Removing tech from the discussion

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A recent customer situation which resulted in the renewal of an existing customer’s ERP contract, made me think about why customers come to us. We signed a huge tech deal with a client but we hardly spoke about technology. In short, it got me thinking about how we work with clients. We are a technology company, but people come to us for more than just tech.

Understanding our clients

The first thing that comes to my mind is that we understand our clients. We understand their business and how their supply chain works. To be able to provide the best service, it’s fundamental that we fully grasp their inner workings. From that understanding, we then build close relationships, so that they can be confident that we are there for them; to support them in every step of the journey.

Guide, help and advise our clients every step of the way

As specialist application hosting providers, at C24 we understand that implementing ERP systems correctly is critical within a business. We get that. The ERP system is often the pillar on which most organisations are built; it is fundamental to success and a business cannot run without it. It underpins everything.

When an ERP deployment goes wrong, it affects the business as a whole: supplier payments can’t be made on time or even made at all, invoices go to the wrong people, product manufacturing is affected by delays; and confusion and mistakes become the two main players. In short, all operations of a business can be compromised.

Getting an ERP project wrong can create huge issues for clients’ own customers and suppliers, ultimately leading to customer dissatisfaction. We get it and we know what it takes to make ERP implementations risk free and secure. We know how to make the process of migrating to a new ERP, or having an ERP platform installed for the first time, as painless as possible.

Our expertise in deploying ERP solutions is vast, and because of that we can help businesses to choose the right ERP solution for them. For example, not long ago, we created an ebook about Hybrid ERP (1) and developed a list of 9 things to know about Hybrid ERP, where we explored the ways in which cloud is disrupting the traditional approach to ERP deployment (2). We don’t just deploy ERP, we talk about it, we research it, we study and we write about it. At C24, we partner closely with ERP integrators to deliver the hosting and underpinning infrastructure most suitable to our clients’ existing IT environment and operations. When everything is set up and running, we don’t just disappear from the face of the Earth, we are always available and ready to guide, help and advise whenever needed. We could say we are a ‘partner for life’.

The key to it all

All of this thinking makes me realise once more how important relationships are. If businesses can’t build close relationships with their clients based firstly and foremost on trust, both parties lose. Without trust, and a commitment to truthfully understanding our clients’ needs, we won’t be able to keep that relationship going for very long. Good tech is in fact the bare minimum. Relationships are the key that take that technology to the next level.

Moreover, when you win a contract, it is you against a number of other suppliers. However, when you renew a contract, it is you against the world. You have to prove why you are still the best choice for your customer. Renewal is about the relationship you have built and continue building with your client; it is about understanding them, NOT the tech you provide. It is about strengthening that relationship time after time.

As I said at the beginning of this reminiscence piece, we recently signed a huge tech deal but we hardly spoke about technology. This tells you a lot about who we are and how we like to do business.

 

References:

78% of British businesses rely on spreadsheets for key financial decisions


A report from F1F9 in conjunction with YouGov has revealed that UK businesses are facing ‘looming financial disasters’ through the misuse of spreadsheets within their organisations.C24 Data governance

Due to the fact that spreadsheets are prone to human error, and in complex spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, errors can be very difficult to identify, the report highlights that billions of pounds are being put at risk daily due to spreadsheet inaccuracies.

Spreadsheets are predominantly used within businesses, according to the research, for the following reasons:

  • Account preparation
  • Pricing decisions
  • Investment decisions
  • Budgeting and forecasting

All of these financial processes are central to a business, hence why errors in spreadsheets can result in large losses or disastrous consequences for businesses.

Delft University analysed over 15,000 spreadsheets following Enron’s demise and found that 24% of all spreadsheet formulas contained errors.  755 spreadsheets had more than 100 errors in each spreadsheet.  This is a staggering figure, and shows the compounding effect that one error can have when the incorrect formula is utilised repeatedly.

Within UK businesses, 16% of companies have admitted to finding inaccurate information within their spreadsheets more than 10 times during 2014.  Who knows how many millions of pounds or margin percentages this could have affected for UK businesses?

The report, which was also featured in the Telegraph, cites a lack of standardisation as to how spreadsheets are used within a business, and the severe lack in training on spreadsheets as the main culprits.

