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Meet Toby Kirk, MSP Account Manager

Toby Kirk. Planet IT Outsourced Helpdesk Oxford MSP Account Manager

Let’s start with an easy one… tell us a little about yourself Toby

I joined Planet IT in September 2023 having come from a range of working backgrounds. Most recently I was working for a Private Healthcare organisation managing their new clients and their marketing whilst also being solely responsible for their IT systems for a multi-unit franchise.

I’ve always had an interest in the world of IT both inside & outside of work. As soon as the opportunity to combine them in a role at Planet IT I jumped at the chance.

 

Can you explain your journey to Planet IT? 

I’d been in Planet IT’s ‘orbit’ for some time as a customer. The last 2 organisations I worked for had used Planet IT for everything from hardware purchases to firewalls & security. I’d always been attracted to the excellent service I was receiving as a customer and when a role came up that allowed me to bring my interest and experience in IT to may day to day I had to go for the role!

 

You’re relatively new to your current role, but you’re excelling! Why do you think it suits you so well?  

I think it’s the fact that having been the IT Manager for a multi-unit SME I have a great understanding of what the customer needs from me as their account manager. I love getting out to my client’s offices and meeting them and their teams in person, and finding out what their organisation is focused on so that I can align their IT technologies alongside their plans to grow and sustain robust IT systems. I always aim to deliver a relationship-led service which has all of my clients at the heart of everything I do.

Toby Kirk. Planet IT 20th Anniversary

What sort of clients do you like working with? 

I have such a wide variety of clients across many different industries. It sounds cliched, but I love working with all of them and understanding what IT systems they need to best support their work. It keeps the job fresh for me, and no day is the same.

 

What technologies are making the most impact to your client’s businesses?  

Technology moves incredibly fast these days but many of my clients are making the move to Azure and implementing applications such as Intune and Endpoint management applications. I’m also seeing a huge deal of interest in the implementation of Microsoft Copilot which has been an exciting product to get out there also.

 

What challenges do you face in your role? 

No day is the same but I wouldn’t see it as challenge per say but it keeps me on my toes keeps me learning everyday!

 

What is it like to work at Planet IT?   

In my short time working at Planet IT I have had the incredible opportunity to meet some amazing people and do some fantastic things with my clients and colleagues. Planet IT is like no other organisation that I have ever worked for, it doesn’t feel like work when I leave in the morning!

 

What has been your favourite Planet memory so far, and what are you looking forward to?  

It was great to part of the 20th Anniversary celebrations and hear the journey that Planet IT has come on in those 20 years. Still being young on my time here, I look forward to experiencing more of what Planet IT has to offer!

Toby Kirk. IT MSP Manager 

What makes you tick outside work?  

Outside of work I spend a lot of time with my family, I have a wife and 1 year old son who keep me very busy. However, in the odd spare moment I do get I love cooking and if the weather is good you can often find me on the Golf Course.

 

If you were to give advice to a young person thinking of entering the world of IT – what would it be?

There’s so many areas of IT, try to explore as much as you can and find what you enjoy the most!

Meet Emma Kerin, MSP Account Manager

(Reader, brace yourself 😬!!)

Emma, can you explain your Planet IT journey…?

My journey at Planet IT started in 2009 when I had just come out of college studying IT. Back then my job role was telemarketer, generating leads and writing them down on paper, Yes paper !!

6 months later and unfortunately the job just wasn’t for me, I say it was a mutual decision to leave, but Gav and Sean might think otherwise!

After going into various IT support roles, in 2015 I approached Planet IT as they were starting up their IT support department and I joined to onboard all new clients. Back then there was Mike, Sam B, Nick, Stefan and Rob in our fish bowl. Things were very different in those days, with fewer clients and far fewer staff staff! But it’s great to know I was part of that!

Planet IT were then awarded the contract to replace every device at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace and it was such a honour to be considered for this role.

I have always been passionate about customer experience and making sure clients are listened to and understood. Now, 9 years later I’m a MSP account manager which has allowed me to take all the knowledge and experience I’ve had over the last 9 years and really deliver the best service possible for our clients.

Planet IT Awards

You are excelling in your current role. Why do you think it suits you so well?

As I mentioned, I think it’s the variety of roles I’ve had and the touch points I’ve had with all the MSP clients.

A key part for me is having a partnership with my clients, I thrive on delivering and working together to get the best outcome.

What sort of clients do you like working with?

I like working with all types of clients, having a partnership and not just being their IT company. I like to have conversations and understand what makes them tick and not just talk about IT.

 

What technologies are making the most impact to your clients businesses?

