The tech that should shape your business in 2022

technology trends

All the way back in January 2021, I wrote an article about what technology trends would shape your business in 2021. Looking back on those predictions, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that for many of our customers these technologies certainly did just that. If the pandemic continues to rear its ugly head some of what I said last year will still echo very true this year. You can read that article HERE.

However, the show must go on. For 2022 I am looking forward to what the new normal has become and how the technology we leverage every day can and must adapt to fit this need. Alongside this, I am exploring the tools, advancements and innovations that will change the way your business operates.

I always want to take these opportunities at the start of the year, to introduce or to develop your understanding of the technology trends we as a leading IT provider are seeing coming over the horizon. Ultimately these are what your business should and will be looking into and adopting to keep your business is safe, secure and able to compete in today’s busy market.

 

Cloud Services

Here we go again… Another year, another year of the cloud. I may have said this last year, and for that matter the last 2 years before that. Cloud Services, be that in the form of IaaS (Infrastructure as a service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) or SaaS (Software as a service), will change your business in 2022 regardless of if you want to let it.

The reason I say this is because we are no longer in an IT landscape where as a consumer you can choose how to run many of the platforms or software your business uses. Your ERP or MIS, most of these platforms are or have completely moved to SaaS or PaaS offering in 2022.

Take Sage for example, the development of this product as nearly completely killed-off on premise or as a standalone. The focus is on the delivery of the cloud hosted version. That may be with Sage directly or one of their key partners.

cloud technology trends

The bad news for IT managers who are cloud adverse or cloud sceptical?

Now is time to change your mind and move with the industry or risk getting left behind with systems and solutions that will only age and cause you greater issues down the road.

Continuing on the vain on SaaS, Microsoft continue to also drive services across to Microsoft 365 in favour of the cloud hosted, forever updated version of their tools vs the previous on premise products, I’m looking at your Endpoint Manager (Intune). This product is going from strength to strength. However it is doing so off the back of SCCM and ultimately galvanising the features from this well-established platform but developing them on Microsoft’s Cloud service. This leaves the on premise version to simply hook into the cloud and co-exist rather than get any substantial upgrades itself.

With businesses that implemented cloud services in 2020 and 2021, they saw an decrease in running costs of up to 50% and an increase in uptime and productivity up to 99.99%. This makes the cloud space one that from a CFO point of view cannot be ignored and from the position of the wider business can only make day to day IT services better.

If you take anything from this about Cloud service, let it be this; They are here to stay. They are the key focus for all software vendors and it’s a case of be onboard or be left behind.

 

A New World for Back-Up and DR

Building off of what I have said above about Cloud Services, the world of back-up and Disaster Recovery is also dramatically changing. This is twofold; you no longer have all your data sat locally on servers, storage and systems, which a local back up can collect and protect. Also, the fact that now, if your data is in a public cloud provider with a 99.99999% uptime guarantee, are you really going to move this data from them to a private datacentre or back to on-premise?

This change is making many businesses have to rip up their back up and DR strategies. For many IT Managers, Business Owners and Businesses, this is causing some hard conversations.

My take on the situation is simple.. Look at what you have now and where your business will be at the end of 2022. If your data is mostly moving to PaaS and SaaS solutions then you need to ensure that as data is moved that each of these providers or systems has a solid separate back up in place. Now for a platform like Microsoft Azure this does not need to be off platform but it needs to be in a different location. So with Azure we would look at Geo Redundancy or even multi-Geo Redundancy leveraging the technologies and services of Microsoft to back up your data to their other datacentres across the globe. If the system is 3rd party hosted like Sage, which I mentioned above, then you need a tool and a location which is away from this provider to store your data. For this I would always recommend looking at AWS, GCP or Microsoft Azure as the level of protection and guarantees you get from these providers is 10 fold that of a private or local storage solution.

If we look at wider IaaS and Infrastructure backup solutions and DR these also need to change. The first thing I will say on this is that tape back up’s are going the way of the dinosaur. (To be honest they should have gone a few years ago). While the logic of having a removable magnetic tape sounds like the right decision for all businesses. In the past few years we have seen that these devices don’t hold up in a DR situation and if they do, they are often too slow to react.

The best solution a business in 2022 can implement is to have an immutable back up in place. This is based on technology and tools that allow for near instant recovery. As we have seen time and time again businesses cannot support multi-hour or day outages in a disaster. Traditional back up technologies and techniques are beginning to leave business’s vulnerable to large periods of downtime in a true disaster situation.

If you are thinking about how your business should be protected in 2022, why not reach out to the team and we can talk you through in detail the cloud era back up approach to support your business.

human firewall

The Human Firewall

I said it last year and I will say it every year until I go blue in the face! We need to invest as much time into training our staff to ensure they can be safe and secure when using the systems and solutions that as a business we expect them to use. That is why in 2022 The Human Firewall continues to be one of the key areas of development we believe all business should be investing heavily into.

