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Archive for category: Business Technology

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The Modest Mentor

Greig McKenzie talks about his career journey at Network ROI, his personal career evolution to becoming a Training and Development Manager, the transformative power of learning, and how employee ownership changes the workplace culture for the better.

Training isn’t about just transmitting information; it’s about transforming learners’ careers.

Starting Out

Greig grew up as a logical thinker with a fascination for computers (Sinclair ZX80 and Commodore 64 to name but a few). Greig was even programming from an early age and as an analytical thinker, his guidance teacher recommended to him that he should build a career in the burgeoning tech industry. So Greig went on to study Systems Analysis and Design. That was what first drew him to work in technology.

Greig started at Network ROI as a level 3 engineer 8 years ago, but his views on what makes a great workplace culture started way before that. He learned from two wise business owners, Colin and Mick, that mentoring was about more than just offering guidance, but someone who can give you daily the confidence you need to progress in your career path.

Working in what was then a smaller Network ROI, his role soon evolved and he became the go-to person for other engineers, moving from being a Level 3 Engineer, through “Service Desk Mentor” to the “Training and Development Manager” he is today.

There is no typical week for Greig, but he relishes the varied challenges, from delving into training, HR policies and onboarding new employees to overseeing the Quality Management certification.  But he still enjoys helping engineers with technical issues and has even become a shoulder to cry on for some if engineers have had a tough day.

Successful onboarding

Greig explains more about the approach he takes “It’s a bit like seeing a learner driver on the road, you have two choices, you can be very impatient and honk your horn, or you can ease off the accelerator and think ‘I was a learner once, show a bit of patience’”. Greig prefers the latter more tolerant and understanding approach.

Greig talks about expectation setting and how it’s a two-way street. “In the beginning, I try to connect with people to identify what they are good at and how to do it even better. I strongly believe in this collaborative approach to the personal development of people and I love helping people start on the road to fulfilling their potential. It’s about developing a pathway for success within Network ROI, finding one area they can become an expert in, and building on that. To me, it’s a privilege to be one of the first people to meet and get to know a new employee. We have a strong focus on life-long learning, being an employee-owned organisation, so onboarding never really ends; rather, it morphs into employee engagement and retention.”

Network ROI’s approach to training

“We might be an IT company, but we are in the relationships business”

Greig describes Network ROI’s approach to training and development from a comment made by Sean Elliot, the Chairman and founder of Network ROI who said “We might be an IT company, but we are in the relationships business”. Greig went on to explain that what Sean meant by that was that it’s not worth burning a client relationship over a short-term profit if by doing so you lose that customers hard-earned trust. So, when Grieg trains employees he talks about our values-based culture and the importance of building trust with clients.

In a practical sense when Greig is training new staff on Network ROI values, he feels the soft skills matter as much as the technical qualifications. “I tell engineers to always do what they say they will, and how important it is to own a problem.”. When talking about how to treat customers Greig explains the importance of being down to earth, yet professional, when engaging with customers “we should talk to people like real people, that can mean dropping the Sir or Madam, as that can be a barrier to deeper interaction”.

Greig went on to talk about the Network ROI culture and how it differs from other companies “As an employee-owned company and as a more flexible organisation, I like to think that when we hire someone we look at the whole person and what they have to offer, rather than pigeonholing them. I like to think staff feel they can approach the board and senior management, we have a relatively flat hierarchy, so senior management is on hand to listen to the entire workforce.”

Greig talked about what he sees as one of the most important aspects of the company’s culture “At Network ROI we don’t have  a blame culture, issues that come up are a learning exercise, a springboard for improvement, we can all learn from our mistakes. We have a value-driven one team approach to our culture, and our staff are empowered through Employee Ownership.”

Greig spoke about continuous learning and lifelong education at Network ROI “We are focused on continual process improvement right across our business through aligning ourselves to best practice in ISO management system standards in Quality Management, Information Security Management and Service Management.  As our business is constantly evolving and improving, so must we. Lifelong education is important to Network ROI, so when someone wants to pursue a course of study, we do our best to satisfy that wish.  This will sometimes involve training someone not for the role they currently occupy, but for the role they are aiming for.  One of the joys of working in a smaller organisation is the ability to evolve your role over time – I believe I’m testament to that!”

Working Remotely

Last March, Network ROI’s employees shifted from working in offices to working from home (WFH) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional, classroom-based training at Network ROI stopped — yet our business operations clearly had to continue.