Many businesses assume that all staff are competent in using Excel spreadsheets however competencies range drastically, and as spreadsheets are prone to being changed, saved and then sent out, it is very hard to instigate rigorous control over versions.

At C24, we regularly speak to customers who are struggling to manage hundreds of different spreadsheets that their businesses run on.  These spreadsheets exist in many different versions, and are saved by different users, with little knowledge over who changed what part of who is responsible for which spreadsheet.  This leads to inertia and confusion, and before long causes an results in an error that impacts the entire organisation.

We speak to our customers about instilling better data governance practices, through more controlled access to reporting; making it easy to view reports but putting in place standard processes to change and manipulate data to avoid errors.

Without a critical review of all of the different spreadsheets being used within your organisation, it is only a matter of time before data is lost, deleted or incorrect.  The report from F1F9 says that nearly one in five large businesses have suffered financial loss as a result of spreadsheet errors, and our increasing ability to share files quickly and easily will result in more widespread and less tangible user access across each organisation.  Without standard processes and best practices in place, this reliance on spreadsheets can quickly spiral out of control.

 

Image courtesy of R. Nial Bradshaw.

C24 awarded G-Cloud 5 place


C24 has been awarded a place on the G-Cloud 5 government framework, enabling C24 to deliver cloud services to government and public sector organisations.

Our experience in enterprise application hosting meant that we were well placed to serve government clients, who need secure, enterprise hosting services in a flexible and scalable model.

C24 are working with a number of organisations who are looking at how cloud services could benefit their storage operations.  C24 really offer differentiation by delivering an on-premise cloud storage solution; where clients can consume the storage as a service and pay for it based on the amount of storage used rather than investing heavily in infrastructure upfront which can be costly and risky to the organisation.

The government’s G Cloud plan is for 50% of new IT spending to move to the cloud by 2015, but understandably some government organisations have been reluctant to put all of their data and operations into the Public cloud.

This is where C24 really differentiates itself, by offering a solution that Public sector organisations can start with, whilst retaining control before scaling to more cloud services in the future.  C24’s Storage as a Service solution allows organisations to buy through G-Cloud but keep their infrastructure on site, where they can see and access it, however the storage is delivered to the customer as a service.  This has a number of benefits for public sector clients who want the peace of mind of knowing where the solution is housed (on site at their own datacentre) yet also need the flexibility and scalability of the cloud.

The Storage as a Service solution from C24 offers an easier and more secure path for Public sector customers who don’t want to put all of their data into a faceless public cloud, where data may not stay in the UK and SLAs are dependent on a number of third party providers.

To find out more about C24’s G-Cloud offering, please visit the Cloud store directly here: http://govstore.service.gov.uk/cloudstore/5-g4-0909-001 or by contacting C24 directly at info@c24.co.uk .

KPCB Internet trends 2014


Here are 12 interesting stats from the KPCB Internet Trends 2014 report:

1 Mobile data traffic is accelerating at 81%. Video is a strong driver.
2 30% of 5.2 billion mobile users now use smartphones. Mobile accounts for 25% of all web usage. In short, if you’re still doing business and research only on the web (or offline), you’re missing out. ​
3 Tablet shipments have increased 52% in 2013, growing faster than PCs ever did.​
4 Mobile advertising grew 47% in 2013, but that only represents 11% of the total Internet advertising. Advertising on mobile has a lot of room to grow. ​
5 App purchases make up 68% of money made on mobile. (The other 32% comes from mobile advertising.) It’s no wonder more companies are looking to launch branded apps. ​
6 Global over-the-top messaging services—including Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Viber—have reached 1 billion users in less than 5 years. Social networking is moving from broadcast to private sharing. ​
7 BuzzFeed attracted over 130 million unique monthly visitors in 2013, trumping established brands such as the New York Times. By reimagining content and innovating on content delivery (e.g. quizzes, lists, breaking news, etc.), Buzzfeed thrives in the digital age. ​
8 For the first time ever, digital music sales fell (by 6%) in 2013, representing another shift in the music industry. This time, digital sales are declining because of streaming, which is up 32%. The difficult lesson for all businesses: the next disruption is just around the corner. ​
9 We’re mining a huge amount of data, but it’s mostly unusable. Only 7% of all data are tagged and a mere 1% are analyzed. It’s no wonder big-data projects have had limited success. ​
10 The second screen era is officially here: 66% of U.S. tablet owners and 49% of smartphone users surf the web while watching TV; 44% of tablet users and 24% of smartphone users are shopping. ​
11 The Chinese economy now makes up 16% of the global GDP. But China’s rise is not just about the number of consumers in the country: it’s also a place of innovation, as 4 out top 10 Internet properties (in terms of traffic) are now Chinese companies. As international markets like China grow, companies need to consider multinational communities to understand the unique needs of these markets. ​
12 The number of “microelectromechanical systems”— things like sensors and other components in mobile devices— shipped every year has increased more than sixfold over the last five years to 8 billion in 2013, an increase of 32% from 2012. ​

