23 Apr 2018

Realise your business intelligence

Often, the image surrounding Big Data and business intelligence focuses on how giant corporations can hoover up an extraordinary amount of information, feed it into powerful computers that spit out a stream of crucial analysis and insights that the corporation uses to save itself billions.

According to a recent report by Research and Markets:
“the global big data market for small and medium-sized enterprises will grow at a compound annual rate of annual rate of 43 percent until 2018.”

While certainly a cliché, there are big companies harvesting incredibly large amounts of data, putting it to work and achieving great results. However, Big Data is not only reserved for ‘big companies’. More and more small and medium-sized enterprises are capitalising on the advantages that Big Data gives their business processes. By harnessing a large volume of data, and based on the right analysis, SMEs can:

  • Improve knowledge of what makes customers tick
  • Find new entries into markets
  • Reduce costs
  • Uncover new insights
  • Make better and more precise business decisions

‘Little’ Big Data – how to make it work

Analytics is the essential component when it comes to making your data work for you.

For SMEs, smaller data sets gleaned from social media, email marketing programmes or CRM tools can provide customer patterns and marketplace trends or reveal overlooked opportunities, which can be turned into important business insights.

The benefits of the cloud and Big Data

When we talk about recent technological innovations, the cloud is never far from the conversation. The thing about Big Data is, there’s a lot of it. So, companies need to be able to handle the bandwidth that the continued cycle of collecting, analysing and storing a large amount of information will cost. This is especially true for SMEs. The cloud is a far more cost-effective platform when implementing Big Data analytics and allows SMEs to control how they scale their data function.

For example, imagine you are a medium sized company whose flagship product is doing well. With the right analytics, you can study who is buying your product and start to build a profile of your ideal customer, demographic, etc. Naturally, you want to figure this stuff out fast because a rival company is gaining on your market share, so Big Data will be crucial. Similarly, if your product is not doing well, analytics can help you gain insight into why.

Synergy Technology can help you develop your BIG Data strategy. Our business applications all include data reporting modules to help you maximise the amount of business intelligence you can gain from your data.

Getting started with business intelligence

Beyond the question of budget, storage and physical capacity to engage with high volumes of data, one of the keys to utilising Big Data effectively as an SME is preparation:

1. Define your goals

Are you looking to increase customer satisfaction or to get a better sense of your competition? One of the first steps to make big data work for an SME is through defining what it is you want to achieve from your data strategy.

2. Start with the data you already have

Most SMEs have data stored across several different areas – information is often isolated from other information. By bringing these isolated sources together you can consolidate your data and build a strategy. Imagine, as a small retailer you could look specifically at the relationship between social media conversations and buying trends.

3. Create a centralised view of your data

Make your data easier to discover and access. Once you’ve identified the various sources of data you hold, you can bring that data together in a single place. For example, many organisations opt to build a customer data hub, where information is gathered one everything to do with customers, helping analysts to pull out customer insights.

4. Fire up the dashboard and get analysing

Once you bring the data into a single location, you can put the dashboard to work. Using the same customer data hub example, you should be able to test your key performance indicators against communications data that you already had. You will be able to see previous orders, email and phone correspondence, and who you have been in contact with. You can review recordings of previous calls and turn that experience to a more positive customer service in the future.

5. Refine and retune your process

It might take a teething period, but once you are up and running you’ll know what works best for your data strategy, and can tweak it accordingly. Based on a specific workflow you can be sure of what customers are expecting and in that way predict customer behaviour, which will enable you to enhance your business processes and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Synergy Technology can advise you how to maximise on the business intelligence you can gain from your data call us on 0345 456 0050 for further information.

Click on this link : Read our Business Talk online

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30 Aug 2017

Discover the many faces of Dynamics NAV

So the latest series of Game of Thrones and its many faces is over and now we have over a year to wait until we finally see the fate of Westeros, (it could be worse at least we don’t have to wait for George R R Martin to finish the books).

If you haven’t seen the latest series of Game of Thrones, firstly where have you been? Secondly the following article may contain spoilers, so you have been warned.

Throughout the series viewers follow Arya through her journey to become a faceless man and finally in this series we see her using her new found skills, with some disastrous consequences for the Frays (told you there were spoilers). I mean if you could be multiple people why would you chose to be just the one, right?

Well, in the very same way, if you could have an ERP system that allows you to exploit, improve and streamline multiple aspects of your business why would you use a product that does just one thing?