Network ROI evoked its well-rehearsed business continuity plan, so it was relatively straightforward for the workforce to move to fully remote working during the lockdown. But when days, became weeks it was important that we all stayed in touch said Greig, “For me personally it was a big help to have remote staff meetings and interact with my colleagues. I missed the banter and it was a good feeling when people approached me during and after lockdown”.

What are your passions when away from work?

Like many who work in IT Greig has a big interest in gaming as he explains “I am a gamer, I am never happier than sitting in my den surrounded by glowing electronics. When I am not gaming or hanging out with the family, I am a huge movie fan and love Japanese gore films.” “I came to family life quite late on and it’s changed my life, my wife and two step kids mean everything to me”.

Greig was asked if there is something that not many of his colleagues know about him and went on to describe one of his passions “when the clocks go back in October, I love to look up at the night sky.  Still, dark nights are a great relaxation, especially if I get the chance to go to an area of the country where there are true dark skies and little light pollution, you see so much more and I am in my element as there is so much to discover!”

Network ROI

At Network ROI we have a shared purpose. We are not just employees, we are employee-owners. With a strong culture and an emphasis on training, we believe our people are our greatest asset. We look after our people, so they’re ready to look after your people. Working with Network ROI, you have a UK-wide team of technology experts available to help with strategy, give you feedback on your plans, and guide your business growth. You’re getting more than an “IT person”—you’re getting a strategy team.

 

Introducing IT Director as Service
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Introducing IT Director as Service

Network ROI are introducing a new IT Director consultancy service aimed at SME’s and organisations who want to reboot their IT strategy.

In a year like no other organisations have been forced to rethink and prioritise what matters most to their business. In current climate many businesses and smaller organisations don’t have the budget to take on a senior full-time resource. But they still need expert advice that helps them to re-evaluate their business-critical issues, ensuring that they make smart investments for the future.

Sean Elliot, Network ROI founder and Chairman said: “We are delighted to introduce a new service for small and medium enterprises who may lack strategic IT leadership. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many companies to find new ways of working or reinvent their business models, accelerating the pace of digital transformation and remote working.

IT Director as a Service enables organisations who don’t want the permanent commitment of a senior fulltime employee to hire a specialist who can uncover technology gaps or give them strategic board level advice on key issues such as information security”.

The service assists SME’s who need help solving their key challenges including:

–  IT cost containment and optimisation,

–  Digital infrastructure and digital transformation

–  Business systems integration

–  Risk management and security

The new service can scale up or down as organisations require.  We take a personal approach to each client, examining both the immediate business goals and the longer-term ambitions of an organisation before coming up with an actionable plan they can take forward.

Visit the website for more information

My1Login simplifies cybersecurity for Natural Power
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My1Login simplifies cybersecurity for Natural Power

Network ROI security partner, My1Login recently helped Natural Power simplify cybersecurity with its innovative and award-winning Identity Access Management software.

With locations in the UK, France, Ireland and the US – among others, Natural Power has complex information security requirements. Since the introduction of the GDPR in May 2018, they, like many other organisations needed to have a tighter grip on data protection controls to eliminate the possibility of amassing huge fines. Managing a sophisticated technology estate across multiple continents and more than 340 users is a tricky task.

My1Login is easy to use and set up

Calum McLean, Head of Innovation and Data at Natural Power praised My1Login for its ease of use and short set-up time. The innovative software has helped Natural Power overcome two significant challenges; shadow IT and weak passwords.

Eliminate the threat of shadow IT

Staff members storing files in non-designated cloud apps was a big problem at Natural Power. With almost 600 instances of such applications found by My1Login, Natural Power had no way of accessing these files if a staff member left the business, which in turn made tracking and auditing an almost impossible task.

Weak passwords are no longer a thing!

Weak and reused passwords were another problem at Natural Power, as they are in many organisations. My1Login removes the problem of weak passwords by cleverly generating a new, secure password that the user doesn’t even need to see or know, increasing security and ease of use for users and administrators alike.

My1Login makes systems faster and easier to access, providing a productivity boost. Users were delighted on how user-friendly, seamless and transparent the software is. On the technical front, My1Login integrates with Active Directory, simplifying user management and reducing the burden on the IT department. Client-side password encryption instead of server-side provides more control, further streamlining the security, control and management of the software.

Case study

Download the case study here or watch the video below

Managed Service Vs. Break Fix
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Managed Service Vs. Break Fix

There are two different types of IT support company – Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and those working on a traditional break-fix model. You might be in the market for a new IT support company and are wondering what type of provider is the best fit. A small business IT survey carried out by Clutch, found 59% of IT services had transitioned to a managed service contract from the traditional break-fix model.

