Transforming Tech-Savvy Kids into the Technologists of Tomorrow

The simplicity of technology now means that the core fan base of new and innovative products is getting younger and younger. It is evident that children are naturally interested in technology, but how can we take advantage of this passion?

The key to harnessing this potential is likely to come down to our ability to combine their love of technology with a robust STEM education.

In this blog post, we’ll define the STEM subjects and consider how they are applicable to the modern world, before exploring how children can develop an interest in toys, gadgets and gizmos into skills and attributes they’ll need in later life.

education using love of technology

What are STEM subjects?

The STEM subjects are science, technology, engineering and mathematics and there is increasing support for improving our STEM teaching methods. Many now believe that STEM subjects should be considered the key to giving children the skills they need to enter the workforce.

So, let’s look more closely at the four disciplines that make up STEM.

Science – a natural love of science is likely to be linked to an interest in discovering how things work through a series of experimentation. Developing these skills at an early age is likely to increase children’s chances of being able to code, methodically improve a process or imagine new (technology-driven) solutions to existing problems.

Technology – due to apps, social media and the growing popularity of the Internet, we are now more focused on the importance of technology than ever before. We are beginning to teach children about computer coding and it’s many applications. However, the pace of development means training for our teachers also needs to accelerate to keep up.

Engineering – this discipline is all about teaching kids to solve problems using technology, new ideas and the most suitable materials. Problem-solving is increasingly becoming the key ‘soft skill’ for candidates in the modern world. A natural inclination towards puzzles, riddles or construction toys may be an early indicator of engineering potential.

Mathematics – maths is probably the least popular but most important of all the STEM subjects. A strong understanding of the right principles of mathematics is probably the most potent way of enhancing children’s capabilities in the other STEM subjects.

How do we develop their love of technology?nurturing kids' love of technology

The UK has a rich history in computer gaming, sciences and the digital arts, which will need a technologically minded workforce to continue moving forwards and innovate. If we want to develop a world-beating workforce, we need to find new ways to promote the STEM subjects, encourage a love of technology in our children and help them develop their key skills.

It is important that as a society we broaden our horizons in our approach to teaching and learning at the same time. To be more inclusive with our education system so that the next generation have basic skills, but perhaps start to accept that what is a necessary basic skill today won’t be required in the future. Writing with pen and paper or driving manually are just two things that are sure to be less prevalent in the future. As technology and society evolves, so should our ways of teaching and the tools we use.

How can parents and educators look to kindle children’s future in STEM?

From a very early age children mimic behaviour. So like with any interest spending quality time together and actively exploring, whether looking at pictures, playing a game or visiting museums, exhibitions or events can be a good first step to encouraging a young mind.

using tech to promote skills for STEM futures

Children learn to navigate their way through simple apps and use tablets from an early age with parents often resorting to using online video and apps as a “digital babysitter”. However there’s also a plethora of great products, services and apps out there to engage and promote skills. We have found some great examples for different stages of their child’s development which can serve as a great aid to education and their future in STEM, but as with all technology exposure limits should still be set for well-rounded development.

Below we have included some ideas for inspiration for parents and educators to identify and encourage children with an interest and aptitude for a future in STEM.

Early years Cubetto is a friendly programmable robot toy that’s simple to use. The method is pretty easy to pick up, with some children learning the basics before they even go to school. Construction toys like Lego and Duplo are also popular choices that are easy to learn and allow creative play.

The most important thing at this stage is giving children the freedom to express themselves, the possibility for creativity and most importantly the space to have fun.

Development  – to progress at primary age children, need a little more of a challenge. They are likely to move on to an interest in games such as Osmo, Kano or even the early stages of playing Minecraft. During the development stage, we can determine whether they are ready to take their interest forward into more challenging applications or whether enjoyment is still the overriding factor for them. Their aptitude is mainly measured on their ability to learn the basics or grasping the logic or “rules” that govern their games and tools, following instructions and completing a series of tasks.

Technologist-in-the-making –  to encourage youngsters further you might expect to some signs that they are inquisitive and developing an interest in finding their own solutions to problems they encounter There are a lot of ways that will allow us to stretch their abilities. By introducing them to the more advanced elements of Minecraft, simple programming through HTML or Visual Basic, or even something like a Raspberry Pi to encourage them to expand their technological horizons further.

At this point, an interest in more abstract thinking and deeper problem-solving is likely to be a strong indicator of their potential for the all-important transferrable skills.

What role can businesses play?