Just like Game of Thrones, to strategically operate your business with the most effective ERP system, here are the many faces of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. In fact you have many faces on many different levels (so think of it as multiple Ayra’s, and these features can be pretty awesome). What’s more, you don’t have to wait a year to see what happens next, Microsoft regularly updates the software and has a continuing development plan to ensure Dynamics NAV is up-to-date and ready to take on any future battles and system challenges on the work front.

Discover more about Dynamics NAV

Learn how you can benefit from adopting a
multi-faceted system that will streamline your functions and adapt and grow with your business.
Contact Synergy Technology to discuss your business software requirements.

The Client Faces

Why settle for one way of accessing your system when you can have many? Look at your options:

  • The Desktop Face – The original way of access Dynamics NAV is still there and going strong. With Dynamics NAV installed on your work machine you have access with simply a click of a button.
  • The Web Face – Don’t you just hate it when your computer has been attacked by the white walkers? (In the form of a spilled coffee). When an attack ensues, you can strategically move camp and access Dynamics NAV on a different machine. Simply enter the URL, your username and password into the internet browser and continue working.
  • The Tablet/Phone Face – When traveling to Winterfell to battle the Night King, you’ll need Dynamics NAV on the move. For your logistics and distribution team, and your salesmen on the move, the tablet/phone client allows your team to access your Dynamics NAV system anywhere there is an internet connection.

 

The Role Centre Faces

I’ve discussed the ways you can access Dynamics NAV, but how do you make sure your users are getting the most out the system? Dynamics NAV comes with multiple role centres that are pre-configured as standard so your users can hit the ground running. These include:

  • The Sales Order processor (the John Snow Face) – instant access to sales information, top customers, top products, current orders and invoices. Make sure your sales team can’t say they ‘Know Nothing’ by devising specific role centres that suit the many faces of your team.
  • The Bookkeeper (Samwell Tarly Face) – Your finance team needs to know what’s coming in and what’s going out of your business. For the keen strategist in your business, the Bookkeeper role centre in Dynamics NAV gives you instant access to Payables and Receivable information. You need to keep the iron bank reconciled after all.
  • The IT Manager (The Tyrion Lannister Face) – With any growing business there is always a constant need to add users to the system. You don’t want to be calling your support partner every time this happens. The IT Manager role centre gives you access to add new users and assign them permissions. Have the power to build and move your team as and when you need to. As they say about all IT Managers, they drink and they know things.

 

The Add-on Faces

Dynamics NAV has many fantastic features and functionality but there will always be aspects of business that aren’t covered in one product. With Dynamics NAV this isn’t a limitation, there are many Microsoft certified add-ons available for Dynamics NAV, including e-commerce solutions, mobile warehouse management systems and advanced reporting modules so that Dynamics NAV can be tailored specifically to your business.

CLICK HERE
To learn more about our certified product partners.

Dynamics NAV has many faces and many ways to help you streamline your business processes. You would have to be a Mad King sitting on his Iron throne to ignore it, (and we all know what happened to him).

If you want to learn more about the many faces of Dynamics NAV, call me on 0345 456 0050 (ask for Adam) and I’ll be more than happy to come and discuss this with you.

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26 May 2016

10 Steps to Cyber Security for your Business

THE 10 CYBER SECURITY STEPS guidance is for businesses looking to protect themselves in cyberspace. Originally published by the Government in 2012 and now used by around two thirds of the FTSE350, the guidance remains the same and is reproduced below.

Central to any organisation’s overall strategy to manage and control the threat of cyber-attacks is the Information Risk Management Regime – this is Step 1. Surrounding and supporting this regime are 9 additional steps that, collectively, provide the basis for a more secure cyber environment.

Through following the 10 steps, your business will then be ready to gain accreditation through the Cyber Essentials Scheme – and remember that your IT or Managed Service Provider has the knowledge and expertise to guide you on how best to address each of the steps.

STEP 1:
Information Risk Management Regime

Assess the risks to your organisation’s information assets with the same vigour as you would for legal, regulatory, financial or operational risk. To achieve this, embed an Information Risk Management Regime across your organisation, supported by the Board, senior managers and an empowered information assurance (IA) structure. Consider communicating your risk management policy across your organisation to ensure that employees, contractors and suppliers are aware of your organisation’s risk management boundaries.

Following the Government's 10 Steps to Cyber Security

Following the Government’s 10 Steps to Cyber Security

STEP 2:
Secure configuration

Introduce corporate policies and processes to develop secure baseline builds, and manage the configuration and use of your ICT systems. Remove or disable unnecessary functionality from ICT systems, and keep them patched against known vulnerabilities. Failing to do this will expose your business to threats and vulnerabilities, and increase risk to the confidentiality, integrity and availability of systems and information.