About Managed Service Providers

MSPs typically consider themselves as your outsourced IT department and take responsibility for most, if not all the technical issues within an organisation. Working with an MSP is regarded as a forward-thinking and progressive way to manage the IT function for ambitious and growing organisations.

Reasons to choose a Managed Service Provider

Work with a strategic technology partner – One of the most important long-term benefits of working with an MSP is developing a partnership. As technology advisers with multiple areas of expertise, your MSP helps build a technology strategy that aligns the technology requirements of your business with growth plans.

Proactive network monitoring – MSPs provide round the clock network monitoring that can detect faults in real time. The software then automatically creates a ticket which is assigned to an engineer immediately.

Business continuity – Most MSPs work with clients to provide off-site backup capabilities. Protecting data in this way enables the company to get back up and running in the event of a catastrophic data loss.

Regular patching, updates and backups – Operating System updates and software patching come as part of the agreed monthly cost. Most MSPs decide on a regular patching schedule to help maintain maximum levels of network security.

Process, process, process! – Organised MSPs have a well-defined process for all areas of project management and service desk support. Having procedures in place help keep client networks secure and ensure consistent service delivery levels is crucial for long-term success.

Helpdesk support – MSPs deal with support calls via a remote service desk. Faster connectivity and sophisticated tools enable the service desk to fix many issues remotely. For more persistent problems, an engineer will jump in a car or van and attend the client’s site.

Vendor management – If you have an issue with your telephone or Internet provider and you have a contract with an MSP, they manage the support process on your behalf.

Cheaper than hiring a dedicated IT team – Hiring the breadth of talent required to manage a modern IT infrastructure is costly. Wages, staff benefits and other HR costs such as pension, annual leave and sick pay soon rack up – not to mention arranging cover when a team member goes on holiday.

Reasons not to choose a Managed Service Provider

Monthly contract – Due to network monitoring and other packaged service items,  MSPs charge a monthly retainer, which usually lasts for an initial 12-months. Some businesses may not wish to commit to a lengthy contract because it suits them to be more flexible or to aid cash-flow.

Looking for a complete Managed Service?

Get in touch with Network ROI today!

About the Break-Fix IT model

As the name suggests, a break-fix support provider only reacts when a client reports a fault. The break-fix IT support method may suit organisations with an on-site IT resource, who don’t rely on technology for essential, everyday operations or those without large, complex computing infrastructures. Micro businesses and start-ups may opt for the break-fix model in the early days as it appears to represent a more cost-effective way to maintain computing inventory.

Reasons to choose a break-fix IT support provider

No commitment – No monthly service fees or contract might suit some businesses who aren’t 100% reliant on technology or with limited network infrastructure. The break-fix model may also suit their circumstances

Control – the client may feel like they have more control as they only call when assistance is needed and don’t need to worry about non-staff members having access to critical business data.

Only pay for services when needed – clients only pay for services and machine upgrades when they are required, a low-touch strategy that works for some. There is usually a price premium for businesses working this way, and it can turn out costly in the end.

 

Reasons not to choose a break-fix IT support provider

Support only when there’s a problem – Clients call when there is an issue, or an upgrade is required

Dated IT support model – the break-fix model is considered an out-of-date IT support method and doesn’t help with growth planning.

Costly – Break-fix providers charge for everything on an ad-hoc basis – usually at a premium rate – consultation, labour, upgrades and patching. Working in this way makes budgeting for unforeseen issues impossible.

It lacks vision – Because break-fix providers work on a case-by-case basis, they don’t implement preventative measures. Would a consultant who might get called out (and paid) the following week for a similar issue make a settings change that could halt the problem? Probably not!

More potential for downtime –  there’s a chance the technician that comes to fix the issue has little or no experience of your network and troubleshooting may take longer as a result

Minor problems can escalate quickly – small issues can quickly escalate due to lack of monitoring, regular contact and reporting.

 

Choosing the ideal IT support provider

Selecting the best type of IT support provider is not a simple task, there are lots of aspects to consider. Read below for more useful tips.

Decide how technology facilitates growth – Many companies achieve growth without a significant technology investment. These companies are becoming increasingly rare and for the majority of business owners, working with a strategic technology partner is the way forward.

Do your sums – Whether you plan to hire an in-house IT department or outsource IT support, it’s important to know the costs. If you opt for the latter, engage with a reputable IT company and have a frank discussion around costs.