By this we mean training your staff to know what is safe and is not safe in the digital world and how to prevent risks to the business.

Now with this there has never been a one size fits all approach. There is however a logical approach which will prevent your business being open to risks that exist on your doorstep. We can teach our staff in 2022 to stop, deal with and report these problems. By doing this, then we increase the ability of a business to be robust and secure and remove the guesswork from the technology we need to ensure a business is safe. This coupled with MFA massively reduces the risk of account credentials being compromised.

For me as we enter 2022, the Year of the Human Firewall (2021) continues and I am now campaigning for the decade of the Human Firewall! So please go and train your staff and protect your business!

 

Silicone…. Oh Silicone

For some reason I have left the doom and gloom to last, but it has to be said that what ultimately will shape many businesses in 2022 is the continuing silicone and chip shortages. We are now 2 years into this problem and it is not getting better. We have all felt it. Consumer devices like the PS5 and Xbox Series X which where like gold dust for another Christmas. Servers and Laptops which are still being delayed by months at a time. We will all continue to feel the pain while the chip making industry rushes to fix the supply and demand issue.

As a cautionary tale for 2022, if your organisation is looking at a large refresh or even a big project this year which is time critical, think and act early when it comes to device purchasing.

We have seen wireless access points being delayed by 365 days from certain vendors in 2021. If your new office space or move is critical then this could cause you serious issues. Alongside this you have to think that every business will be in the same boat in 2022 so don’t be the one who gets caught out by lead times. I would also say don’t hold your breath for a new car any time soon as it seems the motor industry, with its love hate relationship with technology providers, has finally realised it’s not good to be at the bottom of the queue!

 

To stay ahead of the trend…

In conclusion 2022, like 2021 and 2020 before it is going to be a very different year to the 10’s that proceeded it. Cyber criminals and the threat landscape changing everyday, new vulnerabilities and risks appearing on a daily basis, for systems which are integrated in all of our lives and with potentially dramatic effect. However as business owners, technical professionals or employees we need to switch our approach and ensure we are using these changes to make our business ready for this continually changing landscape as we move forward. Think forward, think ahead and don’t get caught out by 2022 as I believe it will be a huge year for IT change.

 

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you in 2022 then please call 01235 433900 or you can email enquires@planet-it.net or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via LinkedIn or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

2021 – The Big Technology Winners & Losers

2021 Best and Worst Technology

Just over a year ago, I sat down to write a technology review of 2020. We had just seen the single biggest transformation that had happened to global businesses in the last 20 years!

The digital acceleration forced upon businesses as COVID-19 hit and government lockdowns continued changed the way that businesses needed to operate. Those who had failed to invest in their IT systems very quickly came unstuck. Businesses looked at their IT teams and demanded their systems be brought up to date.

(If you missed it, you can still read last year’s article HERE)

Entering 2021, I knew it was going to be the year of the cloud, and it very much has proven to be. The global silicone shortages impacting chip production alone assured this. For many business the only choice has to been to go to public cloud and leave the traditional on-premise infrastructure behind. Because of this, and what has turned into a challenging year for different, but somewhat the same reasons as 2020, here is my list of the 2021 winners and losers…

Winners

 

Public Cloud

Both Microsoft and Amazon have this year continued to gather businesses in their ever growing datacenters. This proves that business are finally coming around to the fact that some things can be done better if you let the industry giants do it. I have long believed the future was public cloud. 2020 proved this point with 2021 then accelerating this at a rate that was far beyond anything we thought possible. Business who were steadfast against the cloud removed barriers to get into Microsoft, Amazons and Google’s systems.

Public cloud will in my option continue to be one of the biggest drivers in 2022, with many businesses having an approach of either on-premise with hybrid cloud or full public cloud in 2022. The focus on compliance and data security by the big three continues to make private cloud a challenge to uptake for many businesses as they struggle to complete with the tools and level of protection that Amazon, Microsoft and Google can invest in. Just remember, when moving to Public Cloud that it is a shared responsibility model!!!

Public Cloud

 

Intel

What a difference a year can make! 12 months ago Intel was a shell of its former glory and was looking like a Marvel hero at the end of Infinity War (*Spoolers the hero’s don’t do well in that movie).

With the desktop processor being stuck on an architecture which AMD and Apple had long since surpassed limited to core counts and feeling like it could be a tough 2021 for big blue. Well this all changed with the return of a titan in Pat Gelsinger, after his stint with VMware. Pat returned to put Intel back on the path that he had started them on some 8 years before and successfully accelerated the new chip design out the door.

