Is a hybrid approach to the hosted desktop on the horizon?
One way firms are capitalising on the power of the cloud is through the virtual desktop. But, while switching to a cloud-enabled hosted desktop is easy, some organisations remain unwilling to ditch their on-premises tech; mainly due to apprehensions about security. In fact, according to the latest annual report from the Business Continuity Institute, cyber-attacks and data breaches are the two biggest perceived threats to business continuity today.
70% of organisations are concerned about the security and privacy of data and systems in the cloud.
In reality, and contrary to what the doubters think, moving to the cloud doesn’t have to put your business-critical information at any more risk. In fact, it can make it safer. But what can you do if you simply don’t like the idea of storing your sensitive data externally, but do want to enjoy the benefits of the cloud? A hybrid approach to desktop delivery could be the answer.
Types of hosted desktop
A hosted desktop works just like a standard computer. Staff open their computers and access all the files and applications needed to do their jobs. But, unlike a traditional desktop, all the necessary settings, data, and operating system are delivered over the internet, rather than stored on the computer’s hard drive.
- Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). VDI lets users access their personalised desktop, including all their data and applications, from anywhere with an internet connection. This is done by hosting the user’s desktop operating system on a virtual machine in a centralised server that you manage. So, implementing VDI requires in-house expertise and ongoing maintenance. Because all data lives in a data centre, there are security benefits to VDI. For example, should a laptop get stolen, the thief can’t take any data from the device because there is no data held on it.
- Desktop as a Service (DaaS). With DaaS, your virtual desktop data, OS, and applications are hosted in the cloud and managed by service provider. You simply pay a subscription to your vendor, and you only ever pay for what you need. So, DaaS doesn’t require any large-scale infrastructure investment or ongoing maintenance. And, with robust cloud encryption now available, storing data in the cloud can be safer than storing it onsite. Find out more about keeping data safe in the cloud.
What is a hybrid hosted desktop?
One possible solution to desktop delivery is a hybrid model, where businesses deploy and manage both on-premises and cloud-hosted desktops. Under the hybrid approach, while these desktop models exist separately, they also interact with each other to provide a range of combined benefits.
What are the advantages of a hybrid desktop?
- Superior scalability. A hybrid model can deploy the cloud to handle spikes in VDI usage
- Maximised uptime. By removing some of the pressure from your VDI, you’re less likely to experience outages
- Increased peace of mind. Dedicated servers can be used to store highly confidential information, with the cloud used to support less sensitive data
- Reduced costs. You can leverage the power of business-class DaaS to support your VDI without any significant increase in investment. So, resources can be allocated to business critical projects that support growth
- Ease of use. Your employees don’t need to log in and log out of many different devices
- Increased productivity. Employees have access to everything they need wherever they need it; even if they aren’t in the office.
For many firms, the hybrid hosted desktop offers the best of both worlds. But it doesn’t come without challenges. Designing, deploying and managing a hybrid solution needs considerable skill and an understanding of any wider infrastructure challenges, so it makes sense to find a trusted partner who can handle this for you.
A managed approach to your hosted desktop solution
At Key, we’ll work with you to advise on, and devise the right solution for you. What’s more, with our managed approach, IT specialists are watching your system all the time, making sure it’s running smoothly and quickly. Our managed desktop services also boast best-in-class backup and recovery processes. So you can be sure that your data is recoverable should something go wrong.
To see how our excellent hosted desktop solutions work in practice, request a demo or free trial today.
Is your dispatch scheduling software fit for purpose?
If your engineers spend lots of time in the office or between jobs, then they are not with your customers keeping them happy. At the same time, service personnel who end their day knowing they have been productive are happier than those who get more and more frustrated due to inefficient tools and processes.
Creating happy customers and a fulfilled workforce in the service industry requires the latest technology. What’s more, with the right dispatch scheduling software, you’ll be able to improve productivity, boost customer service, meet your key performance indicators, and keep everyone satisfied.
Software as a Service (SaaS) for dispatch scheduling
SaaS describes services delivered over the internet. Easy to use and access, with SaaS, field service teams can connect with your office from wherever they are, and respond to and close jobs quickly. The benefits of SaaS-based dispatching and scheduling software are compelling. Here are just some of them:
- Assign tasks to the right engineers using location and scheduling data. For example, automatically calculate the distance between the job and the nearest available engineer
- Prevent double-booking with alerts for overlapping
- Provide engineers with a clear view of their scheduled work every day. So there is no need for them to come into the office
- View the status of any job (including its history)
- Provide automated progress updates to customers
- Access real-time inventory information from anywhere. So your engineers can quickly check whether the parts they need are in stock
- Manage stock locations to ensure your engineers get the parts they need as quickly as possible
- Automate processes to improve speed and accuracy through the use of mobile technologies. Significantly reducing administration and paperwork
- Eliminate the wasted time that results from poor scheduling decisions.
