03 Apr 2019

Making Big Data work for an SME

We spoke to Tony Poole, Director at Synergy Technology, for his experience and insight into the movement of Big Data and the analytics that goes along with it.

In terms of a Big Data project you have implemented, be it either internally in your business or externally with an SME client, what were the key objectives of the project?

“Traditionally in business you have a number of data “silos” – within accounting, ERP, contact management systems etc. as well as other data, like banking data, sales data – and, both could be national and international. The major problem for businesses is that it’s all disparate data.

What we have in real terms in businesses today, worldwide, is multiple silos of data that do not talk to each other. The objectives we aim to achieve with Big Data for clients, is to integrate these silos of data so that they are unified and easily accessible”.

And that was a challenge – to unify these silos?

“About six years ago the biggest challenge we had was that people had contact management data on one side and accounting information on the other side of their business. And when a customer would write to the organisation the accounts department might get the letter and update the accounts, but nobody would update the contact management system.

Now we have CRM, websites, social media and e-commerce platforms, and of course we have even more silos of data that are all disparate. The first hurdle to get over is linking simple internal systems together so if information is changed in any apex it changes throughout the business. For me that was the start of Big Data.

Now the challenge is even greater. Now it’s about taking data that’s internal to the business or purchased data, with data from the cloud, plus statistical data, and bringing it all together to build a better and more informed picture”.

What does that picture look like?

“We have clients who will take point of sale data, and combine it with data on the weather and data on their own customers.

What that allows them to do is to take a holistic view of sales in a particular store on a particular type of day.

A good example is a major homeware stockist in the UK who stocks barbecues when they know it’s coming into warm weather. But how they determine how many to precisely stock is down to data such as the temperature and the average sales at a certain temperature. We’ve seen this with a few clients and the demand for this data is growing; a one degree change in temperature can double sales”.

Is this the real impact of Big Data?

“Well, if I was running a store selling barbecues then Big Data has an impact and this would be: if the weather forecast tells me that next week will be on average 22 degrees, I’m going to have to stock up very quickly on barbeques. Because of the ease of access to data, I can now combine my predictive weather forecast with my historical sales data – which is sliced into specific temperature headings and predict how many barbecues I should have on order from my wholesaler, on their way to me, to satisfy the potential demand.

If this is done properly the impact is: more sales. If badly planned, I could be out of stock and thus not meet demand. By using the data that’s available and by bringing it all together it allows us to predict more accurately”.

How has it changed your clients’ processes?

Unless you have access to the right data – both internally to the business and external subscription data – you can’t bring it together. What we are seeing is that our clients are becoming more aware of this.

The largest area of this is in e-commerce and website purchasing, particularly for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) businesses, because people’s trends change based upon the time of year, their requirements, seasonal events etc.

It’s important to remember that what we’re really talking about is just the joining of the silos of data. Whether it’s data you own or that others own and you’re renting, or whether it’s just you keeping all your silos in sync, this end result is consolidating and joining to create Big Data.

If you would like to find how to consolidate your business data and utilise it more effectively for your buiness then contact Synergy Technology on 0345 345 0050 or send us an enquiry today.

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18 Mar 2019

Sage Pay Integrations by Synergy Technology

For customers who use the popular secure payment gateway Sage Pay, here at Synergy Technology we have developed a solution that can now be fully integrated with your NAV or Business Central system.

Whether this is through telephone sales, walk-in customers, sending documents from your system via email or website transactions our solution offers an unprecedented level of control over any payments made to your organisation.

Synergy Technology’s team is experienced in completing Sage Pay integrations for small and medium enterprises UK-wide.

There are many advantages in choosing Sage Pay to handle your business’ monetary transactions. Many big brands trust the platform for its security and ease of use – the platform now handles millions of payments per month for over 50,000 businesses around the world.

Our solutions key features include:

* Sending Quotes, Orders or Invoices via email – send documents with an embedded ‘pay now’ button, meaning it is easier to get customers to progress quotes and orders as well as making it easier than ever to obtain the money you are owed.

