UK’s largest independent health club boosts communication in a pandemic through Google Technology
Health centres, gyms and spas have been heavily impacted due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but thanks to Google Cloud technology, and the help of Netpremacy, The Bannatyne Group have thrived and continued to work on their digital transformation strategy throughout the last 12 months.
The Bannatyne Group was looking for a partner who had tried and tested experience implementing change at scale and quickly. Change within the business was something that The Bannatyne Group wanted to focus on, which is a service that Netpremacy excels at.
Netpremacy helped The Bannatyne Group to remain connected during a difficult period due to lockdowns and restricted access to office and health clubs. Looking back over the past year, it is clear that The Bannatyne Group’s way of working has drastically changed. The way the company has been able to work and stay productive in a pandemic is solely down to Google Workspace tools.
“We did see what could be achieved quite quickly when working remotely. There were so many things that progressed and were completed within weeks when you would have expected those projects to take months otherwise.” – Nigel Wilby, Head Office IT Manager
Netpremacy looks forward to a continued relationship with The Bannatyne Group and looks forward to how they can continue to support them and help the business to thrive and grow.
Creating a diverse workforce, challenging gender bias and inequality
To celebrate international women’s day, Netpremacy wanted to highlight the rising number of women in tech and to shine a light on some of the great things happening to keep this number growing.
Every year our teams make a conscious effort to talk about, raise awareness, and celebrate the women in the tech community. There are so many initiatives happening across the country to make tech more accessible for women and with a spike in tech jobs sweeping the nation as we become more digital we wanted to raise awareness of opportunities available to anyone, no matter their gender.
Last year we joined forces with Google, and local Leeds influencers, to raise awareness of women in tech, how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. Topics such as how to work your way up in tech and how to celebrate your achievements (an important lesson for everyone to learn) came up. You can see last year’s webinar here.
This year, to continue to raise awareness, we have teamed up with Wellington Place to support the “choose to challenge” campaign. This campaign is to empower people to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
Look out for our team’s faces to be included on the “choose to challenge” collage on their website.
Leading from the front
As Netpremacy continues to thrive and grow as a business, so do our teams. This month we are very excited to welcome a new member to our leadership team. We are looking forward, as our team expands, to have a female in leadership and to see how this new role will evolve.
Gillian Sharma, Head of Marketing says:
‘I’m delighted to join the team at Netpremacy and build on the work we’re already doing to encourage women into tech roles. I’ve worked in tech for over a decade and I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with several amazing women who’ve encouraged and inspired me, so I hope I can do the same for others.
‘Tech is such an exciting sector to be in and Leeds is a great place for it, especially as a woman! From inspiring female leaders (Zandra Moore, Anna Sutton and more) to groups (Lean In Leeds, Empowering Women with Technology, WILD), there’s a real sense of community, connection and genuine warmth. Despite the knockbacks we’ve suffered from Covid, I’m hopeful that together we can grow female representation in our sector.’
Recruitment at Netpremacy
Netpremacy has a number of roles available to both men and women, and actively encourages applicants to come forward. We celebrate individuality and strive to always work towards becoming a more inclusive workplace. Visit our careers page to unlock your next career step.
Democratising data is a hot topic, and is helping businesses to get ahead of their competitors, here’s how…
If 10-15 years ago you’d have asked a bank “would you ever think of giving 90% of the workforce access to all of your data?” the chances are you’d have got a pretty blunt reply.
Fast forward 10 years, and we see a rise in many booming Fintechs, and the stance on accessing data is completely different.
We can learn from Fintech’s.
We MUST learn from Fintech’s to stay current, and successful.
With the introduction of mobile apps and a significantly increased online presence we are a society that now spends the majority of our day online. We’re staring at different web pages, apps, tv screens or mobile devices. This means every interaction is now a chance for us to collect data. It’s giving the likes of Fintechs and cloud first companies the chance to gather a significant amount of data and take customer service to a whole new level.
Cloud technology is integral to this.
It has helped us rapidly develop new banking platforms, create mobile apps that are used daily, and gather data on every click, swipe, scroll, pause & interaction.
But how do we use this data for good? How can we ensure the correct teams have access to what they need… The answer is through Democratization.
Democratization means “the action of making something accessible to all”. If we put this into context this means giving every team in the business access to the data we hold (with all of the correct GDPR & security measures in place). Whether that’s the engineering team, who need to make changes to an app, our customer support team understanding the trending support tickets. It might even be the Exec team trying to define a new strategy and the net product we want to launch. Data democratization is the key to all of this.
So how do we give everyone access to data easily and when they need it?
This comes in two parts.
1.Store your data in a secure and readily accessible platform such Google’s Big Query
2.Visualise and make sense of that data you are storing…introducing Looker
• Analyze petabytes of data in seconds
• Gain insights in a secure & scalable way
• Access data from multi cloud environments and truly democratise the data
Looker makes it possible to…
• Use modern BI Analytics to create dynamic dashboards
• Offer a self serve data platform to any department to gain the insights they need
• Create an environment that can truly leverage everything data has to offer.
By Leveraging this best in breed technology, businesses are now in a position to give every department their own unique view and access to data. Whether this is to help them to develop a new product, understand the most common support calls coming in, make a decision to enter a new market or offer a new solution. Or, to simply give them access to real-time information.
