goes wrong?

Click here to find out

READ MORE

Hosted Telephony Benefits

Hosted Telephony, Cloud Telephony and Voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP for the less technical) are all buzz-words that get thrown around – but who really knows what the benefits are?

If you have an IT guru in the office who knows exactly what they are, ask them what it would do for the company – if not – see below.
READ MORE

Winter is Coming!

Winter is Coming

When it comes to the weather, we don’t really have much luck in this country.

So does our business have to stop because things out of our control do their best to disrupt days?

Every time someone says: “I can work from home,” do you wish you could do the same?

No trailing into the office in downpours or out in the extremely cold mornings before getting on that train where everyone is passing on a cold or infection.

So what can the answer be?

READ MORE

Train Strikes – What can you do?

train delays

There aren’t many more frustrating things about living and working in London than train strikes or delays.

Having a good start to the day is essential for business in the city as it really does make sure that decision makers and the people who are talking in the industry are working as efficiently as possible.

Southern Railway has gone through two days of strikes as staff walked out and caused hundreds of trains to be cancelled at crucial times of the working week.

Imagine being on a platform and heading to work and then it is cancelled. You can’t get to the office and you have a load of emails to answer, calls to make and documents to send on and the only way of doing that is on your office desktop.

What do you do? Go home and hope everything will be OK? Wait for hours until the service is resumed which could be hours of standing on a platform?

READ MORE

Calls abroad

The last time I went abroad was in February, to Copenhagen, for a relaxing weekend with my partner and our friends – but even at 25-years-old I still have to let my mum know I landed safely.

Luckily, when it comes to calling from abroad, all I need is an internet connection – so even to check in, and stop mother bear quivering in her slippers, is free.

“How? What? Free?” I can hear you asking. Thankfully the days of huge bills on return from a holiday are a thing of the past.

Even though the holiday was supposed to be relaxing and work-free, we know this is never the case.

Business is always happening and the world of telecommunications connects us all around the world.

I was standing in Copenhagen airport when I picked up a few emails that required a call back and talking to clients was easy through the right channels.

So what is the solution?

Call bundles or cheaper calls abroad are always things that are mentioned when it comes to choosing a new phone contract.

Calling friends, family or lovers overseas can cost a fortune – phoning Australia on BT can be up to 90p/min and with Vodafone it’s an eye-watering £1.50/min.

But if you know the right way to call you can pick up the phone for next to nothing, or even for free.

I simply logged into my Horizon application on my smart phone and dialed clients (and mum) as if I was sitting in my office chair in central London.

Nobody knew I was enjoying a Carlsberg.

A hosted solution allows this to happen, as if you’re sitting in the UK, and has allowed business to continue when Directors and Management fancy a trip away.

Through the hosted system, this comes with a user license that gives access to the Horizon app. This links with your contacts and becomes your office phone anywhere you are.

What is on offer?

I called a client from Denmark on my mobile and the number that came up on their end began with 0207 – and it was free.

Through Systems IT, hundreds of users have a call package allowing them 4,000 free minutes to 01,02, 03 and 07 numbers.

With this user license, there is the option to get access to the app allowing you to make calls from your mobile from anywhere to any of those numbers inclusive of you call package – as long as you are connected to the internet.

So whenever you’re abroad and just can’t escape the rush of working life, there is no better solution.

It could also save you a lot in charges for dialing the UK. I just hope my mum doesn’t read this or I am checking in forever.

Posted in: Cloud Solutions

Out of the Office?

An out of office reply is something all business development and sales people fear.

“I am currently out of the office until 32nd of February 2035 – if this is urgent call my office.” Is an exaggerated example of some of the replies I have seen in the past – but you know what I am getting at?

But when you’re on the other side of things and you are enjoying time away with your family or friends, there is nothing better than relaxing instead of having constant email.

However, things have changed.

Directors, management and hard-working individuals are constantly making sure that business doesn’t stop.

What is the solution?

When it comes to business continuity, a cloud solution is essential to anyone that simply cannot get away from their work. Having access to your complete desktop and not just your email can save on a number of things like; calls to the office to log on to your computer, international charges on mobile bills, staff productivity and ensuring you counter a time difference.

