A View From the Front

In this article, Richard Burbage, Divisional Managing Director for an AdEPT Communications division, discussed the impact of COVID-19 on our business, and how we're helping our customers in these unprecedented times.

As a business, AdEPT Technology Group are used to providing solutions to meet the demanding needs of our customers. Whether that’s to ensure their competitiveness, to improve efficiencies or to help them adapt as a business and grow.

The unprecedented times we find ourselves in with regards to COVID-19 have seen new challenges presented to AdEPT and opportunities for the team to provide real help and assistance to our customers.

In the past month, as the threat of business challenges resulting from the pandemic increased, more and more companies have approached AdEPT needing help – with a real focus on providing greater communication and collaboration for their staff, across multiple locations, especially given the meteoric rise in demand for home working.

We expected to see an upturn in enquiries and a demand for projects with short delivery times but what we’ve seen has been unprecedented. We’ve seen a 70% increase in customer requests for many things including licenses, greater bandwidth, new functionality and new hardware to cope with more data throughput. It’s been challenging, especially as in parallel, we’ve had obligations to our own staff in terms of working from home & self-isolation.  This has meant that AdEPT itself has had to modify its own business processes.

Fortunately we are robust enough to cope with whatever Government advice has come our way, and I’m pleased to say we’ve met the challenge and delivered – and will continue to deliver as the requests for help are continuing to flood in to our business.

AdEPT have seen a collaborative approach to the challenges through their partnerships with companies such as Microsoft and Avaya who have helped by providing additional licenses at zero cost or with flexible commitments to the contract term – in the hope that the situation is a temporary one. This has ensured customers have been able to take advantage of new technology to keep their businesses running whilst not suffering financially.

In these cases AdEPT have been providing the scope of works, project management and professional services needed for the deployment. But then AdEPT have always adopted a policy of ‘doing the right thing’ on behalf of clients during extremely stressful times.

Our objective during this time has been to deliver rapid solutions against a trying and fast changing backdrop, working on behalf of our customers with our key partners such as Microsoft and Avaya. Undoubtedly we’re helping our customers to address the challenges of these times, facilitating effective communication with both staff and their customers. It has been great to see how our team is able to step up during unprecedented times – the relationships we are building will stand us in good stead throughout this undoubted crisis.

For more information about anything discussed in this article, or any aspect of the AdEPT services portfolio that could help you or your business please don’t hesitate to get in touch at enquiries@adept.co.uk.

Written by Richard Burbage

Divisional Managing Director, Communications

Nebula: the streamlined way to treat your technology headaches

Look throughout the world, and you’ll find endless examples of how being streamlined makes something work a whole lot better. There are penguins, who switch from feathered space hoppers on land, to slick, torpedo-like assassins in water. There’s the motor car, which has evolved from a six-mph jolly little thing to the sleek, reliable machines we use every day.

And then there are consumer electronics and IT. Consider the first iMac from 1998 – its success is largely due to the way it veered from the norm of clunky, fiddly desktop PCs. The modern smartphone is, of course, its streamlined follow-up act – and we all know how that’s turned out…

So if streamlining is such a success story – and one that’s so widely repeated – why is the world of business IT and telecoms so slow on the uptake?

The answer to that is a blog or three in itself. In short, there are many complex reasons why. But none of them justify subjecting people to the agony of unwieldy and inconvenient business IT. You may have experienced this pain yourself. Let’s take a closer look.

The headaches of disjointed services

Every modern business uses voice, data and IT to varying degrees. And with that comes the first headache: a bunch of services and suppliers that do not necessarily work together as one. It’s a real problem, because none of these things work in isolation – they all overlap. And one area can have a domino effect on the other area.

Voice services, for example, are no longer limited to traditional on-premise PBX. Instead, there’s a wealth of Cloud options available – and many of those options make perfect sense for a lot of businesses. But such a route depends on strong connectivity and a secure infrastructure – and in such an instance, the Cloud voice setup becomes as much an IT issue as a ‘traditional’ telecoms issue. And so, having disjointed services just doesn’t fit with the way organisations work.

The second headache relates to the changeable nature of business. Irrespective of size, industry or structure, every organisation grows, shrinks and sometimes swings from one strategic goal to another. And so having disparate voice, data and IT services that are fixed in place and time just doesn’t work. They won’t grow with the business, flex to its inevitable changes or move with the needs of the workforce. And soon enough, the technology you adopted a matter of months ago becomes a real drain – or worse, entirely obsolete.

The final major headache is the one that’s most often the dealbreaker: cost. Having separate voice, data and IT services invariably means unnecessary outlay. This could be from the first installation, through to regular maintenance and upgrades, right through to the resources entailed in managing several suppliers. Nobody really wants to put aside an expensive chunk of the IT team’s time for liaising with multiple suppliers. But it happens all too often. And if you’re a small business owner, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have the time to do this yourself – you want to be running your business, not your technology suppliers.

