16th June 2022

The ripple effect of better ICT: a year in the life of AdEPT

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

I came across this quote in the spring thanks to one of our team, Albert Telesford, who organised a breakfast get-together for our Chingford office.

Albert leads a team of support engineers and as part of the breakfast, he organised printed menus and added the quote alongside a list including croissants and bacon sandwiches. He took the time to thank each and every team member for making the work as fun as possible – so important given the challenges we’ve all faced over the past two years.

I was inspired by this and took the time to find out more. The quote led me to its author, Paul Coelho, who wrote the bestseller, The Alchemist. A book about listening to your heart and following your dreams.

So, how does Coelho and his quote relate to AdEPT and our past year?

First, the quote resonated with me personally, because it’s a philosophy that we at AdEPT intuitively live by – that in striving to make the world of our customers better through using ICT we can, in turn, create a ripple effect of improvements for them in other ways.

And that drive for continuous improvement starts internally too, within our organisation – as Albert’s breakfast treat demonstrates.

And second, as someone who grew up on a council estate, I know only too well about the importance and power of following one’s heart. I’m not one for saying the impossible is possible – and I certainly like to keep my feet on the ground – but I do believe that in business, it is essential you listen to your heart as well as your head in making decisions – as quite often the heart is adding intuition to our logical thinking.

And that brings me to five of the many things that we have achieved over the past year, since June 2021. Whilst they have, of course, involved our collective grey matter (and a lot of elbow grease!), they have genuinely captured my heart, too. Let me explain why…

1. In autumn, we completed a large transformation project with the UK’s largest trade union federation, the TUC

It’s an understatement to say the pandemic has shaken the world of work. So when we were commissioned by the TUC to help overhaul its ICT, we knew that what we were doing was no small feat – our project was like a stone in a pond, with the impact rippling out beyond our initial engagement, helping an organisation that in turn helps millions of working people, at a time when they really needed that help.

Not only did the project stand out for how it would affect so many people, but it also stood out because the TUC chose the AdEPT cloud platform, AdEPT Nebula – a solution designed, built and evolved in-house –our own intellectual property. AdEPT Nebula allows our clients to streamline and strengthen its ICT (we use it ourselves!).

Leading the project was the TUC’s Virtual CIO, Simon Parry, who praised AdEPT Nebula for being secure by design – high praise indeed in a world where ICT security is often treated as an afterthought.

I like to think our developer, Alex Price, who helped design AdEPT Nebula, has ultimately helped someone out there, who has turned to the TUC for support with their employment at a time of real stress and challenge. That’s the ripple effect in action.

2. In October, we launched our own tool for schools in direct response to an issue that had resulted from the pandemic

I am incredibly proud of the work we deliver for thousands of schools across the country alongside the inspirational work we do in partnership with LGfL. As a parent of two teachers I hear both at work and at home, first-hand, about the difficulties schools are facing whether that’s remote teaching and learning, providing technology to underprivileged children or ensuring children are safe and secure when they use technology. It’s been a tough couple of years.

However, while the big issues such as remote learning platforms and shortage of hardware attracted lots of big headlines, there were many knock-on effects for schools’ ICT that didn’t get the same attention but were frustrations nonetheless.

One of those issues concerned remote learning platforms – setting them up meant staff had to create hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of user accounts based on schools’ existing management information systems (MIS). Imagine having to key in a student’s name, email address, date of birth etc. over and over – and then having to update that record any time it changes in the central MIS as pupils leave, and join, or change groups.

Our team at AdEPT spotted this challenge, and consequently, developed and launched AdEPT Nimbus Sync – a software tool that synchronises a school’s MIS with its remote learning platform.

There are a couple of reasons why I’m especially proud of this project. First – the obvious – it saves school staff time, it improves accuracy, and it runs in the background, so everything is always up to date.  Freeing them to teach.

Second, AdEPT Nimbus Sync is incredibly easy to set up and very competitively priced. We took the view that schools want to continue using (and probably enhance) the remote learning platforms they’d invested in over the pandemic, but at the same time they want to minimise further disruption. We could only build AdEPT Nimbus Sync because we work so closely with schools – we listened, empathised and put our problem-solving skills into action.