As a Google Cloud premier partner Netpremacy is here to help you take data to the next level. There is a range of fantastic tools that can help your company become more transparent with data, and benefit from it.
We are hosting an exclusive, invite-only roundtable, with key players in the Fintech arena, as well as speakers from Looker and Google. If you would be interested in attending please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the private event link and password.
Save time with AI features
Last year, Google announced a better home for work. G Suite was given a revamp and is now Google Workspace. This reflects the new collaborative interface that has been adapted to a new, remote way of working.
We have discussed the collaboration and productivity benefits of Google Workspace many times, but the built-in AI features, that we take for granted on a daily basis, are what set it apart from its competitors.
2020 was about enabling remote work. Google’s latest productivity tools with built-in AI allow this remote work to be our best work.
Many of us may have heard about AI, but have not realised we are using it every day when working with Google Workspace.
These built-in AI features are what makes Google Workspace ahead of the competition, and save time when writing an email, as one example. Google has integrated Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their collaboration and productivity tools. Their goal is not only to increase individual productivity but also efficiency when getting your work done.
Below are some examples of the built-in AI features that you may not have considered:
Smart Reply on Mobile
Ever typing out an email on your mobile device and suggested words and phrases appear before your eyes? This is the built-in AI in action.
Smart Suggestions on Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, & Forms
Similar to the suggestions in email, this feature is also present in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. As you are typing, Google will suggest words, saving you time.
Cloud search makes searching through your organisation’s data/documents easier. Cloud Search utilises Machine Learning to surface the most relevant suggestions or responses. What Google search does for the web, Cloud Search does for enterprise search and for your business.
Learn more about cloud search here.
If you want to understand these features, and how they can save your business hours of time, sign up for our upcoming webinar.
Kevin Jordan, Head of Technical Operations
As I approach my 10 year anniversary at Netpremacy, I wanted to share some of the key values I’ve followed in my time, from my first role in the business as a Support Engineer to my present role in becoming Head of Technical Operations.
I’m very much a self-professed geek and I have a passion for tech in general, which is a big bonus for the industry I work in. I’d also consider myself an advocate for the Google tools that Netpremacy specialises in; however, I actually want the focus of this blog to be on another space I advocate for, and that’s self innovation.
Innovation means introducing something new, whether that be a complete change or improving on something that’s already established.
Typically when people talk about innovation it’s in relation to a product or process. Innovation is a really positive ideal because it’s a sign of continuous growth, adapting to change, and not being stagnant. It’s the same concept for self innovation, but instead, you are applying this to yourself. This can be in multiple forms, both personal and professional, but ultimately it refers to the development of new skills and the broadening of knowledge with the purpose of opening yourself up to new opportunities.
So how do you innovate yourself?
To be honest, it’s not always easy, especially to begin with, but I have found that following these key principles, whilst avoiding some potential pitfalls along the way, can help you on the path to self innovation.
1. Acceptance of criticism
Receiving and providing open feedback is really important because it keeps us honest. Here I’m specifically talking about being on the receiving end, which can be a little tough but you can’t improve if you dismiss feedback. I say it’s tough because it is hard to hear that something you’re doing and that you’re passionate about isn’t quite right or could be done better.
Your initial reaction is probably to be slightly defensive, which isn’t necessarily a negative because it shows you care. However, try not to let this cloud your judgement and influence your response to the criticism. A technique that I have used is to alter my point of view, by changing my perspective to that of a neutral party, so I can listen to the reasons behind the criticism taking emotion out of it. If you’re truly passionate about something, you’ll want to strive to make it the best it can be, and this can only be done when accepting criticism.
2. Step out of your comfort zone
Again, this is not a simple thing to do as it can be scary embarking on something new that you’re not comfortable with. However, if you become open to this and try to see it as an exciting process instead, it will reap rewards in the end by giving you the opportunity for both; experiencing or learning something new, and broader career paths. Whether this is learning a new product, public speaking or building upon soft skills such as attending a managerial course, stepping out of your comfort zone can be incredibly enriching. I’ve found that it has been the main element to have boosted my confidence, which has played a key role in advancing to each of my new positions at Netpremacy.
3. Embrace failure
I’m sure everyone experiences failure on some scale in their career, and let’s be honest it never feels good. Just remember that nobody is perfect, mistakes happen and although it’s easier said than done, try not to be too hard on yourself. It should be an opportunity to learn, own your failures, and use them to help you grow.
As a side note to this point as well, I’ve often found that some of the best business relationships come from failures. That’s because it’s your reaction to failure that’s really going to be recognised and what will be remembered – so I’d encourage when this does happen to avoid placing blame and focus on why it went wrong, how to fix it, and what can be done to avoid it in the future.
4. Imparting knowledge
I find this a key element, not only in growing yourself but the team around you. It’s difficult to continue expanding your knowledge when you are always known as the “go to” person on a particular topic. I understand that it can have the allure of giving you a sense of security, however, you create a funnel and you’re ultimately isolating yourself. By imparting this knowledge it means you can share the burden but more importantly, it gives you more flexibility to build expertise in a different area. It’s a great opportunity to inspire others to take on those responsibilities, which can also help them start their own journey of self innovation.