Right now, Azure, Intune and sharepoint are making the biggest impact.

Emma and the Planet team in Dubai

What challenges do you face in your role?

I wouldn’t say there are many challenges, but the industry is constantly changing and sometimes it’s hard to keep up and make sure we are giving the client the right advice.

What is it like to work at Planet IT?

Planet IT is full of opportunities and there are always different paths to take if you show how passionate you are.

When things don’t go to plan we all work together to get through it.

 

You’ve been here quite a while, what is your favourite Planet memory?

Iceland Christmas party, I would never have experienced what I did without Planet IT.

Planet IT Support Team in Iceland

What makes you tick outside work?

Going to the gym, holidays and walking.

I also love having a good time and a drink or two…

 

If you were to give advice to a young person thinking of entering the world of IT – what would it be?

Do it! There are so many different areas and opportunities within IT. You don’t have to be in one role forever.

How IT Can Save Your Business Money and Make It Work Better

How IT Can save your business money

Technology is an essential part of any modern business, but it can also be a source of frustration, inefficiency, and risk if not managed properly. You need a reliable, trustworthy IT partner to help create and implement a strategic IT roadmap that aligns with your business goals and needs.

We know that IT is essential for modern work, to communicate via email, messaging, video conferencing and apps such as Excel, Adobe and others to enable our businesses. But an IT roadmap is so much more than that. It can allow your business to improve, drive forward, and save you money while doing it.

Let’s explore how…

AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning, and decision-making. AI can help your business improve productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction by automating repetitive and complex tasks, enhancing data analysis and insights, and providing personalised and intelligent services. For example, you can use AI to:

Streamline your workflows and processes. 

Use chatbots, virtual assistants, and robotic process automation (RPA) to handle customer inquiries, bookings, invoices, and other administrative tasks.

Optimise your operations and performance. 

Utilise machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing (NLP) to analyse large and diverse data sets, generate forecasts and recommendations, and detect anomalies and patterns.

Innovate your products and services. 

Tools such as computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language generation (NLG) to create interactive and engaging experiences, such as face recognition, voice assistants, and content creation.

Used correctly and responsibly, AI can save your business money by reducing labour costs, increasing efficiency, and minimising errors. It can also make your business better by enabling you to offer faster, more innovative, and more personalised solutions to your customers and stakeholders.

The next big thing in AI? – Microsoft Copilot. Those lucky enough to use it this early have already seen how it can revolutionise our work. And this is just the start. Copilot is just going to get better.

 

Cloud Technology

Cloud technology delivers computing services, such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence, over the internet (the cloud). The Cloud can help your business improve scalability, flexibility, and collaboration by allowing you to access and share resources on demand, from anywhere, and on any device. For example, you can use cloud technology to:

Expand your capacity and capabilities. 

Use cloud infrastructure, platform, and software as a service (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) to host your applications, data, and systems on the cloud without investing in and maintaining your hardware and software.

Enhance your agility and responsiveness. 

Cloud orchestration, automation, and integration can help manage and coordinate your cloud resources, workflows, and processes and adapt to changing business needs and demands.

Empower your team and partners.

By using cloud collaboration, communication, and productivity tools, you can work together, exchange information, and deliver results regardless of location, time zone, and device.

Cloud technology can save your business money by reducing capital and operational expenses, optimising resource utilisation, and leveraging economies of scale. It can also improve your business by enabling you to access and leverage the latest technologies, innovations, and best practices in the cloud.

Our cloud platform of choice is Microsoft Azure. Azure provides 1000’s of products and cloud services, including the latest in AI. This allows businesses to choose the tools and frameworks that best fit their needs. Whether developing new applications, managing existing workloads, or exploring cutting-edge technologies, Azure offers a flexible cloud-based ecosystem.

 

IT can save you money

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity can help your business improve reliability, reputation, and compliance by ensuring your IT assets and information’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

The right protection can save your business money by avoiding or reducing the costs and losses associated with cyberattacks, such as downtime, data breaches, fines, lawsuits, and reputational damage. It can also improve your business by enabling you to build and maintain trust and confidence with your customers and stakeholders.

A 24/7/365 Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service covering your organisation keeps you protected by a team of experienced threat hunters and saves you the cost of hiring your own managed Security Operation Centre (SOC). As a bonus, your Cyber insurance costs will be dramatically reduced as MDR satisfies many of their policy requirements.

