PROTECTING CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FROM THREATS

Features: April 24th, 2015

Attacks on critical infrastructure systems are becoming more sophisticated and digital control systems are becoming more complicated. In this article Tony Berning discusses how security policies can address the inclusion of portable media.

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PUTTING FRESH THINKING INTO THE EARLY HELP AGENDA

Features: April 17th, 2015

As the first in a series of new guidance is released to help frontline staff identify families in need of early intervention, Phil Neal shares the thoughts of senior leaders in the children’s services arena on the challenges and opportunities delivering the early help agenda presents.

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ENHANCING YOUR END-TO-END WORKFLOW WITH MOBILE TECHNOLOGY

Features: April 10th, 2015

In this feature John Cameron explain how mobile technology is changing the role of those who work away from the base whether in the private or public sectors.

Mobile technology is redefining the workday as field technicians increasingly leverage mobile devices for tasks that previously required time-intensive phone calls and paperwork. Today this technology is helping to streamline workflow by mitigating daily challenges that used to derail even the best laid plans. In a recent Aberdeen study, 82 per cent of organisations identified mobility as a strategic initiative to gather real-time intelligence for issue resolution. Clearly, this technology offers significant benefits in enhancing end-to-end processes. The following are five ways we see mobility transforming the workday:

1. Operational Efficiency

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SMART TECHNOLOGY BOOSTS SAFETY ON MOTORWAYS

Features: March 27th, 2015

Smart technology accounts for a tiny percentage of the Highways Agency’s budget, but without it, flagship schemes such as Smart Motorways, which improve safety and boost road capacity, wouldn’t be possible.

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GENERATION CHANGE IN FIELD SERVICE STAFF

Features: March 6th, 2015

John Cameron looks at the changes taking place in field service as a younger generation moves in.

The field service industry has, in previous years, been a subject of concern for having an ageing workforce and the implications this has as those with such great knowledge and experience reach retirement age. However, as the industry continues to evolve, a major trend has been the emergence of young, tech-savvy and collaborative workers. Indeed, according to Aberdeen Group’s latest report, ‘Emerging Workforce in the field: Tech-savvy to technician’, approximately one-fifth of the current workforce is under 30, with the average age of a field service technician being 32 years old. Field service organisations must therefore recognise what the needs and motivations of this new, up and coming workforce are, in order to keep them for the long haul as well as to attract the next pool of young talent.

Flexibility and Mobility

Technology is overwhelmingly recognised as an aid to achieving key strategic objectives. It is therefore important for organisations to understand how the influx of young workers use, process and engage with technology. A key factor to consider is flexibility and mobility. Tech-savvy workers do not want to be tied down by old, legacy technologies. They want the freedom to engage with the latest advances and utilise technologies they are used to in their personal lives. As a result, the mobile landscape for field service organisations is evolving and the ‘emerging worker’ is helping to speed up this transformation.

There has been much debate in the sector around ‘Bring Your Own Device’ strategies, where employees have the ability to connect their own technical devices, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, to their company’s network instead of using a device owned by the company. BYOD is considered by many as being the only way forward for businesses looking to compete effectively and offer the most efficient customer service and increased employee satisfaction.

Aberdeen Group’s report found that 62 per cent of the top performing field service organisations have incorporated a BYOD strategy as a result of a more tech-savvy workforce and 43 per cent are more likely to give technicians access to social media and collaborative tools to facilitate knowledge transfer.

Visibility and collaboration

A major characteristic that the emerging field service workforce encompasses is the ability to be collaborative, and this is a trait that will help transform service and the relationship with the customer. Organisations must therefore capitalise on this by developing the collaborative tools needed to help the workforce perform as experts in the field and resolve customer needs as quickly as possible.

Collaborative tools, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops offer users the chance to take advantage of mobile apps. There are a number of bespoke mobile apps on the market today that are tailored to help manage a field service operation and simplify business processes.

Indeed, mobile apps offer technicians the ability to share, store and view job data while out in the field, providing them with a virtual link to the back office. Critical information such as daily tasks, customer histories and billing can be accessed on demand. Furthermore, locations of nearby teammates can be retrieved on a mobile device and a real-time connection provided through social networking, enabling them to seek assistance or help resolving a problem, if needed.

By having the tools and capabilities to work more collaboratively, and having access to real-time insight, empowers the workforce to make more strategic decisions. The speed of communication via social and mobile allow them to solve problems more quickly and ensures resolution is not delayed because of lack of information. They can easily recruit help from peers and are better enabled to reach appointments on-time and achieve first-time case resolution, leading to increased customer satisfaction and worker productivity whilst reducing operational costs.

An additional advantage of recruiting workers that are already well equipped to use mobility solutions, such as smartphones and social networking, is that they are well placed to provide teach and learn sessions for other workers. The adoption of mobility solutions can then be replicated throughout the entire workforce.

Customer service excellence evolves with the emerging worker
According to the Aberdeen Group, the next generation of workers will be different and when it comes to the evolution of excellent service, they may just be what is needed to wow future customers.