Think about applications for public sector: There are some great examples of businesses offering fantastic applications of new technology for education. Google’s expedition programme is one of these, using VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) to explore up close new places and topics in a meaningful and engaging way. Once there is a way for schools and similar organisations to use your technology and tools there is still the question of how they access it.

Find a way to make technology accessible: Making new technology accessible to educational providers is vital. Many software providers offer school or academic licenses or discounts. Over the years we’ve also worked with many educational providers and businesses to help find suitable financial solutions that allow the school or other institution to spread the cost of software and associated IT costs. This goes a long way to helping institutions keep up-to-date with the technology being used in business, but it’s about more than that. It’s about offering free trials and offering to demo the technology. Older students’ and educators’ feedback can also in turn add value sharing the benefits for the business.

Partnering with an organisation to test your software might be a risk but it might also be a cost-effective way to uncover bugs and gain understand what works and what doesn’t, it can also provide you with insight about different applications and new features.

Share knowledge: Better knowledge sharing from companies facing challenges and at the forefront of innovation and encouraging staff to forge links with colleges and schools and share their experience and knowledge with the next generation is also integral to inspiring the next generation and ensuring they are working with the latest technology. This is of course easier said than done as some institutions don’t actively look outside their teacher pool who have heavy workloads and demanding priorities already. Nevertheless there is great potential to benefit both sides in the long term. This should prove enough incentive for everyone to be willing to make change work.

Gamification of the Tech Industry: What Are the Impacts and Benefits?

In light of this growing trend, we discuss below the impact that gamification can have on IT businesses.

gamification for business

Gamification has seen a huge rise in popularity over recent years, with the sports and technology industries paving the way for implementation in business. Admittedly, incorporating elements of competition and fun into business processes is nothing new, but its reception among business leaders, employees and consumers has not always been positive. With some critics calling gamification a fad and employee and consumer uptake often low, for a while the future of business gameplay looked bleak. Fortunately, with new developments in digital technology and the introduction of in-depth testing, success is now being achieved and tangible results delivered.

How do we define gamification?

Gamification is the incorporation, implementation or application of ‘game-playing elements’ in business processes in order to achieve measurable goals. In basic terms, businesses introduce elements such as point scoring, rules of play and competition into internal processes for employees or external processes such as marketing reward schemes for consumers in an attempt to achieve real world results. These results can involve anything ranging from greater staff productivity and improved employee satisfaction to increased user engagement.

Simply creating staff league tables or customer reward programmes are not enough to be considered gamification. It needs to have clear objectives, people need to understand how to participate and feel ownership and have choices when they do, understanding their progress and feeling part of something bigger or something social. They need to care about the reward. This should be obvious, but is surprisingly often lost in the process of ideation.

Of course, early adopters in the tech industry aren’t the only ones who could benefit from gamification. All businesses and industries can incorporate these aspects into their processes, and successful implementation has already been demonstrated in companies including Nike and Volkswagen’s Fun Theory.

Gamification Can Deliver Faster Feedback

more engaging processes for businesses

Gamification can help make ordinary business processes more engaging

Collecting any form of feedback, whether from customers, partners or even employees, can be excruciatingly slow and labour-intensive. Adding gamification to the mix, however, can help improve the speed of responses. In this case, creating incentives for ‘players’ to be more engaged and responsive can help to achieve the results you need whilst increasing participants’ satisfaction through the use of rewards. In the same way that incentivisation can work better with multiple prizes released over time rather than one larger prize with a set deadline.

Gamification Can Improve Engagement

Mundane daily tasks or routine processes can be made more engaging by incorporating an element of gameplay. By involving staff in the design and encouraging employees to set and stick to their goals, whether they are work-related or personal goals makes them easier to achieve.. When an individual feels they have ownership and that participation is personal to them there is greater accountability which can also result in better Business relationships, particularly as they also have a new talking point, their performance, experience and opinion of the gamified programme. Employees feel more appreciated and invested in their work because they have a greater sense that their contributions matter.

Gamification Helps Eliminate the Fear of Change and Promote Learning

The adoption of gamification can be transformational for businesses, particularly in the tech and IT sectors. Although the introduction of new technology is commonplace and expected within these sectors, adoption can still be difficult. Gamification can help business leaders monumentally because people are more likely to do something if it involves some element of fun.  Rolling out change slowly, individual by individual, supporting staff with extra training when needed and creating internal league tables with incentives can dramatically transform staff motivation levels and perceptions of business change, turning fear to positive adoption.

