Everything you need to know about government funding to help your business recover from the pandemic

The story of Blueberry

It goes without saying that the past year has thrown unparalleled challenges at all of us – relentlessly, and in every aspect of our lives.

We’ve all contended with everything from the smallest of domestic matters – like shortages of everyday groceries – to the biggest of all concerns: the health and wellbeing of our loved ones.

At the same time, businesses across many sectors have faced the most arduous of tests. We’ve seen this as a technology specialist, but we know that all business functions have been affected. And some industries – like the hospitality sector – are hanging on for dear life.

Throughout it all, the unavoidable narrative has been one of doom and gloom. Of course, much of this is an understandable reflection of what is really happening. But sometimes – and perhaps now more than ever – we need glimmers of light to get us through the darkness.

So as 2020 comes to an end, we’d like to offer one such glimmer of light. It’s about the funding that can help your company recover from the pandemic.

It centres on Blueberry – a telemarketing company – and one of its directors, Faresh Maisuria, whose knowledge of grants, and whose tenacity and optimism is the medicine we all need right now.

For those of you who read our blogs for technology insights, there is a technology theme in Faresh’s experience. But this blog goes beyond technology – so we hope you find it useful irrespective of your role or the nature of your business.

Growth from day one

“We’re a telemarketing company based in Leeds, specialising in helping businesses grow,” explained Faresh. “And what’s interesting, is that it isn’t just our unique selling proposition – it’s in our DNA too, because our early years were spent working in the business incubator in Leeds Beckett University.

“So from day one, we were not only geared towards helping businesses grow, but we ourselves were immersed in an entrepreneurial spirit, too. And being so closely tied to the public sector, we learned a lot about government funding available to new businesses.”

The more Faresh and his team investigated these grants on behalf of clients, the more they realised the true purpose of such schemes: they exist as a springboard and enabler of ideas and innovation – and not to paper over the cracks.

“By 2017, we were working in a fairly old, small building,” he added. “The floor literally cracked beneath our feet and felt like it would give way any minute.

“At the same time, we’d expanded and really wanted to upgrade our phone system – but we didn’t want to do so in the old building with the cracking floor and the shortage of space. So the process of switching our analogue system to VoIP made relocation all the more compelling, becoming a real driver for change.

“We did our homework, and with AdEPT’s help, found that a VoIP system would reduce costs, and increase our resilience. And so, we bit the bullet and applied for a government grant to cover the cost of the new system. We were successful, and we moved into our new city centre home, where we’ve been to this day.

2020: the grant pays off

As with all government grants that Faresh has applied for over the years, he found the process to be a lot more straightforward than one would imagine. By focusing on the growth the grant would enable, Blueberry’s application was successful – and it wasn’t long before the business was using the new phone system.

Of course, this led to immediate benefits – such as more flexibility and richer features, as Faresh had identified in his application. But it was in 2020 that the VoIP telephony – an Avaya IP Office system – came to the fore. And being an Avaya Diamond Partner, AdEPT helped Blueberry make the most of the new system.

“As a telemarketing company, a phone system is at the heart of what we do,” said Faresh.

“Our business relies on our people being on the phone – so the pandemic and lockdown could have seriously threatened our very existence.

“But with VoIP, we were able to continue business as usual – or as close to it as possible. With it, our telemarketing staff could continue their normal roles from home, and the tools and analytics we use to manage our work continued as usual.

“For example, we record our calls for training purposes – and with the Avaya system, we could still do this even though our staff were working from home.”

For Faresh, the experience of applying for the grant, rolling out the new telephony, then using it through the pandemic offers a lesson that goes far beyond technology.

“It’s about growth and resilience,” he said. “Undoubtedly, the VoIP system allowed us to grow when we first adopted it. But it also set us up for a more resilient future.

“I honestly don’t think we’d have got through the last six months without the Avaya system in place – and the grant that helped us get that system.”

Beyond VoIP

Throughout its lifetime, with Faresh at the helm, Blueberry has applied for other government grants, advising other businesses on such funding. And when the pandemic took hold, their attention turned to funding that would help businesses survive the crisis and beyond it – to recovery, and future growth.

“In autumn 2020, we applied for a Covid-19 recovery grant,” said Faresh. “Due to the volume of applications and more pressing needs of other businesses, our submission was not approved on this occasion.

“But, that won’t stop us from trying again. Our view is these schemes are there to not only help businesses, but to help the local economy, employment and the community, too. And since those things are important to us at Blueberry, we have high hopes for future applications.

“The grants are available for lots of areas in business – not just for technology. For example, the Business Support Service here in Leeds offers funding for equipment and machinery, employing apprentices, for trading overseas and help with energy bills. Many of these things could be very useful to businesses looking to bounce back from the pandemic.”

Practical tips

Applying for government grants sounds easier said than done – and Faresh is the first to admit that the process to a newcomer can feel overwhelming and demanding. But he says this impression couldn’t be further from the truth – and has some valuable advice to all businesses.

“The first thing I’d do is look into your Local Enterprise Partnership, or LEP. You can Google this term, and find the LEP Network website, which lists all the local schemes by region.

“Once you get to your region’s website, it’s worth spending some time reading to see what’s available to you. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s really worth understanding what’s on offer and how the process works.

“What you’ll probably see is different names for different schemes – which can be confusing – but they largely work in the same way. Funding is made available, and you have to register your interest, and then later formally apply.”

To help him in this process, Faresh closely follows the developments of the local LEP in Leeds.

“I’ve signed up to all the newsletters that are sent out by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership,” said Faresh. “This seems like such a small thing – especially as we all get so many emails every day – but it makes all the difference.

“For example, towards the end of September, I got an email from a business manager at our LEP advising that there was new funding for small businesses to help them recover from the pandemic.

“And in the email, there was a clear instruction that businesses should register their interest by the end of the day, or risk missing out.”