Ten tips for choosing the right dispatch scheduling software
But, not all SaaS is created equal. So, to meet the needs of your modern service operation, here are our top tips for choosing the right dispatch scheduling software.
- Make sure it offers advanced integration functionality. It doesn’t matter how good your new software is if it won’t integrate with your existing IT setup (assuming you are not starting from scratch). The best dispatch SaaS should augment and support your various mission-critical tasks (e.g. invoicing, sales, CRM, etc.), not hinder them.
- Choose software that supports mobile working. Your dispatch software should provide your engineers with real-time access to all the information they need. On any device, from anywhere. SaaS is the ideal choice; with cloud-based solutions designed specifically to meet this need.
- Deploy software that improves collaboration. Departmental silos are still a problem for most businesses and can have an adverse impact on your customers. To combat this, use SaaS that encourages the simplification and standardisation of business processes, and which helps people in different teams and locations to work collaboratively with one another.
- Invest in software that is easy to use. It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles your dispatch software has if your engineers and other employees don’t know how to use it. So make sure it’s easy to understand and simple to use.
- Check that it comes with optimised routeing functionality. Efficient scheduling requires more than simply planning daily dispatches according to location. To maximise your operations, invest in software that also takes time-of-day, traffic patterns, etc., into consideration
- Ensure your SaaS is secure. Keeping sensitive customer data safe is of the utmost importance. But the more technology we integrate over the internet, the greater the threat. In our online world, refusing to adapt with the times isn’t an option. And, with robust encryption now available, your cloud-based solution doesn’t have to come with any increase in risk. Speak to your SaaS partner to make sure they can provide the necessary levels of data security and reliability.
- Look for software that facilitates self-appointment booking. SaaS that allows customers to schedule appointments with your engineers online could increase satisfaction levels.
- Make sure it offers advanced reporting functionality. In addition to supporting your day-to-day dispatching and scheduling operations, SaaS also provides on-demand operational performance analytics, so you can rapidly recognise and respond to trends and even identify revenue-generating opportunities.
- Make sure it’s accessible. Cloud technology provides your field service personnel with access to everything they need to do their jobs. But, because they sometimes have to work in locations with limited connectivity, it’s vital that any cloud-based services you use can also function offline, before synchronising with servers once connectivity is restored.
- Check the costs. With SaaS, you pay a subscription (usually monthly or yearly) to use the dispatching software; with the price you pay dependant on the size of your business and the number of users. So, you only ever pay for what you need. What’s more, SaaS is implemented at a fraction of the price of an on premise solution. And it doesn’t require any large-scale infrastructure investment. Delivering a more stable cash flow, as your business grows, your SaaS solution can be quickly and easily scaled up to meet your changing requirements.
At Key Computers, we offer fully integrated dispatching, and scheduling solutions, tailored to suit the requirements and budget of your business.
If you want to increase performance and customer satisfaction, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about switching to SaaS today.
The future is coming, and it’s modular
Gaining space on our screens is a competitive business. In the consumer market, we are constantly accessing different apps, programmes and communication tools; sometimes using several of these at any one time. You only need to have a quick look at your smartphone to see how many apps you have used during the course of a single day – and that’s before you consider the other tools and programmes you may have accessed via other devices in your home or workplace.
As a result, developers are always on the hunt for ways to engage their audience better, improve interfaces and altogether streamline the user experience in order to try and gain more screen time.
Just as attracting and retaining screen space is becoming increasingly difficult in the consumer market, a similar situation also applies in the work environment. Staff have many different applications they may have open at any one time – from email to messenger, scheduling applications to software programmes, internet browsers to social media tools – workers are being bombarded with several different programmes and communication tools all at one time –
In our personal lives, we seem to be becoming more and more easily distracted by the several stimuli and communication channels we are faced with – sometimes making it difficult to see any one task through from beginning to end.