Education around topics for which buy-in is typically difficult such as change management, compliance and regulation can be at least partially improved if we can use gamification to remove barriers. Fun serves as a strong motivating factor for participants to do more.

Rather than ask staff to read new policy information and training documents or attend lengthy presentations Kingfisher Plc (parent company of the B&Q, Brico Depot and Screwfix) developed a way for their staff to learn more about pensions using gamification.  Even something as simple as an interactive quiz is more engaging than consuming information as part of their learning process. The game element cannot ultimately detract from the overall goal, but communicating results and highlighting success also encourages healthy competition and progress towards universal goals

Whilst also offering staff the ability to track their progress much of this can be automated to give people the prod or encouragement they need when required, however consideration needs to be given to ensure it’s done in the right way.

Gamification Can Help to Achieve Goals

By introducing gamification, businesses are able to break down an organisation’s long-term goals into short, manageable challenges that are more notable and achievable for staff. Businesses can assign rewards to goals giving incentives for employees or consumers to take part, engage and achieve results faster and with better accuracy. In 2013 Google had 40,000 contributors to Google Maps – people who review, take photos and verify information. In November 2015 Google launched  a whole host of rewards for these contributors, and in the 12 months that followed Google achieved contributions from “more than five million people in 235 countries”.

Applications for the IT industry may not be immediately clear. It is sometimes easy to becoming accepting of processes and not look to innovate, despite the fact the technology around us is all about innovation.

Start with the problem not the solution

The most important factor for IT and technology businesses to consider when planning and implementing gameplay into processes is the question of ‘why?’ Doing so simply because it’s ‘fun’ is not a good enough reason for business leaders to decide to create an app or loyalty rewards scheme. If businesses are trying to initiate change, ‘entertainment’ and incentives will not succeed on their own.

Gamification begins with asking the question ‘why?’ Why are customers not engaging with our new campaign or product? Why are employees not productive? Why do staff not feel satisfied in their roles? Once you answer these, it becomes easier to incorporate gameplay elements successfully and reap their benefits.

Social Media Super-Buys

The Constantly Evolving Social Media Landscape

If one truth can be said of social media over the past decade is that using apps and the internet to communicate with people we know (and even people we don’t) in this way is not going to going away any time soon. However you look at it though social media is constantly evolving as are the needs of its users. Some apps are useful in our daily lives, some are just fun, some, however all are watched closely by businesses across the globe with an appetite for acquisition.

Social media innovation key to retaining users

rise and fall of vine and bebo

Social Media – constantly evolving but not going anywhere (unless perhaps you are talking about Vine or Bebo)

The raft of new features across Facebook and rollout of new layouts on Linkedin and Twitter are testament to the need for innovation among social platforms and how this innovation helps to keep users engaged. The same can be said of businesses on social media who constantly need to be thinking of new and interesting ways to deliver engaging content to your online communities.

The now defunct Bebo allegedly once had as many as 40 million users. When AOL acquired Bebo in 2008 Facebook was already well on its way to stealing the social media crown of largest social network. Twitter invested in video by acquiring start-up Vine in 2012, before the app had officially launched. When it did launch in 2013 it was still before the trend of streaming videos on mobile apps was less common, not least of all because long, more data heavy videos would mean a higher cost of data than today. As the number of smartphone owners increased so did the internet speeds and the habit of watching video on mobile. The success of these platforms was relatively short-lived therefore, in part, due to the advancement of technology and faster data speeds. Heavy competition from other platforms who were offering new features also contributed to them being sidelined in the social landscape. The very fact that the industry is extremely competitive and ever-changing means that acquisitions of new and emerging networks are popular among established technology companies. Microsoft’s super-buy last year was of course Linkedin for a little over £20 Billion ($26 Billion). And this demonstrates how much the computer giant was willing to wager to have a stake in the sector. In reality big companies can afford it and it represents good value in terms of being able to have a share of the market as well as access to the data and learnings it brings.

The Vine example is a stark warning both for and against acquisitions. On one hand it was a failure; the business was did not generate any profit for Twitter and the network had effectively peaked by the end of 2013. The same year as both Instagram and Snapchat launched their video features. This is no coincidence and just one example of social networks borrowing and taking inspiration from competitors. At the same time Vine could have been a threat to Twitter, and it was an attempt to spread the company’s influence. When it was clear that financially it was not going to deliver a return on investment and Twitter itself struggling to find a place in the modern landscape Twitter Inc could have opted to sell off the dwindling short video platform. Instead though by allowing it to die Vine was blocked a second time from posing any opposition or embarrassment to Twitter’s business in the future.