Such an email highlights another valuable aspect of LEPs – they are staffed by business development managers who can advise on all the grants available, and how to make a successful application.

“Registering your interest is often a matter of three clicks,” explained Faresh. “It’s that simple. And then the process of formally applying is similarly straightforward.

“So long as you can demonstrate that the funding will be used in a way that will grow and strengthen your business – and not just help keep it ticking over – then you’re well on the way to a successful application.”

Final words

If your business is one of many that is picking up the pieces of the pandemic, it may come as welcome relief that applying for grants needn’t be as onerous as it sounds. In fact, technology does appear to have made the process much more straightforward – gone are the days, it seems, of reading long, complicated documents and filling in lengthy forms.

With this in mind, Faresh and Blueberry will continue to look to build on their entrepreneurial spirit as they too look to recover from the pandemic. And his advice to those of you looking to do the same can be summarised in a few simple points:

1. Visit https://www.lepnetwork.net/ and find your local LEP.

2. Study the information on your local LEP website.

3. Don’t be bamboozled by the different names of the schemes. The principle behind all of them is largely the same.

4. Sign up for all the newsletters available. And make sure those emailed newsletters don’t disappear into your junk box.

5. Register your interest for funding schemes as soon as they are announced.

6. When it comes to making your application, make sure you emphasise how the funding could help your business grow and benefit the local economy.

7. If you are unsure about any of this, then get in touch with the LEP business managers – or indeed Faresh himself.

Sami Malik

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

Demystifying government grants for Covid-19 recovery: Blueberry and AdEPT unite to share their experiences and advice for SMEs

13 January 2021

 

In the wake of government announcing a new round of emergency funding for businesses, AdEPT Technology Group shares the story of one telemarketing company that used a government grant to fund technology that helped it stay resilient through the pandemic.

SMEs looking to bounce back from the pandemic may find some inspiration in the experiences of Blueberry, a telemarketing company that successfully applied for a grant and used the funds for a new telephony system that kept it fully functional through the past six months.

The Leeds-based firm specialises in helping businesses grow – and as such, has a long history of advising companies about business grants, having used such financial support to buy and set up an Avaya voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) system, with the help of AdEPT.

“I honestly don’t think we’d have got through the last six months without the VoIP system in place,” said Blueberry director Faresh Maisuria, who made the application in 2017, focusing on business resilience and growth in his submission.

Faresh applied for a Digital Growth Voucher from Leeds’ Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), was successful, and it was during the pandemic, in a much-welcome good news story, that Blueberry saw the fruits of his labour.

“As a telemarketing company, a phone system is at the heart of what we do,” said Faresh.

“Our business relies on our people being on the phone – so with an older analogue system that was tied to our office, the pandemic and lockdown could have threatened our very existence.”

In making the application and rolling out the new telephone system, Faresh sought the advice and services of AdEPT, whose telecoms expertise and foresight helped ensure the system brought both immediate and long-term benefits. Notably, AdEPT is a vendor agnostic company, but in this instance, an Avaya IP Office system was right for Blueberry – and being an Avaya Diamond Partner, AdEPT ensured Faresh and his colleagues were comfortable and confident about every last detail of the new system.

“With VoIP, we were able to continue business as usual – or as close to it as possible,” explained Faresh.

“By using it, our telemarketing staff could continue their normal roles from home, and the tools and analytics we use to manage our work could continue as usual.

“For example, we record our calls for training purposes – and with VoIP, we could still do this even though our staff were working from home.”

Now, as the government continues to offer financial support to businesses affected by the pandemic, Blueberry and AdEPT are on a mission to help other businesses that might find the application process intimidating or confusing. And although it was a telephone system that brought the two companies together, both Blueberry and AdEPT are keen to point out that the funding schemes are not limited to technology.

“The Business Support Service here in Leeds offers funding for equipment and machinery, for recruiting and employing apprentices, for trading overseas and for help with energy bills,” said Faresh. “Many of these things could be very useful to businesses looking to bounce back after the pandemic.

“What’s interesting about Blueberry is that helping businesses grow isn’t just our unique selling proposition – it’s in our DNA too, because our early years were spent working in the business incubator in Leeds Beckett University,” he said.

“So through that experience, we’ve come to realise that there’s an understandable perception that applying for grants is a long-winded process that takes a long time, and involves lots of complicated forms.

“This couldn’t be further from the truth,” he added. “So long as you can demonstrate that the funding will be used in a way that will grow and strengthen your business – and not just to help keep it ticking over – then you’re well on the way to a successful application.”

The experiences of Blueberry and Faresh form part of AdEPT’s new blog about government grants. But for those businesses looking to apply for funding right now, Faresh has some quick-win pointers…

1. Focus your attention on your Local Enterprise Partnership. There are other bodies out there, but if you’re new to the process of applying for government funding, this is a good place to start.

2. Visit https://www.lepnetwork.net/ and find your local LEP.

3. Study the information on your local LEP website.


4. Don’t be bamboozled by the different names of the schemes. The principle behind all of them is largely the same.

5. Sign up for all the newsletters available. And make sure those emailed newsletters don’t disappear into your junk box.

6. Register your interest for funding schemes as soon as they are announced.


7. When it comes to making your application, make sure you emphasise how the funding could help your business grow and benefit the local economy.


8. If you are unsure about any of this, then get in touch with the LEP business managers – or indeed Faresh himself.

• On 5 January 2021, the government announced that it has made a further £4.6billion in lockdown grants available to businesses, including one-off grants worth up to £9,000 for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

ENDS: 853 WORDS

 

For a full briefing please contact:

AdEPT Technology Group Plc

 

About AdEPT Technology Group plc:

AdEPT Technology Group plc is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of managed services for IT, unified communications, connectivity and voice solutions. AdEPT’s tailored services are used by thousands of customers across the UK and are brought together through the strategic relationships with tier-1 suppliers such as Openreach, BT Wholesale, Virgin Media, Avaya, Microsoft, Dell and Apple.