A star is born

The reason I can write here about the headaches of business IT is because my whole career has been devoted to understanding them. So it made sense to develop something that eliminates these headaches in a simple, streamlined way.

I should say that when I’m talking about streamlining business IT and telecoms, I’m not necessarily referring to the hardware. Because it’s fair to say that the physical technology we use in our businesses has come a long way. Anyone remember the early mainframes?

Instead, I’m talking about how it all works together, for a seamless, frictionless experience. A setup that allows an organisation to concentrate on the day job – and tomorrow’s – rather than running and managing a million different technology services and suppliers. It’s precisely that situation that inspired Nebula, our own network environment that combines data, voice and IT services.

Like its namesake, Nebula is a cluster of lots of different things, which individually have their own unique qualities and beauty. And when combined, make for something rather impressive.

Obviously, with our Nebula, I’m not talking about astronomical objects and interstellar dust. But it does make me smile when I reflect on how nebulae are the birthplace of stars. Because I’d like to think that, in its own small way, our own Nebula has spawned experiences that are out of this world for our customers.

Here’s a few ways it does that…

Treating the headaches

Let’s look at the perennial headache of cost. Nebula bundles together voice, data and IT services into one package. On the surface, this sounds expensive – after all, in many areas, it pays to shop around. However, Nebula is very different in this respect. For example, within our networking infrastructure, we co-host our voice and IT services and so we manage it as a single entity. And that means you don’t have to pay the costs of the full environment, such as engineers, staff and management. You get a streamlined efficiency that invariably leads to cost savings.

How about the flexibility headache – where technology doesn’t adapt? Here’s where Nebula really helps. By combining voice, data and IT, Nebula allows total control that can be completely tailored to your needs.

An example of this: one of our customers wanted their telephone system to remain on site where they knew where it was, and where to turn to in case of a problem. But at the same time, they wanted the system replicated in a private network in case of any local problems. With Nebula, this setup was easy to deploy, and continues to be easy to manage. And it’s scalable and flexible to adapt to business changes.

It’s worth noting here that if you read the technology press, it’s always ‘Cloud, Cloud, Cloud’. In our experience, this doesn’t work for every business – and it really isn’t that simple. But Nebula goes a long way to serve the individual needs of every business in a simple way.

Finally, let’s think about how the lines between voice, data and IT have been irrevocably blurred – and the implications for business. Again, here’s where Nebula is the perfect fit. Taking an SME as an example, these organisations are the backbone of the economy. But often they have limited in-house IT skills or resources, and so it makes sense to use a service like Nebula that incorporates expertise in all areas of technology, with options that can be mixed and matched to suit the growing business.

A few other fixes for your technology pains

Beyond the main headaches I’ve described above, Nebula treats some other pains in a way you might find interesting.

First of all, although Nebula bundles together voice, data and IT services, it’s not necessary to take all of them. We’ve designed it that way because we know that every business has different priorities and needs for its technology.

Second, it’s designed to work for both commercial and public sector organisations, and for businesses of all sizes. We have a strong heritage in all areas, but we’ve found that Nebula has a particular appeal to SMEs.

Third, Nebula can improve your business data security. For instance, for one customer, we’ve incorporated a web-screening service that filters data before it even reaches the end user, protecting them from encountering harmful or malicious material.

Fourth, it works with all Cloud setups. So private Cloud and public Cloud – like Amazon, Azure, Google – can easily and simply be incorporated into Nebula.

The bottom line

I’ve intentionally avoided getting into too much techno-babble here. But I appreciate this blog is the tip of the iceberg. So…

  • If you’d like more technical information about Nebula, then find out more here.
  • If you’d prefer to talk, please don’t get hesitate to get in touch on 0333 400 2490.
  • You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. I’d love to answer your questions.

Written by Tim Scott

Chief Commercial Officer at AdEPT

WLR Withdrawal, is your school ready?

As BT accelerates its plans to migrate the UK voice network from copper to fibre, the pressure to change solutions becomes ever more urgent. BT will withdraw the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) service by 2025. It sounds an age, but it isn’t. Schools need to be thinking about their future communications solutions.

As BT accelerates its plans to migrate the UK voice network from copper to fibre, the pressure to change solutions becomes ever more urgent. BT will withdraw the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) service by 2025. It sounds an age, but it isn’t. Schools need to be thinking about their future communications solutions.

AdEPT Education provide specialist telephony services for schools, so we’ve outlined below a few ways you can prepare. If you want to discuss your options in more detail please don’t hesitate to book a review with one of our experts.

Have a look at one of your recent bills. Do you see any of these items listed?