All of this means that when business is going – so are you.

Immediate access to the cloud via WiFi or 4G can make a huge difference to any business in a number of ways.

If you know that there is a something that you need in the office but you’re hundreds of miles from it, wouldn’t it be great to log on to the desktop from your phone, tablet or nearest computer and just work as normal?

What does it mean?

National work from home day was on the 15th of May this year, but it would be nice if you could just do this whenever you didn’t fancy the daily commute or just on an early morning meeting.

When it comes to performance and productivity, incentives are a key driver. The happier your employees are, the more likely it is that they’ll engage, and the less likely they are to seek another job.

Want to give your staff the ultimate incentive? Do away with the daily commute, and let them log on to a hosted desktop from home. Free everyone from the tyranny of tube stations and traffic jams. Give them the gift of extra hours in the day.

What can be done?

If you don’t have to comply with a regulatory body or other compliance issues such as Safe Harbour, a public cloud solution may be precisely what you need, so what is a public cloud solution?

Put simply, it is a Cloud solution shared by lots of people and businesses. You will have heard of Dropbox, Amazon Web Services and Office 365 with OneDrive; all are public cloud solutions and they all provide a good service for their target audience.

You benefit from economies of scale delivered by the pooling of resources from all users.

But when your business is a little more personal – make sure you have the right infrastructure in place. The question now is: which is the right Cloud solution for your business?

Weather or not you can work?

flooded office business continuity

Is the wet weather impacting your ability to help your clients?

Hurricanes, floods, and other acts of nature can inflict severe damage on a businesses, wrecking equipment, ruining office space, and displacing staff.

Last Wednesday, London saw an example of unexpected wet weather which played havoc with the surrounding buildings. We saw clogged gutters forcing water into buildings, water rising through the floors of basement offices, and tube stations being closed, many homes and businesses suffered because of it.

We all know how bad the weather can be in the UK – I mean we are always whinging on about it- and when your office is flooded and building managers want to get a quick fix, it often results in large, noisy machinery in the office, either pumping water or circulating air to dry things out. That can leave you nowhere to work when you are dealing with clients and trying to solve problems.

Systems IT was one of those businesses last week! We came into our office on Thursday morning to find a lot of water! As we are a basement office, our floors and equipment were soaked through.

Thankfully, at Systems IT, we practice what we preach. Therefore, within a few minutes, we were packed up and out the office into another water-free zone where we carried on our day’s work as if the sun was shining constantly. Our employees managed to work from client sites or at home, and our sales team even worked in Costa just round the corner from our office building!

  • Cloud-based IT meant we can get our data and our helpdesk systems and continue supporting our clients
  • Cloud-based telephony meant we could talk to our clients, our prospects and, indeed, each other

I’m not sure any of our clients noticed any difference – and that’s the point!

Were you able to work?

Click here if you struggled last week

Don’t get burned by train delays!

train delays

HAVING a good start to the day can often set up a great time at work and create a positive environment for everyone.
But when something gets in your way, or agitates you early doors, it is almost impossible to be as productive as you can be.

Imagine being on a train heading to work and then it is cancelled. You can’t get to the office and you have a load of emails to answer, calls to make and documents to work on and the only way of doing that is on your office desktop.
What do you do? Go home and hope everything will be OK after the train delays? Wait for hours until the service is resumed which could be hours of standing on a platform?

Eight main lines into one of London’s busiest stations were out of service following the devastating fire at Vauxhall station meaning millions could not get to work, either at all, or until late in the day.

So what is the solution?

Many business owners are rightfully wary of the security hazards inherent in online communications in the cloud. The truth is that there is no such thing as 100 per cent IT security, but by speaking to experts like those at Systems IT, you can learn about best practices and the safest ways to make good use of all the fantastic opportunities that cloud computing offers. Each employee can easily log in to a their Cloud Server from any device and access the files they need to work on, while levels of access can be restricted so that specific employees can only access certain projects or files.

Cloud based workflow is also ideal for online cooperation, so multiple employees can access the same project and see updates which are synchronised in real-time. Just like you are sitting at your desk.

What that means for employees?

When it comes to performance, productivity and the ability to work from home incentives are a key driver. The happier your employees are, the more likely it is that they’ll engage, and the less likely they are to seek another job.