AdEPT is quoted on AIM, operated by the London Stock Exchange (Ticker: ADT). For further information please visit: www.adept.co.uk

Ben Rogers

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

AdEPT helps NHS deliver technology transformation

11 January 2021

AdEPT connectivity powers part of the NHS’ biggest data network transition programme to date.

With its mission of ‘uniting technology, inspiring people’, AdEPT Technology Group has helped the NHS succeed in a major technology transformation.

Relevance for investors

Winning a mandate to deliver a substantial program of work is only the start of the journey. Delivering success, and being commended as a result, is a far more important milestone and augurs well for winning new projects to provide critical infrastructure in both the public and private markets.

The story

In November 2020, the NHS declared victory on a massive project to transfer hundreds of NHS and social care sites from a legacy data network to an updated version in a project expected to save the health service £75million a year.

About 12,000 sites belonging to 950 NHS, social care, private sector and local authority organisations have moved from the legacy N3 network to the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN). It is the largest-known public sector data network transition programme, according to NHS Digital.

The legacy N3 network has now been decommissioned.

Organisations that have moved to the HSCN are expected to get faster connectivity with improved security capabilities at a reduced cost. They can now pick from a marketplace of 21 different suppliers who compete to provide standardised network services. It means organisations can get the public internet and private network connectivity services they need over a single connection, at highly competitive prices.

Patrick Clark, Associate Director of Infrastructure Services at NHS Digital, said: “This is a hugely significant achievement both in terms of the scale and the benefit of what has been delivered.

“Reforming long-standing services in order to promote real choice, competition, innovation and value for money is always difficult but the HSCN initiative demonstrates what can be achieved when you work collaboratively across the health and care system, and industry.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important it is to underpin online, digital services with the right connectivity and I’m delighted that the HSCN initiative has enabled so many organisations to upgrade and future-proof their connectivity services affordably – in many cases obtaining far greater bandwidth for less money.”

The value for money generated by the new HSCN marketplace has enabled many organisations to significantly upgrade their connectivity in order to adopt more digital and cloud-based services, cope with rising levels of online activity, support their Covid-19 response and ultimately realise their digital ambitions, NHSD said in a statement.

AdEPT’s role

AdEPT already provides HSCN connectivity across the UK, however the most concentrated success was a programme across the entire Kent NHS, in a contract valued in excess of £4m. This initiative provided connections to over 400 care homes, hospitals, and doctors’ surgeries in a project that will be of huge benefit to clinicians and the public at large.

Patrick Clark commended AdEPT. “On behalf of NHS Digital, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to you and your colleagues at AdEPT for your co-operation in driving HSCN migration activity. I have no doubt that without your organisation’s hard work and commitment we would not have arrived at this point so soon.”

Future impact

The credibility arising from delivering such a substantial programme positions AdEPT to secure further infrastructure projects across the UK; whilst the presence AdEPT now has facilitates conversations about additional services from the AdEPT portfolio across the NHS.

ENDS: 552 WORDS

For a full briefing please contact:

AdEPT Technology Group Plc

N+1 Singer

  • Nominated Adviser & Broker, Shaun Dobson / Iqra Amin: 020 7496 3000

This announcement has been released by Ben Rogers, Head of Marketing, on behalf of the Company.

About AdEPT Technology Group plc:

AdEPT Technology Group plc is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of managed services for IT, unified communications, connectivity and voice solutions. AdEPT’s tailored services are used by thousands of customers across the UK and are brought together through the strategic relationships with tier-1 suppliers such as Openreach, BT Wholesale, Virgin Media, Avaya, Microsoft, Dell and Apple.

AdEPT is quoted on AIM, operated by the London Stock Exchange (Ticker: ADT). For further information please visit: www.adept.co.uk

Ben Rogers

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

What is the difference between LAN and WAN?

Networking is the heart and backbone of all information sharing and internet activities of organisations today. It drives and facilitates business communication and other key functions. With a well-designed and configured business network, your business can run as effectively, efficiently, securely and productively as possible. There are two main types of networks – LAN and WAN. What is the difference between LAN and WAN? And how can your organisation benefit from either or both of these networks? This article details the key aspects of both networks and how they can improve the running of your organisation.

Let’s start from the basics,

What is a Network?

A network is any group of computers (workstations or servers) and devices like printers and smartphones that are connected and can communicate with each other. As mentioned earlier, there are two main types of networks i.e. LAN and WAN. LAN is short for local area networks while WAN is short for wide area networks.

Local Area Network (LAN)

LAN, local area network is a group of computers and other network devices such as printers, servers and laptops connected within the same geographic location. LANs are typically found in offices, schools or other establishments and operate within the same building or the same floor of an office building.

LAN Setup

A basic LAN is created by connecting computers and other network devices using Ethernet cables or Wi-Fi through a network switch. Each computer and network equipment is assigned a unique IP address either manually or automatically through a service called DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). Most LANs comprise of a network switch and a network router either on the same device in a small LAN like a small office network or different devices like in an enterprise LAN network. Additionally, most modern routers have Ethernet ports or switch ports together with Wi-Fi capabilities hence the term WLAN (Wireless LAN) which falls in the LAN category.

Devices on the same LAN can see each other on the network and connect through various protocols for file transfer with or without encryption, connect to a remote command line or for Microsoft Remote Desktop etc. LANs also serve as the gateway to the internet for local devices through a centralised device such as a router through which internet traffic is sent and received.

LANs can be configured in many different ways depending on need including limiting and managing access to shared resources over the network among local users. These considerations carry a cost and security implication with security taking priority in today’s world of cybercrime.

