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Where is your business on the technology continuum?

As a technology firm, it’s natural that we want to look for the next digital transformation technology. We’ve even got an event dedicated to it – Futuretech. We’ve moved from physical storage to digital and cloud storage; from only being able to call our remote colleagues to being able to email, video call or even instant message them; from being unable to work from home or when commuting to having every programme we need at our fingertips; we’ve come a long way, but that doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels.

Equally, we appreciate that many have only made a few tentative steps, taking an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach.

However, there’s now an ever-increasing risk that something as seemingly simple as an outdated version of Office could cause significant compatibility issues, and end-of-life software could open up vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks.

More importantly, standing still whilst others move forward is likely to impact on your business’ ability to stay ahead of the competition or attract the best people.

In fact, if you’re employing millennials – who are categorised as anyone born between 1980 and 1997 – they’re likely to be ahead of the game and think it’s rather strange that you wouldn’t use voice recognition to write up your dissertation! Then again, they’re unlikely to have ever worked in an office where everyone didn’t have a PC or laptop.

Just as we’ll being doing at Futuretech, it makes sense to break the concept of digital transformation down in to bite-size chunks to make it easier to understand where your business sits on the technology continuum.

By looking at it as a jigsaw and identifying the missing pieces, you’ll effectively create a gap analysis. And like a jigsaw, it actually doesn’t matter where you start and it’s unlikely that the ‘pieces’ for one business will be the same shape or size as any other.

So, let’s have a look at some of the pieces.

Hosted email

It’s rare to find an organisation without some form of email solution; it was the first foray into technology for millions of businesses. It’s still a core asset for business, but it’s now evolved so you don’t have to worry about bloated inboxes or server issues. Exchange Online, which forms a central part of Office 365, is also the first step into the cloud for many businesses. Workers can access their emails anywhere, anytime, on any device, with a 50GB user mailbox limit. No more crashed servers because that one colleague never deletes their emails.

Cloud storage

Storage is the first thing people think of when it comes to the cloud. Email storage in the cloud is a significant step forward, as it frees up server space. Next, it’s time to think about your documentation. You’re likely moving away from paper storage to digitisation, and you can take even more strain off your servers by turning to the cloud. Whether it’s for backup or your primary storage solution, the cloud offers endless options. It’s estimated that there are over 1.6 billion permutations of the cloud (Aberdeen Group), so it can be more than simply an out-of-the box solution. Whatever your needs, our cloud experts can recommend the most suitable cloud storage for your business. OneDrive for Business, another app that comes as part of Office 365, offers a level of control that some file-sharing solutions just don’t.

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting offers a level of flexibility that isn’t always afforded by on-premise applications. It enables employees to work remotely, whether that’s an agreed work from home schedule, in situations where they can’t get to the office, or if they’re travelling. TSG home worker and Office 365 expert Tony Hughes covers that in more depth in his blog on technology and working from home.

Hosted telephony

Migrating to hosted telephony is also a crucial element of digital transformation. Openreach has announced that it will End of Life traditional telephony services by 2025, meaning many businesses will have no choice but to upgrade or migrate to VoIP-based telephony. Business owners should view this as an opportunity to rethink their telephony strategy and consider switching sooner rather than later. Hosted telephony offers a host of benefits to businesses, with reduced maintenance costs thanks to no onsite PBX, no site-to-site call charges, mobility and flexibility. Find out more about how your business can take advantage of hosted telephony.

Collaboration

At a basic level, that could simply be allowing several users to work on the same version of a document rather than duplicating multiple copies and risking using an out-of-date version. It’s a way of working that is second nature to the new generation of digital natives and is likely to be a key building block in working more effectively – whether or not it’s the first.

SharePoint is an innovative and powerful collaboration tool that’s long been a Microsoft stalwart, and its inclusion in Office 365 means businesses don’t have to pay separately for it. SharePoint is also the core system at the heart of many new Office 365 tools including Planner and Teams. It’s the ultimate collaboration tool, offering secure data access, document management and workflows, and can even be your company’s intranet.

Unified Business Management Systems (BMS)

The highly-anticipated launch of Dynamics 365 will see Microsoft’s ERP and CRM functionalities brought together in one centralised hub, with integration to Office 365 and a number of external tools. If the move to Dynamics 365 isn’t feasible for your business at present, Dynamics NAV is designed to work with other business essential tools including Office 365 and external applications.

Data and business intelligence

Business intelligence lets you understand what’s working for your business and what’s not, and you can use that information to shape future sales and marketing campaigns, or even your products based on what’s most popular.

We recommend Qlik’s next-gen BI and visualisation tool Qlik Sense for all of your business intelligence needs. It takes business intelligence to the next level by making associations in your data that you might have otherwise not spotted. Its easy drag-and-drop interface means even BI beginners can use it, and it produces stunning, interactive visualisations that can work for team presentations or board reports. See how Newcastle United use Qlik Sense to gain a deeper understanding of their fan base.

Virtualisation

As mentioned earlier, you’re probably on the way to digitising files and documents, and that’s the first foray for many businesses into virtualisation. But it’s not just physical documentation that can be virtualised; virtualising your servers can bring many benefits to your business, including reducing server numbers, reduced energy consumption, less downtime and increased server usage rates. Find out more about virtualisation services.

Business continuity and backup

Virtualisation plays a significant role in business continuity contingency plans. Backing up your data regularly in the cloud or on external hardware is critical to ensure that, if the worst happens, you can restore business-critical information.

Innovative solutions like Datto go a step further than many traditional backup solutions, using a hybrid approach to offer almost instant recovery in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Data is increasingly important in our digitally-focused business world, and you need to be sure you have a back-up plan in place in case it’s compromised. Find out more about how TSG can help you choose the most suitable backup option.

Process automation

This is where digital transformation gets really exciting.

Nintex is the ultimate process automation tool. Using workflows and an easy drag-and-drop interface, you can automate any number of process in any department, from customer service to finance. From building a knowledge management system that can help support agents solve customer queries quickly, to assigning tasks and routing queries to the right people automatically, the sky is the limit with Nintex.

Security

Ransomware saw a huge resurgence in 2016, with a 3,500% increase in attacks. Businesses were aggressively targeted, and 41% of companies reported an attempted attack. It hit the UK particularly hard, with Ransomware accounting for 25% of all cyber-attacks in the UK.

This increase in cyber-crime means cyber security is now essential for businesses, rather than an optional add-on. Sophos Intercept X was created to combat the rise in Ransomware attacks, and goes further than just attempting to prevent attacks. If a PC is infected with Ransomware, Intercept X will remove all traces of the virus and reinforce the system, making a future attack even less likely.

What next?

As technology continues to move forward, we’ll see even more steps on this technology continuum. Where does your business fit in? are you struggling to take the first step on the road to digital transformation? Talk to TSG’s experts today, or sign up to TSG Futuretech to see digital transformation in action and have your burning questions answered.

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