Dubbed “Alder Lake” the new Intel desktop processor line-up moves away from the traditional design to mirror that of Apple with E and P Cores (Efficiency and Performance). The focus being that E cores can use less power and thus make your laptop battery run for longer. The P cores can be activated to drive the system forward when it needs to complete some heavy compute tasks. These processors were released under the 12-Generation banner and have received praise from across the technology landscape. Windows 11 has specifically taking advantage of the core design and then have shown an experience well above that of the AMD processor with their all power core design.

This has been a good year for Intel and with Pat back in charge, I think we are likely to see them continue to battle Team Red for years to come.

 

Microsoft Windows 11

Windows 10 will be the last operating system you ever need, said Microsoft in 2015.

Well, 6 years later we are all upgrading to Windows 11, a very well thought-out and great overhaul of the Windows operating system. We now have some of the best features of MacOS and Linux with the trusted platform of Windows 10 providing its core.

I am a massive advocate of Windows 11, even if the naming convention is getting a little stupid (but then they could have called it Windows 21 then we all would have been in a much worse place).

In my review of Windows 11 I warned that early upgrades for business can be risky and that Windows 11 offers some challenges. Well I am glad to say, 3 months on my daily driver still remains on Windows 11 and my home device has even been given the upgrade with no real issues to speak off.

I think Microsoft have placed Windows 11 in a great position to be the operating system for businesses and home users in 2022. Hopefully by the later part of 2022 most devices will have moved from Windows 10 and we will finally see the death of Windows 7 (well, a man can dream right?)

windows 11 launch

Losers

 

Private Datacenters

On the exact reverse of the rise of public cloud we continue to see the need for private data center hosting reduce.

Many businesses are asking the question; “what can you do better that AWS, GCP or Azure?”. In the past, this difference was a clear winning feature for private cloud, however as time moves on the realisation that what are ultimately smaller players in the hosting market aren’t able to compete with the uptime, security, financial protection and costs that public cloud offers.

While I still strongly believe there are use cases for private cloud, I think the salesman’s arguments of it being “safer” than the public cloud have all been proven to be subjective and businesses should ultimately choose the best solution for them.

Apple

Second year in a row for Apple in this category, and no it’s not Apple Hate!

Apple have been hit pretty hard this year by two factors: the chip shortages and then a lack of interest in the products in a year where many people upgraded midterm.

2020 has seen Apple’s shares drop quite heavily against the backdrop of a lack of device production and thus device sales. Hopefully for Apple this gives them a kick to invent something new or dramatically different in 2022. As the company that coined the phrase “Think Different” it’s about time they did exactly that.

Apple macbook

Onsite Infrastructure

The downturn of on premise infrastructure continued in 2021 with devices being hard to source due to the chip shortage. Add this to the move to the cloud and we can easily see the onsite infrastructure requirement drop down to a new low. However, we expect this to come back with a vengeance in 2022 as kit becomes available and business adjust to a hybrid approach.

Unfortunately for on premise infrastructure this is being held back considerably by the global supply issues and less so by peoples want for the technology.

 

There has been many more winners this year, with business firing on all cylinders in 2021. However, we have also seen that this year some of the losers have taken a much bigger hit than expected.

I think the major take away for 2022 is that the IT landscape was changed by 2020 in a major way. The needs and wants of business have adjusted and now, as IT professionals, we need to fit around the needs of 2022 and onwards and stop looking to legacy for the solutions.

Whatever 2022 brings I am excited to be at the forefront of matching our customers to the latest and greatest technical solutions.

Help us educate 200 of Oxford’s most vulnerable schoolchildren

Educate 200

The students of The Oxford Academy, an 11-18 secondary comprehensive located between the Blackbird Leys and Littlemore estates in Oxford, are incredible young people. With support and hard work, they will be the entrepreneurs, artists, athletes and leaders of Oxford in the future. Unfortunately, for many of them they come up against incredibly difficult economic circumstances.

The Oxford AcademyNearly half the students at The Oxford Academy are disadvantaged and therefore receive free school meals; many other families narrowly miss out on the criteria. This is more than double the average in most schools in Oxfordshire. Thirty per cent of children in Blackbird Leys, Littlemore, Rose Hill and parts of Cowley live in poverty (Indices of Deprivation 2019), making the areas in the top 20 per cent of the of the most deprived areas in Britain.

For the students at The Oxford Academy, a lack of access to technology is a barrier to learning and success. This is all the more apparent now during this time of national lockdown. Some children have to share a single device with 3 or 4 other siblings, or with their parents who are now trying to work from home, and some of them are trying to do everything on their phone.

This is particularly close to us here at Planet IT. Our Founders Sean & Gavin attended the school when they were growing up in Blackbird Leys.