Pros and Cons of LAN

One of the key advantages of LANs is the speed they offer which is typically over 1Gbps and significantly faster than the average WAN. On the other hand, its biggest downside is that it is limited to a local area such as an office building or school.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

Some people tend to think of WAN as a larger LAN although some foundational differences set them completely apart. For example, the internet itself is viewed as a WAN and, like typical WANs, it has a significantly more complicated infrastructure than LAN.

A WAN connects LANs typically across multiple locations including individual devices connecting from a remote distance. Think of it this way, if one of your employees wanted to send a file to a colleague next door, they will probably use LAN. However, if they wanted to send the same file to one of your satellite offices across the world, they will most likely use WAN.

WAN Setup

WANs often connect hundreds of devices, contain different sub-networks with differing security requirements and need to use more address space and employ more security measures. Typically, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are the main players that create and implement WANs.

Devices can connect to a WAN through wired options such as Direct Internet Access (DIA), Metro Ethernet and T1 Cables or through wireless options that are now gaining popularity such as safelight signals, public Wi-Fi and 4G LTE services. WANs can be administered over a public or private connection or a hybrid of both.

Pros and Cons of WAN

A WAN can cover almost an unlimited geographical distance depending on resources. However, this also means that they are can be costly to implement, can increase latency, security exposure and lower speeds of data transfer.

Differences between LAN and WAN

Speed

Due to the technology and distance involved, LANs tend to transmit data more quickly and efficiently than WANs. This can be a determining factor for mission-critical business activities such as financial trades.

Network Security

LANs tend to be more secure as they can act as stand-alone networks without having to be connected to a WAN. WANs, on the other hand, are more prone to security concerns as they connect one LAN to another which can lead to intrusion.

Ownership

LANs are typically internally owned by individual companies who then depend on the internet to act as a WAN. WANs, in contrast, are typically run by a collection of entities such as companies operating in a business network or city departments.

Having the Right Network for Your Organisation

LANs and WANs have some key similarities and some important differences that can contribute to the efficiency and productivity of an organisation. The important thing to remember when creating or upgrading your business network is to work with a reliable and experienced IT partner.

With close to 2 decades of providing the best data networking services to organisations all over the UK, we have the skills, experience and expertise to provide your organisation with an optimal business network. The AdEPT Nebula core, part of our WAN service can allow your organisation to operate, communicate and perform efficiently across multiple locations. Contact us today and let us help you get connected.

Sami Malik

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

What is MPLS? How Multi-protocol Label Switching Works and Benefits Business

It is no secret that for companies to function properly and grow in the current digital age, they need to be connected – to the internet and eventually to other branches. This creates a unique problem of how companies can maintain their data network and its security while simultaneously managing costs and increasing productivity. Unfortunately, many multi-site businesses end up managing their various locations as multiple businesses rather than a single business which is not only costly but also very inefficient and a major stumbling block for growth. MPLS network, also known as multiprotocol label switching allows companies to address these challenges, but how?

What is MPLS?

Contrary to what most people might think, MPLS is not a service or a type of internet connection, it is more of a technique that helps you use your internet more efficiently. MPLS has been defined as a protocol for shaping and speeding up network flows. This means that MPLS labels, sorts and prioritizes your data packets according to your business needs which effectively increases your available usable and guarantees 100% uptime for your critical applications on private routes.

How Does MPLS Work?

Although we know that MPLS is a networking technique that labels and prioritises types of data, let’s use an analogy to paint a clearer picture.

Let’s think of MPLS as mailing a package from a distant retailer. As you track the package in transit, you might notice the package make random and seemingly illogical stops across the country. This is how most connections work. Networks are required to look inside every data packet at every router to know where to send it next. Imagine having your package opened at every post office before it arrives with you. Wouldn’t it be more efficient and frankly more secure if the package has a destination label on the outside so the package could be sorted and forwarded without lengthy inspections? This is exactly what MPLS does. An ingress router labels the data packets on entry to the network so that routers can quickly and more efficiently direct them where they are going without much delay. This not only adds efficiency but also allows some packets to take priority over others – think of it as ‘express shipping’. Mission-critical data packets take priority over less relevant applications.

In more technical terms, MPLS replaces/switches the long network addresses with short path labels on private routes.

Why is MPLS Important?

MPLS has emerged as a simple, secure telecommunications solution that allows many multi-site businesses to have a solid backbone for cost-effective, secure communications. Additionally, MPLS is a flexible network solution that accommodates and facilitates scalability so companies can create custom solutions for their unique needs. Also, having that MPLS uses path labels for worldwide connections on private routes without special hardware or encryption, this further drives down the cost and increases efficiency. MPLS bandwidth relief also allows for reduced overhead expenses and support.

One thing to note is that even though MPLS networks are unencrypted, they are more secure than a normal internet connection.

Importance of MPLS to Businesses Today

Lower Cost

MPLS can slash down your on-going WAN operating costs by up to 50% depending on your current enterprise-class network while still maintaining a higher level of service and reliability.

Improved Quality of Service

Probably the most cited benefit of MPLS is the ability to assign QoS and classes of service features to traffic. This allows your network to prioritise the most important traffic over other traffic.

Scalability

 The protocol-agnostic nature of MPLS allows many different types of traffic to be carried via MPLS routing regardless of type. Additionally, automatic network configuration allows larger and more complex networks to be scalable according to need.

Is MPLS Dead?

With the emergence of competing technologies such as SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network), Gartner published a crucial report on the future of MPLS. In the report, they noted that even though most enterprises would transition to a hybrid environment with both the public internet and MPLS networks, MPLS would continue to be a fundamental part of the WAN landscape, particularly in multi-site companies.

Going forward, MPLS will continue to play an important part in organisations that rely on time-sensitive applications that require guaranteed delivery such as IP phone traffic, Quickbooks, video conferencing etc.

How Can Your Business Take Advantage of MPLS?