The social media landscape has changed significantly over the last five years and acquisitions continue to be a key factor for the large players. Only in the next five will we have a better understanding of whether the other acquisitions prove to be successful or not.

Recently we’ve seen Facebook adopt Snapchat-style filters in its messaging app and Google announce its intentions to launch a personalised homepage on mobile and desktop here in UK in the near future.

Our infographic below shows the current state of affairs across different social networks, their value and the various acquisitions.

Social Media Super-Buys Acquisitions Infographic

Social Media Super Buys

Five Things To Consider When Switching To SaaS

If your business is considering adopting a Software as a Service subscription model powered by the cloud instead of a traditional distribution model then you need to consider how it will impact your business, your staff and most importantly your customers – both new and existing. We’ve compiled our top tips of what to consider before you make the switch to SaaS or PaaS.

Five tips for switching to a SaaS model

1. Consider what is an appropriate pricing model

It’s important that the pricing reflects the service you offer, fits your market and ability to service customers. This could mean a more simplified approach or tiered packages. Research what’s important to your customers and what is feasible for them in terms of cost but also what’s feasible for your organisation. This might involve rolling out the service offering/s over time.

2. Develop an on-boarding processsaas model on-boarding process

Getting your customers started might look a little different from how you have done things previously. Ensure you break down the process into steps and that staff are properly trained in how bringing a new customer on board works, what questions they might have and when they need to be available to support.

saas model adoption security best practice3. Ensure your systems are secure

You are probably entering new territory in offering your software or platform via the cloud. Data needs to be encrypted and stored safely. SSL encryption is a good start.

 

4. Involve your sales workforcesaas model adoption and sales teams

Your sales team still have to sell the product. This could be the right time to innovate and improve your software, but it could also be the wrong time. Nevertheless ensure you take into consideration the input (concerns and suggestions) from your sales team/s and try to address these as best as possible. By incorporating their input early in the process there’s time to debate, research and ultimately decide. Whether you take on their suggestions or not this will still help to get buy-in with the teams and make them feel more involved.

saas adoption legal advice5. Take legal advice from a cloud specialist

You are moving into new territory and therefore need specialist advice. You wouldn’t launch a new product without research and a strong understanding of the market and the product so ensure you are seek out expert knowledge and advice and are well protected legally with indemnity cover to limit liability.

Find out more about how we can help you with switching to a SaaS model.

How Long Did It Take the Richest Tech Tycoons to Make Their First Billion?

Almost a third of the richest 30 people in the world have made their billions in the technology industry. This common denominator isn’t a surprise considering that since 2015 in the UK alone the technology sector has a turnover of £170 billion a year , outgrowing the UK economy with 72% of investment coming from outside London.

With continuous opportunities for growth and expansion, many entrepreneurs are taking advantage. Don’t be fooled, however. Tech tycoons aren’t work-shy and making a success of yourself in the technology sector is difficult with so much competition. Much of the list is in fact dominated by these self-made billionaires launching global companies that have gone on to be household names, such as Facebook, Amazon and Google.

Whilst that first billion isn’t easy, it is possible. With the right idea, anyone can be the world’s next billionaire. Some build their fortune in no time at all, while others take the slow and steady route. Find out below how fast the top five technology entrepreneurs went from launching their company to making their first billion and how they did it.

Tech Tycoons Race to Riches List

 

5. Larry Page

Larry Page, Google Co-Founder & CEO of parent company Alphabet Inc [Image source: Bloom Energy, Flickr ]

Net worth: £31.9 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Google

Length of time: 6 years

Age of becoming a billionaire: 30

In 1998, Page teamed up with fellow PhD student, Sergey Brin, at Stanford University to create an early search engine, then named BackRub. Little did they know this project would evolve into the biggest search engine in the world. Google and its parent company Alphabet now take up one of the biggest market shares in tech and are worth more than £455 billion ($581 billion). As Google’s net worth increased, so did the value of Page’s shares.

Larry Page has been a key player in the evolution of Google, and after many years at the helm, Page moved on to head up Alphabet. Here he looks after not only Google but also Nest, Calico and Google X and gets involved in everything from driverless cars to home automation.

4. Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison, founder, chairman and CTO of Oracle [Image source: Oracle PR, Flickr

Net worth: £40.9 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Oracle

Length of time: 16 years

Age of becoming a billionaire: 49

Ellison teamed up with two colleagues at an electronics company in 1977 so they could start their own firm that focused on programming. Their newly formed company quickly gained traction and attention from the likes of the CIA, which wanted Ellison to build it a relational database management system, later known as Oracle.