  • ISDN30
  • ISDN2
  • Analogue Line
  • Business Line
  • Alarm Line
  • PTSN Line

If you do then you need to start thinking about your long term telephony arrangement. In short, anyone with an on-site PBX, telephone line, fax line, PDQ line or broadband line is affected and will need to make a plan.

What’s happening?

BT & Openreach announced some time ago the intention to switch off the ISDN services from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by 2025. They have also announced that they intend to switch off the whole PSTN service by 2025, with no new supply after 2023.

Although they’ve been the most reliable solutions to date, PSTN and ISDN are rapidly becoming out of date technology, and expensive to operate and maintain. Openreach plans to invest instead in fibre infrastructure rather than further invest in a new version of the PSTN (which is essentially Victorian technology).

This means that any individual or organisation still using these traditional voice services will need to have moved to newer SIP and IP voice solutions by then or, simply put, they won’t be able to use their phones.

What are our options? SIP and VoIP.

The terms SIP and VoIP refer to telephony based services delivered using IP signalling.  Historically, telephony based services have been delivered using technology and signalling which is now over 30 years old, such as ISDN30 and PSTN lines.

SIP services are generally used to connect lines to a telephone system and these are a direct replacement for the ISDN30 technology. VoIP is a general term used to describe routing voice calls over an IP network. The term is closely associated with hosted telephones, where a telephone system installed at a customer’s premises is replaced with a central system shared between many different locations.

What do I do now?

Essentially we all have 3 options.

  1. Ignore it all and do nothing

It should go without saying, but consider how important your phones are to your school. Though 2025 may seem like a long way off, 6 years can fly by.

Recent studies have concluded that a large proportion of UK organisations are unaware that the change is taking place. Don’t run the risk. Have a plan in place and be ready for the change. VoIP and SIP based solutions will almost certainly offer cost-savings if deployed correctly and they’ll offer more functionality for your school, and be future-proofed for years to come.

  1. Panic and rip it all out tomorrow

Though it is time to take action, that doesn’t mean now is the time to change – you may not be ready. It may not make economic sense, or you may not have resource available to manage the transition. You could make the wrong decision, and chose a solution that offers little or no additional benefits over your current service, or even worse, spend time and money implementing something that will only help you out for the next few years. Make an informed decision, you still have time and options to explore.

  1. Engage with an industry professional to better understand my options and make a self-paced evolution to the future.

AdEPT Education have years of experience providing communication solutions to schools, including SIP and VoIP solutions, refining our portfolio to best match their customers’ requirements. We have already developed a number of IP and VoIP services which are available to replace the current PSTN and ISDN services and would be happy to discuss the benefits of these over your current solution.

We’re offering both new and existing customers alike the opportunity for a free telephony audit. This audit will review all of the telephony services currently supplied to your business, providing a report on the services and a recommendation of the actions needed to prepare for the withdrawal of the PSTN and ISDN network in 2025.

If you’d like to discuss you telephony requirements in more detail or to book a free telephony audit please get in touch. To read more about our Voice solutions, please get in touch.

Get in touch

For more information on any of our services or to talk about how we may be able to help you, please get in touch with us using the form opposite or by clicking the link below.

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Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

AdEPT helps Kent NHS achieve its Digital Transformation

AdEPT helps deliver high speed connectivity to accelerate ICT for the NHS in Kent, positively impacting 1.6 million people. Keep scrolling for the full story.

AdEPT delivers on a promise

In 2018 AdEPT announced a significant government contract win with the NHS.  However, winning a contract is only half the battle – it is crucial to deliver on the promise made in this substantial contract process. 

AdEPT is therefore delighted to announce that, under the guidance of the NHS Trusts in Kent, AdEPT has delivered improved network and bandwidth capacity to more than 100 hospital and specialist care sites across the region.

This project facilitates greater collaboration in handling the health and welfare needs of Kent residents.

Following the success of this initial network programme, AdEPT are completing the roll-out of improved bandwidth services to the 300 GP surgeries in the region.  This will complete the upgrade of the entire NHS network in Kent.

This ultimately means that 1.6 million people across Kent will receive better care through improved network and bandwidth capacity, financial savings and improved access to clinical systems.

The challenge to be addressed

In 2017, the NHS decided that the 12 years old ‘N3 network’ needed to be retired.

But what was the ‘N3 network’? N3 was a decade old national broadband network for the English NHS, connecting all NHS locations and 1.3 million employees across England, a solution formerly managed by BT.

As a single supplier service, N3 was principally designed to provide access to national applications, such as patient records, hospital appointments and prescription services for NHS organisations. 

However, as with all single supplier markets, the network became outdated.

The Change

The Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) was devised as a multi-supplier marketplace adhering to single credentials – it is designed to provide an improved way for health and social care organisations across the country – from both inside and outside the NHS – to access and exchange electronic information.

