Why professional service firms should move to the cloud

Cloud computing is no longer new technology. In fact, if your business isn’t already using it, it’s likely to be on your radar. Not least because of the cost-savings it offers savvy firms. However, while many organisations are capitalising on the power of the cloud, law firms and other professional businesses have been slower to make the switch, primarily due to concerns about data and security.

But today, reputable cloud vendors will make security a key priority; providing a reliable, secure infrastructure that outstrips what most companies can build for themselves. Let’s face it it’s in their business interests to do so. In fact, substantial investment would be necessary to make an onsite solution match the security and reliability of the cloud. Moreover, for those firms that still don’t like the idea of storing sensitive data externally, a hybrid approach to provides an excellent solution; with dedicated servers used to store highly confidential information, and the cloud used to support less sensitive data.

However, if you do decide to move data to the cloud, it is vital to ensure your cloud provider understands the risks and can advise you on how to deploy IT solutions without an unnecessary exposure. Ask them whether they can conduct threat assessments that look at the devices being used across your firm, the info these devices have access to, how information is being accessed, and any risks you are exposed to. And always be sure to specify security as part of your SLAs.

So security issues addressed, let’s take a quick look at why professional service firms should move to the cloud.

  1. It supports mobile working

Today, fewer people sit at their desks 9-5 than ever before; with mobile technology, hosted desktop solutions, and the shifting expectations of employees driving this change. In fact, mobile working is now more important to 67% of staff than a company car. In response, businesses must do more to meet this desire for new and flexible ways of working, or lose sought-after employees to competitors that will. Cloud technology allows employees to remain permanently connected, no matter where they are in the world.

  1. It can help you close the gender gap

While the government has introduced mandatory gender pay gap reporting to help deal with the fact that women earn less than their male counterparts, getting rid of the glass ceiling and addressing the more subtle barriers to career advancement is an even bigger challenge. As long as women remain the primary caregivers for their children, a rigid attachment to traditional office hours is always going to be tricky (particularly for mothers returning from maternity leave). Cloud-computing facilitates more flexible and more mobile working practices, and has the potential to play a significant role in closing the gender gap.

  1. It supports business growth

Many businesses are already leveraging the cloud to extract quantifiable value from big data. And, experts predict that it won’t be long before the majority of professional service organisations move all (or most) of their data to cloud servers.

By bringing together processes and data, firms can access enhanced management information, and this can lead to more informed decision making; particularly when you can get real-time access to this info.

  1. It’s cost-effective

Rather than relying on your own IT infrastructure, with cloud computing, there is no costly hardware to buy, and firms are free from the hassle of running and maintaining their own server.  Likewise, storage capacity, processing power, memory, and network bandwidth are all part of a shared kit, so you get better equipment for your business, at a fraction of the price.

Cloud-technology also does away with pricey contracts. Instead, firms usually pay a monthly subscription fee or are billed based on actual usage. Furthermore, service providers roll out updates on an ongoing basis at no additional charge. You can also scale up and down with your business, with the ability to set up accounts for new users and order more storage space in a matter of minutes.

 

At Key Computers, our cloud services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability. We also ensure you experience little to no downtime. For example, we provide 99.9% uptime for all cloud services. To find out how our cloud services can benefit your firm, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or request a demo today.

Read More

Why businesses using hosted desktops are turning to the cloud

Hosted desktops are helping professional services firms to solve their business challenges; with a plethora of benefits including increased scalability, flexibility, productivity, efficiency, and resilience.

When it comes to hosted desktops, businesses can choose from VDI (where an IT team loads and manages a server with virtualisation software) or cloud technology (otherwise known as Desktop as a Service or DaaS). And, over the last few years, there has been a subtle shift as firms have started to turn to DaaS, with cloud technology replacing the traditional server-based model.

But, many firms are still nervous about making the switch to the cloud; despite the fact that companies that use this technology are generating 26% higher profits than their competitors. So, despite security concerns, why are some professional service firms turning to a DaaS hosted desktop setup?

  1. Security isn’t really a problem

70% of organisations are concerned about the security and privacy of data and systems in the cloud.[1] But despite these apprehensions, with robust cloud encryption now available, storing data in the cloud can be safer than storing it onsite. In fact, online retailer Amazon is so confident about the security of the cloud that it runs its entire business on a cloud platform.