This first project developed into the giant company known as Oracle Corp and although Ellison stepped down as CEO after 38 years and reduced his salary from a million dollars per year to just one he still receives a massive £47 million from the dividend  on his shares.

3. Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerber, Founder and CEO of Facebook [Image source: Anthony Quintano, Flickr]

Net worth: £43.9 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Facebook

Length of time: 4 years

Age of becoming a billionaire: 23

At the age of 19 and in his second year studying at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg launched the very first version of Facebook, then known as TheFacebook.com. At the time, it was only a very basic version, but Zuckerberg believed in the venture enough to drop out of university and work full-time on the project.

The move paid off, as Facebook exploded in popularity and now attracts over a billion users every day, making the company worth almost £313.4 billion. Through Facebook, Zuckerberg has secured himself the title of being the youngest in the top 50 richest people in the entire world, let alone in the technology industry.

2. Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos second fastest tech entrepreneur to make a billion dollars

Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon [Image source: James Duncan Davidson, Flickr

Net worth: £57 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Amazon.com

Length of time: 5 years

Age of becoming a billionaire: 35

In 1994, Bezos launched Amazon, an online book retailer, from his garage at home in Seattle. At the time, it exclusively sold books and continued to be run from his home for the next three years. Once public, Amazon rapidly expanded to include other goods including everything from furniture to electronics, and now it even supplies fresh fruit.

By 2016, Bezos had taken Amazon from being a small business in his backyard to a multi-billion-dollar company, generating £107billion in revenue in 2016 alone.

1.    Bill Gates

Bill Gates the fastest tech entrepreneur to become a billionair

Bill Gates, Co-Founder and Former CEO of Microsoft [Image source: OnInnovation, Flickr]

Net worth: £67.4 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Microsoft

Length of time: 12 years

Age of becoming a billionaire: 31

At only 20 years of age, Bill Gates cofounded Microsoft with a childhood friend. Paul Allen and Bill Gates developed the company over ten years, and before Gates’s 31st birthday, Microsoft went public and made him a billionaire overnight. Gates continued to serve as the company’s CEO until 2000.

Although Gates is still on Microsoft’s board, he hasn’t been actively involved in the business since 2014, when he let go of his position as chairholder. At that point he was still the largest shareholder, but since then his generosity and work for his own charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has seen his shares lower. Despite being one of the most generous billionaires on the planet, Gates still remains the richest man in the world.

His work with the foundation is a true testament to Gates’s legacy, with individuals being lifted out of poverty around the world and the elimination of deadly diseases such as HIV and malaria on the horizon.

Compare the speed at which the top sixteen richest tech moguls in the world made their first billion by checking out our Richest Tech Moguls Infographic.

The World’s Richest Tech Moguls

The Rich List of Tech Moguls According to Speed of Growth and Net Worth

Making a success of yourself in the world of tech can be extremely tough. With technology changing so fast the industry is uber-competitiveSo it’s a wonder then that anyone can come up with an idea that is truly innovative and worth investing in and actually has a purpose. In other industries successful companies make millions, but in the tech world it’s all about the billions.

We’ve put together a list of the richest tech moguls in the world, not only to compare their net worth but also to find out who went from start-up to billionaire tycoon the quickest.

Check out our World’s Richest Tech Moguls Infographic below.

Richest tech moguls infographic

Although Bill Gates has been in the lead in terms of highest net worth for quite some time, it may be a surprise to see just how fast some of the newcomers in the tech world are climbing the rich list. In the official Forbes rich list for 2017 you’ll find many of the industry’s super-tycoons and veterans who have been moving up and down the list for the past ten years or more. With mobile technology and social media evolving rapidly, however, younger entrepreneurs are starting to dominate.

With the acquisition of Instagram, social media giant Mark Zuckerberg is now on the heels of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, whilst WhatsApp founder Jan Koum is creeping his way up through the top 20 positions.

As the tech industry continues to change and advance at breakneck speed, it will be exciting to witness just how much changes over the next year in the World’s Richest Tech Mogul list.

Alternative Finance can help education vendors ease the school funding challenge

From enhancing student engagement to improving behaviour management, more educational institutes are embracing modern technology and equipment to enable pupils to learn at their own pace, on any device.

