Big data. Big problem: security and reliability

Data fraud and hacking can be devastating for any business, and they are two issues that are very much a reality with no organisation one hundred per cent immune.

big data

The floppy disc has long been a symbol for data and storage. Despite traditionally only storing 1.44 megabytes it remains synonymous with data thanks to its use as the “save” icon in many software packages, not least of all MS Office.

Their consequences can be extremely damaging, tainting corporate reputations irredeemably, and can even lead to costly court cases. The result of which can be a hefty fine or even  potentially a custodial sentence for directors in serious cases. The recent breach at Tesco Bank springs to mind as an example that is only too real for its customers. So how do companies ensure that their big data is secure and reliable?

How Do You Know Your Big Data Is Reliable?

In instances where missing data points are vital to performance  the inclusion of unreliable information can sway results, disrupt user experiences or, in extreme cases can mean big problems for business. In today’s world all aspects of our life are changing faster and more often. This influences reliability by increasing the speed at which data expires – that is to go out of date and no longer be relevant or accurate. There are hundreds of micro factors involved nowadays these range from staff retention. INC.com highlighted loss of knowledge/information as one the hidden costs of staff turnover1.

More residential and business property transactions are taking place each year since 2011, this figure is lower than ten years ago, before the economic downturn2. Individuals moving house has implications for staff retention too. So many of these issues are interlinked. Less than 50% of FTSE business disclose staff turnover it is surely increasing each decade in part due to our shortening attention span3 as humans. Could our attention span also be affecting our likelihood to change or stick with a supplier as we get bored, look for change or attempt to follow the latest trend? Could it also be affecting accuracy of data input and checking. Businesses must therefore continually innovate to stay on top of data that is going out of date much faster.

Data quality is an issue all around the world. With a large emphasis on the speed of capture the collection process still tends to neglect the true value of validation. Figures from Royal Mail Data Service released last year estimated that in the UK 63.3% of businesses have missing, incomplete or out-of-date customer data. Validation was an issue cited there too with basic checks reportedly not taking place.

With simple automated verification and validation techniques you can reduce the amount of unreliable data entering an organisation and with proper systems in place to internally sense check data the reliability can be greatly increased.

How Do You Improve the Security of Your Big Data?

The recent Tesco security breach was a hostile one which resulted in a severe impact to individuals and whilst big data is becoming a more visible issue, as businesses we must take steps to understand the potential risks of the data we collect. The two main points for businesses to consider are the same factors as calculating risk – probability and consequence. In this content therefore we must ask:

  • How important is this data?
  • How likely is a data breach – in light of the robustness of security?

The old adage of prevention is better than the cure applies here – and therefore the more important the data the more steps must be taken to prevent any intrusions or breaches.

With the likelihood of a data breach you are dealing in terms of risk. Ease of access is probably the greatest factor here – how many people, internally and externally access your system and how easily can they do so. Is the data limited to only the people who need to have access? Is it limited to secure connections? Is it encrypted? Is it only accessible via certain IPs or offices?

In these cases, where the sensors themselves are actuators and in charge of controlling the security and safety, data collection can affect the outcome of whether a machine shuts itself down or causes potentially dangerous failures.

In the case of information request sensors, data can be tampered with or the sensors themselves can be hijacked, causing an abundance of new issues. Here, deploying big data fraud detection schemes with careful planning and management log systems can work wonders to reduce foul play.

Ultimately, data security is unique to each business and so the ways in which we protect data need to be unique. Whilst there is a need to reassure clients about security, it is beneficial to continually improve and update your security systems keeping specific details of updates under wraps. To do otherwise can act as a way to point hackers in the right direction and therefore increase the possibility of exploitation.

The key then is to regularly assess your data collection needs, pinpoint potential places for data breaches and invest in robust systems and software to combat data loss and intrusions.


1. Employee Turnover Hidden Costs [INC.com]
2. UK Residential and Non-Residential Property Transaction Section 1, Chart 1 [HM Revenue and Customs Annual UK Property Transaction Statistics 2015]
3. Attention Span Statistics 2000 vs 2015 [Statistic Brain]

Taking a partner-led approach to BI success

Q&A with Tony Bray, Managing Director of Intuitive Business Intelligence

Formed in 2010, UK-based data visualisation software author, Intuitive Business Intelligence, has grown dramatically. The company attributes its success to its innovative software and its partner-led approach, which has been crucial to growing its customer base to almost 500 end users worldwide. We catch-up with Intuitive’s MD, Tony Bray, to find out the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of Intuitive’s partnership-led strategy.