This multi-supplier approach also encouraged competition for the provision of the network, leading to a substantial cost reduction for the NHS.

Digitising Healthcare

The digital transformation being felt in all walks of society is being experienced in equal measure across the NHS. 

Front line care is increasingly digital. A recent Healthcare News report clearly highlighted a host of initiatives that demonstrate how this transformation is impacting the NHS.  Examples of ICT initiatives across the NHS include;

Information security, patient analytics, digitised patient engagement, population health, Electronic Health Records, remote patient monitoring and revenue cycle management.

The healthcare world is clearly changing, with; virtual surgeries, remote consultations and telehealth all improving the way health services are delivered. 

However, all these transformations depend on a high speed, secure, cost effective network infrastructure.

Specifically Kent, and the benefit HSCN brings

The delivery of a new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) to NHS hospitals and specialist trusts in Kent replaces an outdated N3 network, delivering improved access to information and technology and substantial cost savings. Underpinning the transformation of health and social care services in the region. 

This improvement was made possible by the competition between network suppliers driven by HSCN.

Kent chose AdEPT because it demonstrated that it would be a flexible and responsive partner to the NHS in the region.

How has this substantial programme been delivered?

The change programme has required strong collaboration between a number of critical partners;

•          the NHS Trusts in Kent,

•          NHS Digital, and

•          AdEPT Technology Group

 “The N3 community of interest network (COIN) within Kent was one of, if not, the largest and most complex in England. It’s a credit to the strong leadership and collaboration between the seven Trusts in Kent, that not only was a successful migration of services to HSCN completed, but we were the first to do so in the UK”

commented Tim Scott, Chief Commercial Officer and HSCN Programme Lead at AdEPT.

“Strong programme delivery is critical to complex technology projects. There are four key disciplines and attributes that allowed us to deliver this programme so well: leadership, structure, collaboration and flexibility.

In AdEPT, we found a partner – rather than a supplier – aligned to us in each of these disciplines”.

Michael Beckett, Director of IT, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

“The migration of the Kent CoIN demonstrates everything HSCN was designed to achieve;

greater collaboration, both locally and with suppliers;

reduced costs for the NHS by virtue of the HSCN marketplace and

using technology to provide enhanced capabilities, that will deliver better care though health and social care integration.”

Mike Oldfield-Marsh, HSCN Migration Manager NHS Digital.

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

Take action now as free Windows 7 support ends

Microsoft is ending its support for Windows 7 and security patches will no longer be freely available from 14 January 2020. After this date, PCs will still be able to run this software, but will be at increasing risk of new cyber security threats. You should therefore take action now to upgrade Windows or buy an extended security update package.

In Microsoft’s own words: “If you continue to use Windows 7 after support has ended on January 14, 2020, your PC will still work, but it may become more vulnerable to security risks.”

With cyber attacks a very real and major concern to businesses and organisations of all sizes, it’s important you take steps as soon as possible to stay protected and keep your PCs running at optimal performance.

As a Microsoft partner, we can help – and it’s not too late:

  1. We can secure licensing for Windows 10 to replace Windows 7 for organisations looking to do this themselves.
  2. We can offer a one-off upgrade away from Windows 7 with remote support to get you through the transition.
  3. You can subscribe to our Remote Network or IT Technician services, providing discounted, proactive, ongoing, specialist IT expertise and support. This includes cyber protection, data backups, software patching and updates, hardware procurement, disaster recovery, day-to-day maintenance and more.

If you’d like to discuss your Windows 7 options or any other ICT needs please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

It’s worth noting that businesses using Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise can buy extended security updates through to January 2023 as explained here by Microsoft.

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

An appetite for innovation: our experience of working with the public sector

Ahead of Digitech19, we’re turning the spotlight onto two of our public sector experts, Alex Larcombe and Paul Mathews, who have many years of working with the sector under their belt. I spoke with them about their experiences…

Ben Rogers (BR): Can you tell us a little about what you do at AdEPT – how you came to work here and in your field?

Alex Larcombe (AL): I’m a Sales Director responsible for the public sector at AdEPT, so my main focus is building strategic partnerships with our clients and partners. I’ve been in this industry from the start of my career, having worked at BT and Virgin Media Business prior to AdEPT.

Paul Mathews (PM): …And I’m a Head of Business Development, also specialising in the public sector. Like Alex, I’ve been at other technology and telecoms companies before AdEPT, including hSo, Century Link, PGi…

BR: Why do you work in the fields you are in? What interests you about the work?

PM: For me, and I’m sure for all of us, it’s the opportunity for problem solving – the ability to build bespoke solutions. I can visit a client – ranging from a doctor’s surgery to a large health trust – and develop a solution that doesn’t just give them value for money, but will work for them well into the future.