However, the biggest school funding shortages in England since the 1990s are threatening to undermine teachers’ efforts to break away from traditional classroom and curriculum models.

guide to leasing for education

46% of people surveyed said their school had experienced lower spending on ICT.

Findings show reductions in spending

A recent survey conducted by The Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Union of Teachers has revealed that almost three-quarters (73%) of schools have cut spending on books and equipment, while 46% of respondents admitted they had reduced their ICT expenditure. Furthermore according to BESA, the average ICT budget for a primary school is forecast to be £13,800 in 2017/18 and £58,230 for secondaries. This represents a year-on-year decline of 4% and 7% respectively.

Do schools need guidance on leasing equipment?

At a time when the funding challenge shows no signs of abating, the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) has recently published its ‘Leasing guidance for schools’ document in partnership with National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) and the Department for Education (DfE). The guide highlights what should be considered when taking out a lease and how finance can help educational establishments to secure the facilities they need.

The FLA’s guide is a timely reminder to educational vendors and resellers that working with a trusted and experienced finance partner can help them to overcome budgetary objections and accelerate their sales cycles. Specialist alternative finance providers to the education sector, such as Syscap, offer flexible funding programmes to give schools an effective alternative to capital spending which enables them to acquire innovative solutions and services they need to further enhance the learning experience.

The opportunity for educational vendors and resellers

Tailored asset finance solutions can support investment in specialist equipment, the latest IT solutions and associated support services, refurbished classrooms and buildings as well as introducing 1:1 learning schemes based on the Bring Your Own Device model. Leasing allows schools greater flexibility compared with purchasing new assets outright. They can obtain the equipment they need today and pay over time by spreading the cost of their investments over one to five years. In turn, by adopting a prudent financial strategy, schools can better manage cash flow by gaining predictability over their spending instead of being burdened by major upfront costs.

With government cuts set to hit already stretched budgets in education hard the option of alternative finance makes it easier for schools to invest in new assets, inside and outside of the classroom, so they can maintain high teaching standards whilst keeping costs down. Specialist finance partners also work collaboratively with vendors and resellers to ensure they can grow and develop their educational sales by offering flexible solutions that are tailored to schools’ needs.

To download the FLA’s ‘Leasing guidance for schools’ document, click here.

Manage the Pressures of Integrating Technology into Your Business

Integrating new digital systems and technology into a business can be an onerous journey. Whether it’s a simple software update or a full overhaul of all the company’s hardware, incorporating new technology brings many pressures.

Using our many years of experience working within the IT channel , we know that many IT systems are now more cost effective, however we also know that there is a greater reliance on specialist technology and software. With this in mind we’ve put together a list of our top five tips to relieve the stress of purchasing and implementing new technology. Manage the pressures of integrating technology into your business with these five tips:

importance of planning for technology integration

Once you identify the right tool you need to plan the next steps

  1. Plan Well

The integration of new tech can have surprising rippling effects throughout a business and the bigger the business, the bigger the ripple. Once you’ve identified the product or software you need and you’ve started the ball rolling with costings and purchasing, create a plan for the roll-out of the new system. This gives you the opportunity to identify where any issues may arise and solve the problems before they happen.

new tech requires support

Work out how you will handle support and issues with new tech

  1. Put Support Systems in Place

Many companies will already have a tech support team or personnel in place that are able to help with any issues. However, if this is not the case, it’s well worth considering setting up this new role or team. Alternatively, if developing your own in-house team is out of budget, it may be more cost-effective to arrange 24/7 support services through an IT managed service provider or an outsourced tech centre that provides the right services for your system.

finance solutions for IT

Finance solutions are readily available to support purchase, implementation and on-going support

  1. Source a Finance Partner

Investing large sums of money upfront and compromising on other areas of the business financially should no longer be an issue with specialist IT finance solutions available. Spreading the cost through tailored asset finance solutions can ensure that technology integration is affordable and easy to implement quickly.

staff technology competence

Staff need to be competent working with the new tech

  1. Train Staff and Train Them Again

Before the full integration of new tech, ensure that all staff are trained and feel ready to use the hardware, software or tool. It’s essential for managers to arrange appropriate training for staff before launch but also to facilitate regular follow-up sessions to cover any practical questions or issues found in the first few months after launch. As staff change teams, some leave and new staff arrive it’s always a good idea to set aside some time to offer top-up or refresher training to ensure people stay up-to-date.

technology integration expectations

Integration is more than just roll out – set and actively manage expectations

  1. Set Expectations

New technology integration can bring high hopes for both employers and employees, but it’s important to be realistic with expectations. This goes for both the impact that the changes will have on the business and the ability of staff to adapt. Though minimal, there is always a chance that the new tech may fail or not be as cost-effective as first thought. This is why it is vital for managers to assess the risk and develop contingency plans ahead of time, in order to respond in the best manner promptly.