Here I’d like to flag something to avoid which is comparing yourself to others as it can be quite detrimental to this process. I’m not saying don’t do it at all, just don’t have it as an ideal. Everyone is different, just like every product is different and once you start to put all the focus on comparing yourself to another, you’ve already lost as you’ve immediately put a ceiling on yourself. People also learn at different paces so others may advance quicker in some subjects, which can be discouraging. It’s helpful to learn from others, understand their progression paths and the journey they’ve taken, but don’t make this the reason for what you’re doing.
I’ve lived by this mantra of self innovation in my time at Netpremacy, which has led me on an incredible journey. From joining Netpremacy with very little experience to be a Support Engineer, growing my knowledge by working on break-fix issues. Moving onto configuring Google Workspace environments and migrating data as a Technical Deployment Specialist. Then onto becoming a Customer Success Manager, where I had the opportunity of understanding customer requirements and consulting on strategies, giving me great insight to how businesses operate. Finally now, as Head of Technical Operations, where I can use all the knowledge I’ve absorbed over the years and apply them to the company I owe much of that opportunity and experience to. But it doesn’t stop here, I continue to live by this mantra as I hope to inspire and coach others on the path of self innovation.
If you are looking for a wide array of opportunities in a thriving business, or are simply looking for a change in career. Visit our careers page to see what positions we are currently recruiting for.
Many of us have become accustomed to working remotely and hosting most of our meetings over some form of video conferencing tool (ours obviously being Google Meet).
BUT, have you ever been to a meeting and been frustrated at the lack of communication or engagement from your participants?
We have all been there. Ensuring you have engagement from your audience can sometimes seem trickier than we think. In this blog, we have some tips on keeping engagement throughout a Google Meet, and best practices to abide by when on video meetings.
Keeping up the engagement
By now, many of us will have experienced the deathly silence you get from Google Meet participants after you have asked for an opinion or for an answer to a question. Some people are still adjusting. There is no doubting that engagement was easier in face to face meetings, and you may have found yourself easily bouncing ideas off of one another. This may have changed as people may be worried about talking over one another when on a Google Meet. We have found a number of ways to keep your participants engaged and involved in the conversation.
Using the Q & A function
On the right-hand side of the Google Meet screen, there is now a Q&A option. Anyone in a meeting can ask questions. The questions show until they are deleted or hidden. After a meeting, the moderator gets a detailed report of all the questions. Anyone who schedules or starts a meeting will be the moderator, and there can only be one moderator per meeting.
This function helps participants to ask questions through the tool, if they may not feel confident to speak up on the video call, and will also help when there are more people on the call, as it may get harder to speak up. This feature eliminates that worry. The feature also allows the participants to vote up a question which brings attention to the more popular questions.
Ask a question
In a meeting, in the top-right corner, click Activities, click Questions. In the lower-right corner, click Ask a question. Enter your question click Post.
Raise your hand option
Ever struggled to be heard over other participants in a Google Meet?
Do you want to raise an opinion but you are not quite sure when to interject? Google Meet has you covered. By using the raise your hand option, you can easily let the moderator know that you would like to speak. Moderators can then work through the raised hands to ensure that everyone has had an opportunity to voice their opinion. Once a person has had their opportunity to speak, the moderator can “lower people’s hands”, or you can lower yours yourself.
To raise your hand: Scroll to the bottom of the screen , click Hand raise.
To lower your hand: Scroll to the bottom of the screen, click Lower hand.
How to Lower hands as a moderator
From the top right, click the People tab. Scroll to the “Raised hands” section. To lower a hand, next to the participant’s name, click Lower hand . To lower all hands scroll to “Raised hands” and click Lower all.
Another great way to keep engagement on a Google Meet, and to gain valuable opinions and thoughts from your participants, is through the Poll option now available on Google Meet.
Not only does this help keep your audience engaged, it also allows moderators to display the results. It gets your participants more involved in decision making within a meeting, and helps to avoid people talking over one another, and risking not being heard. Meeting hosts also receive a report with the tally of the results to make it easy to refer back and take action.
Create a poll
In a meeting, in the top-right corner, click Activities, click Polls. Click Start a poll. Enter a question and add options for the poll. Choose one: To post your poll, click Launch. To save your poll so you can launch it later, click Save.
As a meeting participant, you can submit a response for a poll.
You’ll get a notification in the meeting when the moderator starts a poll. Be sure to submit your response before the poll or meeting ends.
In a meeting: In the top-right corner, click Activities, click Polls. In the poll, select your response, click Vote.
Read Google’s blog for more information on the Q&A and Poll functions.
Keep your camera on
It appears to vary from business to business on whether employees keep their camera on when partaking in a Google Meet. Some companies enforce employees as standard, whilst others do not feel the need for video.
At Netpremacy we try to keep our camera on at all times. We feel that it puts a face behind a name, and keeps the engagement up. Many people feel more engaged and motivated when talking to a real image of that person, rather than just a stagnant profile picture. It is thought that video conferencing can provide better communication across teams via body language. Video also creates a sense of empathy & connection with your peers. A simple smile whilst on the Google Meet can go a long way. Something that is lost if you keep your video off at all times.