STEP 3:
Network security

Connecting to untrusted networks (such as the Internet) can expose your organisation to cyber-attacks. Follow recognised network design principles when configuring perimeter and internal network segments, and ensure all network devices are configured to the secure baseline build. Filter all traffic at the network perimeter so that only traffic required to support your business is allowed, and monitor traffic for unusual or malicious incoming and outgoing activity that could indicate an attack (or attempted attack).

STEP 4:
Managing user privileges

All users of your ICT systems should only be provided with the user privileges that they need to do their job. Control the number of privileged accounts for roles such as system or database administrators, and ensure this type of account is not used for high risk or day-to-day user activities. Monitor user activity, particularly all access to sensitive information and privileged account actions (such as creating new user accounts, changes to user passwords and deletion of accounts and audit logs).

STEP 5:
User education and awareness

Produce user security policies that describe acceptable and secure use of your organisation’s ICT systems. These should be formally acknowledged in employment terms and conditions. All users should receive regular training on the cyber risks they face as employees and individuals. Security related roles (such as system administrators, incident management team members and forensic investigators) will require specialist training.

STEP 6:
Incident management

Establish an incident response and disaster recovery capability that addresses the full range of incidents that can occur. All incident management plans (including disaster recovery and business continuity) should be regularly tested. Your incident response team may need specialist training across a range of technical and non-technical areas. Report online crimes to the relevant law enforcement agency to help the UK build a clear view of the national threat and deliver an appropriate response.

STEP 7:
Malware prevention

Produce policies that directly address the business processes (such as email, web browsing, removable media and personally owned devices) that are vulnerable to malware. Scan for malware across your organisation and protect all host and client machines with antivirus solutions that will actively scan for malware. All information supplied to or from your organisation should be scanned for malicious content.

STEP 8:
Monitoring

Establish a monitoring strategy and develop supporting policies, taking into account previous security incidents and attacks, and your organisation’s incident management policies. Continuously monitor inbound and outbound network traffic to identify unusual activity or trends that could indicate attacks and the compromise of data. Monitor all ICT systems using Network and Host Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS/HIDS) and Prevention Systems (NIPS/HIPS).

STEP 9:
Removable media controls

Produce removable media policies that control the use of removable media for the import and export of information. Where the use of removable media is unavoidable, limit the types of media that can be used together with the users, systems, and types of information that can be transferred. Scan all media for malware using a standalone media scanner before any data is imported into your organisation’s system.

STEP 10:
Home and mobile working

Assess the risks to all types of mobile working (including remote working where the device connects to the corporate network infrastructure) and develop appropriate security policies. Train mobile users on the secure use of their mobile devices for locations they will be working from. Apply the secure baseline build to all types of mobile devices used. Protect data-at-rest using encryption (if the device supports it) and protect data in transit using an appropriately configured Virtual Private Network (VPN).

The Cyber Essential Scheme

The Cyber Essential scheme has been put in place to help protect companies against the majority of cyber-attacks to IT systems, in the main involving relatively low levels of technical capability. However, if you are serious about preventing attacks on your business it is likely you will need to do more.

Either way, unless your organisation has the expertise in-house, it is recommended that companies should enlist the expertise of their IT or Managed Service Provider. Synergy Technology can help you do this. Our hosted workspace solutions can provide your business with a secure yet flexible IT system. Coupled with effective email delivery services and anti-spam software solutions, Synergy Technology offers complete IT business solutions and subsequently peace of mind for your business.

Image by courtesy: StuartMiles 

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20 May 2016

Is your business set up for employees to work from home?

Quoted in research from the Institute of Inertia, some 24% of British employees, equivalent to 7.5 million workers, have revealed work-life balance is high on their agenda as they would prefer working from home instead of receiving increased pay.

As part of research to promote the National Work From Home Day on 20 May 2016 the information reveals interesting yet positive facts that promote working from home.

The main reason recorded in the research by 66% of the respondents for seeking the opportunity to work from home, was fewer interruptions. In terms of benefits, results showed that 48% of workers are happier when they can work from home, while 32% of staff said they feel more productive.

The top five reasons from the recorded results for better productivity when working from home include:

  1. Fewer interruptions
  2. Ability to structure their day to suit their needs
  3. Flexibility of working hours
  4. More control of their ‘to do’ list
  5. Fewer meetings

The study also revealed that home working is “more productive” for nearly three quarters (73%) of those of you who are 45+ year olds being more productive at home, compared to 30% for 18-24 year olds. Over 45 year olds reported feeling “more in control of their workload”, “less stressed” and “generally happier” when working from home – an important insight given that 36% of the UK’s working population will be over 50 by 2020.