We are asking you for your help!

Sean and Gavin

To educate the 200 most vulnerable children, ask yourself, do you have a working laptop that you can spare? If you donate it, we will wipe and restore it, ready for a young student to learn.

What’s more, for every 2 laptops donated, we will buy a brand new Dell Chromebook to donate to the Oxford Academy.

Every laptop gives one more schoolchild at the Oxford Academy the opportunity to learn, be digitally literate and successful.

If you don’t have a laptop to donate, you can still help or even buy a new Chromebook using the School Trust’s Just giving page,

Please remember to mention The Oxford Academy Educate 200 when donating, as for the value of every 2 machines donated or cash donated, we will provide 1 more!

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/RLTHomelearning

If you have a laptop to donate, please get in touch and be a part of offering pride, aspiration and opportunity to every member of our student community.

Call us on 01235 433900 to donate your laptop

Digital Acceleration for businesses. Why 2020 was just the start

Digital Acceleration

We all saw the scenes in March 2020 as lockdown across the U.K and most of Europe was announced. At a moment’s notice, businesses across the globe scrabbled to build vital communication and digital strategies that could support their business operations.

This for many included the mass roll out of new digital devices, communication tools, work place and data management tools and virtual telephony. At the time many businesses made these changes as a knee jerk reaction, simply to combat the “in the moment” problem. However, this dynamic shift in our approach to working, the working environment and our forms of communication has enabled leaders in business to accelerate IT strategies in a way they never would have been able to if 2020 had been “a normal year”. For many CIO, CTO’s and Technical Directors 2020 marked the beginning of a new chapter and the start of a very different IT landscape moving forward. 2021 is already beginning very much where last year left off we are seeing this continued trend of digital acceleration across the business landscape.

digital transformation Breaking through the red tape

Some businesses when asked about the effect of 2020 on their digital strategies have said they jumped through two years of red tape, internal approvals and cost benefit analysis in two days. This shows the systemic shift we saw almost overnight. This change has seen many business jump from traditional technologies (desktops / servers and onsite telephone systems) to cutting edge technologies emerging across the IT landscape with the likes of Public Cloud, Mix Media Devices and cloud telephony with unified communication.

This trend can easily be reflected in the numbers published by Microsoft in relation to the usage of their communication platform Microsoft Teams which jumped from 900 Million meetings held on the system per day in March 16th 2020 to 2.7 Billion per day by the end of March. That number is yet to drop and if anything will continue to rise as the pandemic runs in course and staff continue to be offered the flexibility of work space.

The Importance Of Being Ready

digital acceleration It is worth mentioning at this point for the business which unfortunately saw their trade days come to an end in 2020. Many had failed to adapt, grow and change before 2020 and where therefore unable to adapt in a way that enabled them to be flexible around the pandemic. For these business, the lack of development of IT systems lead to a perfect storm of spending requirements, insufficient time and a lack of business commitment to IT and digital development.

The importance all business must learn from the events of 2020 is that digital transformation in the modern age is imperative. A business without IT cannot function and the drive of CIO, CTO and Technical Directors has and will always remain in the development, expansion and overall success of a business. They above all others know how critical those systems are.

Unfortunately for many businesses, IT is often considered to be a “cost with little reward” which from last year we can see is ultimately the wrong way to approach the topic. IT is a business enabler and when used as such it can allow all business to overcome situations and circumstances which is never would otherwise be able to.

The right focus

As we move in 2021 with earnest, I am working with all of our customers to enable this continued business growth with the aim of removing the stigma around IT spending. The focus is on the benefits vs the cost rather than the costs vs doing nothing as was so clearly the case for many business in the years leading up to 2020.

If any business wants to strive and succeed in 2021 then the goal must be to continue the path of digital acceleration and put IT as a business focus for all. Remember, don’t just look at the short-term pains. It’s all about how we develop and implement strategies that protect businesses for many years to come.

If you want to discuss your business IT strategy or how Planet IT can help you to accelerate your growth using IT then please call 01235 433900 or you can reach out to me via DM or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

 

Quick Thoughts – Information Security – WhatsApp Data Sharing 2021

There are lots of social media commentary this week around the changes in the WhatsApp privacy policy.

First of all yes this privacy policy is scary and moves WhatsApp ever closer to Facebook in terms of their approach to who has the right to user data and what its worth to the business. However should you worry about it as a U.K or EU citizen? No. And the reason for that is simple, WhatsApp has to adhere to the guidance as laid out in the articles which form GDPR, therefore they cannot use the data or share this data with it’s parent company Facebook for the purposes of remarketing as it would be outside the fair use of the data.