Video is what keeps some normality and personality when working remotely which is why we think it’s so important. It enables better communication across teams, regardless of where they’re located. Ultimately this improves on building ideas, problem-solving, and working together, which is why we recommend to keep your video on where possible as standard.
Here are some interesting statistics on video conferencing to provide a little more context behind what we are talking about :
82% of those surveyed in 2020, described the video as an effective tool for communicating work-related information.1
Techsmith: Two-thirds (67%) of people understand information better when communicated visually 2
GigaOM: 87% of remote team members feel more connected to their team when they can use video conferencing 3
Turn yourself on mute when not speaking
Although there is a noise cancellation feature available on Google Meet, we recommend putting yourself on mute when in a large meeting when you are not speaking. This eliminates sound from your keyboard, or awkward breathing down the mic, and means that the meeting you are running will be a smoother experience, and nobody will struggle to hear the speakers. This feature is automatically turned on when a meeting of more than 5 people. How many times in 2020 did we hear the phrase “you’re on mute!”. Avoid the awkwardness of this by checking your mic button before attempting to talk!
Don’t talk over each other
Finally, it does go without saying but can be something that causes disruption on a video call and as a result, can make it hard for participants to hear what is being said. Wait your turn, and do not talk over one another. It is good practice and good etiquette that will help your meetings to run smoothly.
As we delve into 2021 and plan to continue to work in a more mobile and digital way, our top tips and best practices should help to keep engagement in your future virtual meetings. If you would like to keep up to date and receive more tips and best practices, sign up for our newsletter here.
2020, the year we went home, to work
It’s fair to say that the year 2020 will go down in history. This was the year we were forced out of our comfort zones and had to adapt quickly to unprecedented change. It has undoubtedly been a different year for everyone. We are proud to say that we have actively been involved in making a difference, and helping businesses when they have needed it the most. Below are just some of our highlights from 2020.
This year has been a record year for Netpremacy and our rapidly evolving Customer Success services. Now more than ever businesses have needed an engagement partner to ensure successful and continued adoption of the Google Cloud stack, as well as helping them to navigate, survive, and thrive amongst a global pandemic. Over the course of 2020, Netpremacy has taken on 5 new CSS customers. We are proud to add these to our community and look forward to continued growth in our team going into 2021.
This year we held our first of a kind, week-long digital event. This was an exclusive event, held specifically for our CSS customers only. The week consisted of 14 sessions, and 21 hours of content. There was so much knowledge and content shared that we wrote a half time round up, and an end of week round up blog to cover just SOME of the topics covered. This was a successful and well-received format that we will definitely be taking into 2021 for our customer base.
We are always proud of the people and customers that we work with, and this year is no different. Throughout 2020 we have spoken on how we helped DFS to transition to Google Workspace and how they used Google Meet to work seamlessly amongst a global pandemic. We were also proud to have helped Loxam to adapt quickly and get their workforce working from home in a matter of days. Finally, we told our story of how we helped Iglu to move seamlessly to the cloud. These are just some of the projects we have worked on this year and will be continuing to tell our stories in 2020 going into next year. To keep up to date on all the fantastic logos we work with, head to our customer success page.
Netpremacy is known for its expertise in the Google Workspace arena, and since winning the “Google Cloud Global Partner of the year – work transformation enterprise” it’s safe to say we are a safe pair of hands and a trusted partner in this area. To enhance what we already offer, we have expanded a whole other level of our cloud services. These are our solutions, which add to and enhance the Google Cloud technology stack. Some of the fantastic solutions launched this year are:
And that’s just the beginning! Look out for our brand new website launch and a whole host of new solutions, coming Q1 2021. To be the first to hear about our new releases, subscribe to our newsletter here.
There have been some fantastic updates and events from Google this year. Firstly was the Google Cloud Next on air event. This consisted of 9 weeks of Google content on industry insights, product updates, case studies from the field, and much more. We thoroughly enjoyed the brand new concept of Google Cloud Next: OnAir, and wrote a series of blogs on our highlights. You can read them all here; Google Next week 1 industry insights, Google Next Half time round up, Netpremacy’s final Google Next highlights.
The second BIG announcement we were very excited to see was the brand new launch of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Google made the change to Google Workspace which is now a more collaborative interface, that is more suited to a mobile and collaborative way of working. New features such as all information available in one tab mean that working remotely has never been easier. We spoke about the latest updates and features in this blog.
When lockdown hit, we had to adapt, and fast! Although we are a mobile workforce and were born in the cloud, we previously networked and educated audiences through physical events. We were quick to the mark and saw that the market needed cloud experts, and a helping hand to educate and facilitate mobile working in businesses that had perhaps never had to do this before. Our first webinar series, “Helping people work remotely with G Suite (Google Workspace) “ provided information, advice, tips and a helping hand to ensure our valued customers and audience were armed with the knowledge they needed to continue to work and stay connected when it mattered most.
You can watch the recorded sessions to learn more about how Google Workspace is keeping businesses connected here:
Webinar series 1
After the initial shock, businesses began to adapt and thrive in ways that they had never previously imagined. That’s when we brought out our next series – “Help your business to thrive in a digital environment”. Watch the recorded sessions below.