Enquire about certifications, awards and accreditations – In a bid to differentiate service offerings, many IT providers obtain awards and certifications in specific fields such as security, telephony, service delivery and Microsoft technologies.

Talk to peers – Does anyone in your business network have dealings with either type of IT provider? Ask them about the pros and cons and figure out if they align with your plans.

At Network ROI, we’re ready to demonstrate why choosing a managed service provider is the best way forward for progressive organisations. We are among the top 20 UK MSPs on the MSP501 list, a global list of the world’s best and brightest Managed Service Providers. We also boast a wide range of Microsoft Gold and silver competencies as well as being Cyber Essentials Plus certified and IASME Gold Assessor accredited.

Call us on 0131 510 3456 to speak to an IT expert who is ready to make your life with technology easier.

What is multi-factor authentication?
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What is multi-factor authentication?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an extra layer of security that can be used to protect online accounts and other shared computing resources against unauthorised access.

The easiest way to understand MFA is to think about your bank card. When you withdraw cash from an ATM, you need your card (something you have) and your PIN (something you know). There is also a third factor (something you are) – your fingerprint, retina or other biometric information.

When you enter the wrong PIN, the cash machine won’t let you withdraw money and will prompt you to take your card. The same is true with MFA. When you enter the wrong details, access will be denied, and your information will remain secure.

Why is MFA important?

It is more important than ever to protect online assets.

1 – The threat of identity fraud is growing. Hackers have unfettered access to a plethora of personal information from social media accounts, making this type of fraud an easy win.

2 – We have more to lose. We are increasingly reliant on digital infrastructure to manage our lives. Dating, communicating, working, shopping and banking are just some of the areas dominated by digital technology.

3 – Streamlined access. MFA offers a simple and secure method of offering access to the right people at the right time.

4 – Providing another layer of protection against weak or compromised user credentials. MFA should complement strong user credentials; however, it can also provide an additional layer of protection against weak or compromised credentials in some instances.

5 – More organisations and individuals are being targeted by hackers. The chances of being targeted by hackers are increasing. Criminals have many motivations for accessing online data including theft, service disruption, data destruction and more.

What types of authentication exist?

Authentication takes many forms, most of which you will be familiar with already.

Examples of things you know:

PIN – a numeric password such as the one typically used to access your phone or to protect your bank account.

Password – A string of user-defined characters that may include numbers, symbols, upper-case and lower-case letters. It’s important to follow best practice when choosing a password, download our free password guide to get some useful pointers.

Challenge/response – Answers to questions that only you should know. This type of authentication method is less effective due to the amount of personal information available online. Pet names, high-school name, place of birth and even date of birth can, in many cases be accessed by online criminals.

Examples of things you have:

Magnetic stripe cards – Cards that contain user ID data.

Smart cards – A smart card has a pre-programmed integrated computer circuit, usually taking the form of a small chip. Examples include bank cards and mobile SIM cards.

Security tokens – Mobile apps and physical USB tokens that generate a unique one-time passcode (OTP) typically within a minute before generating a new code. Many companies also use SMS messaging to deliver OTPs.

Example of something you are:

Biometrics – Examples of biometric data include voice recognition, fingerprint and iris scanning.

It’s important to note that multifactor authentication is where two unique factors are used in conjunction with one another at the same time – i.e. a smart card must be used with a PIN. Similarly, a security token or authentication app is used to deliver a passcode which must then be entered into the system.

Identity Access Management

Many organisations are seeking to further streamline the login process by using Identity Access Management (IAM) solutions. IAM removes the need for users to know their login credentials and is used to login into apps. Passwords are generated automatically by the software, reducing the possibility of a simple weak password being chosen by the user.

Another benefit of using IAM is during offboarding. If users don’t know the login credentials to various web apps, they can’t access critical business files once their employment comes to an end, making life easier for system admins and business owners.

Why should I care about multi-factor authentication?

Multi-factor authentication on its own won’t be enough to protect your business online, but it will help to ensure your people are taking steps to protect their vital information. As your business grows and becomes more reliant on digital services to function, the threat from cybercrime will increase significantly.

Adding an additional layer of security to business and personal logins will help protect your information and will reduce the threat of becoming another hacking victim. Multi-factor authentication should definitely be in your IT security strategy wish-list this coming year if you haven’t already thought about it.

Network ROI can recommend MFA solutions to suit the needs of your business. Call us on 0131 510 3456 for a chat with one of our security experts today.

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