Of course in the work setting, such distractions can have the potential effect of reducing productivity. How would your business benefit from a modular system that channels screen space by only presenting the tools and applications that are relevant for use at any one time? Would it help if you could easily add and remove users from your system’s setup; restricting certain users access to only the parts of the software that they require?
SaaS Service Manager systems have been developing in line with trends over recent years and in response to our exposure to multiple different applications and programmes, modular SaaS Service Manager setups have begun to emerge as a popular choice for businesses. These provide users with a more seamless experience; allowing the functionality of a program to be separated into independent, interchangeable modules.
This can not only help to improve productivity but also enable businesses to control access to certain programmes and applications depending on role and level of seniority. In effect, businesses can not only have a tailor made SaaS Service Manager system for their business but can also have a SaaS Service Manager system that is tailored to each individual user.
Summer is coming – let’s head for the clouds!
The summer holidays are approaching. Whether you’re hoping for some good weather at home or heading to a sunnier climate, being safe in the knowledge that we are still able to access and stay in close contact with work often gives us peace of mind when we are away from the office.
Of course nowadays, we’ve become used to having access to our emails 24/7 from wherever we are. However, on occasion, it’s necessary to be able to access more than just email – whether it’s some software you need to use, a piece of work you want to complete remotely, or a client requires a file whilst you’re away – hosted desktop allows for all of these scenarios.
As such, hosted desktop is now one of the most popular methods for businesses to set up their IT infrastructure. Enabling you and your employees to be able to effectively access work desktops without actually having to be there, it really is the ultimate solution for flexible working.
Another way in which hosted desktop assists with flexible working is its place in facilitating working from home. Whether having employees working from home is a regular occurrence in your business or if it’s something you make allowances for in the summer holidays – to allow those with children to be able to work more flexible hours to assist with their childcare arrangements – hosted desktops means you can give full access to all the data, files and programmes employees need whilst they’re away from the office. In addition, employers can also monitor activity – such as login times and periods of inactivity – whilst their staff are working from home.
Of course, flexibility and worldwide access are only a couple of the many benefits hosted desktops offers businesses. Additionally, a hosted desktop solution allows for maximum data security, automatic data back-up and reduced energy consumption / costs, alongside full pro-active management and support.
For more information or to request a demo of how hosted desktops could benefit your business, please get in touch with us here.
Four ‘must haves’ for field service technology
In another blog, we examine some of the key trends facing service-led companies as they look to the future and strive to modernise their IT solutions. Of course, keeping up with advances in digital technology is important. But, for anyone working in the field service industry today, having the right mobility solution in place is crucial NOW.
Mobility is a huge issue for the service led industry. Let’s face it, if your engineers are spending lots of time in your office, then they are not out keeping your customers happy. In response, solutions that remove the need for mobile workers to come into the office – and save time between jobs while on the road – are very much in demand. But, all too often the technology being used to support mobile employees just isn’t up to the job; leading to frustration from customers and engineers alike. And that’s just bad business.
So, what should your mobile software technology do for you today? Well, SaaS applications can help with a broad range of tasks, from order management to dispatching technicians, capturing and storing customer information to stock management processes. But, not all SaaS is created equal. And, to meet the needs of modern service operations, it must have four essential attributes.
- Ease of use
SaaS makes data more available, ensuring employees have real-time access to the information they need; on any device, from anywhere. It also encourages the simplification and standardisation of business processes (saving you time and money), and helps people in different teams and locations to work collaboratively with one another.
But, it doesn’t matter how great your mobile technology is if your people don’t know how to use it. So, as well as looking at the features of any software you invest in, make sure it’s also easy to understand and simple to use.
In addition to supporting your day-to-day operations, SaaS also offers on demand financial and operational performance insights, so businesses can rapidly recognise and respond to revenue-generating opportunities. But, here again, how this information is visualised is crucial. After all, data on its own is useless unless you can turn it into actionable insights.
- Robust security
Service-led businesses hold a wealth of information about their customers, and keeping this safe is of the utmost importance. At the same time, data security issues regularly hit the headlines. And, the more data we hold in the cloud, the more we worry about cybercrime and breaches.
In our interconnected world, burying our heads in the sand when it comes to data protection just isn’t an option; particularly with the new General Data Protection Regulation (and the threat of hefty fines for non-compliance). So how do you balance the need for interoperability between devices, and the sharing of information over the internet with security concerns?