However, for those firms that just don’t like the idea of storing sensitive data externally, but want to enjoy the benefits of the cloud, a hybrid approach to desktop delivery could provide the answer.

Using both on-premises and cloud-hosted desktops, with a hybrid approach, dedicated servers can be used to store highly confidential information, with the cloud used to support less sensitive data. And while these desktop models exist separately, they also interact with each other to provide a range of combined benefits.

  1. The cloud-based hosted desktop offers significant cost savings

A VDI hosted desktop can be costly to manage. Yes, it can provide hardware savings as IT departments could buy cheaper less powerful devices, but firms still need to invest in IT infrastructure; particularly when it comes to storage. Also, as companies are responsible for managing their hardware, software, licensing, and deployment in-house, they have to devote time and resource to keep everything working as it should.

So, the increasing complexity of network infrastructure and the considerable capital required for the setup of this are leading to increased demand for cloud computing services.

The cloud doesn’t need any large-scale infrastructure investment or ongoing maintenance. Firms simply pay for the software they use on a subscription basis (often month-to-month or annually) And, as the cloud provider looks after everything for them, firms can save on ongoing maintenance costs and don’t have to worry about employing any in-house VDI expertise.

As a result, the cloud has made enterprise-level hosted desktops affordable for small and growing firms. Just as compelling, 50% of cloud users have reduced their IT spend by 25%.

  1. The cloud-based is scalable

With VDI scalability can become complicated, as firms have to manage capacity needs, and balance these against any increase in costs.

But, one of the best things about the cloud is that it’s scalable, so adding additional space to accommodate growth (or scaling back) isn’t an issue. Indeed, with DaaS, firms only ever pay for what they need, with the ability to scale up, or down, on demand. Setting up new accounts for new employees and ordering more storage space or applications can be done in a matter of minutes.

  1. The cloud-based facilities more productive working

VDI relies on network connectivity with a weak connection hampering performance. And of course, this also prohibits more flexible, mobile working practices. But firms are looking for solutions which can provide more efficient and easier access to business data.

With a cloud-based hosted desktop, employees can access their hosted desktop anywhere, from any device. This means they can access essential files even if they aren’t in the office. Not only does this help to boost productivity, but it also supports more flexible working practices.

With a quality managed desktop service firms are also benefiting from best-in-class backup and recovery processes. So they can be sure that data is recoverable should something go wrong. It’s no wonder therefore, that demand for instant and consistent access to information in one of the major driving factors driving the cloud-based hosted desktop market.

 

At Key Computers, our cloud services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability. To find out how a hosted desktop solution can benefit your firm, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or request a demo today.

[1] https://www.netwrix.com/2016cloud_security_report.html

Read More

Key are proud to feature in ITN & CIMA programme: Data Deluge & Decisions

‘Data - Deluge and Decisions’ is a news and current affairs style programme which explores how commercial enterprises are transforming and advancing society ever more radically, and how business leaders’ decisions have never before had such far-reaching implications.

Watch now to find out what Cloud Geeni (a Key company) says about how businesses are using Cloud technologies to increase security, maximise productivity and advance in their industry.

Simon Shelley, Head of Industry News, ITN Productions, said:

“We’re excited to embark on this project and engage with key organisations and people dedicated to shaping businesses of the future.”

Click here to watch.

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive – Management Accounting, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, said:

“We (CIMA) are delighted to partner with ITN Productions on this project. Management accountants play a critical role in driving business forward through good decision-making. This programme affords us the opportunity to share that story with the global business community.”

For help managing data and making the best decisions about technology for your business contact Key on 01942 261 671 to find out more about how our range of cloud solutions can help your business.

Read More

How to build a business case for tech changes 

Most service companies understand that technology is crucial to their long-term success. Service Management Software (SMS) helps them to run their business better and enhance customer service

SMS can also be used for order management, dispatching technicians, capturing and storing customer information, and stock management processes. And, by reducing the need for paperwork, it helps service-led organisations to increase productivity and efficiency. What’s more, by ensuring that everyone has access to the information they need to do their jobs, such technology can also provide valuable insights that work as a catalyst for growth.