As you continue to grow, guaranteed connectivity will play an ever-growing role in your enterprise. In this regard, it is important to work with a networking specialist that will monitor and analyse your evolving needs and implement the right data networking implement. With close to twenty years in the industry, AdEPT works with a variety of key partners including every major carrier in the UK to ensure we give you the right mix and match of data networking options for your specific needs. Additionally, the AdEPT Nebula offers a comprehensive, reliable, scalable and diverse range of networking and communication solutions from a single provider so you can focus on running and growing your business. We also have a variety of other networking solutions to help you elevate your business to the next level through improved connectivity and productivity. Contact us today to learn more.

Sami Malik

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

Helping you with your IT projects is a lot like helping you build an extension

If you were looking to build an extension on your home, where would you start?

Would it be with a sledgehammer and pile of bricks?

Or would it be with an architect, who can tell you what you can and can’t do, and the implications of your choices?

Unless you happen to be an architect, it would most likely be the latter. And you’d have good reason to…

Take, for example, the process of extending a kitchen. You might want to knock down a wall, but if it’s load-bearing, the process isn’t so straightforward – and you’d rather not see your home collapse.

Or you might want to add some windows, but you’re not sure where they should be positioned for the best light, or how they might affect the temperature and humidity of the room.

In both instances – and many, many more – your architect will consider your aims and give you expert advice on how to best achieve them, looking at all the possible outcomes of your choices. And they’d probably do this before you hired a builder – and certainly long before anyone took a sledgehammer to your home.

And so, armed with clear plans based on professional advice and experience, you’d be able turn your dream home into a reality.

Perhaps you’re now asking why should home renovations matter to you as an IT professional?

Well, it’s an analogy that lends itself to our new, unique consulting service. But before I get to the nuts and bolts of it, here’s a little context.

In the UK, some 63,000 professionals work in consultancy roles, in a market that’s worth around £10 billion. Of that market, some 28 per cent work in technology – and consequently, you’d be justified to feel a little swamped for choice if you were looking for guidance on an IT project.

At the same time, you may have picked up on certain headlines about consultancies – stories that quite rightly reveal some of the more unsavoury practices of the big consultancy firms.

And consequently, you might be wondering if consulting is all it’s cracked up to be – and if you should even continue reading.

But stop right there.

You might have noticed I referred to our new programme as a ‘consulting’ service, rather than a ‘consultancy’. But if you didn’t, you’d be forgiven – after all, it’s only a few letters different.

Let me explain this deliberate wording: although we offer IT consulting, we are not a consultancy.

And it’s an important distinction, because at our heart, we’re a very practical, hands-on business technology provider, with the scars to prove it.

And so, when we talk about ‘consulting’ – it’s exactly that in its truest sense. As with the architect analogy, you’ll talk to us about what you’d like to achieve, and we’ll help you get there. And we’ve already been doing this for many years, with clients as varied as the smallest SME, to large public sector organisations, like Kent NHS.

Of course this all sounds too simple to be true, so let’s look more closely at the details.

In the case of our consulting service, we have some specific offerings that we’ve developed based on the experiences of our clients. For them, IT tends to pose an overwhelming number of choices and infinite complexity.

Two areas this is particularly true is in cybersecurity and cloud. And so, we’ve developed our Security Readiness Assessment and Cloud Readiness Assessment. There’s a practical example of how these work below.

You might notice that the names of these packages are pretty self-explanatory. And there’s another important quirk of wording – we believe the world of business IT is already too complicated without grandiose names. So when you talk to us about either of these programmes, you’ll get approachable, friendly advice that’s built around real customers, not our sales agenda.

And this brings me onto another couple of points about our consulting service – points that make the service unique.

Firstly, we are genuinely vendor-agnostic. And so, while we work with a wide range of technology partners, we’ll never push you towards a particular product or service. Our priority is developing loyal customers and to achieve that, we know that it’s no good to be one-hit wonders.

Secondly, our people are unique and remarkable.

Of course, every company has unique people – and most companies talk about their people when in self-promotion mode. So allow me to elaborate on something that stands out for our clients: our people know their work inside out and back to front – but they also know what they don’t know.

And by this, I mean that our people have humility with their knowledge. Because, perhaps more than others, technology is a rapidly-evolving field and no IT company should ever claim to be 100 per cent on top of technology – that’s not how technology works.

What really matters is having curious people who live and breathe problem solving – and who know where to turn when they don’t have the answers, in order to get the right answer and provide it in the most transparent way. This mindset became obvious to me when I recently asked my colleagues to write short statements about themselves for an internal project – as demonstrated by the responses from two colleagues:

“I have tested (and broken) firewalls that cost more than the house I live in!”

“My strongest attribute is being able to take this very technical world to someone who doesn’t understand the technology and break it down to point where they do understand the design and products available.”

And on that positive note, I’m going to leave it there. Well actually, I’m going to say thank you for reading – and that there will be more on the way about our consulting service. But if anything I’ve said here rings a bell, then do get in touch. You can find out more and make an enquiry here – and you can also find me on LinkedIn here.

  • How a Security Readiness Assessment could work for you: a real example

One company that has benefitted from our cybersecurity consulting is Premier Partnership (PP). The Doncaster-based firm offers leadership, management, health and safety training – and it was looking to tender for more public sector business. But to do so, it needed to strengthen its cybersecurity. Likewise, PP found that Cyber Essentials (CE) Plus certification was required to renew existing government contracts.

None of this was news to PP. As an AdEPT managed services customer, the company gained prior knowledge of these topics, since we make a point of proactively advising our customers of developments that affect them. In PP’s case, it meant we could help them go straight to Cyber Essentials (CE) Plus certification, bypassing the standard Cyber Essentials (CE) criteria.

To do this, we carried out a Pre-Cyber Essentials Security Check – or ‘Security Readiness Assessment’ – and highlighted the areas where PP needed to improve its cybersecurity, advising how they could be addressed. Next, we worked with PP to roll out these improvements, including networking changes, IT policy updates, and independent penetration testing.

