What business challenges the Retail sector is currently facing

27 November 2020

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. 

Netpremacy retail roundtable

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. 

Change 

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 btrood@netpremacy.com

06 November 2020

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.

netpremacy covid 19 survey

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. 

netpremacy covid 19 surveynetpremacy covid 19 survey

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.

Download your copy here. 

Dan SullivanDan 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: dsullivan@netpremacy.com

 

*https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/bulletins/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritain/19june2020 

24 September 2020

Adapting to a more digital world – Top tips to ensure you are set up to take your work home

 

Businesses around the world have been working remotely in a more permanent way for over 6 months now. To put that into perspective…that’s half of 2020. Now, in light of the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, it looks like working from home will continue long into 2020.  We are over the initial shock to the system, but we need to keep on top of keeping our employees happy and motivated and start putting into place measures that are more permanent. 

Netpremacy was born in the cloud, and working remotely is what we teach to other businesses across the country. Which is why we wanted to share our experience and best practices with businesses that were not traditionally used to remote working. Office culture has changed dramatically, however, employees’ mental health and wellbeing is important, as is keeping business running as usual. 

Working from home has benefits and struggles you should consider:

Benefits 

  • Increased productivity 
  • Reduced travel costs
  • Reduced office maintenance costs 
  • Good for the environment
  • Increased flexibility 
  • Good for the environment

Struggles

  • Difficult to unplug from work
  • Loneliness
  • Different working environments
  • Distractions at home
  • Affects mental health
  • Hard to stay motivated

 

Do you have the correct setup?

When the UK was sent home to work, it was done overnight in a panic. Businesses didn’t have a choice and had to ensure their employees were sent home to keep them, and the rest of the country safe. 

Now we have started to adapt, more businesses have decided that working from home benefits them in several ways. Businesses are making the decision to keep this a more permanent solution, and we need to ensure that our employees have the correct setup and working environment. This can have a major impact on a person’s physical, and mental health. There are some simple steps that should help you and your employees to work comfortably and effectively. 

Ensure that when working from home you have somewhere comfortable to sit, that supports your back and neck. Yes, it’s a novelty working from your bed, but how much goodwill that do your back in the long run? The answer is not a lot! 

Working from a clean, and clutter-free environment is another way to ensure employee happiness. Make sure the area you are working in is free from distractions such as the TV, and is a clean space, to keep your mind clutter-free, and to create a productive environment in which to work. 

 Having a consistent spot that you “go to” every day to work helps your brain associate that spot with getting work done. Choose the same spot for a few days and your brain will learn that when you’re in that spot, you’re focused.

Customise your working environment, so that you feel comfortable and at home- make it a place you WANT to go to – just like you would at your desk at work! 

Ensure that your MDM is set up correctly

Mobile Device Management is essential when working remotely, which is exactly why employers need to make sure that this is set up correctly so that company devices can be managed no matter where your employees are working. Through Google’s single console, your company is able to manage the entire enterprise mobility. This provides comprehensive protection whilst being easy to manage.

G Suite admins can now define custom rules that trigger on device events and have associated actions. When an event specified in a rule occurs on a device within your organisation with a G Suite Enterprise license, the corresponding action you have set will automatically be executed by Mobile Management.

• Easy for admins to enroll all company owned devices for MDM

• Easily enforce device-owner mode on multiple Android company-owned devices

• Not be dependent on the end-user to enable device-owner mode

• Gather info on each and every Android device/app accessing G Suite

Read more on how to ensure your MDM is set up correctly, or contact a member of our team who will be happy to help you get set up. 

Keep your teams secure 

Security is important, no matter where you are located. Luckily, much of the Google technology we use has many security features already built-in (learn more here). But it’s always a good idea to have multiple security procedures in place to keep your employees, and data, extra secure. 

The challenge of remote working, when it comes to security, is that if something does go wrong, your IT team is not there to fix any issues. However, by utilising the Google Admin Control allows you to manage devices remotely, which is useful in a time where everyone has been sent home to work. Another suggestion would be to allow only company approved apps to be installed in the work profile, so your employees are not using apps on the work profile that your business has not approved. It is also recommended to set up dedicated work profiles that are isolated from personal apps, and you should make sure data sharing is restricted. These simple steps can help to keep your employees and your company data secure. 

Setting up employee devices correctly is a fool-proof way of making sure data cannot be accessed by people outside your company. The data is encrypted, and in case the device is lost or stolen, it can be wiped remotely. The new Advanced Protection Programme is an added level of protection for users who are more likely to undergo security challenges. This uses security keys which prevents unauthorised access to your Google account and protects the user from harmful downloads. New updates and security features are automatically added, so it’s one less thing to think about. 

Employees are generally kept safe from phishing attacks, as Gmail has in-built features that cleverly identifies and flags them; however, it is good practice to train employees, making them aware of what to look for and how to handle these types of cyberattacks. 

Adhering to these suggestions will definitely help to keep your mind at ease, however, if you have any further queries or questions our support and security teams are available to help. 

Regular communication & human interaction 

It’s important to remember that everyone is in their own unique environment, which may make working from home more challenging. Some will have a dedicated office space, whilst others are working in a one-bedroom studio. Whatever your situation is, you need to make sure it works for you, whilst being able to communicate with your teammates. 

Regular communication is important to stay motivated, and to keep up the morale too. Schedule catch-ups with your co-workers, so you are on top of your workload, but also socialising with the people who you usually spend most of your working week with.

Probably the most obvious, but it does get overlooked more often than not – take your lunch break! It can be quite difficult to cut off from work when you are in your own home, so step away from the computer, clear your head, and refresh. If you can spend your lunch break outside, that’s even better.

Keep things fun

Office culture differs with each organisation. Distractions in the office may make things difficult to get things done. Equally, you may find it easier to focus in the workplace more than anywhere else. No matter what you are used to, this is your opportunity to make things fun and make it work around you and your workload. Perhaps suggesting an online office quiz, or meeting up virtually on a Friday afternoon for a virtual drink will help keep things fresh!

Being successful in a digital environment is not just about getting the work done. Balancing health, both physical and mental, whilst having the right technology to communicate, collaborate, and keep your data secure is the key to allowing your business to excel.

Contact us and speak to one of our experts today about the technology we use in order to thrive in a digital world and remember to look after your mental health in times of uncertainty!

14 September 2020

Netpremacy’s Covid 19 Lock-down home working survey

 

We need your help…

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, many businesses have had to immediately change how they operate. While some organisations adapted quickly enabling home-working others struggled without the required video and collaboration infrastructure in place and invested massively to deploy new technology at a speed and scale like never before.

How did it go? What’s next? Where do we go from here?

Now lockdown restrictions are easing, this is a good time to evaluate what we have learned over the past few months; Will we do things differently? Has our attitude to remote/home working changed? How will we plan for future major disruptions? 

To understand this, we have devised a short anonymous survey,  the results of which together with our findings will be published shortly. Please take our survey, the link is below. The results of this survey will be analysed and posted, but do not worry, you can remain anonymous. 

We appreciate your assistance.

TAKE THE SURVEY