Well, while it can be tempting to keep sensitive and business-critical information in a relatively closed environment, with robust encryption now available, a cloud-based server solution is very often safer than storing your valuable data on site. In fact, at Key, our cloud server services achieve the highest level of data security and reliability, boosting security and eradicating downtime.
All Key Cloud Server Data Centres are:
- Situated in the UK
- ISO27001 Data Centres
- Security managed 24/7
- Fitted with fire detection systems
- Kept at the optimum temperatures to ensure they do not overheat
- Installed with backup power supplies.
- Fitted with the highest security firewalls
- Carrier neutral, ensuring connectivity access across all major networks.
Engineers often waste valuable time through no fault of their own. And they are as likely to be as frustrated by this as you are. An employee who ends their day knowing they have been productive is likely to be a lot happier than one that hasn’t been given the tools they need to do their job properly.
Cloud-based technology provides your field service personnel with access to everything they need to do their jobs no matter where they are. But, because they sometimes have to work in locations with limited connectivity, it’s vital that any cloud-based services you use can also function offline, before synchronising with servers once connectivity is restored.
Achieving ROI is essential to the long-term success of your business. And, with SaaS put into action at a fraction of the price of an on premise solution, with no significant investment in licenses or infrastructure required, it has become the mobile solution of choice for cost-savvy businesses. SaaS also helps to create a more steady cash flow, with services provided on a pay-as-you-go model; so you never get any nasty surprises.
With the best field service solutions, tailored to your operation, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email email@example.com to find out more about how we can help you.
Using big data to make your firm more successful
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. But what exactly is big data, and how can it help your firm get ahead of the competition?
What is big data?
Big data is the information an organisation has access to which could be used for discovery and analysis. This includes:
- Structured data. Information that is easy to organise (e.g. data that can be held in a straightforward, searchable database).
- Unstructured data. Information assets that aren’t easy to interpret or store in a traditional database. For example text-heavy documents, social media posts, etc. Currently, unstructured data takes up over 80% of all installed storage capacity and is continuing to grow.
- Multi-structured data. Data stemming from interactions between people and machines. This can take a variety of formats.
Of course, for many legal, accountancy, and recruitment firms, too much data can seem like a headache. It comes too many forms, it has to be managed (usually in many different systems), and it must be stored and handled securely.
But, the ability to harness big data leads to improved performance at all levels. So, firms that are not yet using software to provide them with the most up to date and precise data, from multiple sources risk falling behind.
Big data and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is a world where devices – connected to the web – talk to us, to other applications, and to each other. And it won’t be long before these devices are used in most, if not all businesses. The benefits of such increased connectivity include cost savings, new revenue streams, enhanced productivity, and better customer service.
The IoT is unleashing the potential of big data, as all aspects of our lives become more and more data-driven. But it’s not the volume of data that’s important. It’s what we do with it that matters. In fact, how a firm controls its data is directly related to its success; with the most prosperous organisations those that turn data insights into actionable improvements and innovations for clients.
The benefits of harnessing big data via the cloud
The ability to exploit big data leads to improved performance at all levels of your firm. Here are just some of the ways it can help you.
Improve decision making
You can use cloud software to access real-time, tailored, and accurate information, from multiple data sources, and present this via easy to understand visual dashboards. As a result, your firm will be able to uncover trends and insights and capitalise on these to drive business growth. What’s more, with access from anywhere – including via mobile devices – your people can retrieve such insights, as and when they need them.
When building reputations, professional firms (and people) often seek to establish themselves as thought-leaders. By capitalising of the power of big data, this becomes much easier; with all the information needed to create standout blogs, whitepapers, presentations, webinars, etc.
Departmental silos are still a huge problem for many professional service firms. And, this lack of communication is often at the expense of the client who has to wait longer than necessary for updates. By deploying big data via the cloud, you can make sure everyone has access to the most up-to-date information and improve communications and visibility between different departments.
By combining insights from a range of various sources, big data provides a complete view. And this can help to reduce the risk of uninformed decisions; and the impact of these on your reputation, and your bottom line.
Big data can help firms save valuable time. Both in dealings with a client and in establishing whether to take on new business. For example, law firms can use big data to determine the amount of time that is likely to be spent on a matter, and its probable outcome, by using big data analytics to assess similar cases. Algorithms can also be used to help find the right information quickly and easily, so what would have taken weeks of painstaking work, can now be done in a matter of minutes.