 

Unified Endpoint Management (UEM)

UEM or Device management is the administration and control of your IT devices, such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, and printers, used by your staff and users to access and use your IT resources and services. UEM can help your business improve security, efficiency, and user experience by ensuring your IT devices’ proper configuration, maintenance, and support. For example, you can use device management to:

  • Secure and protect your devices using encryption, remote wipe, and lock to prevent unauthorised access and data loss in case of theft, loss, or compromise.
  • Manage and update your devices using inventory, provisioning, and patching to keep track of your device assets. You can assign and distribute devices to your staff and users and install and update software and firmware.
  • Support and troubleshoot your devices by using device monitoring, diagnostics, and helpdesk to monitor the performance and status of your devices, identify and resolve issues and problems, and provide assistance and guidance to your staff and users.

Device management can save your business money by reducing device downtime, waste, and theft and optimising device performance and lifespan. It can also make your business better by enabling you to provide a consistent and seamless device experience to your staff and users.

At Planet IT, we use Intune to manage our devices and recommend them to most clients. If you want to know more about Unified Device Management, check out our detailed article here: https://www.planet-it.net/uem-unified-endpoint-management/ 

IT Strategy

Software Licensing Management

Software licensing management can help your business improve compliance, quality, and value by ensuring the proper acquisition, deployment, and usage of your software assets and solutions.

Comply with software laws and regulations. 

Software license management can make auditing and reporting easier by verifying and documenting your software entitlements, installations, and consumptions and avoiding software piracy, infringement, and penalties.

Optimise your software investments.

Use software licensing to optimise, consolidate, and negotiate. Evaluate and select the best software license models, types, and terms for your business needs and budget to reduce software costs and complexity.

Enhance your software capabilities.

Managing complex software license subscriptions, renewals, and upgrades is a fine art. You can access and benefit from the latest software features, functions, and improvements and maintain software compatibility and interoperability.

Software licensing can save your business money by avoiding or reducing software over-licensing, under-licensing, and non-compliance and maximising software utilisation and value. Furthermore, it can improve your business by enabling you to leverage the best software solutions for your business processes and outcomes.

By working with a high-level partner like Planet IT, we can secure you better licensing pricing than most other IT companies.

 

IT processes, systems and methodology can save your business money and improve it in many ways. However, managing IT can be challenging and complex, especially in today’s dynamic and competitive business environment. That’s why you need a trusted and experienced IT support provider to help create and implement a strategic IT roadmap that aligns with your business goals and needs.

Speak with James Dell today to find out how we can help you transform your business with IT – [email protected] or reach out on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/delljames/

Meet Maciej Owsiany. What exactly is a Principal Technical Architect?

Technical Architect

Let’s start with an easy one… what exactly is a Principal Technical Architect?

Well… I’ll do my best to describe that title as we all know it is comprehensive and contains many small bits and pieces.

In a few words, a Technical Architect helps businesses understand how the technology works that they might commit to buying and implementing within their company.

There are a few types of Technical Architect. One is a pre-sale Technical Architect, which is precisely what I do in my role. I often engage in conversations with businesses before the sales process. In the typical jargon, I use simple terminology to speak to executives about existing or new technologies. I often change technical language to something more straightforward for the client to understand so they can more comfortably decide to implement a solution within their organisation.

A big part of my role as Principal Technical Architect is to create IT roadmaps, where we look at the overall existing infrastructure for the business and project changes within a specific timeline to achieve better outcomes, essentially acting as your IT Director or CTO, providing that long-term technical vision for the business.

How does that fit within the Managed IT Support Area of Planet IT?

Within the MSP business, the Technical Architect role is a glue between a client and the infrastructure team. That’s looking after that business on a day-to-day basis. We all try to work together to achieve one goal, and that is, first of all, to make the client’s life easier by implementing technology which works for them first but at the same time makes the infrastructure team happy as they will have to then look after that solution and support the client after it has all been implemented.

A big part of my experience that massively helped me within my role was being a technical liaison. I was a part of the helpdesk and onsite team, assisting clients within the MSP business for over ten years. I saw the major struggles that companies were going through and often had to work under pressure to resolve those problems. I always say that I have been on the other side of the fence and not only seeing technical issues from one side of the monitor 😊.

 

What sort of clients do you like working with?

In our role here at Planet IT, we help over 90 support clients from various sectors, such as pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and consulting. We also manage highly demanding organisations like schools, hospitals, and critical care businesses, where technology has to be delivered on point as those clients are highly dependent on it. Working with companies with a straight mission and vision for their business is much easier as we can focus on longer-term goals rather than short patches. Those kinds of companies often stick to the plan and implement changes that Technical Architects put in the IT Strategies.