Webinar series 2
Next up was our 3rd Webinar Series: Transform your business with G Suite & GCP. We joined forces with Google and Fintech North to discuss all things data, and how businesses were using G Suite tools to return to the office.
Webinar series 3
Our fourth and final webinar series of the year focused on a brand new work environment, and how a digital first approach was now at the forefront of many businesses’ minds going forward. We demonstrated the new Google workspace interface, and celebrated women in technology alongside influencer Sarah Tulip, and guest speaker Jordan Winokur at Google.
Webinar series 4
A new way of networking
Recently, we created that environment and invited a specific few technology leaders in the Retail industry to “sit” at our virtual roundtable. We then had honest and open conversations about the challenges 2020 has brought and how they are looking to overcome them.
This was a successful discussion, our attendees were all given bespoke coffee hampers to start the morning off the right way.
We were joined by Becky Postlethwaite, Google Cloud Industry Manager in Retail at Google. A retail specialist with knowledge in the market and deep trusted relationships with Retailers in the Google Cloud space. Running the session was Ben Trood, Head of Business Development and Netpremacy retail specialist. Finally, the session was chaired by our Head of Customer Success and transformation guru, Martin Russell.
Read more on what we learned about business challenges in today’s climate.
Our team is what makes Netpremacy who we are, without the camaraderie and teamwork between our team of “Netpremer’s” we would not be as strong as we are today. Our team has evolved and expanded over the course of 2020, and sees no slowing down as we approach 2021. This year we welcomed 11 more recruits with some exciting career opportunities becoming available going into 2021. If you think you would make a great fit, head to our careers page to see what positions we currently have available.
A big thank you to all of our partners, customers, and workforce for making 2020 the successful year it has been. We look forward to continuing our work moving into 2021, and wish everyone a safe, and Happy Christmas.
What a week!
What a successful, Jam-packed week we have seen at CSS2020 Digital! Our week-long event proved to be a fantastic platform for our CSS community, and opened up a number of discussions. The week long event was designed to get to know our community, share knowledge and reflect upon 2020 as a whole. You can read more on previous sessions from the first half of the week here. But we aren’t done yet! The second half of the week saw many more sessions available to our customer base, covering topics of all kinds.
All things data
Speaker – Nadeem Sharieff – Netpremacy
Day 3 of our CSS2020 online event saw 4 sessions in total. The afternoon sessions focused on Big Data and Machine Learning, as well as Change Management and Google Champions.
To kick things off, Nadeem Sharieff, one of Netpremacy’s Data Engineers, dove straight in and gave an overview of what Big Data is, as well as looking at the key GCP Big Data products.
Firstly, it was important to highlight that many people see “data as the new oil”, as it can be the most valuable asset a company can have. There are massive amounts of data that are being generated at any given time for many companies across the globe. Google Cloud has built specific solutions so businesses can optimise and use their data to make the right decisions, evolve, and grow. But what actually is Big Data? This refers to data that is too complex and too expensive to store, manage and analyse using a traditional computing approach.
Big Data is categorised by the 5 V’s:
- Volume: the size of data being generated across the globe
- Variety: the different types of data; structured, semi-structured, unstructured
- Velocity: the speed at which the data is being generated
- Veracity: is it trustworthy or are there inconsistencies in the data?
- Value: arguably the most important, but is the data beneficial? Can you extract value from it?
Next, Nadeem discussed the data lifecycle steps, and how GCP products fit into this.
Ingest: The first stage is to pull in the raw data, such as streaming data from devices, on-premises batch data, application logs, or mobile-app user events and analytics. Cloud Pub/Sub, Stackdriver and Cloud Transfer Service are the recommended tools.
Store: Once data’s been retrieved, it’s time to store it in a format that is durable and can be easily accessed. Google Cloud Storage is the preferred tool if you are using a data lake. This can include structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data, which is quite difficult to do data discovery.
Process and analyse: Here you process your data and bring it into a state where you can analyse and understand different trends. Dataproc and Dataflow are the main tools here. Dataproc is a fully managed hadoop service, which is scalable, fast, a fully managed service, and based on open-sourced software. Dataflow is also a fully managed service, so no provisioning required, and scales automatically based on your workload.
Explore and visualise: The final stage is to convert the results of the analysis into a format that is easy to draw insights. You can do this using Google tools such as; Cloud Console, Data Studio, Sheets Datalab, and extract, or leverage that data to build the foundation of Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence in GCP.
Now that the lifecycle of data and the tools needed have been established. The next step is to use a system for reporting or data analysis. A Data Warehouse is mainly a centre storage depository for data sources, and a place for storing current and historical data. In a structured format, you can perform data analytics and report based on that data. BigQuery is the preferred tool, which is a fully managed service, based in the cloud. The benefits of BigQuery are; it’s serverless, and you can also build Machine Learning models using SQL.
This brings us nicely on to the last part of the session: Machine Learning. This is a branch of Artificial Intelligence, a discipline that is focused on science and engineering applications that learn from your data and improve over time. These models can understand different trends. The more data that is fed into the system, the more it learns and improves accuracy and predictions.
The key to success when using Machine Learning is, to begin with, a large dataset (and store it properly). Nadeem showed us a wide range of ML and AI products in the GCP portfolio, with tools to suit the different needs of businesses, based on ease of implementation, pre-trained models, and custom models.