Adopting a flexible mobile workspace for your employees

Cloud computing and hosted workspace solutions allow organisations to provide communication tools, software and business applications and access to documents and databases not only from anywhere such as at home, but also from almost any computer or mobile device. This has a significant impact on an organisation’s flexibility and ability to introduce new applications and systems.

One of the greatest developments over the past ten years in the way people work has been the migration to working from home. Increased office space costs, unreliable transport systems and the wide availability of broadband internet access has made working from home not just viable but a key part of the modern working environment. In the past, with traditional office networks and telephone systems, working from home either involved copying files to your laptop and taking them home or logging in to a terminal server which was housed, expensively, in the head office. It also often meant making and answering calls using your mobile phone or personal landline.

Andy Hughes, Technical Director at Synergy Technology and head of Synergy’s hosted services quotes: “Adopting a hosted workspace such as Citadel’s AppHub is revolutionising how businesses view and access information technology systems.  By moving to a hosted desktop, your team can log on to their desktop from anywhere, including from home, and get the same experience as if they were working in the office. By also using Microsoft Skype for Business capabilities, they can even become part of the office communication network with all the abilities to accept and transfer calls, take part in conference calls and webinars, pick up phone messages and use Instant Messaging.”

“By adopting a hosted workspace, working from home offers employees the flexibility to work where they want, when they want and how they want and from their preferred electronic devices. It is perfect for part time workers or people who need to work around the school run. It is ideal for people who live in remote locations or travel extensively when visiting clients.”

Whatever the driving force behind a decision to provide flexible working, Citadel hosted solutions can make a difficult decision very easy to implement technically.”

Source of statistics: Institute of Inertia

Photo courtesy of: Unsplash

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03 Dec 2015

Add Lead Management to your SuperOffice CRM

Get qualified lead management from web and marketing activities delivered automatically to your SuperOffice CRM while they are still hot using eMarketeer.

Developed using a set of best practices learned through hundreds of CRM integrations, eMarketeer’s lead management solution provides a quick self-deployment process that helps you determine which data should be shared between the two systems and what kind of information you want to pass over to your sales team.

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10 Aug 2015

To Build or Buy Cloud Computing?

For those contemplating this question with regards to offering backup and DR as a service, be careful when it comes to purchasing and managing your storage.

Analogy:

Say you’re looking at your options to buy or build your house. To build you would first need to buy a plot of land, working out the plans, getting plans approved and then buying all the materials you need. With the basic elements on site, now comes the hard part. Digging the trenches, erecting the framework in which to pour the concrete, then adding wall, doors, windows, electricity, plumbing and many other details. Any of these could trip you up and add time onto the project.

Many projects run way over budget and can be delayed by many months, or even years!

The only way this method would have any possibility of success is if you had a broad DIY skillset, or have generous contractor friends.

Currently the preferred approach is to buy a new-build house and move in, or buy a fixer-upper and pay someone else to create your vision. This typically saves a lot of money, time and heartbreak, but also enables you to focus on other priorities rather than sinking into a hole of unending financial surprises.

 

These are the very same reasons why many decide to shelve projects to erect their own storage infrastructures in support of their plans to add backup and DR services to their repertoire. Those thinking about building their own storage subsystems should look before they leap. There are many factors they need to be aware of to do with supporting and managing storage.

A lot of time and resources are taken up, for example, in product evaluation/selection/acquisition. Once purchased, there is much to be cautious about when it comes to implementation and integration, which includes third-party backup and recovery software. Once the storage assets are in place and functioning, they will need to be maintained. All this assumes, of course, that the necessary storage management and administration resources exist internally. This means have adequate storage personnel with the skills to efficiently manage your customers’ storage.

Those that follow this path often rue the day they opened the door to endless storage complexity, hassle and expenses, just because they wanted to ensure their back up customers never run out of capacity.

 

Synergy Technology offers a Private Cloud Platform, which works better for businesses as it is restricted to a single customer or trusted community and offers security and flexibility.

 

Examples of what Cloud Computing services:

 

Virtual IT – This is where we can configure and utilize remote, third-party servers as extensions to a company’s local IT network.

 

Software – We utilize all our software applications.

 

Network Storage – We back up or archive data across the internet to a provider without needing to know a physical location of storage.

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