Five key IT areas you must address in your business’s 2021 growth strategy. As we finally approach the end of – what we can all agree has been a difficult year – it’s likely that the last thing you want to think about is your IT next year. However, being the IT super-fans that we are, we’d suggest that now is the best time to do this. We’re about to begin a new year.
It’s going to be another challenging one. So what greater way to start than with a clear strategy for the months ahead? A solid IT strategy is a critical part of your business growth plans for the year.
Download our new guide to find out the 5 key IT areas you must address in your business.
How was 2020 for your business?
It didn’t take long for the optimism of a new decade to wear off. By the end of 2020, companies everywhere were reeling as they reckoned with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the impact of the virus was too much for many firms, leaving millions of workers unemployed and driving thousands of businesses to close their doors. Those companies that stayed afloat had to act quickly in order to enable their remote workforce and maintain operations.
Heading into 2021, there is little precedent for projecting the future. The economy is showing some signs of stability, but there are lingering fears over continued challenges or further surprises. Now is the time to investigate to see how five key IT areas can help your company in 2021.
Making sense of it all
Through all the confusion, though, there are still some basic concepts that will shape the year to come. Digital operations are more important than ever, with many transformative changes accelerating over the past year. Fair treatment for all is an absolute mandate, making diversity, equity and inclusion a top priority. The influence of technology is massive, forcing new approaches to regulatory behaviour. When is the last time you analysed your IT system? Have you locked the secrets behind the five key IT areas?
As the industry emerges from a chaotic year, it will begin a rebuilding phase, but this rebuilding goes beyond restoration. There is little opportunity to return to the old way of doing things. Thanks to changes that no one would have wished for and fuelled by the requirements of a digital society, the technology industry will doubtless take a new shape in the coming year. This isn’t rebuilding to reclaim the past; this is rebuilding for the future.
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All our clients benefit from our experience and knowledge. Our team have been working in the industry for over 25 years. We pride ourselves on delivering nothing but the very best customer service and solutions to our customers whatever the situation may be. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your FREE IT audit and discover the secrets of the five key IT areas to help your business. Our services include managed IT services, network support and telecoms.
Upgrading your software is a huge decision for any business. When an automatic update appears on your screen, should you press update? Recently, some of the big software companies have released updates that have caused issues. Here are four stories that were in the news recently.
A Windows 10 update that was only released 2 weeks ago is breaking some PCs. Matt Hanson from TechRadar take a look.
An Unexpected’ iPhone and iPad update threatens app glitches. James Clayton & Leo Kelion, Technology reporters from the BBC publishes a recent article.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs into Boothole patch trouble. Steven Vaughan-Nichols for Linux and Open Source wrote an article for ZDNet.
Norton Antivirus fails to update on Windows 10. Aleksandar Ognjanovic a Troubleshooting Expert wrote a story for Windows Report.
Given upgrades are here to stay, the key is not to regard them as a nuisance, but to recognise that by investing in them, you will benefit your business.
The pros and cons of upgrading your software
To help you make the right decision we’ve created a list of the pros and cons involved:
New software is always more secure than its predecessors, because the longer a piece of software is on the market, the longer hackers and other bad actors have to figure out its weaknesses. With cyber-security being one of the biggest threats to businesses today (In 2016, 36% of all crimes were “cyber enabled fraud”, while “computer misuse” accounted for a further 17%) that’s a PRO you can’t ignore! Upgrading your software will help your systems with threats from cyber crime.
Con: New software costs money
Software costs can fluctuate between developers and product versions. Some programs might include a discounted price for future upgrades, or you may have to buy the software outright, which can quickly add up when you have to upgrade multiple computers. Making this kind of bulk purchase comes down to whether you have the budget, which can easily dictate how realistic software upgrades are for your company. To overcome these hurdles, Clockwork IT also offers a rental option to its customers allowing them to implement a new system with minimal upfront costs.
Pro: New capabilities
How do businesses justify charging you for an updated piece of software? By providing something that’s substantially better than earlier versions! The latest programs will undoubtedly address previous flaws, increase functionality, and take user feedback into account.
Con: But do you need it?
