Netpremacy CSS2020 Digital Event – Halftime Round Up

09 December 2020

2020 has presented us with so many challenges, so we decided to get together (virtually) to celebrate and discuss them with our valued CSS network. We organised a week-long event full of workshops, discussions, and roadmap sessions to celebrate a successful, if not challenging year. All content is exclusive for Netpremacy CSS customers to say thank you for your continued and valued custom. 

Below is a summary of each session so you can see some of the content we share with our CSS community. Contact us to learn more about what our CSS programme entails. 

Opening Keynote 

Speakers: Martin Russell – Netpremacy, Guy Ellis – Netpremacy, Dan Middleton – Google 

Our first of a kind, CSS2020 Digital event kicked off on 07/12/20 with a welcome introduction from our Director of CSS, Martin Russell. This week-long digital event had a total of 14 sessions over 5 days. We are now halfway through the week and have already had exciting, innovative, and insightful discussions. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the week will bring!

In the Opening Keynote, Martin spoke around Netpremacy’s highlights for 2020 and addressed the current climate. This session was to introduce the week, what topics we were focusing on, and what our attendees could expect. In addition to this, we also had a fleeting sneak peek at the CSS2021 roadmap. We also heard from Guy Ellis, Commercial Director at Netpremacy on some exciting new programme announcements. There were a number of new campaigns built from our customer’s engagement and ideas over 2020. 

Next was Dan Middleton, the UK&I Google Workspace Lead from Google. He spoke about how Google has adapted to 2020 and what activities they have been doing to keep their business connected. He highlighted how Google was ready from a tech perspective when the pandemic hit – but it was the cultural shift that was the challenge. This is something that many businesses can relate to. It was great to hear about some of the things Google has been doing to replicate the culture at home. Ideas on this include: coffee meets, remote-based sessions, Master Chef cook along, wreath making, and mince pie making.

Before the session was brought to an end, we heard from 3 of our customers; DFS, Rentokil, and Pressure Technology on their experience with 2020, and how Google technology and tailored solutions have helped them not only keep their head above water, but to thrive in a global pandemic.

Changing the face of IT 

In this session, we heard from use cases in the field from our special guest speakers, Seza Nevat and David Anderson, from Just Eat. They spoke about their experience of moving from a break/fix IT environment in their basement, to an engaging business partner focused on education and empowerment. This session taught us how Just Eat has improved their collaboration and productivity since moving to Google Cloud with Netpremacy. 

It was eye-opening to learn how much the business has changed since they were first founded in 2001. From using break-fix methods and having to reboot their servers manually every single day, to growing to a massive business across the UK that uses Google Cloud to their advantage, to understanding their customers and providing the best service they can. All whilst continuing to grow. 

We heard from the team on the kind of changes that were noticed in the business when they moved to Google. Change was a challenge and something that they had to properly consider. It was communicated that Netpremacy was the reason behind the successful change and adoption of the product. This is something that always has to be kept in consideration to continue successful adoption and engagement. 

Finally, we discussed how Just Eat were able to continue to work successfully in the height of a pandemic because they were already fully immersed in the cloud. It was said that “we are so glad we were already on the cloud, we honestly do not know what we would have done otherwise”. 

Becoming Certified

Speakers: Fraja Hodges, Simon Smart, Josh McMurdo – Netpremacy

Here we heard from our CSS Product Manager, Fraja Hodges, our Support Team Lead, Simon Smart, and our CSM, Josh McMurdo, who each told us about their own experiences in becoming Google Cloud Certified. 

Simon first explained what getting certified actually means. Not only do you get access to the certified community, but you are in the certified directory as well. In addition to this, once certified applicants receive a badge, certificate, and a medal (and exclusive merchandise at Google Next). The non-physical benefits include boosting your confidence and personal progression. 

Fraja then took the mic and discussed her journey from a non-technical background and how she wanted to develop her skills, grow her technical knowledge, and allow herself to be exposed to more technical conversations in the business. Read Fraja’s blog post to learn how she prepared for the actual exam, with useful tips and tricks to help make sure you are ready to pass (hopefully). 

We then heard from Josh, who gave us an in-depth look at what the exams actually look like. At 2-hours long, with 50 multiple choice questions, you have plenty of time to review your answers, and you actually have 3 x attempts at passing the exam. 

Not only does this certification open up a lot of opportunities; such as speaking at customer events, hosting webinars, and even changing job roles, the biggest reason you should consider becoming certified is the confidence boost. It allows you to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge.

Spark to Vision

In our spark to vision session, we heard from Martin Russell and Rita Alaoui, a Business Services Trainer for Google EMEA. 

This session was to look at how Martin’s ‘spark to vision’ methodology has evolved over the years. Read Martin’s blog on his methodology here. It was aimed to address how leaders in businesses can successfully lead with empathy, and make a difference. The session also touched on how to successfully train teams, help relieve resistance to change and to make for successful adoption and a happy workforce.  

This ‘spark to vision’ has now been implemented in everything Martin does, and has also been adopted by Netpremacy. There are many sparks we all have that we can fix, but Martin’s view is to take a step back, and first understand what is starting this spark. How do we wrap around that vision for technology and how a business works going forward. Instead of a scattergun approach and fixing things when they go wrong. Martin is passionate about driving innovation and change forward with empathy, and it shows. 