After this methodical process, PP passed its Cyber Essentials (CE) Plus test first time, gaining full certification. PP can now confidently renew and tender for new government contracts knowing that its cybersecurity has significantly improved – to the benefit of their users, customers and partners.

Tim Scott

Written by Tim Scott

Chief Commercial Officer at AdEPT

A new era in public sector technology procurement?

29 October 2020

The initial response to Covid-19 has given way to longer-term changes. And YPO, which has just launched a new technology framework – and welcomed AdEPT as a new technology supplier on this framework – can help public sector procurement professionals to buy better in this new era.

Public sector procurement professionals sourcing IT to help in the transition from short-term to long-term Covid-19 response might be interested in YPO, its new technology framework, and a new supplier member, AdEPT Technology Group.

Following a downturn in public sector technology spending in the first few months of the pandemic, it appears that such spending is starting to return to pre-Covid levels, as highlighted in Government Computing’s procurement tracker, and supported by Tussell’s findings that invitations to tender (ITTs) have started to rise.

But contracting authorities are far from out of the woods. And with the challenges of Brexit ahead – as well as a backdrop of digital transformation, years of austerity and a continual drive to do more with less – procurement’s critical role in the delivery of public services has once again shifted up a gear.

And this is where YPO, and its partners like AdEPT, can be of great help.

Being owned by 13 local authorities, YPO has a real, first-hand understanding of the public sector. Likewise, being an independent IT services provider with a long history of working with the public sector, AdEPT knows only too well the immense challenges facing those who serve our communities.

“Helping local government with technology isn’t just about the technology,” said Garry Drinkwater, AdEPT’s Head of Business Development, who specialises in public sector IT.

“It’s about appreciating that these organisations have a different culture than we see in the private sector. At its heart is a desire to make a difference to the lives of people everywhere – and that’s the case whether you’re a social worker out in the community, or an administrator in the office.

“Clearly, the role of the public sector has been in the spotlight this year, perhaps more than ever – and rightly so. But as a technology company that works with both the NHS and local authorities, we’ve seen the pressures on both frontline staff and those who work behind the scenes.”

For Garry and his colleagues, those who are serving the public out from the spotlight include IT professionals, who have been central to keeping organisations connected and fully functional throughout the pandemic.

“Obviously, we work closely with local government IT professionals,” added Garry. “But we know these professionals, in turn, work closely with their procurement colleagues, so we’ve developed a real understanding of what the public sector needs from technology suppliers.”

For AdEPT, this understanding is reflected in its successful bid to become a YPO supplier, where it is now listed in the Network Connectivity and Telecommunication Solutions framework, under four distinct lots – wide area network services (WAN); local area network services (LAN); cyber security solutions; and communications services.

It’s a framework that’s been designed with a first-hand understanding of public sector IT procurement, as explained by Robyn Lamport-Rann, YPO Category Buyer – IT.

“This framework was launched following customer demand for an easy-to-use and compliant route to procure network and telecommunications services,” she said. “It includes all the latest technologies that any organisation will need in their progression to digitally transform and improve communications.”

As well as being owned by 13 local authorities – meaning its profits are returned to the public sector – YPO works with 71 associate authorities throughout the UK, and having been established in 1974, has helped local government through huge political and societal shifts, as well as the advent of the internet and the huge changes it has brought about.

It is one of the largest public sector buying organisations in the UK, but it retains the ‘make a difference’ culture of local government, which perhaps sets it apart from the Crown Commercial Service (CCS).

“We’re also a CCS supplier,” added Garry. “So we work in that capacity as well. But with YPO, we saw a model that’s built for local government, by local government.

“We can’t lay claim to the being the latter, but we hope as much as possible that our solutions are very much built for local government, and we look forward to demonstrating that, through YPO, in the future.”

About AdEPT Technology Group plc:

AdEPT Technology Group plc is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of managed services for IT, unified communications, connectivity and voice solutions. AdEPT’s tailored services are used by thousands of customers across the UK and are brought together through the strategic relationships with tier-1 suppliers such as Openreach, BT Wholesale, Virgin Media, Avaya, Microsoft, Dell and Apple.

AdEPT is quoted on AIM, operated by the London Stock Exchange (Ticker: ADT). For further information please visit: www.adept.co.uk

About YPO:

  • YPO is one of the largest public sector buying organisations in the UK. Fully owned by 13 local government member authorities, YPO has also established formal relationships with further 71 organisations – known as associate member authorities – across local government and the wider public sector.
  • YPO has an annual turnover in excess of £1.1 billion, with a range including approximately 30,000 products and 80 public sector framework contracts.
  • Established in 1974 to aggregate the procurement spend of its owning local authorities, YPO has helped drive public sector efficiency savings through its bulk buying power for product supplies and centralised contract services initiatives.

Written by Ben Rogers

Marketing Manager

IT leaders look to cybersecurity and networking to help them roll out the ‘new normal’

Cybersecurity and data networking are the top priorities for IT leaders in the wake of Covid-19

Senior IT professionals helping their organisations recover from Covid-19 are looking to invest more in cybersecurity and data networking than other areas of IT.

That’s one of the key findings from a new survey by AdEPT Technology Group, released in an ebook format today.

In the survey – which was conducted in partnership with Dell Technologies and Innopsis – IT leaders were asked about their organisations’ experiences of working through the Covid-19 pandemic, exploring the impact of the crisis on business IT and related staff matters.

Asked about future cybersecurity investment, 51 per cent said their organisations would be investing more in this area over the next year. And for data networking, 46 per cent said this area would attract more investment than usual.

Notably, the majority of these same survey participants (64 per cent) described their businesses as being previously ‘secure’ or ‘extremely secure’ against cyber attacks – and a similar majority (59 per cent) said that their organisations had not been the victim of any such in attacks in the last year.