But, despite this, too many organisations continue to focus on their immediate needs; rather than looking at how they need to evolve and keep up with the competition. So, what can you do to encourage your business to see the bigger picture and take a more strategic view toward technology investment?

  1. Make everyone aware of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Last year, the world collected 16 zettabytes (ZB) worth of data into devices, storage systems, and data centres. And, by 2025, that figure is expected to reach a whopping 163ZB. What’s more, with 25 billion things forecasted to be connected to the internet by 2020, these devices will eventually be used in most, if not all businesses; leading to cost savings, new revenue streams, and enhanced productivity.

The IIoT sees such connectivity impact the factory floor. It harnesses technologies, processes, physical objects, and services to create an interconnected system that monitors and shares information explicitly for industrial applications. With IIoT enabled tech, your programmers, technicians, engineers, and customer support staff are free to prioritise work that drives improvement and opens up new opportunities. And, as we see accelerated IIoT adoption, increases in productivity will only become more pronounced. So, any service company that fails to adapt to our new manufacturing reality is unlikely to succeed in the long term.

  1. Conduct an audit

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to service-led technology. So, before you make a case for investment, take the time to figure out what you already have and how it works.

Look at your software and hardware and how this all fits together (and where it doesn’t). Establish where data and applications are stored and who has access to what and where. Find out how technology is being used and how it can be used better.

Once you know what you have, it will be easier to establish what you need and how best to implement this (e.g. would it be simpler, and more cost-efficient to outsource your service management software to a cloud-based provider). Look at how quickly you need to access information, any legal compliance issues and what needs to happen if data is lost.

You should also establish and how any new technology can help you meet your broader business objectives. For example, SMS can also take over simple tasks, freeing your customer-service team to provide more proactive support.

  1. Consider any security issues

Data security issues are rarely out of the headlines. So, if you are to convince your business to invest in new technology, an increased focus on security is to be expected.

Of course, the more data is held in the cloud, the more people worry about cybercrime. But, the interconnected world is here to stay, so there is no point sticking our heads in the sand. Look to address each concern and establish measures to protect your business as much as possible.

The good news is that, with the right measures, could-based Software as a Service (SaaS) is often safer than storing your valuable data on site. Today, reputable vendors make security a top priority and will have a reliable, secure infrastructure in place that far outstrips what most businesses would be able to build for themselves. In fact, substantial investment would be required to make an on-premise solution meet the security and reliability of most business-standard cloud applications.

  1. Tackle data silos

Service-led companies often have data stored in a plethora of different places using a wide variety of tech. But, a silo mentality is a huge barrier to business success. Indeed, where departments and offices don’t share information with others, both efficiency and productivity are reduced.

To break down data silos in your business, start by looking all the different data assets in your company. This could include CRM software, E-commerce data, email signup marketing contacts, data held in Excel spreadsheets, and social media data (among others). Next, look at how any new technology can provide a better data management solution that consolidates all this valuable data, and shares it across your business.

Creating a single, integrated infrastructure that works across your organisation, SaaS encourages the simplification and standardisation of business processes, while helping people in different teams and locations to work collaboratively with one another. Put simply,

Service Management Software (when correctly implemented) makes silos of data stashes and fragmented communications a thing of the past.

  1. Consolidate your IT architecture

Managing disparate technology is a problem for most IT teams. As such, you shouldn’t just look to eliminate multiple data sources, but also any system that relies on a variety of vendors, manufacturers, or storage platforms.

Helping to improve productivity, modern service businesses use SaaS to help with a broad range of functions. But, if you want to make more significant improvements it’s worth deploying an integrated SMS. This offers complete integration throughout all your processes, rather than trying to patch different applications together.

  1. Consider the total cost of ownership (TCO)

When it comes to investing in new technology, cost is always going to be an issue. So, when making your business case, it’s vital to understand the TCO. This includes things like initial investment costs, ongoing support and maintenance, upgrade costs, energy costs and the cost of any downtime.

The good news is that SaaS can be implemented at much lower price than an on-premise solution, with no significant investment in licenses or infrastructure needed. SaaS also comes with lower running costs and will help you to create a more transparent cashflow, with everything you need provided on a pay-as-you-go basis. Ultimately, SaaS delivers reduced TCO as you no longer have to fork out on expensive infrastructure upgrades.