Our fourth and final session on the 9/12 was hosted by Fraja Hodges, Christos Amyrotos, and Jac Camus, Google.
This session focused heavily on Google Champions, what they are, and why they are important. There was an introduction to Google Champion networks, and how they can be vital to boosting adoption during projects and maintaining it through constant change.
Google Champions, for those who don’t know, are appointed individuals in a company that takes on the role of providing tips, advice, and guidance to the workforce. These are usually front line people in the business who can be on the ground helping anyone who has questions on using Google Workspace. It’s worth noting that Google Champions do not need to be members of the IT team, anyone with enthusiasm for Google and looking to help out their fellow colleagues can take on the responsibility!
Champions are typically skilled up with advanced knowledge of Google Workspace so that they can be the helping hands on the ground and are accessible at all times in the business. They are also the people who champion the Google product internally to create and maintain a buzz for the technology.
We also heard from Fraja on the Champion network structure, how it works, and why it is important. Fraja covered different ways in which companies can manage a champion network, how to recruit for volunteers, and how often this should be reviewed.
We then heard from Jac on the different faces of change. People react differently to change and this section covered the different characters we may encounter when going through change. Jac enlightened us on how to understand how different people react to a technology change with emotion, and how each type can be a valuable asset to the company and even a champion network.
To conclude the session we then spoke with our customers on what issues or blockers they face when implementing Google Champions in the workplace, to better understand how we can constantly be improving and updating our programs.
Open forum – CSS2021
Speakers – Fraja Hodges, Guy Ellis, Netpremacy
Our first session on the penultimate day was led by Fraja Hodges, who took us through the new, exclusive feature releases and campaigns coming to the CSS program in 2021 to improve collaboration and productivity in the workplace. She also covered the importance of making this content accessible to all users, especially since many companies will be working from home for the foreseeable future.
We also got a sneak peek of the Netpremacy CSS Hub, launching in 2021, which will be exclusively available to our CSS community. This will be a central area for all materials and assets produced by CSS – a place to self serve with anything you need!
We gave our CSS community a voice and wanted to hear from them on what they think we can do better or improve on in 2021. It’s vital to us that we have that open forum with our community so we can ensure that everyone’s needs are being met and that we are always improving, whether that be engagement, events or products.
The session ended with honest feedback and a discussion about the new ideas we have going into 2021. As a result, the topics covered were confidential and personal to each company.
Security workshop landscape
Speakers – Nick Harrison, Netpremacy, Dominic Parkes, Google
The working environment has changed drastically in 2020, and as a result, so have business security requirements. We held an open forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities businesses have experienced. We also discussed what lessons we have learned over the past year, and what lessons we plan on taking with us into 2021.
Nick kicked off the session by explaining how Cyber security professionals’ roles and responsibilities have changed over the past year, due to many workforces having to work remotely now. Businesses have had to drastically change the way that new users are being enrolled, and also have to make sure that they are working from somewhere secure. Nick touched on some simple security precautions that people should take. Even if they seem small. Shoulder surfing is a real thing and a security measure that should be taken seriously when working out in public. This is something that is now on many businesses’ radars since their workforce is now also working out and about in public.
We also asked questions such as has remote working changed our culture, and the way we work? Have we got laxer with our behaviours?
Some interesting points to consider. In addition to this, we also touched on how users reacted to this new way of working, now they are not secure in the office. Many people may not take this into consideration, but since work has been taken home, your teams may find that the security workforce has been stretched as now they have to think about security from a remote setting.
Some other important security measures that were highlighted in the session were;
2SV – 2 step verification, and how this can help keep employees data safe.
Strong passwords – these are so important and something that should not be overlooked. Having the same password for everything is not secure. Vary your passwords and do not include personal information such as names or memorable dates.
Security keys – we discussed who used these, and what benefits they have to adding the extra layer of security for your business.
Building a secure culture-making people aware of cybersecurity, its importance, and small steps to take to keep your company data secure.
What can admins do to keep the company secure? – there are steps admins can take to prevent employees from downloading certain apps, and accessing certain information based on the location they are in.
DLP – implement multi-layered defenses with DLP rules. Protect and classify data, warn users about rule violations, and educate users on the importance of data security.
Email security – the below diagram is the timeline of an email entering your inbox. The ticks are the protections Google offers to keep employees safe. The level Google goes to to protect
Google has multiple solutions over different apps, to make sure protection covers all areas. They interlock and work alongside each other.
Speaker – Kevin Jordan, Netpremacy
Our final full session of the day was on hackathons run by Kevin Jordan, Head of Technical Operations at Netpremacy. Kevin is responsible for how Netpremacy ensures we are performing as efficiently as possible internally, and has since brought in a number of solutions to improve the way we and our customers work using the Google Workspace stack. Kevin began the session by touching on what we mean by “Hackathon”, how it’s run, and how they can benefit the way businesses work internally.
What is a hackathon?
A hackathon is an internal event where the business gathers to discuss any challenges or blockers employees may be facing when completing day to day work activities, and working on innovative ways to improve these. Kevin ran through the 3 key elements you should consider when organising a hackathon.