Big data and security
The more data is moved to the cloud, the more people worry about cybercrime. For professional firms that deal with a lot of sensitive data, this is understandably a massive concern. But, using the cloud to store and manage big data shouldn’t put your firm at any more risk. Indeed, with robust cloud encryption now available, cloud storage is safer than many onsite solutions.
But that doesn’t mean that you can forget about security. Instead, make sure your cloud software/storage provider understands the threats, and what’s needed to minimise your exposure. And get them to commit to the provision of an acceptable level of security as part of your SLA.
Ay Key, we make the safekeeping of your data a top priority and our cloud server services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability. Find out more about keeping your big data safe in the cloud.
Big data analytics is having a huge impact on professional services firms. So, if you want to remain competitive in today’s rapidly evolving landscape, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Using SaaS to make your customers smile
SaaS applications are helping service-led firms with a broad range of tasks. And the benefits are impressive:
- Lower costs. SaaS created a more stable cashflow, with services provided on a pay-as-you-go basis.
- Automatic upgrades. SaaS providers continuously improve their solution at no extra cost to you.
- Dives business improvement. With the vendor looking after the software on your behalf, you can prioritise your IT department elsewhere.
- You only ever pay for what you use. And your SaaS solution can be quickly and easily scaled up or down.
- Easy to get up and running. You can tap into tried and tested solutions that are ready to use and customisable to your business.
- Improved access to information. SaaS provides greater access to data, ensuring all your staff have real-time access to the information they need; from anywhere.
- Reduced risk. SaaS boasts automated backup services and best-in-class recovery processes.
- Improved business processes. SaaS, encourages the simplification and standardisation of business processes: saving you time and money.
- Better communication. SaaS helps people in different teams and locations to work collaboratively with one another.
- Enhanced insights. SaaS can be set up to generate automatic business intelligence reports.
SaaS and customer satisfaction
Of course, these benefits are impressive, particularly when delivered via one integrated Service Manager Solution. But there is another benefit to SaaS, and it’s one that could make all the difference between success and failure in the long-term – and that’s customer satisfaction.
SaaS supports ongoing customer service
Too many businesses still focus the majority of their available resource on activity that will lead to sales; forgetting about the benefits of ongoing customer communication, tracking, and support. However, SaaS makes the provision of post-sale support much easier, while delivering ROI. For example, with SaaS, it’s simpler to track and predict when a product might require maintenance and/or replacement.
SaaS supports continuous customer service innovation
Because SaaS is scalable, it’s easy to deploy seamless, frequent, automatic upgrades that enhance the customer experience. It’s also easy to integrate improvements based on feedback from your customers.
SaaS enables a more personalised customer experience
Everyone has their own unique needs and priorities, so providing a one-size-fits-all service can lead to frustration; both from your customers and your engineers in the field. With SaaS, it is possible to glean a deeper insight into each customer’s needs, and tailor your service and support accordingly.
SaaS permits proactive customer service
For many service companies, customer issues are still dealt with via call/support centres. But the sheer number of calls received can make excellent customer service difficult; particularly for non-routine calls. SaaS technology can take over more basic automated tasks, freeing your customer-service employees to deal with more complex issues and provide more proactive support.
SaaS reduces human errors
By automating processes, SaaS lessen the likelihood of human error; resulting in a boost in service levels. The better your service (and the more consistent), the more your business will be seen in high regard. And the more new customers you will attract.
SaaS helps you complete jobs quicker
With SaaS, you can better manage stock; ensuring your engineers get the parts they need as quickly as possible. Likewise, scheduling software can reduce the time your engineers spend on the road so that they can see more customers faster. Find out more about how SaaS can help your engineers to become more productive.
SaaS helps you to reduce costs
With no need to install and maintain costly hardware or out-of-date software, SaaS is a compelling option if you are looking to make cost savings and pass these on to your customers.
With SaaS, your whole operation becomes more productive. Jobs are responded to more swiftly, problems identified sooner, and communication between customers, support staff, and engineers enhanced. And. with improved customer service all round, your back office staff spend less time dealing with complaints and can focus on tasks that improve your business instead. So, when it comes to making your customers smile, SaaS is a win-win.
Want to increase performance and customer satisfaction by switching to a SaaS Service Management Solution? For a free trial with no upfront costs speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email email@example.com to find out more.
Data security issues in 2017. What does your firm need to know?