  1. Optimise for the mobile workforce

If your engineers spend lots of time in your office, then they are not out keeping your customers happy. The right technology removes the need for mobile workers to come into the office to share business-critical information. Instead, everything they need can be accessed remotely. And that makes good business sense. But it’s not just about your engineers, by 2020, it’s predicted that 50% of the workforce will be remote. So, your technology must provide a consistent experience – for employees and customers – across platforms and devices.

 

Providing a total Service Management Solution at Key, we will help you to invest in the right technology for your business. Technology that will help you to increase your efficiency, optimise your workforce, and boost your sales. To find out more about how we can help your service-led business succeed with Service Manager Software, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email info@keycomputers.co.uk to find out more.

 

 

Read More

Three ways recruiters are benefiting from the cloud

Working in recruitment is a constant challenge. Strict deadlines, targets, and the need to match candidate and client expectations mean firms have to go above and beyond if they want to get ahead of the rest. And that’s before we start to think about the as yet unknown consequences of Brexit.

Despite this, the industry is continuing to grow[1]. And, while businesses of all types are using cloud computing to succeed in a competitive marketplace, this technology offers particular benefits to the recruitment sector.

  1. Data security and compliance

The cloud lets you access your files wherever you are. And, by bringing together processes and data, delivers enhanced management information leading to more informed decision-making, and even creates opportunities for new revenue streams.

But, data security is big news. And it’s no wonder with cyber-attacks rarely out of the headlines.  However, contrary to what most people think, moving to the cloud and storing data and applications remotely shouldn’t put your business at any more risk. In fact, with robust cloud encryption, cloud storage is safer for recruiters than many onsite solutions. But to keep your data safe you need a partner that understands the current and emerging data security risks, and ensures the necessary steps to protect against them.

Data compliance in recruitment is also crucial. As such, any contract you enter into must require your cloud provider to comply with the Data Protection Act. This should cover meeting established security levels, processes for dealing with information, service level agreements, and expected levels of backup and retrieval procedures. And, next year even tighter data protection legislation will come into force. With breaches of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) opening recruitment firms up to maximum penalties of €20 million or 4% of worldwide turnover, it’s vital that your cloud supplier is ready for the change.

  1. Agility

Agile working removes the need for the traditional, rigid office set-up. Bringing people, processes, and technology together, the result is more flexible working patterns, processes, and environments. The good news is that modern technological advancements are making flexible working easier than ever.

Understandably, in the recruitment industry, agility is a highly desirable attribute. One which allows firms to adapt quickly to changing market conditions. The cloud allows recruiters to be agiler; both in how they work and where they work. For example, with the cloud, you will be able to take a brief from your client and send it straight over to the office. You can even search your database while in client offices. This supports more flexible working practices and leads to increased productivity.

It’s also easy to upgrade or add new software, allowing the system to grow and expand at the same pace as your business.

  1. Improved access to technology

Agile working enables recruiters to streamline their procedures. This inevitably leads to the removal of inefficient tech, processes, staff, and real estate.  And by automating core processes, consultants are free to focus on revenue generation and customer service.

But more than this, most cloud-based software is provided on a subscription basis, with no upfront expenditure. So, recruitment firms can access to best-in-class software that may otherwise be financially out of their reach.

At Key Computers, we specialise in providing cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) to recruitment consultants. We understand how recruitment agencies work, and what they need to share and maintain candidate records securely, while being able to access files from any location.

Understanding the IT challenges faced by the recruitment sector, our team delivers sophisticated cloud solutions for professional services companies that keep you profitable and compliant. Our cloud server services also consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability, maximising safety and eliminating downtime.

 

To find out how a hosted desktop solution can help to deliver efficiency throughout your business processes –  while protecting your client, candidate and business data  – speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 today.

[1] Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s (REC) annual Recruitment Industry Trends

Read More

Long term and short-term benefits of a good field service system

Thinking of investing in a SaaS service management system? Here are some of the short term and long term benefits you can attain if you choose the right service management software partner.