* Telephone payments – using an embedded page within the system, meaning your staff do not need to switch systems, staff can take payments over the phone.

* Website Orders – do you take payment online via Sage Pay? Well, when importing the order into you NAV / Business Central system, the system will call the Sage Pay API to call up the details from the transaction, allowing staff in your team to take over the transaction.

* The system fully integrates with the Sage Pay framework, so you will receive all the results from Sage Pay, such as CV2, 3D Secure and Address checks – allow payment controllers more power at their fingertips to assess transactions. This applies to all forms of transactions, be it walk in, telephone, eDocuments or Website Orders.

* Improved transaction reconciliation – Is your Finance team frustrated with Sage Pay reconciliations where you are dealing with a large number of transactions, having to tie back the money you receive from Sage Pay, less the transaction fees including Red fees? With a direct link to your Sage Pay settlement file, download each batch every day to reconcile individual payments to Customers whilst understanding what charges apply and then reconciling the card type used by your customer to understand the card charges you will receive from the bank.

Sage Pay places extreme importance on data security – a vital factor in today’s modern world – and is, therefore, a more and more attractive solution for our customers.

By opting for an integration, your business can take full advantage of Sage Pay’s features within your existing accounting management system.

Contact Synergy Technology today on 0345 456 0050 to learn more about how we can integrate Sage Pay with your NAV or Business Central setup.

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15 Feb 2019

Benefits & Drawbacks of Live Chat

Did you know that SuperOffice now offers an online live chat facility?

Included in a recent software upgrade, this free-of-charge service enables can customers to interact with your support staff in real time, helping you to solve queries and issues using your SuperOffice system.

When used correctly, a live chat facility can help to increase customer loyalty and retention rates as well as lower costs. Live chat can be a useful way to connect customers with your service department. However, this technology can also prove problematic.

To celebrate its release, we wanted to examine the benefits and possible drawbacks of using SuperOffice Chat.

4 Pros of Live Chat

Here are four reasons why live chat is useful to both companies and customers:

  1. Convenient for Customers – If your customers need assistance with an issue, there is no more convenient way for them to get in touch than by using online chat. This technology facilitates support on any browser, on any device, at any time and without interrupting what each client is working on. In today’s world, this level of convenience – as well as reacting efficiently to issues – is paramount when it comes to earning customer loyalty and improving satisfaction rates. However, this expectation can cause problems, as we will discover later.
  1. Enables Faster Solutions – Live chat lets you direct attention to online resources to help solve queries, from instructional videos to articles and more. Use it to link your customers to relevant online information quickly and easily.
  2. Lower Costs – Recent research has found that using live chat is 17-30% cheaper than a phone call. That figure speaks volumes in itself but can improve even further if agents are responding to multiple queries at the same time.
  1. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Integration – Live chat makes it easier than ever to track conversations, keeping an accurate record of any topics discussed. The ability to access this data is essential in the effective management and analysis of customer interactions.

Unlike traditional channels of communication, live chat also helps to build a database of common queries and issues. If similar problems are being encountered frequently, patterns can emerge in the data and help to identify any recurring errors or shortcomings in customer care and support.

4 Cons of Live Chat

As with everything in business, there are also potential downsides to utilising live chat:

  1. Long Wait Times Annoy Customers – With an instant messaging service comes the expectancy of immediate response. If you don’t respond to queries fast enough, customer satisfaction can fall substantially. Broadly speaking, it is essential that responses are delivered within 5 minutes.
  1. Poor User Experience – Despite evidence that live chat increases customer loyalty and conversion rates, many feel that this service is unsatisfactory. In fact, research has shown that 38% of consumers believe it is simply not a good enough method of accessing customer service.
  1. Customers Dislike Scripted Responses – Scripted responses can cause frustration among customers who may find them impersonal and/or patronising. Unless you have a large team of operatives at your disposal, using such auto-responses can prove unavoidable.
  1. Staffing Issues – The expectation of immediate response means it is difficult to understaff your live chat response team. Any customers left waiting will not be forgiving which means you must preserve a full quota of operatives during all working hours.