 

If you are looking for support from a specialist IT finance partner, get in contact today to find out if Syscap can help.

The Speed of Obsolescence: How can SMEs keep up with rapidly changing technology?

The digital and technology environment is changing faster than ever before. With brand new technology, particularly hardware, going out of date within the space of just a few years, small and medium-sized businesses are being forced to come up with solutions quickly and on a regular basis to overcome the consequences.

technology upgrades in business

Affording and getting access to the latest technologies can be tough for many organisations..

One of the main challenges for most SMEs with regard to technological advancements is the extent to which vast legacy systems and applications are embedded within their organisation. These make it extremely difficult to make changes or upgrade to modern solutions. This becomes increasingly difficult if the update or tech introduction is radically different from what’s already in place. Before any innovation can take place, the current systems must be maintained, cultivated and supported.

Added to this, there is the mounting pressure for businesses to be seen to be high tech and competing at the forefront of the industry. Now that the technology cycle has rapidly sped up, and continues to do so, businesses are feeling the need to squeeze more and more updates into each budget cycle. In the past, technology updates may have been implemented every three to five years, but the demand is now far greater, with new updates needed multiple times a year.

Combine that with what seems like a never-ending list of new and different platforms and technologies that need integrating into the business, such as cloud computing, big data security and social media, and you have an abundance of competing priorities.

How Can SME Leaders Adapt to Rapid Technology Updates?

businesses and technology

Technology is changing fast but businesses need to keep up

Only Integrate What Your Business Needs
Assess all of your business objectives and strategies in isolation from any technology offerings or products. With so many technology products and tools available and changes becoming faster and faster, the decision-making process can be extremely overwhelming for SMEs. It’s important to remember that you need to choose the right tool for your business and its needs. Ensure that you are streamlining and adapting everything to fit in with your goals, instead of purchasing for purchasing’s sake.

Keep Plans Fluid

Although business and infrastructure plans will have been scoped out and implemented long ago, it is important to remain as agile as possible with regard to technology updates. Remain in the loop with tech industry news and keep plans fluid to ensure that you can steer your business in the same direction as the rest of the world.

Build Partnerships
Partnering with vendors who offer the latest technology can be a perfect solution to getting access to new updates without having to invest large amounts of money. Whether you want to get access to new innovation through start-ups or have a particular affinity with a product or brand, partnerships can be great options for both product- and knowledge-sharing, if they are mutually beneficial.

Brief and Train Staff
It’s vitally important that you bring your staff along on the journey too. When technology updates or new infrastructures are on the horizon, try to provide staff with as much warning as possible. This not only allows them to process the changes and accept them, but also gives them the opportunity to access any necessary training. If the update is significant, it’s important SME leaders provide training not only before the launch but also after the successful implementation, to ensure staff have the opportunity to voice concerns and remain informed.

Finance Partnership Options
With money often being the main setback for SMEs wanting to access new tech, a great solution is partnering with an IT finance provider. Finance can play a variety of roles in helping reach your business objectives and goals, particularly in relation to acquisition of new technology. Whether you’re looking to sign up for ongoing software-as-a-service, or one-off investments in hardware, partnering with a finance provider can help grant your business immediate access without the upfront costs.

Find out more about how Syscap can assist with IT upgrades by providing finance today by contacting us.

The attitude to succeed in financial services

Having a positive attitude is vital to being successful in financial services, something which can be said of many careers, but getting results for your employer and for yourself in finance requires nothing less than an exceptional attitude. To be passionate and focused;  resilient and adaptable and above all decisive in your daily working life will help you go further and increase your standing within any organisation.

the right attitude is important in finance

Demonstrating your determination from day zero

Some people decide that they want to go into finance at a young age; while others enter the profession from a variety of different backgrounds having gained experience elsewhere. A career in financial services provides some unique challenges. Commercial finance requires an intrinsic understanding of different industries and the associated risks and carries with it a need to be flexible and agile. Finance is also very much about cohesion and working as a team, every part of the organisation influences and in turn relies upon the efforts of multiple departments, from Credit through to New Business Administration. Everyone needs to be determined to move in the same direction to accomplish the overall goals.