I think the reason I love being at AdEPT so much is that I can really get involved – with some other, larger, companies this perhaps doesn’t happen as much. At AdEPT, we’re encouraged to develop customer-focused solutions. That mentality starts at the top with our chairman Ian Fishwick and works its way through all the teams and people. And that’s why we’ve been successful with HSCN despite being a relatively small player.

AL: From my perspective, telecoms and IT is the most exciting industry out there because it’s got so much going on – certainly over the last 20 years the amount of innovation that’s happened probably outweighs any other sector. Yet at the same time, it’s a very people-orientated field of work and with AdEPT it’s very much about having that personal, consultative-led approach. I believe that people who work in the public sector are looking for the personal touch – not least because the market’s so complex: there’s too much technology and so many suppliers. So for me, it’s about properly investigating the client’s issues with them – and really understanding where they want to go as an organisation – before developing a meaningful solution. That’s the challenge and it’s incredibly rewarding.

BR: So you’re both in senior positions, but you both get hands-on with solving problems?

AL: Exactly that – we’ve got everything in our kit bag to solve our clients’ problems. Whether that’s internal capabilities or through our ecosystem of industry-leading partners.

BR: A lot of companies talk about the personal touch and their consultative approach. How is AdEPT different?

PM: One of the main things is that we don’t discriminate on budget. All of our clients are treated equally, no matter the size of their budget or company. Our solutions are based on what the client wants. It allows us to develop a solution that will work for the future, not just something for now.

AL: You’re absolutely right – there is a lot said about having a consultative approach and sometimes it is empty talk – so I think what Paul’s said is very important. Another thing that can get in the way of being truly consultative is red tape. Perhaps because we’re a smaller business, we can make decisions more quickly – so it means we’re agile and responsive and can build solutions that are genuinely tailored to each client.

BR: In your experience, what are the biggest challenges facing these organisations?

AL: There are a number of challenges. Obviously the biggest one is budget, and having to do not just more with less, but better with less. Often, IT is one area that can offer savings, so it does come up a lot in our line of work.

There’s also Brexit. There’s so much uncertainty in the market and often we find that, understandably, people are holding onto their budgets.

At the same time as these challenges there’s also the issues of legacy kit. Every public sector organisation will have IT equipment that’s coming to the end of its life and will need to be replaced.

Of course then there’s security. Take for example the Wannacry attack of a few years ago – that demonstrated the significance of IT security. And then there’s the GDPR, which is another challenge.

One more is the shutdown of legacy voice. In 2025, the traditional copper telephony environment is being switched off. And there is so much out there in the public sector that is reliant on this infrastructure that it is quite astounding. So those organisations will have to look to future-proofing their telecoms systems – in the future they won’t be able to pick up the phone and get a dialling tone from a traditional phone line.

And I guess one final theme that links all of these challenges is that there is an overwhelming level of technology, and there are so many vendors which can cause confusion to anyone unfamiliar with it all.

Obviously we can talk about the ways that AdEPT can help, but I think it’s worth turning the attention from us for a moment and talking about the culture within the public sector. There is an enormous appetite for innovation and underlying all of it is a huge passion for serving the public. These two things drive an extraordinary level of determination to overcome the challenges.

PM: I think that’s why we like to consider ourselves as a ‘trusted advisor’. We’re there to help the public sector get on with their core business and not have to worry about the technology. It’s certainly the approach we take with our existing clients.

BR: So that goes back to what you said earlier – about helping organisations irrespective of size? Do you think with the public sector, it helps to work with smaller and larger organisations of different types, such as health, local government, and central government? Does it allow you see the bigger picture?

AL: Absolutely. Take, for example, our work with about 800 GP surgeries right up to our work with large NHS authorities. Or, our work with smaller, individual local authorities, right up to large county councils. There are definitely lots of common challenges across the public sector – especially the challenges I described earlier – and often, knowing how to tackle something with one public sector organisation can provide valuable lessons for another public sector organisation. Of course, while every organisation is different, I think the days of working in isolated silos are coming to an end.

BR: Technology is really the tool that enables change – and for the public sector, those changes can affect communities and people’s lives. How does AdEPT fit in with this?

PM: Where we help, primarily, is with technology as a backbone. We help put the backbone in place so organisations can get on with what they do best – with faster, more reliable connectivity and communication tools. We do our job so they can do their job.

AL: Another challenge that’s relevant here is about the Cloud. There’s a lot of public sector organisations that use on-premise equipment, particularly from a voice and contact centre perspective, but they want to move to the Cloud – or need the flexibility of both. So for that reason we’re investing a lot in our own Nebula solution, to provide voice, data and IT services, either on-premise or in the Cloud. There’s no one-size fits all with public sector organisations so, as a partner, being as flexible as possible is really important.