 

What technologies do you like working with?

This might sound like a broken tape, and as we hear more about the security solutions, most of us probably think…. oh, not again!

Unfortunately, the world we live in has pushed us to focus even more on the security aspect of every business.

We often work in a hybrid mode, which always makes technical departments very busy, and every aspect of security behind the hybrid working solution requires addressing accordingly.

I am not even sure where to start, as we can talk about it for hours, but mainly these days, we do not work from one secure parameter, such as the office. We do not use only one device to access business data. As everybody knows, and I am sure that most of you agree, we tend to use many devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, and tablets, to access our data.

From a technical perspective, it is our main goal here at Planet IT, and I am sure many other companies, too, secure that data and the devices from which it is accessible. In the technical department, we regularly speak about new technologies that can help secure the data and make sure that in the event of losing a single device, which, let’s face it, is not really hard these days, mitigating the risk of accessing it by someone who should not is achievable as quick as possible.

Using the right technologies, such as Microsoft Intune, is something that we work on daily here at Planet IT, and I can happily say that it makes me almost very proud that many businesses are deciding to make the right move and shift towards it.

 

What technologies are you looking forward to seeing in the future?

Virtual reality and all the AI-facing technologies that we can hear about are things that everybody is talking about at the moment. Many big companies are introducing solutions that can help us with our daily tasks, whether at work or at home, and some of them we might have seen in futuristic movies a long time ago. We all know for a fact that this is happening. We are testing some of these solutions here in Planet IT that might help businesses internally.

 

What challenges do you face in your role?

As I have mentioned, in participating in the Security Summit conversation regarding bridging gaps between technology professionals and executives, the challenge often is to try to convince the senior management team to invest in IT. I have been on many calls when I heard someone saying my system is not broken, so why must we make those changes?

Our job is to ensure that clients understand the importance and often the urgency of the changes that need to be made. Surprisingly, today, we still see many businesses that have not moved from their onsite server operating system, which is not supported anymore, and that is just one example. That may be because they are using bespoke and legacy applications, and the migration might not be that easy, but as long as there is someone who is willing to start a conversation with us and is open to a change, I call it a success as we can then have a discussion and try to face and resolve the current situation.

 

You were recently named the Planet IT MVP – Tell us about that. How did it feel?

That is a huge privilege, and I have to say that I am very grateful to be chosen by Planet IT team and voted for an MVP award, which I think stands for the most valuable player (I have been watching those basketball playoffs for a long time, and I know what that is 😉).

This all happened while I was climbing Kilimanjaro. I remember that my friend happened to catch the internet signal in the middle of nowhere for just 1 hour during our 7-day trip! I wanted to see what happened in the big world, and when I found out about winning…!! We then lost internet access, so I could not even say how happy I was. I feel like this is a team achievement, and although I was lucky enough to get awarded the MVP title, I cannot thank the entire Planet IT team who stands behind it enough!!!

 

What makes you tick outside work?

I love overall physical activity, whether walking, hiking, or training… I love it all!!! Why…? It is probably because during those, I don’t have to think about anything else, and I don’t need to analyse any solutions 😉.

 

WormGPT: Phishing-as-a-Service the Rise of AI lead Phishing Attacks

WormGPT

Have you been following my latest series of articles on AI and the moving threats of the AI lead wave? If you have, you will have heard me talk about the use of AI to generate content for cyber-attacks, especially their use to increase the effectiveness of Phishing attacks. But have you heard about WormGPT?

Almost as predicted a new AI-lead Phishing service has launched titled WormGPT. Its name is a homage to the AI service ChatGPT which it claims to mirror. The creators call it an equivalent to the natural language engine’s human-like answers to questions.

How does it work?

The way that WormGPT stands out is very simple. All the security measures and protections used to prevent the generation of malicious code or attacks in ChatGPT are removed. WormGPT actively encourages this behaviour. No wonder, it is developed by known hackers and actively promotes malware and other cybercrime on the page.

cybersecurity

WormGPT is a subscription-based service on the dark web. Like many of these services, it can be used to promote and enhance phishing attacks. It is another case of Phishing-as-a-service and will only lead to more complex and higher-risk cyberattacks hitting the public.

With this on the rise, all we can recommend is that you stay alert. Stay aware and have the right protections in place to prevent phishing attacks. You should have time-of-click protection enabled on all links in your business. If you need more guidance on this, you should reach out to your Planet IT account manager.

How our Cybersecurity experts can help…

Are you struggling to get your head around how AI affects cybersecurity? Then please call 01235 433900 or you can email [email protected]. Or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected].

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