Of course, while the newest software may be the best, there is no guarantee that you need it. If your “old” program still works fine, and none of the new features will be useful to you, why throw money away on an updated product? In this case, there will almost certainly be something better to spend your money on!
Pro: Productivity and efficiency
The bottom line is this: as software functionality improves, it should deliver greater gains in productivity and efficiency. Some companies could save thousands of hours of work with a simple upgrade – at that point, the question becomes one of economics. Upgrading your software will keep your business up to date with the latest technolgu. This will ensure your team can produce the best product and service for your industry.
While new software tends to be better, and can improve productivity, there will always be a “learning curve” to take into account. If the new programs are very different, it will require significant man-hours to understand. As well as major input from IT specialists, you may want to ask yourself: is it worth it? In other words, do the productivity gains you think you will reap from installation outweigh the height of the hurdles you will need to jump to get to them?
At LIS, we only roll out new software and updates when we know they can help make your business more efficient. This will save you time and money. Our clients benefit from managed upgrades.
If you would like to learn more about the software solutions that could be helping your business towards a more profitable future, contact the LIS Help Desk.
The recent Salesforce upgrade has new tools that help workers stay productive from anywhere while also enabling safer in-person experiences. Salesforce has released a number of upgrades to its Work.com platform in an effort to help organizations grow. This will help businesses while returning to the office safely.
Work.com is already being used by cities and companies around the world. Your team will be safe with technology for employee wellness, shift, management manual contact tracing and more. In fact, Salesforce recently announced Work.com for Vaccines to help orchestrate the “largest vaccination campaign in human history”. Governments and healthcare organizations are still preparing to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine, once found.
TechRadar take a closer look at the best CRM software of 2020: Customer relationship management solutions. TechRadar have also compiled some other articles that will help businesses
Salesforce announced multiple updates to its Work.com solution this week designed to help companies adjust to the new normal (Image credit: Salesforce)
Employee Workspace is a central digital hub where employees can access the tools and resources, they need to work remotely including productivity apps like Google Workspace, learning platforms such as myTrailhead, payroll systems and more. The workspace also provides personalized communications, embedded collaboration apps and notifications.
Salesforce’s new Employee Helpdesk uses Einstein AI-powered chatbots to provide employees with quick and easy access to knowledge articles and escalation paths across any department. Employees can even use the helpdesk to ask questions about IT support or HR policies and benefits.
Safer in-person experiences with the Salesforce upgrade
While Twitter and other companies have said that they will allow their employees to work from home indefinitely, other organizations are now preparing to return to the office which is why Salesforce has added new communication apps to Work.com to enable safer in-person experiences for both customers and employees.
Brick and mortar businesses can use the company’s Queue Management software to minimize physical lines by creating virtual queues to protect customers and manage onsite capacity. Using the service, customers can easily reserve their place in line from anywhere and get updated on queue status via SMS to avoid having to wait outside for long periods of time.
Communicating updated hours of operation, new appointment times and safety reminders can be done using Saleforce’s Broadcast Messaging. Organizations can use the service to communicate with their employees and customers. They can use their preferred channels such as text, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Businesses can also use Broadcast Messaging to manage follow-up questions or service requests with automated chatbots and personalized service communications.
Finally, Digital Trust Cards allow local store employees to quickly update websites and apps with safety protocols specific to their location. Such as social distancing guidelines and cleaning policies to help build customer trust and confidence that they will be safe when vising in-person businesses.
EVP and GM of Platform, Trailhead and AppExchange at Salesforce, Sarah Franklin explained in a press release how the company’s latest upgrade to Work.com will help businesses thrive in the new normal, saying:
“The pandemic has accelerated everything, and every company is re-imagining work in the new all-digital world. The new technology helps employees be productive anywhere. It will create a safe in-person experiences for customers, Work.com is helping companies get back to growth and thrive in the new normal.”
The IT doctor will see you know
With so many choices available for a CRM system, which is the right one for your business? We invest time going down the gym, eating the right food and trying to stay healthy. However, how healthy is you IT system?
Winter is on its way; some people are having their flu jab. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your IT audit. We will make sure you have the right security in place to stay healthy. Upgrade your software to stay efficient and prescribe any other long-term treatment to make sure your business stays fit.