BR: Let’s consider people for a moment. I’ve recently been reading a report by Deloitte, called ‘The State of the State’, which is all about the public sector. It includes some interesting quotes from senior public sector officials. One, for example, is from a police crime commissioner, who says: “In terms of technology, we’ve come from a bad position. Getting a chief constable to focus on their back office is hard when all they want to do is fight crime. It’s like pulling teeth to get chief constables to talk about technology.” How do you, and AdEPT, respond to such experiences?

PM: It really is about investigating the organisation’s problems properly and to do that, you need to talk to the right people and ask the right questions. We’ll find out what works for them and what doesn’t work. We don’t believe you can advise without talking to people who are doing the day-to-day business. And that means as many stakeholders as possible.

AL: That statement is interesting because although it sounds negative, it’s actually what we want. We want our chief constables to focus on their core work of fighting crime. We don’t want them worrying about their IT, or their telecoms system. Whatever it is, we don’t want them worrying about it all. They’ve probably got six or seven vendors all trying to get their attention and being very confusing – so that’s why we prefer an outcome-led conversation with the stakeholders. In a way, it doesn’t matter about the technology – it’s about the people and finding out what works for them.

BR: On the subject of people and the IT department, earlier this year, there was a report by Socitm that explored some of the key trends within public sector technology. One of them said: “2019 is likely to see significant pressure on IT to make fundamental shifts from past operating models”. What’s your take on this?

AL: One of the things this hints at the role of IT within an organisation becoming more flexible. For example, if you consider a typical local authority workforce, there’ll be a mixture of care workers out in the community helping vulnerable people, there’ll be other workers with minimal technology in their working day, and then there’ll be people who are entirely office based. To meet the needs of this workforce, the IT department will have to work more closely with other departments and develop a more agile, flexible approach.

PM: We’re seeing that happening with our existing clients and what’s impressive is that they’re doing this despite budget restraints.

BR: So there’s a transformation in culture and mindset that’s happening?

AL: Definitely. Of course, there’s a lot of historic ways of working that are embedded in the public sector – as there is with any sector. But that appetite for innovation – that we talked about earlier – is incredibly strong in the public sector. And it’s that appetite that matters now, and will make a difference in the future.

  • You can meet Alex and Paul at this year’s Digitech19, being held in the Manchester Central conference centre on Tuesday 19 November. We are the title sponsor of this event and you’ll find Alex and Paul at our stand in the central hub. But, if you’d like to say hello before then, you can call them on 0333 400 2490, or connect on LinkedIn:

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

AdEPT Education Finalists for Two Bett Awards

AdEPT Education have been shortlisted for two awards at Bett 2020, for 'Services and Support' and 'Leadership and Management Solutions' for our WebScreen service.

The Bett Awards are a celebration of the inspiring creativity and innovation that can be found throughout technology for education.  The awards form an integral part of Bett each year, the world’s leading showcase of education technology solutions.

Produced in association with BESA, being a Bett Award-winner is simply the best way to showcase your organisation with this sign of excellence. 

AdEPT Education have been shortlisted for two awards at Bett 2020, for ‘Services and Support’ and ‘Leadership and Management Solutions’ for our WebScreen service.

Bett is the first industry show of the year in the education technology landscape, bringing together over 800 leading companies, 103 exciting new EdTech startups and over 34,000 attendees. People from over 146 countries in the global education community come together to celebrate, find inspiration and discuss the future of education, as well as seeing how technology and innovation enables educators and learners to thrive.

AdEPT Education are exhibiting at Bett 2020 along with our partners at LGfL and Netsweeper.

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

AdEPT Become Avaya Diamond Partner

As a result of sales success in the Avaya year ending 30th September AdEPT has achieved the status of top tier partner – Diamond.

Alison Hastings – Head of Channel, Avaya UKI:

“Avaya are delighted to promote AdEPT to our ‘elite’ Diamond status as part of the Avaya Edge partner programme in the UKI.  There are only 8 Diamond partners in the UK with only 30 across EMEA, an exclusive club.

Avaya’s Edge programme recognises our partners for revenue growth and investment of skills in the Avaya portfolio – enabling our key channels to deliver a superior customer experience in the market.

AdEPT have had a stellar year with substantial revenue growth YOY. We look forward to a great year ahead, with a wider Avaya portfolio, as we look to take our customers on the digital journey to cloud – our thanks go to AdEPT for their support and investment in Avaya in FY19”. 

AdEPT and Avaya

The AdEPT relationship with Avaya began over 20 years ago and during that time AdEPT have had no hesitation in recommending Avaya voice solutions to customers that demand scalability, reliability and functionality from either a cloud or on-premise solution.

Avaya solutions range from relatively simple IP telephony solutions to full UC (Unified Communications) deployments.  With solutions that encompass; messaging, chat, audio, video, conferencing & collaboration. 