 

That said, Facebook are looking to move Facebook access for UK users away from their Facebook Ireland entity to being governed by Facebook Inc. This would therefore change their obligations as your account would sit outside of the GDPR region. Furthermore, following the U.K. leaving the EU they would be able to do this and therefore WhatsApp would fall under the privacy policy of the U.S.

Planet IT security health check

So in short, don’t panic right now. There is no need to leave WhatsApp or not accept the terms in February. However, when Facebook moves the U.K. to be governed and controlled by the U.S., then if you want your data from being used for a number of questionable activities you need to leave and delete your Facebook account and do the same for WhatsApp.

I hope this quick thought helped you demystify the current situation.

If you want to talk to me about information security and data protection then please call 01235 433900 or you can reach out to me via DM or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

2020 – The Technology Winners & Losers

Technology Winners

We all know that 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and it is no surprise to anyone at this point late in the year that the digital landscape is very different to what it was 12 months ago.

So today, rather than a simple review of the year, I am going to look at some of the technology winners and losers of 2020.

Winners

 

Microsoft Teams and Zoom

Well obviously, right?

These two companies have enjoyed a dramatic rise to relevance as businesses moved (were forced) to an all-digital approach this year.

The reason these two thrived where others struggled is what makes them winners: both platforms offered the services for free for most of this year as part of their COVID support packages. Because of this they now have thousands, or even millions of new customers who won’t leave them in 2021. Teams and Zoom are now critical to many organisations and are part of their business models moving forward.

Not only was this smart marketing by the companies it has allowed both parties to learn at speed about what features we all want from these tools, I think this is clear when you see the number of changes that Microsoft have made to Teams this year, it’s certainly not the clunky product we were trying in 2017 anymore!

Microsoft Teams

AMD

AMD came out the gates swinging this year and they certainly had no intention of holding back. With the Ryzen 3000 series they have cemented their return to relevance making their CPU’s affordable and, in nearly all cases, faster than those coming from Team Blue (Intel).

However, this year they would go on to show why the 7nM process is so important and why Intel still pushing an 10nM process was going to cause them issues, this came in the form of Ryzen 5000 series, which wiped Intel off the top spot in nearly every scenario, and it did so a month after Intel announced their “best processor yet”.

This position was made even stronger when AMD managed to get both Dell and HPE to add their AMD EYPC processor to their server ranges giving customers the choice when looking to buy new servers. This is not only a win for AMD but also for consumers and businesses. We now have a better variety to choose from and can finally start to move away from Intel’s dominance, where the price point or performance does not make sense.

 

Apple Silicon

Continuing on the theme of CPU’s, Apple closed the year off by showing us all what can happen when you own an end-to-end process with the release of the M1 processor and the new range or M1 Apple devices.

This product, born from the legacy of the A Series mobile chip found in iPhone and iPad, is Apple’s first desktop processor since the days of PowerPC (Let’s not talk about it!). The important thing about M1 is not only is it built on the 5nM process but is also mind-blowingly powerful for a CPU which seems to simply sip on power rather than drain your battery in minutes. This, of course, is in part due to the fact that Apple own the eco system and can simply optimise every single instruction set to be smarter by working the CPU with the OS in the exact way they want, but they still have to be considered winners for this…

Also, who doesn’t want to run iPad apps on their Mac?

Apple Silicone

Public Cloud

Another rise to relevancy this year came in the public cloud drive, as customers seeking a solution to closing their offices and working across the country and the globe looked to the once distrusted Public Cloud as a saviour.

I have long believed the future was public cloud and 2020 was maybe the wrong way to prove a point, but we have seen a dramatic uptake in public cloud services. A huge number of large business are moving across and an even larger number of companies are planning through 2021 to close their datacenters and server rooms and put their workloads with Microsoft, Amazon or Google instead.

This move has co-existed with the drive by the big three to make the platforms more affordable and reduce the work to onboard to the platforms. This is only going to continue now as we slowly move away from onsite systems.

 

Losers

 

Intel

Now I already mentioned the bad year Intel is having in passing when coming up against AMD, but this year has been an all-round kicking for team blue.

This year also marks the beginning of the end of the Intel based Mac, which while only a small part of their revenue is sure to shake the foundations of what they are doing with other system integrators and device creators – not least Microsoft, who this year pushed AMD surface devices ard ARM based Surface Pro X devices.

Intel is not having a good year, but they need to learn from that their dominance in the CPU sector was on legacy born from innovation. Since the launch of the Broadwell generation of the i3-7 line up they have slowed down sticking until this year with 14nM for nearly all of its processors and simply looking for ways to push the clock speed on the devices. Now this year we reach the point where pushing clock speed is of less and less benefit and in 2021 we know Intel are going back to the drawing board to try and refine the 10nM and move to a smaller die process.

Good luck in 2021 Intel, otherwise it’s going to be another Team Red year!