Want to give your staff the ultimate incentive? Do away with the daily commute, and let them log on to a hosted desktop from home. Free everyone from the tyranny of tube stations and traffic jams. Give them the gift of extra hours in the day. Sir Richard Branson is a massive supporter of home-based working. I mean, who wouldn’t be when you live on a tropical island?

But when you don’t have that luxury and have to suffer the morning commute and then something disrupts your daily routine, a remote working solution could put you on cloud nine.

The Grim Reaper cometh for ISDN

end of ISDN grim reaper

THE scaremongering began almost immediately after BT announced the end of life for traditional ISDN lines that were originally introduced in 1986.

Providers across the country were calling IT managers and Directors wielding the Grim Reaper’s axe and might as well have turned up to meetings wearing a black cloak all to add more monetary value to their sales orders.

But telecommunication moves quicker than the speed of voice data travelling down a digital line and the fact that these lines will be no more in 2025 means the 39-year stint as the top product on the market is a long time away.

And in truth, nine years is a long time.

But if we look back at how much the industry has changed in nine years and compare it to where we will be, there is a major difference in need for businesses and the general public.

If we revisit 2007, we are looking at fax machines and computers that looked like all the files were literally stored in that enormous CRT model that sat on millions of desks across the country.

Look into 2025 and not only are the ISDN lines coming out but there is already plans being made and technology being commissioned with the drive towards being able to talk to our PC’s.

WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE?

We all want to be able to save money and if you asked your Director: “What would you like to see more of in the business?” I am sure that their answer would be something along the lines of a simple one word answer.

“Profit.”

So how do we save money and make the end of quarter reports look more appealing and impressive to Managing Directors and CEO’s?

Let’s use a recent project of ours as an example:

  • A contact centre with three sites and a total of 250 staff
  • Separate PBX phone system, using ISDN lines, in each site
  • Maintenance contracts for the PBX, line rental and call charges etc.

By moving away from an ISDN-based solution you can:

  • remove the costs of maintenance, line rental and variable call charges
  • reallocate staff whose prime roles are involved with call answering or re-routing
  • remove capital hardware costs and replace with operational subscription costs

This project will deliver savings of over £100,000 in capital expenditure costs!

WHERE NOW?

The advancements in IP telephony have prompted BT into making the move and Gamma is one of the companies really taking advantage of this new technology to steal ahead of BT and others. There are options now available to you. Your options include:

  • SIP trunks to replace your ISDN lines
  • moving to a fully hosted solution, or even
  • doing away with your desk phones altogether.

Being ahead of the game is never more important than in telecommunications so let’s make sure the Grim Reaper of phone calls and telephone lines doesn’t come knocking at the office door.

It’s coming

Normally the classic line in a bad horror film, so what do we mean here?

The bad (or should I say worse) weather, of course. The leaves are already here and the snow may be coming.

Now if you’re from one of the Scandinavian countries, or anywhere on a similar line of latitude, you’ll be choking on your latte about now. After all, there’s no such thing as bad weather – just inappropriate clothing surely.

For us in London and the South East, it’s not the clothing that’s the issue (although the extremes of heat we face between outside and on the tube/bus/train does make things complex), it’s public transport and their ability to generate excuses as to why they cannot possibly run on time. There’s a good list here but our personal favourites are the classics: “the wrong type of leaves on the line” and, of course “the wrong type of snow”. Of course, there are different types of snow but it’s still a poor excuse.

Anyway (as usual), we digress.  What is this blog all about: business continuity plans and how to avoid having to deal with our “friends” at TfL and their minions.

I am sure you are aware of the requirement to review all requests for flexible working arrangements when they are made by your staff. If you have already implemented this across your workforce, to be honest you can return to work now as you’ve probably done everything I’m about to talk about. If not, stay with me just a little while and let’s look at the two key issues:

1. Can your staff take landline calls on their mobiles?

At the very least ensure people can auto divert any calls to their landline to their mobile. This can often be done on individual handsets, although some phone systems will require you to make changes in the portal. Ideally there will be an app on their smartphone so they can work anywhere with a WiFi signal, be that at home (didn’t go out to face the transport excuses), at the station (got stuck because of the excuses) or in a coffee shop/pub (can’t get home because of the excuses).  Although they may not be as productive as they could be, they can do some of their work this way.