 

Short term benefits:

  1. Optimum scheduling of work – Scheduling jobs for engineers need no longer be a time-consuming task. A service management system allocates jobs to field operatives according to location and estimated duration, creating a schedule that optimises each person’s workload.
  2. Respond quickly to urgent jobs – Key Service Manager also allows you to make live updates to schedules throughout the working day. Need to prioritise a job? No problem – simply add a job as urgent and the rest of the jobs will be re-allocated accordingly.
  3. Easily rescheduling field operatives – Just as you may need to add and remove jobs from the schedule, you may sometimes need to call a specific operative to deal with a job at hand. Re-allocating jobs to different operatives can be done quickly and simply with the click of a button.
  4. Track performance by customer job type, employee etc. – Where you’re delivering a service, being able to monitor activity and performance is key. As all of the information for each completed job is centralised, you can run reports to identify areas of strength and weakness. This then allows you to make business decisions accordingly, all the while improving your service bit by bit.
  5. Reduce admin time – With a Service Management System, jobs can be distributed directly to each operative’s personal device. Any completion paperwork can also be completed and submitted digitally, where it is stored in the system under a customer/job reference number. This not only dramatically cuts admin time, but also reduces the margin for error.
  6. Improve invoice accuracy and shorten processing time – Concurrent with reducing admin time, having engineers sign off jobs as and when they are completed, submitting any documentation digitally as part of the process, also improves the speed and accuracy of the invoicing process. In turn, this allows you to collect payments quicker.
  7. Manage inventory requirements for scheduled jobs – Managing stock no longer has to feel like you’re stumbling around in the dark, or plucking numbers out of thin air! As jobs can be scheduled days/weeks in advance, you’ll always know what you’ll need for when. Additionally, over time, your system will gather data about the number of items that are used and when, allowing you to spot patterns and predict required stock levels.
  8. Reduce stock holding and improve cashflow and efficiency – As a service management system allows for smart scheduling of jobs and the stock inventory required for each job, keeping large quantities of stock is often unnecessary. This allows you to not only reduce warehousing costs but also improve cashflow by purchasing small quantities on a frequent basis rather than large quantities in an ad-hoc, unpredictable manner.

Long term benefits:

  1. Management information –

As alluded to above, over time, your service management system will collect a whole range of data about jobs, individuals, customers, accounts and stock. At any given point, managers and business owners are able to access detailed real-time management information, helping to answer crucial commercial questions. These might include…

Which contracts are the most profitable?

Which need to be managed differently to make a good return for the business?

Who are the most productive engineers?

How are changes affecting specific operations?

Having access to information and being able to draw down reports allows you to spot trends and identify any issues, allowing you to address these and ultimately manage your business much better.

 

  1. Improve visibility –  

When you’re at ground level, it can sometimes be difficult to see the wood for the trees. A Service Management System gives you a bird’s eye view of everything that is going on in the business at any given time – something that is notoriously difficult to do when running a remote workforce.  As managers are able to monitor operatives and their jobs remotely within a few clicks, they can assume a much greater level of control and influence. In the vast majority of businesses, this enables better, more informed decision making.

 

  1. Continual improvement –

As a SaaS service management system is cloud based, software can be updated and upgraded on a continual basis. This not only allows for potential advanced capabilities that you can easily roll-out throughout your business, there is also always the opportunity for further streamlining.  As a result, your business never has to be restricted by the system it’s built upon – leaving you room to respond to customer demands and ultimately improve your customer satisfaction levels.

Key’s Service Manager provides your business with all the above benefits and more. If you are ready to improve your business with a leading service management system contact a member of the Key team today and request a free demo.

 

Read More

Will AI replace human customer service teams?

How you treat your customers can make or break your business. And, with people demanding better and better service, getting this right has never been more important.

But time is the one thing customer service teams don’t have in excess. So, asking your staff to do more can be counter-productive; often leading to overworked teams and lost days due to stress. Likewise, investing in more staff isn’t always feasible, especially when every penny counts. But, with developments in technology showing no signs of slowing down, could machine learning and AI be the solution? And if so, does this mean that your customer service teams will soon be replaced by robots?

Yes and no.