The Challenge – This is about finding out what challenges everyone has in the business. Not everyone has an outlet for voicing the issues they experience And a hackathon can help unearth these day-to-day challenges. It’s good to get other’s perspectives and ideas on how to improve processes.
Idea – This is what the Hackathon is all about, a session to collaborate on ideas to resolve those issues, big or small. This will help identify an approach for how to bring in new processes and solutions to improve the way you work.
Solution – Is all about building out those ideas from the sessions. This helps companies to innovate using technology, to build creative solutions, and to create projects with beneficial business outcomes.
An example of this could be transitioning from a manual training booking process that has limited spots, to a self-serve system. Or, it could even just be an idea like showing staff appreciation by automating a work anniversary communications to celebrate each person in the business. Netpremacy themselves have run these internally, where solutions like the Office Booking tool were thought up.
Why run a hackathon?
Many people may immediately come back with the question of: What positive impact is this going to have on the business?
There are many benefits of running a hackathon for both the business and its employees. Hosting a hackathon allows you to improve efficiency by refining new workflows and taking away mundane tasks. No one person comes up with all the ideas, so opening your floor to all employees will help the business to understand what day to day processes do and don’t work. Your employees will feel more valued if they can voice their opinions on processes.
It’s easy to stick to old processes because “That’s the way it’s always been done” but challenging your business and its processes is a way of evolving.
Who can get involved?
It’s easy to think that a hackathon should only be open to the more technically minded. When in fact it is the opposite. A hackathon should be open to everyone. That way you are gathering information from the company as a whole and how it works across different departments.
What tools to use for a Hackathon
Kevin touched on a number of tools that are available in the Google Cloud stack that can be used to build solutions for your business. The tools that can be used are listed below.
Just using the Workspace tools could be enough for some scenarios especially for getting started.
• Native Workspace integration
• Brand new IDE
• Fairly new, but a lot of buzz from Google
• No-code (but has in-built logic builder)
• Quick to pick up (connect a sheet)
• Extensive Documentation
• Integrate into Workspace
• Api Explorer / “try it now” feature (learn: required parameters & expected responses)
- The world’s your oyster, with some cost
- Powerful platform to host your more complex applications
- even at the scale Google products you use day to day (i.e. Gmail)
Overall, a very informative session from Kevin. We taught our attendees how looking at business processes as a whole business rather than a select few employees can have a massive impact on the productivity and collaboration of your teams.
The week was brought to an end with our closing event, this was an opportunity to reflect on the content we had delivered, and to reconnect with everyone to check in on how it had been received. The session began looking at 2020 as a whole, and by watching Google’s latest roundup video of 2020.
We then heard from Martin and his thoughts for the duration of 2020.
“What a year, January seems quite far away now and no one could have known or foreseen how it was going to play out. Whilst I will save my thoughts on the tragic nature of a lot of it I will say what an opportunity it has been for us all to think differently about our own working lives and that of our teams and Businesses.
Technology has once again been an enabler to keep in contact, working, and collaborating together without thought of how or will it meet the need, it once again just works.
The future looks bright and next year I know will be interesting and challenging but I believe that is why we choose to work in technology, I hope we can continue to keep rallying around each other and through this CSS community we have built and solved those challenges together.”
– Martin Russell Customer Success Director.
Again, we want to thank every single person that made our CSS2020 event successful. These events, may they be physical, or virtual are what make Netpremacy who we are. Over the course of the week, we have pulled some interesting stats for how the week played out.
If you are seriously considering joining our CSS community, please feel free to reach out and our teams will be happy to discuss what is included, and how you can get involved.
We spoke to some key players in the retail industry, and here’s what they had to say…
At Netpremacy, we aim to create a community whereby people and businesses feel welcome to come and openly discuss industry challenges they may have, and come to us with questions they may have on Google Cloud. Recently, we created that environment and invited a specific few technology leaders in the Retail industry to “sit” at our virtual roundtable. We then had honest and open conversations about the challenges 2020 has brought and how they are looking to overcome them.
This was a successful discussion, our attendees were all given bespoke coffee hampers to start the morning off the right way – with a fresh pot of brewed coffee in hand. A must before any meeting can start!
We were joined by Becky Postlethwaite, Google Cloud Industry Manager in Retail at Google. A retail specialist with knowledge in the market and deep trusted relationships with Retailers in the Google Cloud space. Running the session was Ben Trood, Head of Business Development and Netpremacy retail specialist. Finally, the session was chaired by our Head of Customer Success and transformation guru, Martin Russell.
There were a number of topics discussed in this session, although it was noted at the end “and we haven’t finished yet, we could talk for hours”. However, some key challenges were highlighted and it was interesting to see how much businesses have had to adapt and react to change since the start of 2020.
This year has been a driver for change. Companies have been forced to move away from the office culture.
Is it now time to look at changing because of this?
It could cause minimal disruption to the businesses currently due to the current COVID situation. This could potentially be a great time to ignite the fire of changing the way you work within your business.
The meeting made it clear that the factor holding some businesses back from making change is how their workforce will react to it. This is a BIG factor when looking at moving to the cloud, and it’s imperative that correct training and change management strategies are put into place.
However, it was also highlighted that people are a lot more reactive to change than we think, some of the attendees mentioned that the current situation had made them “rip off the plaster” and had no choice but to create a remote workforce. It showed that Covid has proved that people are more open to change than we may think.