Tell me a bit about Intuitive Business Intelligence

“Our dashboard software unites critical business-wide information and displays it in customisable, graphical formats – a single, unified view. In the same way as a car’s dashboard displays key information such as remaining fuel, speed and warning lights, Intuitive Dashboards shows vital business information in simple, easy-to-view formats, delivering a high-level, holistic view of business performance. With vital company-wide insights at their fingertips, users can make faster, more accurate decisions to optimise efficiencies, reduce costs and enhance competitiveness.”

What is your route to market?

“We are purely a channel-based business with almost 100 partners worldwide. These partners comprise value-added resellers (VARs), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), system integrators (SIs), consulting firms and independent software vendors (ISVs).”

Why did you decide to sell via the channel rather than go direct?

“Selling via the channel is the most effective means of quickly scaling an IT business, however you have to provide your channel partners with exceptional levels of support. Working closely with our partners, we help them to seamlessly integrate our data visualisation software into their core packages. The result – end users have access to vital insights and partners are provided with significant new revenue streams.”

How do you work with your partners to ensure success?

“We employ a rigorous engagement plan which is all about working hand-in-hand with our partners from pre-sales through to after-care.  We enable partners to swiftly develop role-based data visualisations, seamlessly embedded within their own software. End-users can drill-down through these visualisations for more granular detail, as well as drilling-out into the partner’s own software. Using Intuitive Dashboards, our partners can spread the availability of the data beyond its normal users. Our software also empowers end-users to develop their BI strategy to encompass other key application areas and information sources – everything from spreadsheets to data warehouses. Ultimately, by putting a great deal of time and effort into making the relationships work, our partnerships are given the greatest chance of success.”

Will a partnership-led approach continue to shape the company?

“Partnerships are the very core of our business. We have been a channel-based organisation from day one and we now have partners and end-users from across the world with recent signings including International giants such as OpenText. We’re currently signing-up at least one new partner every month and this approach will remain crucial to Intuitive’s strong growth.”

Find out more about Intuitive Business Intelligence at www.intuitivebusinessintelligence.com


What Intuitive’s partners are saying…


“In just two years we have developed an additional £0.5 million annual business using Intuitive Dashboards.”

Chris Thompson, Managing Director, ProcessFlows

“The Intuitive partnership has been a great success and we now have over 50 joint customers.   It is one of the most successful of all of our third party vendor relationships.”

Sally Scott, Chief Marketing Officer, Advanced

“We are anticipating that the dashboards will generate strong demand from existing customers, allowing us to extend our reach into our 3,500 strong customer base. Within the next 12 months, we are looking to generate over $0.5 million revenue from Intuitive Dashboards alone.”

Asad Sidiq, Executive VP, Solutions Middle East

Syscap Executive – Top 50 Influential People in Asset Finance

1 July 2016 – Philip White, Managing Director of Syscap and Commercial Director of Wesleyan Bank, has been named in the Leasing Life ‘Power 50’, an annual list which acknowledges the top 50 most influential people in the asset finance industry across Europe.

The fourth edition of the Leasing Life Power 50 has received more input than any previous year, with nearly 1,100 people casting votes over a two week period. Voters were asked to nominate up to five people in the European leasing arena who they thought deserved to make the final shortlist.

This year’s ‘Power 50’ was dominated by senior figures working for lessors (31) with advisers from law firms, consultancies and accountancy firms making up the second largest category with ten people. The other nine entrants on the list consisted of brokers, trade association members and technology providers.

Philip White has been part of Syscap, the UK’s leading IT finance provider, for more than two decades progressing from Sales Director to Managing Director. More recently, he assumed a duel role as Commercial Director of Wesleyan Bank after Syscap was acquired by specialist mutual financial services provider Wesleyan in 2015.