Although live chat offers a quick and convenient method of enabling customers to access support, its use does necessitate a considerable commitment for businesses in terms of both time and energy.

Are you unsure if live chat is a viable option for your organisation? The Synergy Technology team will be more than happy to assist with any queries you may have.

If you’d like to learn more about this service or any other aspect of your SuperOffice system, please contact us on 0345 456 0050 today.

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10 Sep 2018

Why is business continuity so important to SMEs

BusinessTALK spoke to John Robinson, Managing Director of Inoni about the importance of Business Continuity Planning.

Inoni offers business continuity planning for organisations of every shape and size. Since 2005, Inoni has helped clients develop their capability across a wide range of sectors and industries and are therefore well-placed to confidently share and apply their experience with small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

“You need to appoint the most suitable members for each task – the movers, the doers and the thinkers all have a different role to play”

Down Load the White Paper today

John Robinson from Inoni answers your questions on Business Continuity Planning

Discover where to start, what to include and why you need a Business Continuity Plan for your business.

In this interview John covers some of the popular questions and answers based on why an SME should prepare a Business Continuity Plan including;

  • What makes a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) so important for an SME?
  • What are the five main reasons an SME needs BCP?
  • What areas of the business should the planning process involve?
  • So where does an SME start with a plan?
  • What risks need a continuity plan?
  • Why should the rest of the business be interested?
  • Why do you think SMEs are complacent and do not address this?
  • Where do most SMEs fail with their plans?

 

To discuss your business planning and management of your business applications, contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050.

With thanks to John Robinson, FBCI, Managing Director, Inoni.
www.inoni.co.uk

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05 Sep 2018

Maximising your Microsoft Dynamics NAV system with bespoke development

Microsoft Dynamics NAV “out of the box” provides a system that you can then develop to perfectly fit your business’s needs. Our talented development team at Synergy Technology talk about how additional bespoke development work ensures you maximise the functionality and effectiveness of your ERP system.

What is the reason for requiring bespoke development?

“Bespoke development for Microsoft Dynamics NAV can cover almost any requirement that any business using Dynamics NAV may need.

It’s derived from the 80/20 rule. Basically Microsoft Dynamics NAV “out of the box” delivers about 80% of the framework to meet any clients’ needs, and bespoke work fills in the gaps. It tailors the Dynamics NAV system to encompass all the business’s processes and functionality that is specific to their market.

Every industry, every business and every process has different requirements. It would be impossible for a generic version of Dynamics NAV to meet all these complex requirements. If it did, it would be exorbitantly expensive, impossible to keep up-to-date and end up including modules and functionality that would not be utilised by the majority of Dynamics NAV users.

That’s how bespoke development starts – making the system a perfect 100% fit to the client’s specific needs.”

Dynamics NAV has been designed to support client specific enhancements that work alongside its standard functionality and can be tailored by developers to suit a wide range of requirements. Development work can cover anything from integration between Dynamics NAV and third party add-ons or modules, developing sophisticated reporting systems that combines data from several systems linked to Dynamics NAV. Development work can eliminate repetitive time consuming manual data processes with automated functions that equally reduces the risk of duplication of data and improves data accuracy.

Some examples of Dynamics NAV development includes:

  • Integration with website systems
  • Courier system integration
  • Integration with credit card systems such as SagePay
  • Integration with hand held devices used in warehouse management systems
  • Tailoring reports and documentation to reflect the company standards
  • Even something as specific as integrating ticket management and seat allocation for a sports arena with data used in the Dynamics NAV system.

 

Basically bespoke development ensures that systems work seamlessly and effectively between stock, logistics, client, supplier and payment programs and functions that all share the same data. Other bespoke work is adding functionality to the existing Dynamics NAV system, or maximising the value of the data within in the system by creating informative, up-to-date reporting.

Developing bespoke work usually involves incorporating Dynamics NAV into existing third party systems or a new system that the client wants to start using.

