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Expert opinions and experience from Novosco, one of the UK and Ireland leading managed service providers.

We can't turn back the clock and have our lives like they were

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DIVISIVE topics are never far away it seems (anyone from Northern Ireland will tell you that). And in recent times, we ‘ve had Brexit, face masks and the issue of working from home to add to the list.

You’ll be glad to hear that I’m not going to focus on Brexit, nor the historical local stuff. But I think the issue of working from home deserves a bit of exploring.

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In challenging times, look for inspiration...

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N challenging times, it is important that we all look for inspiration. And this has perhaps never been as important as it has been in recent months.

One person I’ve often looked to for inspiration is Mark Pollock.

For those who don’t know Mark, he became an adventure athlete in 1998 competing in ultra-endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole.

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Why green issues matter for your business

Why green issues matter for your business

Usually I write in this column about tech sector issues. But this month I'm going to talk about climate change.

Perhaps more accurately, I'm going to focus on climate change, but inevitably, given that climate change is a matter which touches on just about every aspect of our lives, and so is technology, tech will also come into it.

And I recognise that it's perhaps not that unexpected any more for a business person to talk about climate change in the era of ‘responsible capitalism'. Indeed, during my entire time with Novosco, we've tried to be a purpose-led organisation. We maybe didn't articulate it that way in the past, but it has always been part of our DNA.

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Business community plays its part

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AMIDST the many harrowing things happening during the pandemic, there have been some inspiring stories. The dedication of health and other frontline workers and the public's appreciation of their commitment has been uplifting to say the least.

And despite the dire situation facing the economy, we've seen companies and businesspeople rise to the challenge too. The story of the production line that has been operating in Mid Ulster District Council's Meadowbank Sports Arena through an initiative by Bloc Blinds to create protective visors for health workers has been well covered in the media, but is very much worth reiterating.

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Does tech hold key to lockdown exit?

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You can't solve all problems with technology. But could tech hold the answer to the coronavirus lockdown and provide us with something of an ‘exit strategy'?

At the very least, tech has a real role to play in this; something that was acknowledged by the European Commission last week.

It has recommended steps and measures to develop a common EU approach for the use of mobile applications and mobile data in response to the coronavirus pandemic. They note that digital technologies, mobile applications and mobility data have enormous potential to help understand how the virus spreads and to respond effectively. They say that digital tools can play a very important role in the gradual lifting of containment measures, when the time is right, if they are well coordinated.

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Driving IT Service Automation through ServiceNow

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Driving IT Service Automation through ServiceNow

ServiceNow is pretty well established as the world’s leading IT ServiceDesk platform and a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for ITSM. However, like any enterprise IT management toolset, it requires a considered investment in terms of design input and resources to fully leverage the benefits. In this blog I’ll walk through a few common use cases to provide a better insight into how it can transform our ways of working – in this case for IT operations.

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Remote Access, Cisco, and You: A brief guide

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These are unprecedented and certainly very difficult times for people and businesses, but these are not completely uncharted times.  Many businesses have already had a focus on their employees’ working agility and a long-term vision for collaboration and productivity in disaster scenarios, such as the current office closures faced by many. 

When we think of Disaster Recovery (DR), or enacting Business Continuity Plans (BCP), we generally think of building fires, technical failures or electrical outages, but a pandemic shares many challenges with the more orthodox BCP scenarios and therefore many existing DR/BCP solutions fit well with recent events.

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Working from home tips, from those working at home.

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With COVID-19 causing all sorts of companies to reconfigure how they work, working from home is the new going into the office. For the next few weeks and months we need to adapt - and adapt we shall!

We've been regularly surveying our team to make sure they're okay, that they have what they need, and to try to keep things as normal as is possible given the circumstances. Additionally, we asked them for tips, from their own experiences, on how to best work from home. What tools or systems, practices and tips that they use, would they recommend to others. With that in mind, here's what our colleagues suggested.

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Cloud's time to shine?

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Week two at home and it’s now time for Government and International Organisations to get organised and plan some sort of response. I spend a lot of my professional time discussing IT Strategy and, in particular, Cloud Computing with customers. Pros-Cons-Costs-Benefits. There generally isn’t a lot of denial that Cloud is the very definite direction of travel for the IT industry. At this point cloud adoption is mainstream and the worldwide public cloud services market is forecast to grow 17% in 2020 to total $266.4 billion, up from $227.8 billion in 2019, according to Gartner, Inc.

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Wellbeing in work…thinking about mental health

Wellbeing in work…thinking about mental health

 

With all that's going on in the world, I thought it was important to discuss why openness, awareness and support of mental health in the workplace is vitally important. It’s because of this importance that we at Novosco are proud of our focus on wellbeing in the workplace.