The more data is moved to the cloud, the more people worry about cybercrime. And it’s no wonder as the recent global cyber-attack crippled parts of the NHS; resulting in lots of negative press and publicity. In fact, it seems that cybercrime is never out of the news, with Microsoft now warning of “state-sponsored cyber-attacks” as it releases updates for all Windows operating systems, including Windows XP.
Of course, despite what most people think, moving to the cloud and storing data and applications remotely shouldn’t put your business-critical information at any more risk. In fact, with robust cloud encryption now available, cloud storage is safer than many onsite solutions. But key to keeping your data safe is a partner that understands the current and emerging data security risks, and ensures the necessary steps to protect against them.
According to the Information Security Forum (ISF) – the world’s leading authority on cyber security and information risk management – the top four global security threats faced in 2017 are:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) adds unmanaged risks
- Crime syndicates take a quantum leap
- Government and regulators won’t do it for you
- The role of the end user – the weakest or strongest link in the security chain.
Let’s look at these in a bit more depth…
The Internet of Things (IoT) adds unmanaged risks
The cloud is becoming crucial to how we do business, and experts predict that the majority of professional services firms will soon move most – if not all – of their data to cloud servers.
The IoT takes cloud computing to the next level; using technologies, processes, physical objects, and services to create an interconnected system that monitors and shares information like never before. Benefits include increased productivity, costs savings, and better customer service. But the IoT relies on data to work; and the more information online and interconnected technology has access to, the greater the risk.
Crime syndicates take a quantum leap
In 2017, online criminal organisations are becoming increasingly sophisticated. And it’s not just lone hackers we have to worry about as many cybercrime syndicates are evolving from existing criminal structures. Even governments are getting in on the act.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning this week, saying the cyberattacks were carried out by actors within the North Korean government who are known as “Hidden Cobra.”
What’s more, in a bid to become as rich as possible, these criminals are sharing information and collaborating with one another. In fact, cybercrime for hire is on the rise, and costs are coming down.
Government and regulators won’t do it for you
In response to the threat of data breaches, public opinion has pressured governments into introducing tighter data protection legislation. And, while these regulations are undoubtedly necessary, they will result in added costs and compliance headaches for professional services firms. For example, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could lead to a maximum penalty of €20 million or 4% of worldwide turnover for failures to comply.
The role of the end user – the weakest or strongest link in the security chain
In many cases, the greatest security risk still comes from your own employees. So, “stop and think” behaviour must become part your firm’s data security culture; with a focus on day-to-day habits that can reduce the threat. Really simple steps like training staff to use robust passwords and be on the lookout for any suspicious emails could make a massive difference.
What can you do to protect your firm?
Make sure your cloud software/storage provider understands the risks and can advise you on how to deploy IoT solutions without unnecessary exposure. Also, be sure to specify security as part of your SLAs with any data management partners.
You should also 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. Once you understand this, you can then look at the security measures you need to implement. For example, a Hosted Desktop can help to reduce the risk with all information controlled centrally.
So, how secure is the cloud?
Despite the headlines, in almost all cases, where a hack has happened it has been down to a poorly designed and maintained security system – not the weakness of the cloud. In fact, 56% of IT managers cite improved security as a primary motivation for moving to the cloud.
Ay Key, we make security a top priority. That’s why, our Cloud Server services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability, with best-in-class back-up and recovery processes that eliminate downtime.
To find out more, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Why cloud-based automation will help professional service teams
According to a recent report, up to 30% of current UK jobs could be impacted by automation by the early 2030s. And the predictions for professional services firms are particularly worrying:
• Around 114,000 jobs in the legal sector are likely to become automated in the next 20 years
• There is a 93.5% chance accountants will lose their jobs to robots.
But despite the scary (and often widely exaggerated) headlines, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, if you take a deeper look at the current evolution of cloud computing and intelligent machines, you’ll find that, rather than replacing humans, the latest tech is all about machine-to-machine interaction. And, with less mundane and repetitive tasks, and more time to focus on client care, this could actually provide expanded, and more rewarding career paths for solicitor and accountants.
So, rather than concerns about employees being replaced by robots, what firms should be looking at is how they can capitalise on the latest cloud and automation developments.
Here are just some of the ways technology is enhancing professional services firms:
- Automation leads to improved organisation. Automation technology circulates information on an unprecedented level. With all the data you need available through one central point. For example, with a hosted desktop, all the files and data you require are instantly available. All you need is a computer (including mobile devices) and an internet connection.
- Automation improves visibility between teams. Departmental silos are still a huge problem for many professional services firms. And, this lack of communication is often at the expense of the client who has to wait longer than necessary for updates. Automation streamlines communications and improves viability between different departments; making sure everyone has access to the most up-to-date information.
- Automation improves efficiency. For automation to work, processes need to be set up. And establishing these process often leads to improvements in workflow and consistency across your operations. For example, with SaaS technology, all users and applications share a centrally maintained common infrastructure. This encourages the simplification and standardisation of business processes, saving you time and money.
- Automation keeps you compliant. Manual processes can lead to over-complicated workflows and data inconsistencies. On the other hand, automation makes it harder for human error to occur, and where it does, provides a digital trail to help resolve any issues quickly and easily. Also, paper records are less prone to loss, misfiling, and compliance violations.
- Automation provides easy access to Big Data. The sheer volume of information and documents that need managing is a challenge for most professional services firms. Particularly with regulatory compliance placing strict rules on how this data has to be stored and processed. But with automation, your firm can capitalise on the power of this information, and use it to extract insights that give you the competitive edge.
- Automation saves you money. Manual processes can result in your firm’s most valuable fee earners chasing up information. This wastes your precious time and damages your bottom line. However, with automation, your fee earners are free to complete more billable tasks.
- Automation keeps your clients happy. Cloud-based software can provide clients with greater levels of transparency. For example, with case management software as a service they can login and review their matters on any mobile device, at a time and location that suits them. This leads to greater levels of satisfaction, and stops them pestering you for updates!
Modern professional services firms do more than just advise on their specific areas of expertise. Today, they provide insights, anticipate future trends, and become a genuine trusted advisor. So, while automation might be taking over a huge sway of tasks, firms shouldn’t be running scared from technological advancements. Rather, an increasingly competitive landscape, liberating teams from burdensome tasks and providing centralised, enhanced management information will make all the difference between success and failure.
At Key Computers, we help firms to work smarter and reduce costs with our impressive Hosted IT Solutions such as hosted desktops, hosted backups, and cloud telephony solutions. To find out how we can help you – speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 today.
How might AI change the way service-led companies operate?
With advances in technology moving fast, it can be difficult to predict what you might need to run your field service business even five years from now. This is particularly pertinent due to developments in artificial intelligence (AI).
“Artificial Intelligence is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart.”
But, while the potential of artificial intelligence has no ceiling, at Key Computers, we’ve taken a quick look at current developments in AI, and how it might impact your business in the not too distant future.
- People being replaced by robots
Every few months a new study seems to hit the headlines, warning us mere mortals that many of us are going to lose our jobs because of AI. However, when we delve down into the detail, in the short-term at least, it appears that these fears are being exaggerated. In fact, according to a recent study of manufacturing and service industries in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, when it comes to AI, it is largely computer-to-computer activities that are being automated rather human activities. And this machine-to-machine interaction has the potential to deliver tremendous benefits to service-led businesses.
“Machine Learning is a current application of AI based around the idea that we should really just be able to give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves”. 
- AI and customer service
For 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 difficult; 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.
- AI and maintenance
Solutions already exist that can calculate when tools or equipment require repairs; so businesses can make fixes or replacements before a breakdown. And, soon, machines that predict when they need maintenance, and automatically order the parts required will be the norm. AI capabilities will also ensure that these machines know when the best time to be taken offline for maintenance is. This bringing together of operational and informational technology can generate savings of up to 12% over scheduled repairs, leading to a 30% reduction in maintenance costs and a 70% cut in downtime from equipment breakdowns.
- AI and scheduling
With AI, automating scheduling is easy. Jobs will be assigned to engineers in the field using algorithms and geolocation data; delivering the most efficient use of time possible. Ultimately, this will reduce the time between jobs, ensure your technicians are armed with all the information and equipment they need, and – ultimately – improve your customer service.
Of course, with cloud computing, a lot of this functionality is already available. Indeed, with a fully integrated, cloud-enabled Service Manager you can control stock, manage materials, schedule engineers, control customer data, and manage hire contracts, all from one integrated system. So, it’s no wonder, that connected devices will eventually be used in most, if not all businesses. And that’s before we even look at how such technology can lead to cost savings, new revenue streams, and enhanced productivity. What’s more, as AI continues to advance, its potential when it comes to employee productivity and the automating of business processes is only going to increase.
However, a quick word of warning: 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 email@example.com to find out more.
 Accenture LLP