White has played an instrumental role in overseeing the subsequent integration of Syscap as a subsidiary of Wesleyan Bank and has helped to spearhead a new strategic direction under two distinctive brands. From 1 April 2016, Syscap customers comprising professions, educational institutes and SME businesses transitioned to Wesleyan Bank with the Syscap brand being reserved exclusively for IT vendors, resellers and distributors. The combined division forms a formidable financial services business offering tailored and commercial banking solutions to over 22,500 customers.

The integration has already proven a success with the division achieving a 97% growth in commercial lending for January-May 2016 compared to the same year-on-year period in 2015. In addition, significant investment has been made in improving digital service capabilities, including Wesleyan Bank’s recently launched Tax Portal for customers who would prefer to transact their business online, along with Syscap’s upgraded Partner Portal which enables IT vendors and resellers to close more deals using the company’s payment over time option.

Philip White comments, “I’m proud to be recognised by the readers of Leasing Life and my fellow peers for the contributions I have made to the industry. To appear on the Power 50 alongside such highly esteemed figures is an achievement I would not have been able to make without having a hugely talented and hardworking team behind me.

“2016 has seen us make excellent strides in building a growing, successful and sustainable business which puts the long-term needs of our customers first. Wesleyan is also committed to drawing new talent into the financial services industry and we are investing heavily in our apprenticeship scheme to attract and nurture the future leasing talents of tomorrow.”

Syscap Launches IT Finance Portal For Partners

Syscap, the UK’s leading IT finance provider, has today launched its enhanced Partner Portal to assist vendors and resellers to close more deals using the company’s finance facilities as part of strengthening its partner incentive programme.

The online platform provides a fast and easy way for partners to obtain a quote for extended payment 24/7, 365 days a year to enable them to be more proactive in answering customer queries. Mobile responsiveness has also been improved to assist time-pressured sales people to obtain quotes on the move. By providing an instant online quote, the Syscap Partner Portal removes the administrative burden on vendor sales staff so they can accelerate their deal cycles and focus more on rewarding value-added tasks.

IT vendors and resellers can manage their own opportunities whilst having complete visibility of every one, from entry date through to current status and historical transactions.  All proposals in the Partner Portal are fully supported by Syscap’s dedicated partner account management team who are on hand to guide partners throughout every stage of the sales process.

The user-friendly platform’s latest version contains over 100 functionality improvements which have been developed in direct response to feedback from Syscap’s partners following a rigorous testing period.

These include the addition of new quick and full quote templates and advanced search capabilities to speed-up the quoting process, in addition to simplifying document uploads. The portal now provides comprehensive on screen tips and training videos alongside a breakdown of the different types of terms they can offer which are easy to understand, even to non finance sales people.

Philip White, Managing Director of Syscap, comments, “Syscap has a long history in helping its channel partners grow their business. This extends to allowing them to expand through investment in assets and new technologies, to funding short term troughs in cash flow which are common as they move to models such as SaaS.

“Our improved Partner Portal makes it effortless for our partners to introduce finance as an integral part of their sales process. The latest version includes some impressive new features and is part of our ongoing commitment to use appropriate technology to make doing business with us easy.”

The portal is one of a number of benefits that the company offers under the banner of the Syscap Partner Programme which includes comprehensive training, dedicated account management and a rewards and incentive scheme that awards points for every opportunity presented. With an added points incentive to support the launch of the new portal, Syscap is confident of attracting more channel partners to join its programme.

White adds, “The significant enhancements we have introduced to our Partner Programme are the culmination of intense dialogue with our staff and partner communities. Our close working relationship, coupled with our ability to support our partners as well as their end user customers, differentiates us from our competitors and cements our position as the leading IT channel finance specialist.”

 

The Secret To IT Sales Success – Finance For IT Sales

It’s the ultimate goal of any sales pitch: getting your customers to say ‘yes.’ Yet, if you’re an IT salesperson you will have no doubt learned through experience that winning customers over is no mean feat.

The truth is that customers enjoy buying; they look forward to investing in, and utilising, the latest IT software and technology. The problem is that they just don’t like being sold to, which makes your job – as a salesperson – rather challenging.