Avaya have an excellent record of staying at the forefront of technology and the requirements of the growing AdEPT customer base.  With clients such as HCA, Somerset House, Beaumont Business Centres and Islington Borough Council, Avaya solutions have been an important part of the AdEPT portfolio for many years.

An Exclusive Club

Richard Burbage – Managing Director, AdEPT Communications comments:

“It is incredibly satisfying to see Avaya recognise our achievements by awarding AdEPT Diamond status.  This promotes AdEPT to an exclusive club of resellers in EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa).

This enhanced relationship will only further strengthen our engagement with Avaya and improve our ability to satisfy the dynamic requirements of our customers”.

About Avaya

Businesses are built on the experiences they provide, and every day millions of those experiences are built by Avaya (NYSE: AVYA). For over one hundred years, Avaya have enabled organizations around the globe to win – by creating intelligent communications experiences for customers and employees. Avaya builds open, converged and innovative solutions to enhance and simplify communications and collaboration – in the cloud, on-premise or a hybrid of both. To grow clients’ business, Avaya are committed to innovation, partnership, and a relentless focus on what’s next. Avaya are the technology company you trust to help you deliver Experiences that Matter. For further information please visit Avaya at www.avaya.com.

If you’d like to discuss an Avaya solution with a member of our team, please see our Avaya page and get in touch.

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

Demystifying IT: your free guide

If you’re considering outsourcing your IT but have been hit with a wall of baffling jargon, difficult decisions and complex concerns, we’ve got just the thing for you.

It’s our free ‘demystifying IT’ guide, which looks at the world of outsourced IT and managed services providers, and arms you with exactly the information you need to start your outsourcing journey.

The guide is totally free, and you do not need to complete a time-consuming registration form to get it.

Any questions? Get in touch with our Head of Business Development, Sami Malik, who produced the guide.

Demystifying IT: a free guide from AdEPT Technology Group

Download your free guide now by clicking on the image, left

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

Personal, passionate and proactive: what every school needs from a technology partner

It is often said that technology is advancing exponentially and in every walk of life. Technology in schools is no different.

When I started my career in this field some 20 years ago, schools were using overhead projectors and whiteboards. Now, they use interactive flat panels. Two decades ago, encyclopedias came on laggy CD-ROMs. Now, through the internet, the world’s information is available in a second.

Throughout this evolution, countless school technology providers have emerged. And many of them have made the all-too-common mistake of focusing on the latest technological crazes. And in doing so, they can often overlook the unique demands placed on our schools from every direction.

My own experience has taught me that helping schools with their technology is best achieved through learning from the challenges they face. Here are some of my discoveries…

Challenge 1: technology that is not designed specifically for schools

Schools have the enormous task of developing our children – the future of our country. They are at the heart of our local communities and must help every student grow as an individual. So it stands to reason that, although facing similar daily challenges, no school is like another. And no school partner or supplier – of technology or otherwise – should shoehorn generic products and services into these unique organisations.

Unfortunately, many schools do not have the time or resources to research and filter the generic technology products and services from those that are specialised for schools. So often, it’s the biggest suppliers – and those that shout the loudest – whose technology products make their way into our schools. And frequently, it’s only then that schools realise their expensive new service doesn’t quite meet their specific requirements – hardly ideal qualities for schools facing ever-growing and ever-changing demands.

Let’s be clear here: this isn’t a blog setting out to criticise the major technology suppliers to the education sector. In fact, as the following example shows, we work closely with those very suppliers…

The solution: products and services that are truly tailored to schools

One example that illustrates the importance and benefits of bespoke solutions for schools is our WebScreen service. It’s specially designed to help schools overcome the dilemma of allowing students and staff to browse the internet safely, without restricting them from useful sites and content.

Building on the industry-leading Netsweeper software and tailoring it for the education environment, our in-house programmers created the service after we listened and learned from our school clients. They had told us that many web filtering services were too black-and-white, complicated, and not focused on their specific needs.

The service actively learns from the information gained in real time from across the 3,000+ community of schools using WebScreen, and shares this knowledge ensuring that each school benefits from the findings. And it does this in the background, with minimal input from school staff.

For instance, one school in the north wanted its students to use a particular educational gaming website, but the site was initially classified as ‘gambling’ – a category banned by the school via their filtering policy setup. So with a few clicks, the school reported this and the website was reclassified, the artificial intelligence that handles on-the-fly website classifications updated, and the newly-adjusted – and more education-setting-specific – knowledge was shared across the entire school community that subscribes to WebScreen.

This whole process is ultimately designed to help schools ensure lessons run safely and smoothly, without interruptions that distract and derail students from their learning – after all, we know this is incredibly important to schools. And as an extra layer of reliability, the service is built to handle huge demand – it analyses more than a billion internet access requests every day for our 3,000+ school clients.