– See more at: http://www.visioncritical.com/blog/internet-trends-2014#sthash.pFelnLVF.dpuf
– See more at: http://www.visioncritical.com/blog/internet-trends-2014#sthash.pFelnLVF.dpuf

PSFK 2014 conference


Another great story:

Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, talks about the importance of timing when launching a new community and how unrelated ideas can reinvigorate a business.

Check out our conference page to see more of innovative industry leaders who will be speaking  at our event.

Inspiring ideas and videos from the PSFK 2014 conference


Every year, PSFK is thrilled and honored to welcome a diverse group of creative thinkers to the stage for our flagship New York event. This year’s speakers are currently being announced, and include people from diverse backgrounds like design, tech, advertising, and every industry in-between. With PSFK CONFERENCE 2014 only a few weeks away, here’s a look back at some of the great innovators who have spoken on our stage at previous conferences.

Thanks to the guys at PSFK – http://www.psfk.com/2014/02/psfk-conference-past-talks.html#!xL91B

IBM’s Predictions: 6 Big Data Trends In 2014


A big data expert shares predictions based on feedback from IBM‘s enterprise clients. Is it time to update your strategy?
Top 10 Cloud Fiascos
Top 10 Cloud Fiascos
(click image for larger view)
Businesses next year will sharpen their focus on big data and place a greater emphasis on analytics projects, data-related security and privacy, and a new generation of cognitive-intelligence apps. They will even find a seat at the boardroom table for a new executive: the Chief Data Officer.

That’s according to Inhi Suh, IBM vice president of big data, integration, and governance. Her 2014 predictions are based, in part, on feedback that IBM is getting from its enterprise clients. Here are six ways that organizations will react to the big data phenomenon next year, according to Suh.

1. More analytics, fewer gut feelings. Companies will grow increasingly data driven and willing to apply analytics-derived insights to key business operations. Intuitive decision-making will diminish somewhat as companies “infuse analytics into everything that employees touch,” says Suh. Examples include day-to-day business operations, machine-to-machine processes, and management systems. (Lunch is still your call.)

[ Time to broaden your education? Read Big Data Analytics Master’s Degrees: 20 Top Programs. ]

2. Businesses get serious about big data privacy and security. Organizations in 2014 will make a greater effort to build security, privacy, and governance policies into their big data processes. This might involve a careful balancing act, as business devises innovative, data-driven projects that deliver usable insights while addressing security threats that might arise.

3. A bigger investment in big data. Big data insights aren’t free, of course, particularly when they involve spending real money on a Hadoop platform. But that won’t stop companies from investing in big data platforms. New applications in 2014 will enable a wider range of analytics, including “reporting, dashboards and planning, predictive analytics, recommendations, and new cognitive capabilities” for transactional, social, mobile, and other data types, says Suh.

4. Welcome, Chief Data Officer. It seems there’s room for one more at the top. More organizations in 2014 will bring a chief data officer (CDO) on board. As the title implies, this new member of the C-suite will be the enterprise’s “champion of data” and find ways to extract those all-important insights from new forms of digital information. IBM cites Gartner statistics that show some 100-plus CDOs serve in large enterprises today, more than twice the number in 2012.

5. Smarter big data apps. Plenty of software firms are working on big data apps designed to bring the power of analytics to the masses, ideally reducing an organization’s reliance on highly trained, highly paid data scientists. Next year will bring a “new ecosystem” of developers, ISVs, and startups that create a new class of cognitive computing apps, says Suh. These programs will learn and improve with experience, thereby helping organizations solve complex questions.

6. Outside data is as important as inside data. As every big data watcher knows, the explosive growth of social media, mobile devices, and machine sensors is generating a wealth of bits that either didn’t exist or weren’t accessible a few years ago. Some of this data is generated within an organization, but a larger percentage comes from the outside — Twitter streams, for instance.