So, what’s the secret to IT sales success? Is there a winning formula you can apply to all types of sales scenario? In his international bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, social scientist Dr Robert B. Cialdini explores the psychology behind why people say ‘yes’ and determines six universal principles that influence people to buy. Those principles, as outlined in articles on copyblogger and Inc., include:

  1. Liking

Think about it: how many times have you said ‘yes’ to a salesperson you didn’t like? The first step of the sales process involves building a rapport with the customer. You must start a meaningful conversation with them – ask them questions (that aren’t sales-related), listen to their answers and respond with your own personal stories.

Don’t fake friendliness or be overenthusiastic as this is likely to put the customer off. The key is to be genuine – speak to customers how you like to be spoken to. Just remember that building a relationship with the customers comes first; the selling part comes later.

  1. Authority

Customers like hearing from – and consequently buying from – authoritative figures. That’s why toothpaste brands often use dentists in their adverts, because they help boost credibility and instil trust in consumers.

If you’re selling IT equipment, you should have expert knowledge of all the products you’re selling. You should know individual specifications, pricing, general benefits and USPs; this will allow you to talk about the tech with confidence and answer customer queries immediately instead of making them wait for a response.

You must be transparent with prospects from the offset so they have no reason to doubt or mistrust you. This is really important when it comes to pricing – all costs must be communicated and if you offer it, IT finance is something which should be discussed with customers up front once determining the available budget.

  1. Reciprocation

Reciprocation is the human desire to repay a debt to someone. It has powerful implications in sales, as customers often feel obliged to return a favour when they have received something from a business for free.

If you offer a prospect a freebie, it should be product-related – a free software trail, a free consultation to discuss IT needs or a future purchase voucher, for instance.

  1. Commitment and consistency

We all have a deep-rooted desire to be consistent in our words, actions and attitudes. What this means is that, when we make a certain commitment, we feel inclined to remain consistent with that commitment in the future.

Applying this to the sales process, you should aim to get a little ‘yes’ from a customer and then work up to a big ‘yes.’ Start by making a small request, for instance, ask a prospect if they could fill out a questionnaire or if they’d like to receive a free newsletter. If they said ‘yes’ to your small request, they’re more likely to say ‘yes’ later on when you ask them if they’d like to buy your product.

  1. Social proof

Customers will feel more comfortable buying your products and/or using your services if they know other people are doing the same. So, if you give a prospect proof of other businesses using your products, they will feel more encouraged to use you.

When speaking with a prospect, mention other businesses similar to theirs that are customers of yours. Additionally, on your company’s website, make sure there is a customer testimonials page or section you can direct prospects to.

  1. Scarcity

This principle suggests that things are most attractive to people when their availability is limited. So, if customers feel like they might miss out on a great deal, they feel encouraged to take it quickly while they still can.

So, if you are selling a customer computers for their business, you could offer them a bulk buy discount but add a deadline for the offer and make them aware of it. Yet, as the Inc. article states, often in B2B selling it is more beneficial to focus on the overall loss the customer may incur if they choose not to buy your product – i.e., you should make the ROI scarce.

Do you have any of your own tips for encouraging customers to say ‘yes’? If so, please comment on this article!

For information on how finance can support your IT sales, click here.

IT business loans boom for IT sector

Vendor finance provider Syscap secures close to 30 new IT customers in first quarter

Syscap, the UK’s leading independent finance provider for IT, has welcomed close to 30 new IT resellers and ISVs as clients in the last quarter, marking a boom in the UK IT sector’s use of financing to fund new assets and services and achieve growth.

This 10% increase in Syscap’s IT client base follows the re-launch of its IT channel partner programme in April this year and shows that resellers and ISVs are choosing finance to make investments in cloud and subscription based services, and to expand their client base by offering more flexible payment options.

Some of Syscap’s latest sign ups are also using its unique Support Funder product to finance services and support alongside traditional IT assets – including wireless solutions company APC Solutions and CAD software provider Desktop Engineering. Service funding is a key focus for Syscap which aims to help IT providers to deliver simple to buy, on-premise and cloud IT solutions with a single finance agreement.

Syscap’s other new IT sector clients include cloud solutions provider Outsourcery and CAD software provider Concurrent Engineering. They join a further 250 companies which are already benefiting from Syscap led vendor finance programmes including Sage, Autodesk, Infor, Softcat, Viglen, Datel and Advanced Business Solutions.