Intel

Apple iPhone

Now the iPhone isn’t a looser in 2020 just because I left and moved over to the Android side!

This device is a looser because it lost to a phone half its price in a photo shoot-out between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the OnePlus 8T in a blind test run by MKBHD . Now, the importance of this test is massive as it shows that you don’t get perceivably better images by using an iPhone as Apple would have you believe,. It also shows consumers in a very tight financial year that you can get a great camera for less than half the price.

Will this change people’s minds about buying a new iPhone? Maybe not. But it hopefully will make Apple sit up and think as both the iPhone SE and 12 didn’t make it through the first stage of the process, showing that the issue may be with the way Apple handles the images and less about the quality of the camera. Either way the iPhone (13) or whatever it’s called needs to make improvements on this and be a big step forward for Apple in 2021 as their dominance is slipping and the Android market is out for their crown.

 

Onsite Infrastructure

The office has taken a bit of a beating in 2020. It’s becoming, for many businesses, a way to spend money for space you are not using,. This has caused a number of businesses to decide now is the time to change the way they interact with office space we have seen a massive increase in businesses looking to either move to co-location or into public cloud.

This has meant that the days of the larger projects for onsite deployments have slowed, so I think it’s fair to say 2020 has been a bad year for on-premises solutions but a great year for anything cloud!

 

There have been many more winners and a lot more losers than I could cover in this article, however I think the major take away for 2021 is that the IT landscape has changed far more in 2020 than in any year prior to it, as an IT professional I don’t expect business to slide back into old habits and things to switch back as we slowly return to more normal times.

Whatever 2021 brings I am excited to be at the forefront of matching our customers to the latest and greatest technical solutions.

Why do so many IT Projects struggle to complete on time and in budget?

IT Project

Project Management is a key skill and resource for any business. I think we can all agree on that. It’s a massive industry full of very clever people with accreditations, degrees and most using the latest, greatest software to make their difficult jobs a lot more streamlined and efficient.

Then why do so many projects fail or go so far over budget?

Go a little further, beyond focusing on project management in general, IT projects are notoriously difficult to plan, budget, execute and deliver within the expected timeframe.

The numbers behind these claims?

  • Almost 1/3 of IT projects go over budget, according to Forbes
  • 1/5 overspend by an eye-watering 200%
  • Overspending is generally tied in with a schedule overrun, 70% longer on average
  • Only 2.5% of projects were completed totally successfully within the original scope, on-time and under budget, according to a PWC study of over 10,000 IT projects.
  • 17% of failed projects threaten the survival of the business.

But what causes these failures? Is it the software? The goals? The approach? All of the above?

IT Project Manager

“Better software must be the answer?”

Let’s put that to bed straightaway. At Planet IT we are constantly approached by companies claiming to have the latest and greatest project management solutions that we can either use ourselves or re-sell to clients. Certainly, the right software package can make a job easier, but it’s a tool to use, nothing more.

“Should everyone be using SCRUM or AGILE techniques?”

Once again, these methods and techniques can help, but are like the software, not going to save your project.

“Unrealistic objectives, lack of set goals or milestones?”

Now you’re thinking along the right lines! It’s not necessarily the poor objectives, missing goals or even scope creep – it’s more the people that set the objectives and allow variance from the plan that’s the problem!

IT Project Management

That’s right, projects struggle to succeed because of the people!

All of the software, tools and tricks are no substitute to a project delivered with proper processes, procedures, monitoring and communication, with a professional approach by an expert in that field.

You wouldn’t ask the best logistics PM to plan and execute an IT Project, just like you wouldn’t ask an IT PM to execute a skyscraper construction plan.

The problem isn’t that it’s an IT project. Complicated technology does not cause the shortfalls, it can be that the wrong people are operating and interacting with tech they cannot handle, poor SoW, Lack of information divulged by the internal project sponsor, senior people within the business changing the scope without understanding the process and the knock on affects, outside factors could even be business requirements change within the project delivery. It could be so many factors and so many reasons why a project can be delayed, changed, late or even fail. It all comes down to proven processes within the Project Management of each stage of the project and ensuring that the whole team fully understands and follows it.

Learning in Practice

Our IT project managers, as well as the top PM’s at other big IT companies, have years of experience behind them. They have delivered countless large and complex tasks. They have become proficient on the job, spending time in the trenches building that competence through actually doing it! They are recruited and nurtured due to their previous successful project experience, their leadership abilities, their communication skills, their ability to work in teams and the basic skills and competencies necessary to complete technology projects successfully.

Evolution

Technology is constantly evolving. We hear that all the time. However, so too is the IT project manager. They grow with the latest tech, software, practices and executions. We regularly see (but rarely ask) our PM’s to complete training in their spare time. They live and breathe their work and thrive on being the best at delivering structured solutions to complex dilemmas.