Syscap is part of Wesleyan Bank with staff working together across three sites; each employee has followed a slightly different path and has their own story to tell. So we asked some of them to do just that and share their experience of working together in this way, but also to share their tips and advice about the attitude needed, to not only survive in finance, but to flourish.

philip white syscap diversity quote

Philip White talks about culture at Syscap

Syscap’s Managing Director Philip White summed up the importance of diversity, remaining open-minded and valuing different experience recently when he explained in an interview about how we operate. “Our business is about people. We strive to create an environment that’s responsive to different cultures and groups. This ethos extends to our customers and suppliers, too”.

Excelling in finance

Some people embark on a career in finance and leasing at a young age, and learn about the intricacies ‘on the job’. In contrast, others only join after gaining considerable experience elsewhere, both sorts of people bring with them unique perspectives. But from changing regulation to the acceleration of technology, the needs of clients in the financial services industry can be varied which provides its own set of challenges.

Commercial finance requires an ability to adapt to clients’ bespoke requirements and identify tailored solutions which can support their business’ short-term and long-term goals. This could range from asset finance solutions to support an investment in the latest technology or an acquisition of another business to strengthen their competitive advantage, or even short-term cashflow centric products to spread the cost of tax liabilities or unexpected expenditures.

Being able to adapt to different approaches, scenarios and understanding a client’s position is key.  This means staying open to new ideas, information so you can learn about different industries and understand different risks. Finance is also very much about cohesion and working as a team, every part of the organisation influences and in turn relies upon the efforts of other departments.

Finance is extremely competitive, fast paced and demanding so remaining calm and fleet-footed under pressure is invaluable, particularly when it comes to managing the expectations of others.

Knowing what you want when opportunity knocks

Being decisive is decisive when it comes to being picked for an important job or opportunity. Sometimes it’s easier to delay making a decision than it is to make the decision there and then. Unfortunately this means that sometimes the opportunity can pass you by if you are indecisive. Laura O’Connell, Commercial Account Manager, joined Wesleyan Bank in 2016 from another financial provider highlights the importance of decisiveness: “if you’re thinking about a career in finance or applying for a new role then don’t be afraid to go for it. You won’t know if you will like something until you try and employers will want you to clearly explain the reasons for your decision [to apply].  You just have to remember to take one step at a time.”

Companies will look at your CV and want to understand your qualifications and your relevant experience, of course, but also who you are, your interests and how you work with others. Employers will often read between the lines so be careful what your CV says about you. Words like “enthusiastic” could be interpreted as inexperienced and “thoughtful” perceived as a daydreamer or someone who is a walkover. Explaining clearly what you want to get across and who you are will form part of their assessment of your communication skills.

HR is a department that sees lots of applications. Our very own HR Operations expert Juana Leacock an experienced HR professional in her own right expanded on this, that “growing quickly we value people who have are flexible in their approach and have the ability to put the customer first as well as being accountable and focused on delivering tangible results”.

Your attitude when in your daily working environment plays a big part as to how others see your performance. Being adaptable and having an ability to take on new tasks and disciplines is important. Carl Hodgetts, Application Support Manager at Wesleyan Bank, recently moved into a new role and talked to us about this experience and his philosophy, “it’s important to understand the technical and analytical requirements but at the same time always remain customer-focused”

Most thought leaders agree that contentment at work is something that is beneficial on an individual, departmental and organisational level. Being proactive tends to help boost career opportunities in finance even more so than other industries. Happiness at work can lead to enhanced performance and productivity levels as well as greater energy, better reviews and is more likely to result in promotion or quicker exposure to exciting opportunities[1].

Paul Slapa, Head of Direct Sales, added “If you concentrate on developing your skill set, learn to accept feedback, and on occasion criticism, then opportunities will present themselves to you.”

Progressing, both individually and as an organisation, is about challenging yourself to do better: staying up-to-date and actively seeking out opportunities to improve the way things are done. Paul agreed that “as an industry we are often slow to adapt to change – for example, we haven’t really embraced some of the advancements in technology. So you should always be prepared to challenge upwards; to challenge the status quo, but be prepared to accept that you won’t always be right. Equally be prepared to listen to others. I accept that I could learn as much from a young graduate who has never worked in leasing, as I do from a 20 year industry veteran.”

For more information about life at our organisation see our vacancies at syscap.com/jobs

[1] SOURCE “Happiness at work is closely correlated with greater performance and productivity as well as greater energy, better reviews, faster promotion, higher income, better health and increased happiness with life. So it’s good for organizations and individuals, too.”