The key is understanding what the client is looking to achieve from the system

“We don’t look to reinvent the wheel. Listening to our clients, understanding their needs, and determining the best most cost effective solution is our priority. To find the best solution we always offer the most effective and perfect fit.

When we look at the bespoke development, we aim to find the best solution for the client, and focus on ensuring that the development work can also be adapted for future requirements. By considering the client’s long term plans for their systems we can make sure that any bespoke work is not isolated but forms part of their future needs.

Often development work it is not as complicated as a client may first think. The requirements may be simply fulfilled by introducing functionality that already exists within Dynamics NAV that is not being utilised by their team. Training and technical support may be all that is required to improve the system. Additionally, development work to improve a client’s system to meet their requirements can be resolved by integrating into Dynamics NAV third party add-ons that already exist.

A further example of improving the system is when coding functionality exists outside the Dynamics NAV system, e.g. an Excel spreadsheet or an Access database, created by a single user that may be very complicated and difficult to maintain, and if the user is away or leaves the organisation, cannot be updated. In this case, a few day’s development work brings the functionality back into Dynamics NAV and it can then be utilised by all the team and not dictated by a single user.

We once identified a user that updated a very complex spreadsheet by copying and pasting data from Dynamics NAV into spreadsheets to provide a weekly report. The user would take up to half a day every week to update the information, with no guarantee to the accuracy.

By explaining that with just two days’ development work to automate the process directly from Dynamics NAV, the same process could be achieved with a click of a button and maintaining 100% accuracy in data, providing also an immediate time saving process and the outlay of the development work was covered within the first four weeks’ usage.”

The benefits of bespoke development

The main benefit of bespoke development work is to streamline processes within the client’s business that also results in increased productivity, and offering major time saving benefits.

Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Save time – bespoke work in Dynamics NAV often creates time saving benefits to the users.
  • Better control of data – using the same data source across systems.
  • Reduce errors – by automating repetitive processes.
  • Simplify processes – thus saving time and releasing employees to focus on other tasks.

 

Synergy Technology has the technical resources to develop your Dynamics NAV system

Synergy Technology is a highly skilled accredited partner of Dynamics NAV. We have a dedicated Dynamics NAV technical team with extensive working knowledge of the software who are able to apply practical and customisable business solutions using the application.

Our technical team can also offer your business ongoing guidance, advice and support to ensure Dynamics NAV is scalable and adaptable to the changing needs of your business, including the implementation of additional applications such as mobile warehouse, advanced business reporting, document management and e-commerce systems. To discuss your development needs for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, please contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050 or send us an email today.

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08 Aug 2018

Five tips for businesses preparing for a digital tax system

The HMRC has indicated that by 2020 there will be a digital tax system.

Making Tax Digital is a key part of the government’s plans to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs – meaning the end of the annual tax return for millions. Digital record keeping software will be linked directly to HMRC systems, allowing customers to send and receive information directly from their software.

Eventually paper records will no longer be sufficient and it will become mandatory for almost all businesses (self-employed, partnerships and limited companies) and landlords to use accounting software or an electronic spreadsheet to keep accounting records. The day will come when paper accounting records will cease to meet the requirements of tax law. It is important that SMEs are ready to meet the requirements set out by HMRC along the way.

Here are our five tips for making sure you and your accounting system is ready:

TIP 1: For SMEs is it imperative that your operating system and accounting software is set up to create records and store data in a digital form.

TIP 2: Check your accounting software is set up to function over the cloud and has the capacity to be accessed and updated using mobile devices.

TIP 3: Make sure you have a secure internet service and your team are trained to use data over the internet safely and securely.

TIP 4: To meet the first deadline ensure your system can create a VAT return from digital records and provide HMRC with VAT data on a voluntary basis.

TIP 5: Make sure your software partners have a product road map for updating your software to comply with a digital tax system and ensuring it will include necessary adjustments to keep up with developments from HMRC. Your software needs to be able to receive information from HMRC via the API (application programme interfaces) platform. This will allow HMRC to send ‘nudges’ to the business/agent.

Read our BLOG >> Getting ready for Digital Tax for business

For further information contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050.

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