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.”

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]

Automation in Business

Is Automation Changing Your Business?

Technology has long been the focus innovation for many progressive business leaders across the globe, but throughout history, our culture, arts, technology and even business have pushed boundaries, exploring ideas, discussing concepts and creating ingenious products that have changed our lives forever.

Whilst science fiction has predicted a plethora of everyday tech such video-calling, driverless cars and smart bionic limbs to name a few, inventors such as the Wright Brothers and Nikola Tesla, manually delivered innovation using the physical application of their scientific and engineering expertise. Their visionary creations helped pave the way for many everyday technologies.  Imagine what they could have achieved if they had been able to cede responsibility for repetitive and time-consuming tasks to automation.

Since then numerous advancements have taken place to build on their ideas and increase efficiency. Long gone are the days of starting a car manually with many new cars now starting at the touch of a button. Today, artificial intelligence can be seen influencing and assisting our daily lives. Even entering a password, email address or first name online can now be an automatic process thanks to software. In fact automation software can also be used to send the email response once you complete a form.

In business, automation is now as key as marketing or finance.
Companies are seeing huge returns thanks to automation and software robots. Business Insider suggests that robot co-workers may be closer to reality than we think, with 850,000 public sector jobs in Britain expected to be performed by robots by 2030.

Three Reasons Why Automation is Already Crucial for Businesses

Automation is helping businesses work faster

With automation now freely available and increasingly affordable, there are now more and more businesses relying on the automation of common tasks and processes to make work easier, faster by removing the difficult aspects and allowing staff to focus on the important elements.

From manufacturing to broadcasting and entertainment, automated software and machinery can be deployed to perform repetitive tasks more accurately and with greater reliability than people. Companies such as Zume Pizza have introduced robots to make perfectly sized pizzas with the perfect amount of dough and tomato topping, whilst Chain Reaction Cycles has created a fully integrated automated warehouse that eliminates the need  someone to manually process product orders.

Automation is making businesses more efficient

Automation and artificial intelligence software can replace more than just manual labour. Implementing automation, businesses can repeat tasks with frightening speed and precision. Machines (and software) can be programmed to make the decisions in a fraction of the time it would normally take and shut down, pause or restart in a case of any one of a myriad of undesirable situations or simply if someone is working nearby or passing. This helps to eliminate not only errors, but costly recovery time and set up time as well as avoiding lawsuits or disciplinary action.

Automation is saving money for businesses

Reducing the need for back-office operations and labour by incorporating automation into processes can save businesses money if implemented well. In 2012, mobile operator O2 invested in software automation to reduce temporary staff costs caused by peaks in customer activity .

The firm automated various tasks including SIM swaps, porting mobile numbers, migrating from prepaid onto a contract, unlocking a phone. Each task is a separate software program licensed from Robotic Process Automation firm Blue Prism.

With competition growing year on year in all business sectors, automation is allowing companies to remain competitive by reducing costs  and there is potential for businesses to save millions with software. In an economy where customers are increasingly looking for the best value the speed at which a business’s operations are upgraded and automated could be the difference between successful growth and stagnation.

Syscap appoints new Head of Channel Sales to drive commercial growth

Paul Hansen responsible for non-direct vendor and specialist broker channels

Syscap, the UK’s leading IT finance provider, has strengthened its senior management team following the appointment of Paul Hansen as Head of Channel Sales. Hansen, who joins from Aldermore Bank, will be based from the company’s office in New Malden, Surrey.

Hansen will drive commercial sales via non-direct channels principally through Syscap’s bespoke finance solutions for IT software vendors, resellers and distributors. He will also focus on the specialist broker offering of Syscap’s parent company, Wesleyan Bank, targeting professions, educational institutes and SME businesses in addition to scoping emerging markets as part of the dual role. This includes building on his expertise to leverage the Wesleyan brand to expand into the medical and dental vendor markets.

Hansen previously worked at Aldermore Bank as Head of Business Development and Shawbrook Bank prior to that selling asset finance products to the UK healthcare sector. He has also gained over 20 years’ experience in the UK and European IT channel arena with Key Finance Group and Key Equipment Finance in various direct sales, broker management and programme management positions.

Paul Hansen comments, “Syscap and Wesleyan Bank have enviable reputations for providing specialist financial products and outstanding service to their clients so this is a really exciting opportunity. My immediate strategy is to develop the relationships we have with our partners and intermediaries while building new ones in both existing and complementary sectors to maximise our revenues.

“With support from the wider Wesleyan Group, Syscap can continue to grow and enter new markets whilst being in control of its capital, pricing and risk model which provides an excellent platform for us to thrive.”

Syscap became a wholly owned subsidiary of Wesleyan Bank in April 2016. The combined division, which is part of the Wesleyan Group, provides tailored commercial and personal banking solutions to over 22,500 professions customers under two distinctive brands. Together the Bank and Syscap employ 120 staff from three UK office locations situated in Birmingham, New Malden and Northwich.