Martin made it clear that to be a successful leader you need to look into how we can change the way the business operates and solves problems. Look at an empathetic approach not just a technical process. This approach that Martin spoke around can be implemented into big business changes such as moving to Google Cloud, or smaller projects you may face within your company. 

“The new person in the business has the loudest voice.”  – Martin Russell  

Rita Alaoui spoke around her experiences in Google Cloud, what she thinks makes for a successful business change, and how they stay on top of innovation at Google. She spoke around why training matters to help relieve resistance to change. She touched on how communication is vital to successful change, and also to good leadership. There were a number of customer use cases that demonstrated how important it is to make sure that change is accepted correctly in the workplace. “Transformation is a mindset”. 

This session sparked a lot of discussion for our customers and enabled them to have a voice and ask questions around change management topics and methodologies that they wanted to learn more on. 

It was clear from the session that there are a number of factors that make for a successful business and a happy workforce. The main things to consider when pushing change in a business when you are in a leadership role is: 

  • Empower people 
  • Work with empathy
  • Communication is key 
  • Correct training is crucial 
  • Making information useful and accessible 
  • Set goals 

Change Management 101

Speakers: Fraja Hodges, Jeana Marshall, Chris Freeman – Netpremacy

Change in a business is constant. 

It isn’t a one-size-fits all approach, and when adopting change into an organisation, people may move back and forth through each part of the cycle. Our CSS Product Manager, Fraja Hodges, started the discussion by setting a vision for constant change. Efficiency, innovation, collaboration, and talent are just some reasons why constant change is essential for a business. 

The Change Curve is a simple way of navigating through the different stages of change. The first stage is normally shock, or even denial, when change is announced, so it is important to approach with empathy. The disruption phase often sparks emotions such as anger, or fear, that this impending change will affect them and their job security. The 3rd and 4th stage is where the new processes and tools have sparked curiosity and innovation, and people can start to see the benefits of change.

Our Training Coordinator, Jeana Marshall, then took us through how to manage constant change. Change should be led from the top down. Senior leaders should be seen to actively support or participate in change, so people know it is real, and that it is happening. Resistance is always inevitable, but it should not be a reason to put off change. Change is critical to evolve, so it is important to communicate that to your teams. 

Our top tip: be concise, be clear, and be honest.

Chris Freeman, Customer Success Manager, then summarised the key takeaways from the session. Being transparent with your workforce; having clear, concise, and consistent messaging; offering support; encouraging attendance to training sessions; and giving people plenty of notice is the key to delivering successful change projects.

Learn more about the importance of change management here.

Google & Netpremacy Roadmap and Deep Dive

This session was run by Tom Chase, Josh McMurdo and Dominic Parkes at Google. 

Due to the nature of this session, the content provided to our CSS customers was exclusively for their eyes only and as a result under NDA. These kinds of sessions are common for our customers, we make them aware of the timelines and roadmaps of changes that they can expect to be coming up over the next year or so. 

Although we cannot elaborate on what exactly was included in this session, we can elude to the rough subjects that were covered over the course of the session:

  • Collaboration
  • Meet 
  • Google Voice
  • Security 

If you would like to learn more on how you gain insightful and exclusive access to information on updates prior to release, contact us and learn more on what our CSS programme entails. 

Netpremacy Technology Roundtable

This session was an open and informal roundtable session, in which our customers were encouraged to discuss current topics and how leadership is coping with a virtual workforce. 

Our session was chaired by Martin Russell, who opened the session speaking around how communication in the workplace has changed since going home to work. 

This was an eye-opening session in which we shared ideas on how to enhance internal communication and replicating cultural scenarios that so many of us are now missing. We discussed how to keep that culture alive and shared ideas that had and hadn’t worked across different companies. 

Some of the topics covered were as follows: 

Avoiding burnout

We touched on how to protect your time, being in back-to-back meetings is not good for mental wellbeing. Some attendees discussed how they are using apps that add into Google Chrome to book our repeatable time slots specifically for focus time. It is important to factor in your work-life balance, even when working from home. 

Keeping engagement in Google Meet 

This can be overlooked and sometimes people find themselves diving straight into work talk, without the usual “hi, how are you” introduction to any meeting. It’s important to try to keep this, as it keeps meetings personal, and not feeling like you are just speaking to a screen. 

Ideas to replace the morning commute 

This is something many of us may have taken for granted and even complained about previously. Now we see people are missing this routine from their day. It was suggested that people could “walk to work” whereby before you sit down at your desk to work, you get outside and go for a walk around the block first. 

Remote recruiting 

People were split on this topic, some companies are more open now to recruiting new team members, no matter their location. Whilst others feel being close to your team is still important for effective collaboration and communication. 

“Forced fun”

We touched on how to keep fun and communication within the workplace, without it feeling forced. There are only so many online quizzes we can all go through, so we talked around other ideas to keep your teams engaged. Ideas such as walking meetings, virtual escape rooms, and online interactive board games could be a great way to break things up. 

Overall, it was a fantastic and frank discussion. There was a community that felt comfortable and free to disclose their opinions on varying topics, something we are so proud to create. 

Due to the sheer amount of content we are running this week, we will also be doing an end-of-week round-up, to talk around more topics covered through the next half of the week. If you have enjoyed this blog, and want to know how you can be a part of our growing CSS community, please contact us here