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Home is where the work is

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I'm a proud 'Xennial' - a micro generation born late 1970s or early 1980s sandwiched between better know the better 'Generation X' and 'Millennials'. Being an Xennial means you probably had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. Long summers spent outdoors, jumpers for goalposts and no mobile phones until into your twenties. I started my first job in IT in 2000 just after the Y2k ‘Millennium Bug’ .  Back then Internet connectivity was for the privileged few, exclusively for email access and Internet browsing and via ADSL Dial Up.  At the end of the working day, spent every day in the office, you could simply stand up, walk out and leave your computer behind at your desk with your 14" CRT screen and skip out and home.

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Is the sharing economy reshaping capitalism?

Is the sharing economy reshaping capitalism?

The so-called sharing economy appears to be booming. Companies like Uber and Airbnb have shown the way, and many start-ups are following suit, with no shortage of venture capital money supporting them in their mission to help revolutionise how people shop, travel and live.

The sharing economy is a way of distributing goods and services that differs from the traditional model of companies hiring employees and selling products to consumers. In the sharing economy, individuals rent or share things like their cars, homes and time, often in a peer-to-peer fashion.

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Is technology changing what it means to be human?

Is technology changing what it means to be human?

Consultancy firm Gartner's predictions for tech are always watched closely around this time of year. Their latest report on the trends to watch in 2020 and beyond was no different and was released recently to much fanfare.

Perhaps one of the most striking lines to emerge was that technology is changing what it means to be human. As Daryl Plummer of Gartner said: “As the digital age progresses, assumptions around the fixed nature of ‘what' humans are is beginning to be challenged”.

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Novosco's expertise and skills will live on within CANCOM

Novosco's expertise and skills will live on within CANCOM

THERE is a saying that the only impossible journey is the one you never begin. It probably feels an appropriate saying today as I reflect on my journey with Novosco over the past 12 years or so.

It doesn't seem very long ago that I was working from an industrial unit in Carryduff with a few members of staff, dreaming about growing a bigger business. Even in my wildest dreams though, I didn't envisage Novosco getting to where it is today.

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10 minutes with... Sophie Kelly

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Sophie can usually be spotted sitting awkwardly in a chair somewhere with her nose in her laptop or a book. In her spare time she plays D&D, bakes an excessive amount of cakes, and games (badly). Ask her nicely and she’ll more than likely produce coffee and brownies from a bag or drawer.

Question: Sophie, what does a normal day look like for you in Novosco?

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Businesses must seek every opportunity for an Edge

Businesses must seek every opportunity for an Edge

Northern Ireland's business talent was ‘bigged up' by none other than U2's The Edge last week.

He was launching a new initiative, called Endeavor Ireland, that aims to support owners of high potential start-ups.

The Edge said that Northern Ireland has incredible businesses talent and that given the right opportunity, local entrepreneurs can really compete on a global basis.

He will chair the Irish chapter of Endeavor, a global not-for-profit organisation that supports and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs by connecting them with talent and with global peer and mentor networks as well as connecting business owners to funding sources.

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How Microsoft's latest product retirements could affect your organisation

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No doubt you have already heard about the upcoming retirement of a whole range of Microsoft products within the next few months and hopefully you have plans a foot to discontinue their use and replace them with alternative solutions. When the product cycle comes to an end there will no longer be any security updates produced against newly emerged threats and Microsoft will no longer provide any support for the product. 

Microsoft will sunset the following products on January 14 2020 :

• Windows 7
• Windows 7 Professional for Embedded Systems
• Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2

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Next generation of entrepreneurs will be inspired by Brian Conlon's example

Next generation of entrepreneurs will be inspired by Brian Conlon's example

Just over a week ago, the business community paid its respects to Brian Conlon, founder of tech business First Derivatives, who passed away recently.

I had long admired First Derivatives from a distance; and when I had the privilege to meet Brian, I admired him as a person - clearly ambitious, driven and committed.

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The need to attract more women into the tech industry

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I was struck by a quote I read recently from Sky's Group Chief Information Security Officer, Elaine Bucknor.

Launching the latest round of the company's Women in Tech Scholars Scheme, she claimed that boys in the UK are still more than twice as likely to be encouraged to work in tech than girls. And she said that it's little wonder half of girls Sky spoke with had ruled out working in the industry by the time they reached 18 years old.

Initially unveiled last year, Sky's scheme offers £25,000 in funding to five women in order to fund their tech idea along with support and mentorship.

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Utilising emerging technology to improve the customer experience

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In 2018 ServiceNow was voted the world's most innovative company by Forbes, ahead of Tesla and Workday, with company revenues growing to more than $2.6 billion in 2018. The company is already established as the market leader in IT Service Desk and Service Management software and is making strong inroads into the HR and Customer Service Management segments with it's Now platform. But it is the digital platform's capability around rapid custom application development and modernisation of legacy applications which perhaps holds the greatest potential for growth.

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