One interpretation of these contrasting points is that the pandemic has heightened IT leaders’ concerns about cybersecurity and renewed their need for robust connectivity.

AdEPT CEO Phil Race said: “When the pandemic began, it was very much a case of all hands to the pump. Consequently, to allow staff to work from home, came a drive by businesses to keep IT afloat at all costs.

“This meant that in many cases, the usual stringent practices around cybersecurity and networking were put to the back of minds. It was incredibly challenging, but completely understandable.”

He continued: “With our own clients, we saw businesses rushing to refurbish old laptops for staff to use at home – often without the rigorous checks that would ordinarily happen with such refurbishments.

“We saw staff using personal devices to access company systems, unintentionally opening the floodgates to a whole host of cyber threats. And we saw previously-impeccable networks become a hodgepodge of systems, devices and processes, compromising everything from performance to data integrity.”

Throughout the pandemic, AdEPT has been helping many organisations to address these challenges. And it is especially proud to have done so for public sector organisations, allowing them to continue working in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

One example of this is AdEPT’s work with a GP practice in Wakefield. To ensure staff could keep helping patients and the community, AdEPT’s local team set up a cloud-hosted soft phone system meaning staff could use their own mobile phones to answer practice calls while working from home. Phil has explained more about this in this blog, here.

Looking forward, AdEPT expects work like this will continue, in a movement that it is an evolution, not a revolution.

Phil explained: “Many of the new ways of working that have emerged through the pandemic are an acceleration of previous patterns – and our survey reflects this.”

The majority of IT leaders (44 per cent) said that up to 20 per cent staff were already working from home before lockdown took hold. And given that the ONS found that 5.1 per cent of staff worked from home in 2019 – and 4.9 per cent in 2018 – it’s clear that home working has been growing in popularity over recent years.

Phil added: “Unsurprisingly, our survey found the percentage of staff working from home throughout the pandemic jumped to 80 per cent and greater. And though we’re now seeing a return to the office, we believe workplaces have been irreversibly changed. And once again, IT will be a critical factor in making this change a long-term success story.”

In the wake of Covid-19, AdEPT has published a number of guides for IT leaders to help their organisations recover. One such piece is this e-book, exploring how business IT can adapt to the new workstyles brought about by the pandemic.

AdEPT has also published a number of useful blogs exploring both the impact and the future implications of the pandemic on IT.

  • Run in partnership with Dell Technologies and Innopsis, AdEPT’s survey was conducted on SurveyMonkey in August 2020.
  • 100 IT professionals responded, and the percentages above are based on those responses.
  • For the data and graphs resulting from the survey, please get in touch with Ben Rogers, below.

ENDS: 724 WORDS

For a full briefing please contact:

This announcement has been released by Ben Rogers, Head of Marketing, on behalf of the Company.

About AdEPT Technology Group plc:

AdEPT Technology Group plc is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of managed services for IT, unified communications, connectivity and voice solutions. AdEPT’s tailored services are used by thousands of customers across the UK and are brought together through the strategic relationships with tier-1 suppliers such as Openreach, BT Wholesale, Virgin Media, Avaya, Microsoft, Dell and Apple.

AdEPT is quoted on AIM, operated by the London Stock Exchange (Ticker: ADT). For further information please visit: www.adept.co.uk

Ben Rogers

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

Digital education platforms: lockdown figures reveal schools’ necessity for remote teaching and learning technology

19 October 2020

Figures released today by AdEPT Technology Group give a snapshot of schools’ remarkable rise to the challenges of remote teaching and learning

Schools facing the immense challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic have shown their impressive capacity to embrace new technology – and their often-unseen ability to adapt quickly to new ways of working.

As revealed in figures released today by AdEPT Technology Group, the take-up of digital education platforms (DEPs) in 2020 had grown by 131 per cent compared to the whole of 2019.

While the pandemic – and the resulting Department for Education funding scheme – is clearly the driving force in this adoption of DEPs, the number of schools signing up – and their approach to doing so – has stunned even the most seasoned edtech specialists at AdEPT.

Throughout the whole of 2019, AdEPT set up 258 schools on the platforms. But by 15 September 2020, 595 schools had signed up for one of the platforms – more than double the 2019 figures.

Based on official government figures, there are approximately 450,000 FTE teachers, nine million students and 24,000 schools in England. Averaging those figures – and multiplying the results by the number of schools that have signed up for a DEP through AdEPT – suggests that the company has issued some 492,700 licences to 15 September 2020 alone.

Beyond the numbers, the experience of working with schools during the pandemic has underlined the sector’s clear appetite for digital transformation – and it has shown that education professionals’ desire to give every young person the best education possible trumps even the toughest of challenges.

AdEPT Education Managing Director David Bealing works closely with schools and education organisations. He said: “As a company that specialises in providing road maps and solutions to get the most out of technology, the last six months have been of particular importance during the pandemic.

“We’ve helped many organisations with technology that enables remote working. We’ve helped businesses reconfigure their phone lines so calls can be diverted from workplaces. And we’ve had to rethink how we tackle installations while respecting social distancing.

“With the Department for Education figures illustrating that less than three per cent of children have attended schools during the pandemic, it is our cloud enablement work with schools that has really stood out.

“We have marveled at the speed and ingenuity of schools’ response. We all know that even the smallest change to youngsters’ routines can be immensely challenging, so we are extremely proud of the scale and speed of being able to help so many  schools adopt and roll out cloud teaching and learning platforms.”

Leading the technical aspects of this work is AdEPT’s Chief Technology Officer Clive Bryden. He said: “I’ve worked in technology for all my life and there are few things that are as rewarding as the work we’ve done to help schools throughout the pandemic.