“Congratulations, you have been selected for an interview. For the professional minigamer position at Open Mind Corporation,” a robotic voice announces over a blank screen. “My name is Alex. I will be guiding you through the interview. The whole process will take no more than 10 minutes. Let’s hear your voice. … Smile for the camera. … Welcome to the interview.” Robots conducting job interviews help companies save time, money and keep social distancing
The conversational AI recruitment technology is validated and proven to objectively assess general work performance. As well as, identify competent candidates and reduce the risk of faulty recruitments. Designed and produced by Tengai AB is a HR Tech start up based in Sweden that is combining AI and an unbiased recruitment methodology in the world’s first interview robot.
Unbiased interviewer Tengai now available in English
Robots conducting job interviews: How it works
How exactly AI interviews work remains something of a mystery. The tech is driven by an interest in increasing efficiency in the interview process. The virtual interviewer/robot asks a standard set of questions (pre-designed rather than spontaneous or follow-up questions that probe into answers). It then evaluates candidates’ responses, including physical reactions and the cluster of words used. The physical reactions under scrutiny could include micro expressions. Unlike regular facial expressions which are difficult to hide or manipulate. As well as other forms of body language, vocal tone and volume and response time. Don’t panic just yet, it doesn’t appear that the algorithms judge an applicant’s appearance.
But how can the robot evaluate whether an answer shows ingenuity and creativity? As well as business acumen, a capacity for empathy or a collegial vibe? Doesn’t it take a seasoned interviewer—much less one with a pulse!—to do that?
Well, it’s conceivable that an algorithm could detect things like enthusiasm, passion, confidence and the quality of an applicant’s vocabulary, right? And isn’t it also conceivable that an algorithm could measure a candidate’s appreciation for social cues by examining responses and expressions?
Large companies embrace the new technology
These systems are now being used by major companies, including Unilever, Vodafone, Intel, L’Oréal, Mars, and Citibank, to name but a few. Kevin Parker, CEO of Utah-based HireVue, one of the more prominent platforms in the space, tells me that one of the company’s customers, “a large grocery chain in the U.S.,” used the platform to interview about 20,000 people a day for stocker and cashier jobs. But A.I. interviews are also being used for internships and professional positions, especially in the age of social distancing.
Robots conducting job interviews: The risks
Some fear that AI run amok could engender disparate impact discrimination claims (i.e., where a facially neutral policy or practice disproportionately and adversely affects individuals with legally protected characteristics). For example, there is a fear that since AI may involve machine learning. The robot may develop assumptions over time regarding the suitability of certain groups of people for employment based on historical interview results with respect to members of those groups.
If this technology does become the norm, some new skills will suddenly become just as important as your work experience, education and professional referrals. Whether you’re a database administrator or a regional sales rep, you might want to enrol yourself in an acting class or get a poker coach. “Impression plays a major role in personality analysis,” the researchers said. A study found that 7% of a person’s impression depends on the spoken word. 38% on vocal sounds and a whopping 55% on facial expressions.
The human touch
A recent study revealed that the number one reason customers dread calling companies for support is the growing probability that they will encounter a bot instead of a human upon connection.
LIS clients benefit from the human touch. We do not have robots that deal with our client issues. Contact the LIS Help Desk for an IT audit. You are only a phone call or email away from an IT partner that can help your business save time and money.
How Excel may have caused loss of 16,000 Covid tests in England? Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software may have led to Public Health England misplacing nearly 16,000 Covid test results. Due to the fact that the software has a million-row limit.
The story published yesterday by the BBC written by Leo Kelion (Technology Desk Editor) investigates what went wrong. This highlights that if you upgrade your software and talk to your IT provider, you will avoid nasty surpises. Are you using out of date operating system and software? Upgrade your software to make sure your business operates more efficiently and stays secure.
The data error led to 15,841 positive tests being left off the official daily figures. In addition, 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers and were not told to self-isolate. PHE was responsible for collating the test results from public and private labs.
Rapid development of the testing programme has meant that much of the work is still done manually. Individual labs send PHE spreadsheets containing their results. However, the system has improved from the early days of the pandemic and it is still far from automated.