Of course, AdEPT Nimbus Sync isn’t the kind of shiny, ground-breaking innovation that makes headlines, but it does represent what we stand for: listening to our customers and solving their problems in a way that’s completely tailored to their needs.

3. In September, we won Managed Services Provider of the Year at the 2021 Comms Business Awards

There are, no question, almost-infinite award schemes for every imaginable industry, hosted by various comedians and celebrities. The world ICT is no different. Consequently, we only enter those that have a genuine connection to what we do, and what we stand for, which is why winning the Comms Business Awards stands out for a few reasons.

First, winning the managed services provider category, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, is an amazing reflection of the efforts of staff who maintained their high standards of service and attention to detail during an incredibly difficult and disruptive time for everybody.

Second, the category itself is important to AdEPT. We consider being an MSP as acting on behalf of our customers, rather like an agency. Navigating the world of innovation and products provided by our partners, matching these to the needs of our customers. As such, being recognised in this way proves we understand our customers and look out for their best interests, so they in turn can do their work in better ways. Yet again a demonstration of the ‘ripple effect’ of making something better.

Third, we recently learned we’re a finalist in the same category at the 2022 Comms Business Awards. This is especially uplifting to me because it demonstrates we’re more than a ‘one-hit wonder’ – not only are we good at what we do, we’re consistently good at it.

4. In the spring our team delivered a project for CHP, a large housing association, which combines technology to monitor energy usage helping CHP in its mission to reduce its carbon footprint.

If you look back at any one year in AdEPT’s history, you’ll see we’re continually pushing to improve. Of course, there is a commercial benefit for us to do this, but it goes a little deeper than that.

We are only too aware that ICT has a role to play in helping reduce the impact humans have on the planet as we learn to live with, rather than exploit, this precious earth.

The CHP project is a fascinating initiative, connecting smart control units in an example of the ‘Internet of Things’ revolution – in collaboration with our partner IAConnects. This solution ensures that CHP runs its buildings in an optimal manner, reducing energy consumption.  

This has been a year of discovery for AdEPT about the green agenda. Having adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we have declared a mission to become Net Zero by 2030, with a new project to measure our carbon footprint in a more thorough manner and galvanising a team of volunteers in AdEPT to help with this mission.

We are sharing our practical experience from this initiative with the government, which is working hard to use their buying power to influence the environmental behaviours of their suppliers – as a result, the green agenda is appearing within many public sector tenders.

As a company that our founder Ian Fishwick started in his bedroom – and now with more than 30 years of continued growth under our belt – we’re never afraid to punch above our weight. This is our own version of The Alchemist – of following our dreams and keeping them in mind in all we do. 

It is clear we have the opportunity to change things for the better within AdEPT, but also to, in turn, influence our staff, our suppliers and our customers (and ultimately in a small way the planet) – the ‘ripple effect’ in action again.

5. In June, I got together for an interview with Mark Thomas, the then-MD of Datrix, which we had acquired in April. We discussed how we’re helping customers with smarter, more secure networks

In April 2021 AdEPT acquired Datrix, a leading smart infrastructure and cyber security solutions provider.

Datrix has decades of experience helping the public and private sectors with their networks, with a particular focus on Software Defined Networks (SD-WAN) and secure access service edge (SASE) networks – that offer layered security in a way that conventional networks cannot, making a company more resilient to incidents like cyber breaches and connectivity outages.

In the above interview, Mark and I talked about what brought the two companies together – and as you’ll see, it was about a lot more than numbers on a balance sheet. It was and continues to be about two companies knowing they’re right for each other – dare I say, following our hearts.

There are many more highlights from AdEPT’s past year. Sometimes they’re big projects, such as that with the TUC, and sometimes they’re seemingly little things, such as a breakfast with colleagues. I look forward to reviewing our next year, next spring – and in the meantime, do follow our latest developments on LinkedIn, where you’ll find news and updates about wider ICT issues, as well as tips and tales from our specialists.

And a final word to our customers, our partners, and my colleagues: thank you.

Written by Phil Race

CEO - AdEPT Technology Group