Certainly, using machine learning to improve customer service is already happening. And, just like in our personal lives – where algorithms are employed by the likes of Netflix to recommend what to watch next based on what we have already enjoyed – in business, such technology is going to see greater and greater adoption.

But (as yet at least!) no AI can duplicate human empathy, so some support interactions still require a human element. Let’s face it, in times of stress having a real person to help a customer can calm things down much quicker than any computer. Particularly when “computer says no”!

When it comes to customer service interactions, AI tools will soon be able to address standard queries and high-urgency situations better than any human. But there are still a multitude of scenarios that remain un-programmable.

As we move into a new industrial age, one where The Internet of Things is set to revolutionise the world as we know it, it’s those service-led businesses that know how best to use AI and people together that are set to succeed.

For example, in many service companies, customer issues are still dealt with via call/support centres. But the sheer number of calls being made can make excellent customer service tricky; particularly for non-routine calls. AI technology could provide the answer; taking over basic, mundane tasks, and freeing employees to deal with more complex issues and provide more proactive customer service.

Ultimately, it’s about creating the best possible experience for your buyers. An experience that minimises their effort and their stress levels while meeting their needs. So, rather than worrying about how AI will replace human interaction, savvy service-led companies should be looking at how to use AI to improve human interaction. That’s a win-win-win for customers, employees, and the bottom line.

With a cloud-enabled Service Manager, such integration is already possible. And, as AI continues to advance, its potential is only going to increase. But to capitalise on the deep learning capabilities of AI, interoperability between devices and systems is a must. So, investing in could-based SaaS now could help your business to future-proof its position and evolve with the development of AI in the upcoming years.

 

To find out more about how we can help your business capitalise on developments in AI, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email info@keycomputers.co.uk to find out more.

Read More

Is your inventory management keeping up with your customers’ service demands?

Companies with a remote workforce operate in a different world now. If you run a business with remote-working engineers, you will no doubt have taken some steps to improve efficiency. Gone are the days where the most profitable businesses have their engineers drive to local offices each day – picking up a list of their schedule and the products they’ll need to complete the day’s work.

 

If nothing else, such a way of operating is too slow to keep up with customers’ demands – as a society, we have developed a ‘next day’ or even ‘same day’ mentality – waiting around is simply not something we’re prepared to do any more.

The question is – can your system keep up? Does an inefficient way of operating risk you losing customers to those who can do things faster, quicker, or better?

If bringing your business ‘up to speed’ is a priority, you should start by looking at your service management system.

These days, companies that are setting the agenda and reaping the benefits are using cloud-based service management systems, (SaaS systems), to streamline the way they operate. Just as ‘click and collect’ has revolutionised the way we shop, the same model can apply to businesses – improving engineer productivity and operational efficiency.

Key Service Manager enables businesses to purchase stock to meet planned maintenance schedules, making it easy to distribute products to engineers at local collection points. As all of the information needed to run your business smoothly is held in one secure location, a service management system can also optimise things such as engineer schedules, routes and collections.

Additionally, Key Service Manager allows for the general streamlining of other business operations, such as accounts and customer data processing, reducing planning and administration time.

Key’s Service Manager is one of the leading service management systems available.  To find out more or to book a free demo, please contact us.

 

Read More

The key benefits of moving to a Hosted Desktop IT infrastructure

When planning the next steps for their IT infrastructure, many businesses are seeing that a move to the cloud is the best way forward. But did you know that there are different ways the cloud can work, and not all providers provide the same cloud solution?

One of the main ways that cloud providers differ is whether or not they offer Hosted Desktop as part of their solution.

 

Hosted Desktop looks and is largely used like a standard PC’s desktop. The main difference is that instead of the data, programmes and operating system being stored on the PC itself, everything runs via the cloud. One of the main draws of a Hosted Desktop setup is that each user has their own Hosted Desktop that can be accessed via secure login from any machine or device with an internet connection. Users can access all of their files, data and applications from wherever they are – in the office, on the road, on holiday, or at home.

Here are some of the other key benefits that Hosted Desktop can provide.

  1. Reduced capital expenditure

With a traditional setup, you not only have to pay for PC hardware, but software licencing – which can come at a significant cost depending on the number of programmes and licences required. With a Hosted Desktop, the cost for software is much lower. Additionally, rather than having to pay out a large annual sum for licencing, you simply pay a fixed cost per user, per month – making outgoings much more manageable.