At Planet IT, we’re very lucky that we are high level partners with the major technology vendors. It means we have access to new training as soon as it’s available. And to the experts who flourish on being the best… well, they feed on the knowledge that they are at the top of their industry and strive to prove it though delivering time and time again.

Project Management

Communicate Clearly and in Time

Pair that technical expertise to the ability to communicate effectively and you’re looking at a very good IT Project Manager.

Some people are genius at what they do. However, sometimes they struggle to get a point across. IT experts often have a bad reputation for talking too technical to people not as technical as they are. It’s a reputation that is unfortunately earned for a reason. Points need to be shared business wide. There are going to be stakeholders that don’t have the expertise of others, but still need to understand how all cogs work together.

Building the right plan, with clear milestones and deliverables is essential. Having just that yet not sharing it succinctly is criminal. As is not sharing updates, wins and any hic-cups that might arise – because they often do, out of anyone’s control.

Unforeseen problems do occur throughout almost all projects, communicating in a timely fashion to the project sponsor, building in captures and following the process when something doesn’t quite go to plan. Change of scope is never good to hear however it’s better to communicate at the source and when the issue occurs rather than sitting on the problem, this helps drive a new albeit slightly different path for the Scope of Work at the earliest point rather than waiting for further problems or longer delays.

The Planet Difference

At Planet IT, we believe in the Planet difference: our experts’ abilities, determination and commitment to the project. They never leave a project unfinished and to always resolve the unexpected, wherever it occurs.

Good PM’s are here to lead the way, ensuring due process is followed and goals are achieved on budget, on time and as expected.

How do we do this?

Strategy – Initial audits, research, and advice
Design – Clear solution designs against business case
Transition – Project approval through to project start and procurement
Operation –Implementation and monitoring
Improvement –Change management and client review

If you’d like to take a closer look at our process, we’re happy to offer a free walk through of our proven project formula for those companies looking at IT changes and might want a professional help – just send me an email to arrange – nick.johns@planet-it.net

Similarly, if you’d like to read more about our work, check our our Project Management page or download our Skills Matrix:

PLANET IT SKILLS MATRIX

Project Management Company

Conclusion

Certainly, IT projects are difficult. There are lots of things that can be pointed out as the cause of failure:

  • Clear project process
  • Poorly defined scope
  • No use of formal methods & strategies
  • Lack of communication
  • No defined goals & milestones
  • Failure to track progress
  • Quick and Responsive to necessary changes
  • Ineffective leadership
  • Poor technology
  • Lack of detail
  • Cultural differences

… but what do all of these have in common? The people that deliver the project.

Start there. Get the right, qualified, experienced and proven people to run a project.

Do it right, the first time!

Again, big changes coming with macOS Big Sur – be careful for now

macos big sur

macOS Big Sur is about to release to the public and as we have highlighted across several of our blog posts in the last few months, this brings large scale changes.

If you are running any of the following on your macOS device;

  • Antivirus or Antimalware software
  • Encryption Management software (File Vault Management)
  • Virtualization Applications
  • Dual Booting / Boot Camp
  • Containerized Applications

The we strongly recommend you hold off updating when the update is released, this follows several press statements from major software vendors like this one from Sophos. In which they detail the challenges of the short time frame and moving to Apples new API approach.

If you have any concerns of about your business software or upgrading we recommend that you speak to your Planet IT account manager who will be able to assist you with compatibility guides and information from the vendors specific to your business. If you’re not already a Planet IT client, then feel free to reach out to me directly on james.dell@planet-it.net

The landscape and support for macOS Big Sur WILL improve. We do not expect this to happen in the next few weeks but do expect most vendors to have support by the end of 2020.

To read more on this story you can see our previous blog posts on the subject here:

This might sound controversial, but resist that big MacOS update, for now!

macOS the big change with Big Sur

We know this goes against the usual advice you might hear from us or other IT experts, so in the meantime if you would like to discuss with myself or any of the highly skilled team here at Planet IT about how to keep your business operating, secure and safe in the changing world of the Mac you can reach us using the contact details below;

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

Talk to the rest of the team – Call 01235 433900 or Email : enquires@planet-it.net

Working From Home – Done Right

working from home done right

As we enter a second lockdown across England and the other parts of the U.K. go through their own local restrictions. It has never been more important to have the right working set up in your home office. Long gone is the “it’s only short term” justification. Working from home is here for the long term and with this latest wave of guidelines we look at what equipment you need to make home working successful.