2. Can they access data?

I’m assuming your staff have their email going to their phone, whether it is BYOD or a company phone, so at least they can get some of their data and respond to queries. But can they get to the rest of the information they need?  Although they may not need a laptop for work, having an ability to get to your files from anywhere will enable them to do almost all their work. Of course, a cloud-based IT solution will provide all of this, but there are plenty of options for local infrastructures too. Remote Desktop Services, from Microsoft, is one solution as is Citrix.

If your staff can access data and make calls, they will be productive, even if not in the office. If you are concerned your staff cannot do these, let’s talk and ensure they can.

 

Posted in: Cloud Solutions, London

Windows Server 2003, did you miss the deadline?

Windows

Relax. You’re one of 1000’s

Support of any kind from Microsoft for all variations of Windows Server 2003 finished yesterday (see countdown here) but according to a recent Computer Weekly article, there are an estimated 400,000 UK businesses still running Windows Server 2003 on their server infrastructure, with 1/3 of these on virtual servers in datacentres.

The article estimates that 70% of businesses will not have migrated, either onto a more recent version or into a cloud-based alternative before yesterday

That leaves huge numbers of businesses taking a massive gamble.  What are they going to do if:

  • they have a server failure?
  • their clients question them about data security?
  • question anything to do with compliance (heaven help us)

Bearing in mind that Windows Server 2003 is about 12 years old (clue in the name), it is antiquated technology and so won’t be nearly as performative as more recent versions.

Options:

  • stay and pray that everything works a little longer
  • upgrade your hardware and operating system to a more recent version
  • move into the cloud

Personally I think No.1 is too much of a risk – what do you think?

Cloud Computing & the central London power failure

Productivity is being hit in central London today as an underground fire has cut power to over 5000 homes and businesses.  This is in addition to the, admittedly short, power cut that denied power to a large part of Shoreditch and Bethnall Green yesterday.

Cloud computingWhilst it could be said it was lucky it took place in the Easter school holiday, meaning more people are on holiday than usual, these power cuts will impact the business affected quite dramatically.  The theatres and cinemas around Covent Garden and the Strand were seen to be emptying out, presumably with vouchers for another show in the new future. Shops have had to lock their doors and are losing trade every minute they remain closed.
READ MORE

Systems IT Cloud Solutions – Greater Benefits, Reduced Complexity

Systems IT Cloud Solutions

As technology moves forwards many companies are looking to embrace the power of the cloud but many are still confused by the true benefits that will be gained by their business. At Systems IT we can help you understand whether the cloud is right for you.

A private cloud is the implementation of cloud services on resources that are dedicated to your organisation (on-premises, off-premises or a mix of both).

With a private cloud, you get many of the benefits of public cloud computing with the additional control and customisation available from having your own dedicated resources.

READ MORE

Posted in: Cloud Solutions

Simplifying IT: A guide for SMBs to getting started in the cloud

Cloud Computing

Server virtualization and cloud computing are IT Buzzwords that have been around for many years but only recently are companies really starting to embrace the power of these technologies to improve efficiency and reduce costs within their business.

How many people actually understand how these two leading edge technologies when harnessed correctly can offer significant benefits both operationally and financially?

At Systems IT in partnership with VMware we can show how your business can benefit from the adoption of these solutions.

Download this whitepaper to find out more.

To arrange a meeting to discuss how cloud computing, solutions and virtualization can help your business contact us today >>

Posted in: Cloud Solutions

Six options for emergency internet access

EFM Internet Lines from Systems IT Support

For some people, being unable to get online feels like losing a limb. But for businesses, losing internet access can be much more serious. You can be looking at missed enquiries, lost orders, a lack of productivity … potentially, you’re losing money every minute you’re offline.

If you rely on the internet, it’s a very good idea to think about how your business would cope if your connection failed. Obviously, you’ll hope this never happens, particularly if you’ve chosen a good quality broadband supplier. However, even the best internet connections can fail occasionally – so here are six ways to get back online in a pinch.

READ MORE