  1. Ensure your business is running the latest version

Where system updates are required on each native PC, you are forced to rely on each user to complete updates as and when they become available. Even when the importance of installing updates is impressed upon staff, there will inevitably be some that ‘slip through the net’. For security and efficiency reasons, having the latest version of an operating system in place is vital for a business.

System updates can also take some time to work their way through, which if left to each user to complete, would mount up to a significant amount of working time. With a Hosted Desktop, required updates are made centrally at a time to suit the business (often out of normal working hours), vastly reducing lost working time.

  1. Better for cashflow management

As described above, Hosted Desktop means that you pay a relatively small fee per user, with no large one-off licencing fees. This ensures that you only ever have to pay for what you use. Additionally, as most of the processes associated with maintaining the system will be completed off-site by the service provider, you won’t need to invest large amounts of time on managing and maintaining your IT system. All of this means more manageable and predictable costs, aiding cash flow and forecasting.

  1. Ensure employees are always using the latest software

Just as system updates are centralised with a Hosted Desktop solution, so too are software updates. Upgrades are compulsory, meaning you never have to worry that different members of staff are running different versions of software. This smooths the process of collaborating on projects and sees that all staff are operating at optimum efficiency as far as software is concerned.

To implement a cloud solution that includes Hosted Desktops in your business, contact a member of the Key Cloud Server team today to find out more and arrange your free demo.

 

Read More

Are accountants ready for machine learning?

Once upon a time, cloud technology was the biggest disruptor to the accounting profession. And, even when the benefits started to become apparent, many still argued against its adoption. But you can’t hold back the pace of change, and today, cloud software is so widespread it has become standard. So much so that making tax digital is now a reality. But, as the cloud becomes broadly accepted, a new disruptor has emerged - artificial intelligence (AI). And this time the changes are set to be much wider reaching.

According to the experts, the currently developed technology could automate up to 45% of the activities people are paid to do today. And, when it comes to the jobs of tomorrow, accountants are understandably nervous with stark warnings that a whopping 86% of the work done by bookkeepers, accountants, and auditing clerks has the potential to be automated[1].

Of course, technology has been changing accountancy for decades. Today, rather than entering numbers into books, computers give accountants the ability to calculate information more quickly and more easily. But despite the change of method, the underlying job has – until recently – remained the same. But, together, the power of the cloud and AI will change all that.

“Machine learning” is not science fiction, it’s already here. Algorithms used by Netflix that recommend what to watch next are a product of machine learning; as is Google’s ability to predict a search term as you are typing. And, in the world of accounting, cloud-based platforms are already using machine learning to make them work smarter. But, rather than making accountancy more difficult, the machines are helping accountants to become more productive.

Despite this, there’s no denying that likely advancements in AI will disrupt the profession in the short term. But for those that respond to the challenges and grasp the opportunities, the future is far from bleak.

Rather than simply crunching numbers and generating financial statements, accountants will need to take on a more an advisory role within their clients’ businesses. And this is already happening with modern accountants supplying insights, advising on how to improve finances, and anticipating future trends. Ultimately, looking at how the numbers can make companies work smarter and thrive. Furthermore, as cloud accounting platforms become powered by even better AI, accountants are set to become even more valuable to business leaders. Indeed, according to a report by Asian broking firm CLSA, a world where humans and AI are “bound together in a constant exchange of information and goals” is just around the corner.

With tech already transforming the profession, businesses need an accountant that understands and is ready for current and emerging changes (be that digital tax accounting or the rise of the robots). So it’s vital that they stay informed about emerging trends in the industry (e.g. mobile, AI, cloud etc.), and use these wherever possible. Not only will this help them to identify solutions that will advance their clients’ businesses, but it can also help accountancy firms to improve their own processes.

Are accountants ready for machine learning? Perhaps not yet. But as with cloud, with change comes opportunity, and it’s those that embrace and exploit this who will survive and prosper.

 

To find out how we can help you and your clients prepare for the latest technological advancements, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email info@keycomputers.co.uk  today.

[1] McKinsey

Read More