Philip White, Managing Director of Syscap, said: “We’ve been helping companies invest in technology for 25 years now but have seen a sharp increase recently in the number of IT providers needing more flexibility as they change their own business model to a subscription base or need to help their customers reinvest in IT to innovate and grow. We allow them to collect cash up front whilst removing the overhead of monthly billing which we take on”.

It’s a point that both resellers and ISV’s support.

“The great thing with Syscap is that I can include everything in the deal. So in addition to any hardware, the client can spread the cost of any support and professional services,” explains Don Finley, Managing Director of faIT. “Syscap’s flexible finance allows them to spread the whole cost over the life of the asset. Here at faIT we take great pride in offering our clients the best value for money and a great service and I look for partners that do the same. Syscap ticks all the boxes for us and our clients.”

“Swiftpage is committed to working with our channel partners to grow revenue by delivering a customer-centric sales process. Partnering with Syscap enables us to bring innovative funding solutions while Syscap takes care of the finance,” said Lindsay Boullin, Vice President and Head of Marketing and Operations for Swiftpage International.

For further information please contact us, or visit our IT Finance page

The rising need for flexible IT finance

The IT industry has evolved dramatically in recent years, which has completely changed the way we approach business. Technology, including both hardware and software systems, is now at the centre of most companies’ operations and plays a pivotal role in its success.

Nevertheless, IT is a fast-paced market; what is an innovative product one year could be considered old news the next. In order for businesses to keep ahead and stay competitive in their industry, they must be able to utilise the latest, cutting-edge technology.

However many businesses, in particular SMEs, cannot afford to make large, one-off payments that could put a significant strain on their cash flow. They are often constrained by budgets and making heavy upfront costs is not financially feasible. The result of this is a growing need for companies to acquire flexible IT finance, where they are able to pay for new and advanced IT assets over time – and that ‘growing need’ must be satisfied by IT suppliers and resellers.

As the need for flexible IT finance grows, it is important that suppliers enable their customers to make simple payments over time. If suppliers don’t offer this, then they could be potentially missing out on lots of business, in particular from smaller companies unable to make those large, one-off payments.

In the consumer market, paying for devices over time is natural; for instance, paying monthly for your phone, car insurance or gym membership is considered the norm. So, why should this not be the same for the IT sector? Providers of IT hardware and software services need to embrace flexible finance in order to give their customers a more sustainable payment choice. Businesses are just as in need of smoothing over their cash flow as consumers; in some cases more so.

Start converting more customers

Through Syscap’s partnership programme, you are able to provide your customers with flexible IT finance, giving both you and them, great benefits. By joining with Syscap as a partner, you can close more, higher value deals by embedding a finance proposition into your sales process, thereby overcoming price objections at the first hurdle.

The Syscap Partner Programme has been developed in collaboration with our partners, to give you various benefits including rewards on every deal you make as well as clear and concise training and other incentives to help you embed finance as an option into your business and processes.

With over 25 years experience in the technology sector, Syscap is the natural choice for your finance partner. To find out more about the benefits of joining the Syscap Partner Programme, contact one of our team members today on 0808 123 1990.

Tech predictions for the future

The past decade has witnessed many technology breakthroughs – the arrival of motion-sensing control systems, the rise of wearable tech and the proliferation of tablet devices, to name a few. But what does the second half of the decade have in store for us? A recent Tech Crunch article offers some predictions:

Automated information sharing

Big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) have both hit the mainstream recently. Going forward, it is expected that the two will merge for one sole purpose: automated information sharing.

While security issues will need to be addressed, automated information sharing has the potential to benefit society significantly. As an example, the article says that oil and gas firms, together with weather stations, could combine and analyse data on plate movement in real-time, enabling them to issue earthquake and tsunami warnings to people living in coastal locations across the globe.

The rise of self-driving vehicles

From adaptive cruise control to self-parking systems, many cars are fitted with features which automate our driving experience. Such technologies are expected to advance even further over the next five years with self-driving cars becoming mainstream, particularly in metropolitan areas.

A vehicle will be able to be operated autonomously if its CAN bus (or Controller Area Network) is connected to public and line service systems. Receiving data in real-time, the vehicle will be able to carry out tasks such as selecting the least congested driving routes.