“To roll out nearly half a million licences in a matter of months definitely makes me proud – especially of my colleagues. But it’s also a real privilege to be involved in this work. When I hear schools say everything’s clicked into place and students have really taken to video lessons, or submitting homework through their tablets… it makes the hard work completely worth it.

“I want to also highlight and thank the London Grid for Learning – LGfL and its inspirational CEO. We partner with LGfL and with them, we’re able to keep schools’ technology working round the clock.

“Along with the DEP work, we’re closely involved in LGfL’s Freedom2Roam programme which allows school staff to remotely access servers – one teacher described it as a ‘godsend’ – another example that brings the role of technology into life.”

AdEPT is one of only a small number of providers that have government accreditation in both Google and Microsoft platforms. And as with all of its services and support, AdEPT has helped schools to choose the best option that meets their needs with a particular emphasis of explaining and demystifying technology.

In May, AdEPT published a detailed blog covering everything schools need to know about DEPs and a month later it ran a series of webinars on the same subject. Both sessions were well attended by education professionals and resulted in useful and eye-opening Q and A discussions. One of the webinar recordings is available here.

As the UK looks beyond the pandemic to more longer-term responses to the challenges, the work is far from over, says AdEPT Education Managing Director David Bealing

He added: “Many schools have already seen how DEPs can be extremely valuable tools for remote teaching and learning. But we can already see how they can be useful beyond lockdown and we hope to help many more schools with these platforms in the future.”

ENDS: 789 WORDS

For a full briefing please contact:

This announcement has been released by Ben Rogers, Head of Marketing, on behalf of the Company.

About AdEPT Technology Group plc:

AdEPT Technology Group plc is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of managed services for IT, unified communications, connectivity and voice solutions. AdEPT’s tailored services are used by thousands of customers across the UK and are brought together through the strategic relationships with tier-1 suppliers such as Openreach, BT Wholesale, Virgin Media, Avaya, Microsoft, Dell and Apple.

AdEPT is quoted on AIM, operated by the London Stock Exchange (Ticker: ADT). For further information please visit: www.adept.co.uk

Gary Noble

Written by Gary Noble

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

What are the Risks of Not Having a Disaster Recovery Plan?

By definition, disasters are rare and unpredictable. As such, they tend not to be the focus when executives think of day to day operational aspects of their business. It is no surprise therefore that up to 60% of organisations do not have fully documented disaster recovery plans. And even for those who have a disaster recovery plan, 40% admit that it is not effective. With so many organisations having such a casual approach to disaster recovery planning, you might be tempted to think that your organisation can get by without a disaster recovery plan. After all, what is the worst that can happen if you do not have a disaster recovery plan?

Complete Loss of Data

At a time when most businesses are heavily reliant on their information technology infrastructure, data is bread and butter. There is an unlimited number of ways that organisations can lose their data including through natural disaster, human error, security breaches, etc. No organisation is immune to all of these circumstances – 42% of organisation suffered data loss in 2019. A study done by the Diffusion Group found that up to 72% of businesses that suffer a major data loss close down permanently within 24 months. A similar study by the British Chambers of Commerce found that 93% of business have lost their data for more than 10 days file for bankruptcy within a year while almost 50% file immediately. Even for the businesses that do not close down, the loss of data triggers a snowball effect that typically costs thousands of pounds and sometimes millions depending on size and type of operation.

Business Interruption

Any time your organisation is not operating at full capacity, you are losing money. You not only lose revenue but also employee productivity. In the case of any disaster, however minor, and your organisation does not have a disaster recovery plan to enable a prompt resumption of normal operations, in the same location or elsewhere, you will lose money and employee productivity. A disaster recovery plan provides organisations with a smooth and cohesive approach to dealing with any kind of disaster so that operations can resume or continue as usual within the shortest time.

Loss of Clients

People are more aware of information security than ever before. Although your customers might be understanding and not likely to be moved by the fact that you had a data breach, they will demand to know where their information has gone. In addition to that, they will want to know when you will resume normal operations. The customers are invested in you because you help meet their needs. Telling them that you cannot meet their needs or that you need to start from scratch is not something they will want to hear. As such most customers will seek to know beforehand that you have methodically designed a disaster recovery plan that guarantees you will continue to serve them. Customers will lean towards organisations that can guarantee continued service and security of their information.

Damaged Reputation

How a business handles a disaster can either build or hurt its reputation. Poor handling of disasters can have a greater and longer-lasting impact far after the actual disaster. There are real-life examples of this including reports of fraudulent customer accounts at Wells Fargo and Volkswagen emissions scandal. Although these organisations later made up for their earlier mistakes, the initial damage due to poor disaster management was a big stain on their reputation for a while. Such occurrences can happen to any organisation and not having a proper response plan can greatly impact your bottom line, turn away quality employees, hamper future investment and other future prospects.

Business Failure

A huge and widespread disruption in technology infrastructure can well and truly dominate an organisation. Unfortunately, no organisation, however tech-savvy or protected, is immune from such catastrophic disruption. However, with a proper disaster recovery plan that includes measures such as data backup and a secondary data centre, an organisation can survive a catastrophic disaster. It is also important to note that the lack of a DRP does not mean that a business will automatically fail. It is possible to salvage, reconstitute and recreate records. The premise is that the majority of institutional knowledge that makes a business productive over time including processes are stored electronically. If a business loses its institutional knowledge, it might take months or even years to go back to its previous productive state. Some businesses do not have the luxury of operating at sub-optimal levels which is why they fail.

Downtime and IT outages, in particular, are growing ever expensive. It is no secret that disaster recovery and business continuity planning can greatly mitigate these losses. Wondering how you can start protecting your business with a disaster recovery plan, AdEPT can help. We are a leading managed services provider offering award-winning solutions to thousands of UK businesses for close to two decades. Contact us today to learn more about how we can work together to keep your organisation safe with our business continuity management services.

Sami Malik

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager