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What could Brexit mean for your business?

What could Brexit mean for your business?

Regardless of how you voted in 2016 you are probably sick and tired of the ongoing Brexit saga and the ever increasing political machinations as the exit date draws closer. There are a lot of seasoned, clever and well informed pundits opining on the likely outcome and the impact on both the UK and Europe. So far be it for me to try and second guess the big picture but it is worth providing you with a view from On Line’s perspective.

Brexit and Technology

Many of the large IT vendors and manufacturers are headquartered outside the UK, a good number in the US. The currency fluctuations caused by the uncertainty around Brexit have already seen price increases as these businesses seek to stabilise their revenue from the UK. Cynics might say that this is opportunism but it is happening. Price rises are likely to be a feature in the technology sector post Brexit. Much of the IT infrastructure purchased for business is manufactured outside the UK. Additional tariffs, recession and uncertainty in the currency markets will have an impact.

We are also seeing a large number of the technology giants setting up bases in Ireland, in what is likely to be the last English speaking country in Europe. A good few UK businesses are also taking this step to hedge their bets. It is difficult to see what impact this will have on the technology market in the UK other than lower job creation.

If the doomsayers are to be believed there are also likely to be delays in importing goods into the UK. Just in time supply chains could suffer disruption. Some of the IT distribution businesses are undertaking contingency planning that will include ensuring they have enough stock for the channel. It is clearly not as critical as medicine or food but in a worst case scenario there may be shortages of some devices. We will update you.

Recessions are cyclical and occur roughly every 10 years as the economy corrects from the excesses of the good times. The financial crisis started in 2007/8 and was deeper and longer than anything in my memory so we are about due another. Unfortunately the next one will be self-inflicted but, like the last, London will trade through it and it will be the provinces that feel the real pain. On Line Computing will be open for business as usual.

Update:

Following the vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday 15th January, it does now appear that a no deal Brexit is more likely in March. On Line Computing is speaking to its suppliers to see if there is any material impact that everyone should be aware of.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We hope you all had a lovely Christmas break. If you joined us for our Christmas Champagne tour of London, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

For those who couldn’t make it this time, we hope you can join us at our next event. Be the first to know about our upcoming events by joining our guestlist.

Our annual Christmas party

We treated our clients to a Champagne filled tour of London on a double-decker party bus – complete with lights, music and a complimentary bar, which everyone was really happy about!

We’ve loved working with all of our clients in 2018 and would like to thank everyone for their continued business.

We look forward to working together in 2019!

How does paying more to an IT outsourcer save you money?

How does paying more to an IT outsourcer save you money?

When businesses first consider outsourcing IT, they are struck by two realisations. First, the cost of a comprehensive support contract is not as much as they had feared. Second, the price is still slightly more than hiring a full-time member of staff.

But as with so many business decisions, price is not the only factor to consider. Far more important are the additional benefits that the investment in outsourced IT will bring. Once these factors are considered, you will discover that paying more to an outsourcer really will save you money

1. Access to a team of experts

Employing a full-time member of staff to assist with IT issues is actually something of a gamble. As well as asking one person to take control of running your IT systems, you also expect them to help define the technology strategy for the whole business.

Spread too thin, your IT engineer will need to cut corners, implementing temporary workarounds that become permanent solutions because they lack the time and resources to develop a “proper” fix. Eventually they become a jack of all trades, managing your systems with a reasonable understanding, but never reaching true “expert” status in anything.

Choosing an outsourcing partner gives you access to a dedicated team of experts, each with their own specialism. These experts will have a much deeper understanding of your systems and how they interact. So you get a complete IT team for slightly more than employing one on-site engineer would cost.

Expertise and experience is also directly related to speed to resolution. With their in-depth knowledge, a team of outsourced experts can solve problems more quickly, reducing costly productivity loss when IT problems are encountered.

2. More informed IT investment

If your IT support demands are particularly heavy, a single member of technical staff will struggle to stay on top of new developments in the industry. They simply do not have enough time to evaluate technologies and how they can be applied to making your own business processes more efficient.

Partnering with an IT outsourcer, your business gains access to their collective knowledge of industry best practice principles and how they can be applied to your own infrastructure. Your partner will be able to guide you through the available options and suggest new technologies that will improve efficiency and reduce costs elsewhere. And because they have a deep understanding of your systems and

business goals, an IT outsourcing partner will only ever specify solutions that are fully compatible with your environment – which means you avoid wasting cash on IT investments that won’t deliver the benefits you need.

3. Improved IT compliance

As well as helping your business stay on top of new industry developments, an outsourcing partner will also make sure your systems are compliant with relevant legislation – like the Data Protection Act 1998. You can read more about why this is so important in our blog post Outsourcing and compliance – a primer .

Using an outsourcer frees up your team to focus on their core responsibilities, ensuring that resources are directed for maximum productivity and efficiency. You also greatly reduce the risk of experiencing a data breach which can carry fines of up to £500,000 – a massive potential cost saving.

Significant secondary savings

IT outsourcing is not an insurance policy. An insurance policy is only used when something goes wrong, but an IT outsourcing agreement is actually a partnership. Both you and your outsourcer have a vested interest in building and maintaining an IT platform for success. In effect, they become an extension of your own organisation.

The promise of easy access to several IT experts with the insight and experience to build a future-proof IT strategy is more than worth the small additional cost of an outsourcing agreement.

To learn more specifics about the cost savings available through IT outsourcing, please get in touch

Stick or Twist: The GDPR Gamble

Stick or Twist: The GDPR Gamble

The closer we get to May 2018, the more buzz there is around GDPR. As a business owner you will be used to making decisions and it is clear that you need to make one now. Stick or twist. Ignore the pending legislation or understand the impact. At least if you understand the impact and still chose to ignore it, you’ve made an informed decision. By reading on you will be more informed than when you started.

It would be easy to think of it the same way as the current UK Data Protection Act (it only matters if there is a breach/incident, it is too complicated to try to understand, we cannot afford to have someone committed to data protection, it does not apply to us). However, a big difference with the new regulation is that the risk of action from the ICO has moved from impact of a breach, to not being compliant. That’s right, once GDPR kicks in; simply not being compliant carries the risk of action.

A couple of the new requirements are things like getting clear consent to hold data, responding to requests about what data you hold on individuals and the right to be forgotten (deleting personal data). It is now a requirement to respond to requests within defined timeframes. Not having the appropriate controls or procedures in place puts employees, clients and the business at risk. However, the tricky part is to reach a balance of appropriate controls while not killing productivity.

Given the numerous differences from the current DPA, the potential affect to our reputation, and the nature of our business (holding data on clients, employees and prospects), we have decided it is vital for us to do everything possible to understand and be compliant to GDPR. The more we learn, the more apparent it becomes there are many boxes that need to be ticked. As a starting point, we are carrying out a GAP analysis to understand how our current policies and procedures compare to the requirements of GDPR. Because there are so many changes coming, we wanted to ensure it is being done correctly. This led us to using a proven and formatted approach.

As a business that holds personal data such as names, phone numbers, email address or sensitive information on clients, employees or prospects, there needs to be a decision on what your business is going to do about GDPR. It’s stick or twist again; wait until there is an incident, request or knock on the door from the ICO, or make your business more secure by updating your approach to information security and data protection. We see the benefits of the latter and believe it is going to make a world of difference for our clients and ourselves.

If you would like to understand more about GDPR in relation to your business, we would be happy to have a chat.

Broadband choices – why a larger investment always pays off

Broadband choices – why a larger investment always pays off

When it comes to choosing a broadband connection for your business, you may be surprised to discover there are three main choices. So how do you decide which right for you?

ADSL broadband

By far the cheapest option, ADSL is also the most common broadband connection in the UK. Running over standard telephone lines, ADSL offers download speeds “up to” 25Mbps which is considered adequate for residential connections.

In business however, there are two problems. First, although the ADSL2 download speed is relatively good, the upload speed is much lower – just 3Mbps. This means that your field staff may run into problems accessing files and resources remotely.

The second problem with ADSL is that the connection is shared at your local telephone exchange with up to 20 other businesses. If you think of your internet connection as a pipe, every time you send an email, browse the web, or make a video call, some of that pipe istaken up. Now think of all your employees doing the same – they each take up some more of the pipe. Finally, imagine twenty companies the same size as yours sharing that same pipe and you can see why that might be a problem.

An ADSL connection may be suitable for very small companies, but for everyone else it will quickly limit their online productivity. Especially if you intend to take advantage of VoIP telephony

Fibre optic broadband

Instead of using traditional copper wire, fibre optic broadband uses a completely different type of cable (at some point along the connection), that helps to deliver much faster internet speeds – up to 76MBps. Uploads speeds are also much faster – as high as 19Mbps under optimum conditions.

Unfortunately, most fibre optic connections have the same problem as ADSL – your connection is shared at the exchange. So although there is a lot more “pipe” for shared traffic, modern data-intensive applications like video conferencing and streaming will quickly consume the available bandwidth.

If your business does choose a fibre optic connection, it should only be seen as a temporary measure until you can graduate to a better service.

Fibre Ethernet / Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)

Unlike ADSL and fibre optic broadband, fibre Ethernet connections offer more than raw download speed. Yes, they can be incredibly fast (up to 1Gbps) but the most important feature is that they are not shared – all of the bandwidth is yours to use as you need. Unlike other broadband options, fibre Ethernet offers the same speed for uploading and downloading too, so data access is incredibly fast in both directions. Using a dedicated fibre optic connection, all of your data is secure from interference or tampering by third parties.

Fibre Ethernet is the most expensive broadband option, but you have a range of services at different price points to choose from. And, as your needs change, you can upgrade to access more bandwidth.

Don’t be blinded by speed and price

In the connected marketplace, having reliable, speedy broadband is essential. So investing in a shared ADSL connection simply because it is cheaper could be a false economy. There’s a very good reason that ADSL connections are advertised as offering “up to” 25Mbps – there’s almost no chance of ever attaining those speeds. Ever.

The additional outlay for fibre Ethernet will quickly pay for itself, especially if you are able to consolidate your VoIP phone and Internet connections into a single line. Your connection is also backed by a solid service level agreement, ensuring you get the speed and uptime promised. All of which ensures that you have a reliable connection at all times.

To learn more about your broadband connection options, including why your business really should consider fibre Ethernet, please get in touch

Get Smart on Cyber Security

Get Smart on Cyber Security

Get Smart on Cyber Security

There seems to be a never-ending stream of statistics about data security and ransomware these days.  Everybody wants to raise your awareness of cyber security (don’t worry, we’re not going throw any more stats at you).  We’re assuming that by now you’re aware that it is an issue.

However, there is a big difference between awareness of a problem and actually doing something about it.  If your business is something other than IT, the idea of sorting out cyber security probably makes you want to bury your head in the sand.  So, it gets put on the back burner.  And there it stays.

Cyber security isn’t fun or sexy and it’s not going to directly lead to any more revenue.

Or will it?

More and more businesses are inquiring about cyber security, and here are three key reasons why;

  1. Due to the increasing number of cyber-attacks, clients are asking more of their partners and service providers who hold or process confidential or personal information for them.
  2. The UK government has confirmed that the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will apply as of May 2018, regardless of the decision to leave the EU. Although the current UK data protection act is similar to the GDPR, there are additional requirements and increased penalties, enforced by the ICO, for organisations not adhering to good governance practices.  Responsibility lies with both the client and the provider.  Business is starting to take notice because to ignore it will affect their ability to trade in Europe.
  3. Organisations that work with government departments handling sensitive and personal information must be certified to a certain standard that ensures they protect themselves against cyber-attacks.

Fortunately, there is a UK government backed scheme designed to help businesses figure out how to approach cyber security.  There are two levels to consider based on the goals of the business.  The first is a templated self-certification process called Cyber Essentials.  The second is Cyber Essentials Plus that goes one step further to include an independent audit of your Cyber Essentials certification.

Regardless of the level chosen, there are a few key benefits of the scheme.

  1. It provides a way for you to demonstrate to your clients that you have reviewed your security measures and they are at least as good government standard. In addition, by placing the certification badge on your website and marketing material, you can set your business apart from competitors by showing you take security seriously.
  2. Even if the UK were not to participate in GDPR, any organisation doing business in the EU must be aware of, and adhere to, the GDPR principals. They can be held liable for GDPR breaches.  Putting the Cyber Essentials framework into a business is a great way to ensure the proper security measures are in place for data protection.  This will help towards compliance with GDPR which in turn can facilitate commerce with the EU after Brexit.
  3. Having Cyber Essentials certification opens the door to working with UK government departments.

Hopefully by now, you’re thinking this all makes sense.  However, there is still the challenge of doing something about it.  In reality, you could go to the Cyber Essentials website, download the information and try to go through it yourself.  But if you are a legal, architect or other professional services firm, with limited time or budget to address it, you’ll move on to “more important” things.

Why not hand this off to someone who has been through the process (we are Cyber Essentials Plus certified), and have developed a systematic approach to assess your business security, can identify any areas of weakness and help take remedial actions to help you become Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus certified, in the shortest amount of time possible.

It really is the easiest way.

If you have any questions about Cyber Essentials, security or any other IT related issues, feel free to add a comment below or reach out to us by clicking here

Topics: Blog, cyber security