Blockers are something we don’t want to think about but are very real for many businesses. We spoke about the main things businesses were finding were blocking their path to move to the cloud.
Challenges when looking at moving to the cloud
• Fear of change from the top
• Focus on what it’s going to bring and how it’s going to change things
• The amount of time and effort it takes to upgrade
• The brief of change is expected thanks to covid, people understand that change does need to happen
• More stress on the technology team
Culture and transforming the way you work
We talk about transforming the way you work a lot. But what does that actually mean?
Well, at Netpremacy we perhaps take that for granted. However, there are still businesses all over the Globe that simply cannot begin to fathom working remotely as they are still stuck with an on-premise mindset and old school technology stacks to match. It can be hard to imagine working from any device, anywhere, anytime when you are so used to being hardwired into an ethernet cable that’s underneath your specific desk.
We spoke about how moving your infrastructure to the cloud has a dramatic effect on the way your business works.
We heard from 2 of our customers on why they decided to make the move, their main takeaways were:
Why Google Cloud?
• The need to modernise their desktop
• Wanting the ability to collaborate and share information easier
• Attracting talent – people were coming through the door and expected the best infrastructure and technology at their fingertips
• Unlimited storage
• Wanting to make decisions, fast and communicate better
• Wanting to bring everyone from different office locations together to become more unified
• Security and single sign-on
• More straight forward to use, and were so lucky they were on Google cloud when covid hit
• Google Meet interaction integration with the rest of the suite is second to none
The overall session was a great opportunity to have a frank and informative discussion on what challenges different companies are facing, and how we can work together to overcome these obstacles. It was interesting to hear stories from the field on how different people cope with change differently, and eye-opening to realise that with the right tools how easy it can be to become a remote workforce that is prepared for unprecedented challenges such as the whole country being sent home, to work.
Due to the success of this session, we will be running more intimate sessions such as these that are limited in numbers and exclusive to industry-specific topics.
If you would like to attend one of these sessions going forward or have topics you would like to discuss, please email Ben Trood, Head of Business Development directly at email@example.com
Is this the Biggest Proof of Concept in History?
We recently created a study on the effect COVID-19 has had on businesses, and here are the results…
Since the proliferation of Cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS), over the past ten years or so, the debate around allowing employees to live more flexible working lives through remote working has been ongoing. In recent years Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Office 365, Teams, and Zoom are making it increasingly easier for businesses to mobilise their workforce, collaborate with their teams, and continue speaking directly to their customers from any location, on any device.
Despite this, progress has been surprisingly slow. According to the Office of National Statistics, the percentage of the UK population mainly working from home in 2019 was 5.1% compared to 4.3% in 2015 with only 30% of people having “ever” worked from home.*
That is until now, in June 2020 at the height of the Pandemic the ONS stated 49% of workers reported working from home at some point in the seven days to 14 June, up from 41% the previous week.* As we head into a second lockdown we would like to think that businesses will be better equipped to work from home.
Is this the biggest Proof of Concept in history?
If you asked the average Financial Services IT department 9 months ago to enable every member of staff to work from home tomorrow, or a retailer to close high street stores and transition to a 100% virtual shopping experience within days, they would have told you it can’t be done!. Yet this is exactly what they were asked to do. (and they did it)
These businesses- thousands of them, were forced into the biggest Proof of Concept in history. While many would agree “The Concept ” has been proven, we should now ask what we have learned and what we will do differently?
It’s time to ask yourself some questions.
How confident are you that the platform is scalable enough, secure enough, reliable enough, easy to use, cost-effective at scale? How prepared are you for when something like this happens again?
• How has this changed your business?
• Will this change your approach to remote working?
• Will you reduce office space?
• Does this mean you can now hire from a broader talent pool if the location is no longer an issue?
• Will you offer more flexible working options in the future?
Will we go back to how we worked before?
No-one knows for sure but I believe the short answer is probably not. In a recent Netpremacy survey of UK knowledge workers 82.6% said that pre – COVID-19 lockdown, they were expected in the office every day
Fast forward to now.
47.8% said that they would be allowed to choose how to split their time between working from home and the office.
39.1% said that they would now be working from home permanently. Leaving just 13% of the respondents having to go back to the office full time when the pandemic is over.
This is a big shift and if we listen to the 95.7% who prefer working from home and the 60.9% who felt like they were more productive, then, I believe the majority will have to offer more flexible home working practices in the future.
And those that don’t?…
Well, at the very least, now more than ever, they understand how SaaS and the Cloud platforms such as Google Workspace, Teams, and Zoom, can help prepare for an ever-increasingly unpredictable future.
In our whitepaper ‘Three ways Google Workspace helps business thrive and plan,’ we outline how our customers have been using Google Workspace to thrive throughout this pandemic as well as plan for an increasingly uncertain future.
Dan Sullivan is a Cloud and SaaS technology veteran currently working with Google Cloud Premier Partner and Google 2019 Work Transformation Partner of the year Netpremacy. With more than 20 years of technology experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses deliver game-changing business and technology transformations.
If you would like to learn more about how Google Workspace can help your company adapt and thrive, please contact Dan on: firstname.lastname@example.org