More than 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers after 15,841 positive tests were left off the daily figures. Photograph: Simon Leigh/Alamy
Excel spreadsheet error caused a huge spike in Covid cases
The weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases has soared in dozens of areas of England. Nearly 16,000 cases were left unreported because of a technical error with an Excel spreadsheet.
Manchester now has the highest rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to 1st October. The equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 223.2 in the previous week.
The problem has led to a delay in efforts by NHS Test and Trace to find the contacts of those who tested positive for the virus, in some cases by around a week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unable to say on Monday morning how many contacts of positive coronavirus cases had been missed.
IT experts ‘surprised’ at PHE use of Excel for Covid-19 data
IT experts have questioned why Public Health England used Excel for a scheme as large as NHS Test and Trace. Once the technical error led to nearly 16,000 cases going unreported. Computing experts and academics said it is “very surprising” that Excel was used for something of this scale and not adequately tested” they said.
“It is very surprising to hear that an enterprise scale system, presumably developed by professional technologists, is expected to run on Excel,” said Adam Leon Smith, fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and chair of BCS’s special interest group in software testing.
“Many large organisations refer disparagingly to Excel-based applications as ‘end-user driven architectures’. They spend lots of time trying to decommission them for reasons relating to security, control and stability”.
“This is mostly because Excel is designed for end-users not complex systems. It has well-known scalability limits. Excel can’t handle unexpected situations in a way that interacting systems will be able to recognise”.
“It sounds like these limitations have manifested in real problems in this case. This is exactly why databases are normally used in enterprise applications”.
“Even if presented with a system that did rely on Excel, one of the first things that should have been identified through a testing process was a limit to the data volume it could process.”
A sign in Bolton, UK reminds people of the need for testing Credit: Adam Vaughan/Shutterstock
Excel has limitations
Dr Peter Bannister, executive chair for the Institution of Engineering and Technology Healthcare Sector, said limitations of commercial off-the-shelf products such as Excel for medical uses are well-known.
“It’s disappointing to read that a lack of awareness around the limitations of a consumer software product has led to such a negative impact for all those who are relying on the Covid testing programme,” he said.
“It’s widely known within medical device development that the use of commercial off-the-shelf products, such as Excel, requires additional testing to ensure that they are able to meet the stringent requirements of use in a healthcare setting.”
The Excel spreadsheet reached its maximum file size. New names could not be added in an automated process, he advised. The files have now been split into smaller multiple files to prevent the issue happening again.
Consider file size
Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of communications systems from the University of Cambridge, said file size is a “basic consideration”.
“One would think that a software engineer would have considered a worst-case test scenario for any system design – on paper before you even get to writing code – just to make sure it wouldn’t blow up in any way like this,” he explained.
“The limitations of Excel in terms of big data, which is generally a very decent piece of software, are well-known – if you look at how many people are expressing astonishment at this online, you can see that.”
He continued: “There are many big systems in Government (e.g. DVLA’s or HMRC’s) that work at this scale so there’s no excuse.
“Also, a simple sanity check on the data or error checks in the system might have told them when they hit this limit instead of discovering it after the event.
“This sort of thing is standard in sixth form or undergraduate computer science training too.”
Upgrade your software for efficient business
Has your organization been considering an upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 from on premises Office/Exchange? Perhaps you’re holding back because the word, “upgrade” is enough to scare anyone away. Most companies upgrade software when they are forced to. But in the case of Office 365, the benefits you’ll get from upgrading are delightfully easy and without doubt worth the commitment.
Contact the LIS Help Desk about how we can upgrade your software to Office 365. Take advantage of tools like Intelligent Edge, PowerApps and Flow. These tools ensure your data is tied to the same cloud system. This enables you to access your email addresses without additional setup and configuration, as well as other benefits.
Office 365 Security Package Our Office 365 Security Package is a bundle of software tools. The package works continuously on Microsoft Office 365 accounts. They provide genuine protection benefits that EVERY business ought to have. We manage EVERYTHING for you. It’s all in our hands, which is exactly how it should be. However, once we upgrade your software, you will have peace of mind to allow you to focus on your business.