AI assistants

From Google Glass to fitness trackers and smartphone assistants, the devices we use are learning more and more about us. Over time, it is predicted that AI will become so advanced it will at least appear to learn information on its own, allowing it to determine what is valuable to us as human beings.

Data virtualisation

The data required for these innovations will come at a cost, which is likely to be picked up by vendors. IT infrastructure will need to adapt fast in order to deliver the data this technology needs, and the way it will be able to do this is through adopting data virtualisation.

According to the article, data virtualisation will provide servers, applications and clients with the knowledge and capability needed to be able to efficiently move data between IT resources. Virtualisation will boost the efficiency of today’s systems, so they are able to provide the information required by the technology of tomorrow.

For more information on how Syscap could help to fund your future IT investments, click here.

Software isn’t as easy as it looks

When it comes to IT investment, many SMEs view software as somewhat inferior to, or less valuable than, hardware. These businesses allocate large portions of their IT budgets to purchasing tangible hardware products, often neglecting software investment in the process.

However, contrary to popular belief, software is just as important as IT hardware. Businesses must remember that quality software is needed to run their hardware, so it should be viewed as an equally worthy investment.

So, why do so many businesses prioritise hardware? Well, firstly, when businesses purchase hardware, they have visible proof of investment. Within many companies, IT managers find it easier to get approval for buying hardware, as those in control of the budget often want to see physical proof of where the money went. There is also a common misconception that software is ‘simpler’ to create: if software such as apps can be created from a bedroom, then why does it deserve such a significant investment?

Software includes everything from operating systems and application servers, to databases and apps. In reality, the software market is extremely sophisticated and complex; programs require a huge amount of time, money and effort to create.

Not making timely investment in software could negatively impact your business. For example, delaying necessary software upgrades and using outdated systems will inevitably result in increased costs in the long term. What’s more, using older software could affect staff productivity and pose a security risk.

There is no doubt that software delivers good business value. Companies must understand that business value is created through investing in exactly what their business needs, and not just cheaper alternatives.

Companies often struggle securing a finance package for their IT investments, as many funding houses only provide financing for hardware and not the intangible aspect of these investments. Syscap, however, offers both hardware and software funding, allowing you to purchase the technology you need today. Not only that, but Syscap can also provide funding for subscription services, support and maintenance, training and installation. This allows businesses to finance the full IT solution, spreading the cost over time and maintaining working capital.

Click here to find out more about the benefits of financing your next technology solution.

UK Businesses Set To Receive IT Budget Boost

This year, UK firms are set to experience a 1.4% increase in IT budgets, a new report from Gartner has revealed. This increase is higher than the global average of 1.1%, as well as the average among US firms, which stands at 0.9%.

By comparison, Chinese firms are set for an average IT budget increase of 8.5%, which is significantly higher than both the UK and US.

A key finding from study is that there is an increasing amount of investment in IT across UK companies, with results revealing that over 21% of IT investments take place outside of the actual IT budget. Gartner polled over 2,800 respondents from 84 countries in order to compile its report.

After a long period of budget restrictions and cost-cutting, Gartner believes that a renewed focus on strategic IT investments will help to facilitate growth among UK businesses. In particular, companies in the UK and Ireland are becoming more open-minded with regard to SMART technologies; they are starting to make investment in new tools and are creating strategies which cover areas such as robotics and the Internet of Things.

Gartner predicts that UK CIOs will now dedicate less than 40% of their time to running IT departments this year. They will instead focus on spending more time with other C-suite executives, business unit leaders and external customers to “extol the values of IT and investing in the right technology,” CRN reports.

Vice President at Gartner, Dave Aron, commented that digitalisation represents both an opportunity and threat, which means that “CIOs are facing new, more challenging and more exciting circumstances as digital moves to centre stage.”

An increase in IT budgets is great news for UK businesses, as it will allow them to utilise new technologies and implement them throughout the company. Yet, despite increased budgets, IT finance can still help you to spread the cost of the full solution, including training, installation, upgrades, maintenance and support contracts. Syscap can provide you with a tailored finance solution that will enable you to get the IT technology you need today. Call one of our team members to find out more or click here.