In 2014, businesses will find more ways to harness this mix of structured and unstructured data, ideally helping them better address the needs of their employees and customers. Customer service pros, for instance, might increasingly analyze social media feeds to respond more quickly to consumer reactions (especially the bad ones). And human resource teams might mine data shared by employees to more effectively recruit, develop, and retain top talent, says Suh.

You can use distributed databases without putting your company’s crown jewels at risk. Here’s how. Also in the Data Scatter issue of InformationWeek: A wild-card team member with a different skill set can help provide an outside perspective that might turn big data into business innovation. (Free registration required.)

Thanks to http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/ibms-predictions-6-big-data-trends-in-2014-/d/d-id/1113118

FIVE ENTERPRISE IT PREDICTIONS FOR 2014


1. Knowing where your enterprise’s data is stored is no longer optional.

Privacy and other laws vary from nation to nation. Businesses and their remote offices need to know which laws they must comply with, and those laws are in a state of flux in a number of large countries. In particular, U.S. companies doing business in Europe face the prospect of new challenges that will require more accurate knowledge of where their data – and their customers’ data – reside than most of them have today.

The proliferation of personal cloud services and mobile device capability continues to put critical data in flight, beyond not only the walls but also the awareness of the enterprise. Making this even more urgent is the realization that some governments can (legally, it appears) access data stored in cloud services.

Within the enterprise, many employees have far more access to far more sensitive, valuable data than they need to do their jobs, and which files they’re accessing and what they’re doing with them are rarely tracked or analyzed.

Each of these issues is distinct, with its own challenges. What they have in common is an imperative that begins with much more detailed knowledge of where files are stored and who has access to them.

2. We will begin a new debate about the role of government in the digital age.

As we saw decades ago with the transportation and telecommunications revolutions, governments can have constructive, helpful roles in accelerating the benefits of innovation and they can also impede progress and freedom with burdensome regulation.

Revelations about previously undisclosed U.S. efforts to monitor even its closest allies have spurred strong reactions around the world. In Brazil and elsewhere, there is serious discussion of closing the Internet within national boundaries, as China has done.

Will some governments respond to the heavy hand of others by trying to compete for digital business? What would make a country most attractive: a commitment not to spy on a business or its customers? Protection from would-be hackers and digital thieves? Great connectivity, cheaper energy, lower taxes?

3. Balancing productivity and security will become an art form.

We will see a tipping point in 2014, due in part to growing privacy concerns and the continued rise in data breaches, as the lack of checks and balances begins to have a serious impact on businesses. In response, enterprises will place a high priority on solutions that provide security and control without compromising the user experience and productivity.

On one side of the equation, employees need to find, access and share whatever data they need, whenever they need it, with whomever they need to from any device. Anything that stops you from being productive is an obstacle, and the work around is often to go rogue with your personal email account or cloud sharing services, your own device, and/or your own mifi network.

On the other side of the equation is the need to keep this data safe and under control. Only the right people should have access to it, they should be using it for its intended purpose, and it needs to be disposed of when no longer needed.

Knowing who can access what data, who actually is accessing it, and putting into place sensible controls for sensitive data without impeding the natural rise of digital collaboration from any device, will become one of the most valuable contributions IT can make to the enterprise.

4. Figuring out what you can archive and delete is going to get more difficult and more urgent.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt pointed out that we create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through the year 2003. “The real issue is user-generated content,” Schmidt said, pointing to pictures, instant messages, tweets and emails.

For the enterprise, human-generated data is the most valuable and the most sensitive kind of data being created. It is growing faster than any IT budget, data center or cloud strategy can keep up with. Separating the wheat from the chaff is getting more difficult. If you can’t separate, you never know what you can delete. And if you can’t intelligently archive and delete, it’s going to get harder and harder to find the data you need.

5. Data owners have been put in charge. Now they want more insight.

A shift toward data-centric security in the enterprise has already occurred – assigning owners for data assets is quickly becoming a standard best practice. These owners are now tasked with making decisions about their data that they’re uniquely qualified to make – who should and shouldn’t have access, what use is acceptable, where should it be stored, when can we delete it, and how can we get more out of it?