Philip White, Managing Director of Syscap and Commercial Director at Wesleyan Bank, adds, “We have been aware of Paul’s qualities for a long time having worked in competitive situations for nearly two decades. His vast experience of direct sales and the IT channel made him an outstanding candidate and he will play an integral part in executing our growth strategy which centres on providing unrivalled support to our partners.”

Syscap crowned Vendor Specialist of the Year at Leasing World Awards 2016

Syscap’s parent company Wesleyan Bank also named ‘Top Professions Funder’

5 October 2016 – Syscap has been crowned ‘Vendor Specialist of the Year’ at Leasing World’s annual awards. In a double award triumph, Syscap’s parent company Wesleyan Bank was also named ‘Top Professions Provider’ at a ceremony held at Hilton London Bankside last night.

Now in their eighth year, the Leasing World Awards are one of the finance industry’s most respected awards schemes, recognising outstanding achievements in customer service, business performance and innovation.

Syscap, the UK’s leading IT finance provider, beat off fierce competition to claim the prestigious accolade. The six-strong judging panel named Syscap the winner of the ‘Vendor Specialist of the Year’ category due to its most impressive variety of specialist vendor funding products, service support and commitment.

Syscap has built an enviable reputation for developing tailored financial solutions for IT software vendors, resellers and distributors for over 25 years. In June, the company launched its enhanced Partner Portal to assist vendors to close more deals using the company’s finance facilities to support the strengthening of its partner incentive programme. This has coincided with a one-third increase in more partners registering to use the portal compared to 2015.

Syscap has also developed ten new specialist products this year to help vendors to alleviate cash flow concerns, drive incremental revenue for their partners and increase customer retention levels. More recently, the company has bolstered its senior management team following the appointment of Paul Hansen as Head of Channel Sales.

Phillip White, Managing Director of Syscap and Commercial Director for Wesleyan Bank, comments, “We are delighted to win two prestigious industry awards in one night, beating strong competition in the process. Our collective achievements further serve to highlight the strides the whole team has made since the integration between Syscap and Wesleyan Bank was completed in April.

“We will continue to put the IT finance needs of our partners first through our comprehensive payment over time products, which help to bring versatility and clarity to vendors’ sales processes and their customers’ investment programmes.”

Syscap’s software vendor partners include Autodesk, Infor and Sage. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wesleyan Bank which is part of the specialist mutual finance services provider, Wesleyan Group. The combined division of Wesleyan Bank and Syscap offers tailored commercial and personal banking solutions to over 22,500 customers under two distinctive brands.

Adapting Your Business for the Digital Age

With rising competition from new digital players, investing in new technology has never been more vital for keeping up with industry trends and retaining market share. But do IT companies suffer from the old cobblers shoes adage in this respect?

A recent survey commissioned by Exact revealed that 38% of the UK’s small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are concerned that if they don’t adapt their business models for our increasingly digital world, they could go out of business within the next five years. Despite these growing concerns, only 6% of these businesses are doing something about it and investing in new technology, and worryingly IT companies are equally bad.

All organisations, but especially IT businesses, must adapt to thrive or face struggling to survive.

How can IT SMEs rise to the challenge?

  • Invest in cloud technology
    Whilst you are busily moving your customers to a cloud model, how much of the software you use to drive your business is delivered in the same way? Digitalisation of a company can require vast amounts of investment of both money and time; however, this has proven worthwhile. In the past year 58% of businesses have moved to a cloud computing model, which is an increase of 11% from the previous year. Investing in the setup of a cloud model and cloud tools for your business will bring a number of benefits, including improved efficiency, increased collaboration and up-to-date software plus it frees up capital expenditure.
  • Instil a culture that nurtures a tech-savvy workforce
    One of the best ways to continue growing as a business and remaining adaptable to change is by bringing in new thinking. Building a positive, modern tech-forward working environment begins at the recruitment stage. By attracting new forward-thinking employees from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets and cultivating a collaborative work ethic, your business can ensure it continues to move in the right direction. Make sure these people are equally applied to solving internal business problems as well as customer issues.
  • Form strategic technology partnerships
    In a Vodafone poll technology providers were thought to be great third-party partners. By partnering with other companies, you can leapfrog the competition in developing new or complimentary solutions for your product portfolio. 69% of the businesses polled believed the benefits of having a third-party tech partner enabled them to compete within the larger market and strengthened the company’s capabilities. These partners can also support scalable growth and help you adapt to new tech trends, ease transitions and assist with training without overshadowing your overall business aims and plans. In this new world, your old competitors are now your new friends.
  • Utilise alternative finance options
    As with technology partners, finance partners can be equally valuable. When traditional funding sources are unable to meet funding needs, IT SMEs can now look to a growing alternative finance market to assist their growth and transition. A new generation of IT-specific finance companies can provide much more bespoke, relevant services that are best suited to an IT company’s needs and help them stay in control of their finances.

As a dedicated provider of IT finance, Syscap can create tailored solutions, giving you rapid access to funding through a simple and quick process. For more information or to join the Partner Programme visit Syscap online.

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