Challenge 2: technology that diverts teachers away from teaching

Whether it’s gadgets in the home or systems in the workplace, technology nowadays is more intuitive and user-friendly than ever. However, this is no excuse for introducing technology into a school before abandoning staff to figure it out for themselves. Teachers must be allowed to do what they do best – teaching – and not be burdened with the responsibility of managing their own IT.

Of course, some schools have their own IT managers and bigger schools might even have their own IT team, but that again does not justify the sometimes common practice of supplying a technology product or service and leaving staff to their own devices – literally!

The solution: proactive support that understands and respects schools

For the reasons explained above, we take a tailored approach to supporting our school clients and reject the break-fix model that’s the basis of too many IT support programmes.

One way we do this is to provide not only onsite support technicians, but also remote support and monitoring – or dedicated IT surgeries at times that suit staff, such as inset days. We’ve done this because we know that, due to their timetables, teachers cannot wait endlessly for answers to their helpdesk responses. They cannot hang on the phone listening to hold music, or repeatedly check their emails to see if their helpdesk enquiry has been addressed.

St Dunstan’s College, for example, is one school where having an on-site technician has proved invaluable. In the words of the one of the school’s employees, we are not just there for if things go wrong, but have been ‘proactively working to ensure the future-proofing, scalability and resilience of’ the school’s IT systems for years to come.

This leads me to another point – about being proactive.

It’s a word that’s often thrown about casually in working life, but for a technology partner to schools, being proactive is vital. For me, it means having a virtual crystal ball into tomorrow’s technology and being able to interpret what’s ahead for our school clients.

This future gazing might, as an example, be knowing about something as seemingly small as a software upgrade that requires all computers to be restarted. Knowing this in advance means we advise our school clients so they can plan for the onerous task of an organisation-wide technology reboot – and choose the right time to do it. This again minimises disruptions to teaching and learning.

Another instance of being proactive could be seeing ahead to extensive industry changes, such as new telephone infrastructure. Again, by advising our school clients in advance, we can help them prepare properly – and not at the last minute, when choices are limited and the risk of being held to ransom over prices becomes very real.

Challenge 3: technology that doesn’t evolve with changing behaviours

It goes without saying that technology has changed the way we work, the way we behave as consumers and the way students learn. And one of the changes in education is the use of video. Not only can it help explain complex subjects in entertaining and stimulating ways, it also responds to the younger generation’s insatiable appetite for video.

The obvious place to feed this appetite is YouTube. And with 400 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute, every imaginable subject in every possible style is covered making it an undeniably powerful resource.

But there’s a darker side. YouTube is awash with content that, sadly, should not be viewed by adults, let alone young people. Despite YouTube’s policing efforts, the site has an ever-increasing catalogue of videos that span from mediocre and poorly made, to downright inflammatory and irresponsible. And to top this off, advertising on the site often has the same traits, appearing unexpectedly and playing all kinds of tricks to hook in impressionable minds.

So for schools, it’s a dilemma: taking advantage of the rich content available on YouTube means navigating the minefield of unsavoury videos.

The solution: technology that recognises and supports changes in education practice

One product that we’ve developed specifically for and with our school clients is myVideos. It’s a powerful tool that helps schools take advantage of YouTube while removing the risk of exposing students to the wrong content.

Through a secure platform, teachers and staff can log in to view YouTube content themselves to judge the suitability of videos for the classroom. Then with staff approval, students can watch the approved videos via the same secure platform without the risk of encountering inappropriate content.

Schools have the option of restricting content to items only approved by the individual school, or, by allowing content deemed appropriate by the entire community of myVideos users nationwide, they can increase the amount of allowed content available to watch, all accruing as a trusted suite of approved videos.

Additionally, through myVideos, adverts and comments are restricted, and the tool can be used in the classroom and at home, meaning students can complete their homework using videos that are endorsed by their school.

myVideos is a great example of helping schools keep up with changing behaviours brought about by technology, while respecting the unique requirements of our schools.

The bottom line

I’ve offered three examples of very real technological challenges faced by our schools and how we’re helping them overcome those challenges. Notably, there’s three qualities that are common throughout – and are traits you should look for in your school technology partner: service and solutions that are personal, passionate and proactive.

I know only too well that the one challenge that supersedes all of these is that of budget cuts and austerity. It’s a topic that deserves at least one blog of its own – so I hope you’ll look out for that in the future.

And there’s one final point, which I hope is apparent in this blog. A technology partner to schools must be willing and able to learn from school clients just as students learn every day. And those partners must share that new knowledge for the benefit of their other school clients, becoming an enabler of new innovations. It’s learning, and sharing knowledge like this that makes working with schools so rewarding and I look forward to more of this in the future.

PS…

Written by Nick Shea

Sales Director - AdEPT Education