According to Gartner, “Information security is becoming a big data analytics problem.” Gartner explains: “To support the growing need for security analytics, changes in information security people, technologies, integration methods and processes will be required, including security data warehousing and analytics capabilities, and an emerging role for security data analysts within leading-edge enterprise information security organizations.”

2014 will be the year that the forward-thinking enterprise looks to big data analytics technologies to make sense of their human-generated data and help them make better, more informed decisions about it.

Gartner Says the Internet of Things Installed Base Will Grow to 26 Billion Units By 2020


The Internet of Things (IoT), which excludes PCs, tablets and smartphones, will grow to 26 billion units installed in 2020 representing an almost 30-fold increase from 0.9 billion in 2009, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner said that IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services, in 2020. It will result in $1.9 trillion in global economic value-add through sales into diverse end markets.

The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.

“The growth in IoT will far exceed that of other connected devices. By 2020, the number of smartphones tablets and PCs in use will reach about 7.3 billion units,” said Peter Middleton, research director at Gartner. “In contrast, the IoT will have expanded at a much faster rate, resulting in a population of about 26 billion units at that time.”

Due to the low cost of adding IoT capability to consumer products, Gartner expects that “ghost” devices with unused connectivity will be common. This will be a combination of products that have the capability built in but require software to “activate” it and products with IoT functionality that customers do not actively leverage. In addition, enterprises will make extensive use of IoT technology, and there will be a wide range of products sold into various markets, such as advanced medical devices; factory automation sensors and applications in industrial robotics; sensor motes for increased agricultural yield; and automotive sensors and infrastructure integrity monitoring systems for diverse areas, such as road and railway transportation, water distribution and electrical transmission.

“By 2020, component costs will have come down to the point that connectivity will become a standard feature, even for processors costing less than $1. This opens up the possibility of connecting just about anything, from the very simple to the very complex, to offer remote control, monitoring and sensing,” said Mr. Middleton. “The fact is, that today, many categories of connected things in 2020 don’t yet exist. As product designers dream up ways to exploit the inherent connectivity that will be offered in intelligent products, we expect the variety of devices offered to explode.”

The IoT encompasses hardware (the things themselves), embedded software, communications services and information services associated with the things. Gartner refers to the companies that provide the hardware, software and services as IoT suppliers. The incremental IoT supplier revenue contribution from IoT in 2020 is estimated at $309 billion.

Economic value-add (which represents the aggregate benefits that businesses derive through the sale and usage of IoT technology) is forecast to be $1.9 trillion across sectors in 2020. The verticals that are leading its adoption are manufacturing (15 percent), healthcare (15 percent) and insurance (11 percent).

IoT value-add is composed of the combination of mature IoT, which is already yielding benefits, and a high-growth emerging IoT opportunity. It is derived from a combination of sector-specific technology (such as connected, automated manufacturing systems), and more generic, widely used technology, such as the suite of “smart building” technologies, including light-emitting diode (LED) lighting and smart HVAC systems.

Emerging areas will witness rapid growth of connected things. This will lead to improved safety, security and loss prevention in the insurance industry. IoT will also facilitate new business models, such as usage-based insurance calculated based on real-time driving data. The banking and securities industry will continue to innovate around mobile and micropayment technology using convenient point-of-sale (POS) terminals and will invest in improved physical security systems. IoT will also support a large range of health and fitness devices and services, combined with medical advances, leading to significant benefit to the healthcare sector. Emerging connected sensor technology will lead to value creation in utilities, transportation and agriculture. Most industries will also benefit from the generic technologies, in that their facilities will operate more efficiently through the use of smart building technology.

More detailed analysis is available in the report “Forecast: The Internet of Things, Worldwide, 2013.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/document/2625419?ref=QuickSearch&sthkw=G00259115.

Thanks http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2636073

Big Data Analytics 2014 Predictions from IIA


IIA-2014-Analytics-Predictions1

Listen to the recorded webcast here. From Sarah Gates’ post: “At the end of the webcast, our listeners voted on which predictions they thought would come true.  The results of the voting are shown below.  If they are right, we are likely to see our predictions about the focus shifting to analytic teams, analytics driving process improvement and adoption of analytics software as a service come true in 2014.”

IIA_Poll-Results

Thanks to the guys http://whatsthebigdata.com/2013/12/11/big-data-analytics-2014-predictions-from-iia/