A Decent Sized Monitor

Working on a laptop screen is fine for a few hours, now and again however if you are working for 8 hours a day for the next 4 weeks and possibly beyond on a 13 to 15″ screen you are going to be straining your eyes, potentially hurting your neck as you try to get into the right position to see the screen. The first stage of getting a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) safe working space is having a good size monitor, I find that a screen between 23″ to 27″ is ideal for working day to day, with bigger screens great if you have the space to accommodate it. Try to position your screen at eye level to you’re not looking up or down at it which will strain your next and upper back.

External Keyboard and Mouse

Laptops are an ergonomics nightmare where your hands are stretching over a trackpad onto a smaller keyboard. To reduce the strain on your hands the best option is to get an external keyboard, one that is either Bluetooth or uses a multi adapter like the range from Logitech which allows keyboards and Mice and other accessories to only need a single USB adapter. The keyboard and mouse you get should suit your working needs, if that’s a large marble mouse, an ergonomic mouse or a split keyboard it should reduce the effort you have to go through to use your device all day everyday.

Home working

A Wireless Headset

We are all so use to Microsoft Teams and Zoom now, however the number of calls I join where people are rocking the iPhone headset or even worse a wired set of cheap headphones they got for the gym, the sound is awful and it makes the disconnect of video conferencing worse. What I recommend from personnel experience is you look to get a decent wireless headset designed for video conferencing it will not only make your life easier, to prevents you leaning into the screen because the headphone lead is to short. These devices don’t have to be expensive but nearly all come with active noise cancelling in both the microphone and headphones, which will elevate your conferencing experience.

A good webcam

To pair with your headset an external web camera is always better that the small sensor on the laptops built in camera (if you have one), this allows you to position it above your monitor so that everyone is looking at your face and not up your nose. I have noticed a massive difference between using my web cam vs using my laptops built in device, I feel more relaxed on calls and it allows my posture to remain good throughout.

A Dock

So we are talking about plugging in a monitor, keyboard, headset and doing this in a easy way, well the easiest way to achieve this is by placing all your connections into an easy to attach dock. There are many of these devices from click and lock devices, to USB C and generic 3rd Party port replicators. Find a device that works with your laptop and has the inputs you need to support your monitor and other accessories, this will make it much easier to connect your device should you need to move it that much quicker.

Home working setup

A decent chair

Regardless of if you are working from the dinning room table or a dedicated desk, a key part of setting up a home working environment is the chair, get something that is supportive , adjustable and comfortable. Don’t use your dinning room chair or a breakfast bar stool. These are bad for your posture and could end up making your 8 hours feel like 80.

 

We are in unprecedented times and you may never have considered home working before this year, however the team at Planet IT are here to help. Get in contact today via contact details below if you need advice and guidance on how to make your home working the best it can be;

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

Talk to the rest of the team – Call 01235 433900 or Email : enquires@planet-it.net

This might sound controversial, but resist that big MacOS update, for now!

macos big sur

MacOS is changing with BigSur. Not only does the OS X era really end at 10.15 as we are introduced to BigSur (11.0) around late September, but the fundamentals of the operating system will change too. But why is this important to me, you ask?

Well as your average Mac user, as soon as Apple press the big red “Go Live” button on BigSur, you will see little red icon appear on your system preferences, as well as a nice little banner on both your notifications and App Store telling you to upgrade now to the future with MacOS BigSur. Believe me, I understand the excitement of a new update! And with all of this the temptation, it will be really easy to simply press the button and see what the future holds.

However the reason for writing this article is to implore you to wait…. BigSur will be the start of what ushers in the ARM based Mac era. However, with this a number of your current business applications will have to be altered or may not even work at all, this is the big unknown with a change of this magnitude. While Apple and 3rd Parties can try their best to work together to ensure functionality there is an inherent risk that, at launch, a number of your key applications won’t work as expected.

This apprehension is born from initial findings and decisions by Apple to change the way that the OS functions, the biggest impact will be seen to 3rd Party Security software or Anti-viruses. As they will no longer be able to directly talk in the way they have previously to the Mac, this means for many vendors a rush to produce a whole new Antivirus solution that works on the new MacOS BigSur.

So our advice is simple, HOLD OFF! 

I know we usually recommend to keep all devices up to date, but please don’t rush to upgrade your device this time. If you use it for work in anyway you are going to want to stay on the latest secure update of 10.15 MacOS Catalina for a while. We intend to notify our customers and followers once we have been able to establish that it is in fact now a safe time to migrate. This will be in the form of another blog just like this so keep your eyes peeled.

I know this goes against the usual advice you might hear from us or other IT experts, so in the meantime if you would like to discuss with myself or any of the highly skilled team here at Planet IT about how to keep your business operating, secure and safe in the changing world of the Mac you can reach us using the contact details below;

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

Talk to the rest of the team – Call 01235 433900 or Email : enquires@planet-it.net

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