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LEVERAGING THE POWER OF PROCUREMENT TO DEMONSTRATE GENUINE VALUE

Features: February 27th, 2015

In this feature Nigel Crunden explores the wider issues of public sector procurement beyond the process of acquiring goods, works and services.

The UK public sector spends around £23bn each year on the procurement of goods, works and services, which accounts for around a third of overall public sector expenditure. Public sector procurement is therefore a business function that directly impacts on performance and, ultimately, the service offered to end users.

Consequently, procurement decisions and processes have a major influence on best practice across a range of government departments and functions. Therefore, focusing on value for money and efficiency can help ensure that this influence is a positive one. By leading in this way, public procurement can also influence firms’ future investment decisions in equipment, jobs and training. The individual supply chain partners of government departments can play a major role in helping achieve this – indeed, those suppliers that don’t already should be challenging themselves to provide added-value advice and guidance over and above simply providing products and services.

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GETTING SMARTER COUNCIL BILL PAYMENT

Features: February 23rd, 2015

This feature describes how West Devon Borough Council developed barcoded billing for the payment of Council bills and replaced swipecards.

The Council worked in partnership with allpay and introduced an International Issuer Identification Number (IIN), which gave the council flexibility to introduce further schemes requiring extended customer references. In addition, the Council saved money by utilising allpay’s internal service codes, instead of having to purchase these through the Post Office. The barcode solution went live in March 2014, allowing West Devon’s residents to pay their council tax at any PayPoint or Post Office – which increased the number of outlets where residents could pay previously. The contract has also been structured to provide a commercial incentive for West Devon’s neighbouring authority, South Hams District Council, to utilise the service.

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BRITAIN IN BLOOM –IT’S ALL ABOUT PEOPLE

Features: February 13th, 2015

Britain in Bloom’s strength is the impact it has on communities says Patience Atkinson-Gregory of horticultural manufacturer Amberol.

The Britain in Bloom and It’s Your Neighbourhood campaigns have quite literally changed the British landscape – they are about so much more than flowers and plants or winning prizes. At the heart of these initiatives is a strong desire to improve the communities where people live and work, aesthetically, culturally and socially.

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TRENDS THAT WILL IMPACT FIELD SERVICE IN 2015

Features: February 6th, 2015

Field service providers across the private and public sectors will see substantial change in 2015.

With so many advanced tools now available to fine-tune operations, field service organisations have reached an unprecedented transformative stage. By leveraging technology trends such as the Internet of Things, advanced analytics and smartphone and tablet integration, leading field service organisations are reinventing themselves as predictive, rather than reactive, operations. This may mean better-equipping technicians with intelligent apps that deliver real-time data and deploy analytics capabilities to make strategic decisions, or enhancing security and IT infrastructure.

Here are eight trends that may impact how you make those changes:

1. Robust and Flexible Platforms

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PROVIDING CARE THROUGH THE FRANCHISE ROUTE

Features: January 30th, 2015

This feature describes how a care business was set up as a franchise.

As a former police officer, Joe was passionate about helping people in need, and for many happy years he put the full weight of his considerable personality into making the streets of Cardiff a safer place. As the years went by Joe’s passion for helping others never waned, but he couldn’t ignore the niggling doubt that perhaps he wasn’t helping himself to achieve his own goals.

Joe started doing what most of us have done at one stage or another, and imagined himself in different jobs trying to work out what would make him happy. Eventually it became clear that what he really wanted, was to work for himself and build a business that would test his abilities, reward his hard work and have a positive effect on those around him.

The day Joe visited his family to tell them he was resigning from the police service, he read an article in the paper that would literally change his life. It was an interview with a Right at Home franchisee.

Throughout his time in the Police Joe saw some pretty bad examples of vulnerable people failing to get the care they needed and deserved either at home or in care. The Right at Home article seemed to show there really were companies out there that provided a compassionate and professional service to people in their own homes. This was the opportunity Joe had been looking for.

“I contacted Right at Home and after a couple of lengthy phone calls I was invited along to one of the Discovery Days. That was when I met Ken (Ken Deary managing director) and I honestly knew there and then that this was what I wanted to do. I didn’t know if I could afford it or even if they’d want me of course, but I knew I would be good at it”.

Right at Home discovery days are friendly and informal, but they are designed to give the company and the attendees a chance to really show their cards.

“Straight away I could tell how passionate Ken was about the business. He is so enthusiastic and really draws you in; I found the whole thing so exciting and the more he talked, then more I wanted to be a part of what they were doing. Saying that though, the more he talked, the more I also realised that they were only looking for the very best franchisees, and with no home care experience and the fact that it is a serious financial investment, I did start to feel like it might not happen for me”.

Without giving away too much of the Discovery Day process, Joe had a lot to prove to Ken and the team and would have to make several trips back to see them, produce a fantastic business plan and prepare himself to sit down with the banks to discuss how to raise the finance.

“Right at Home really helped me with all of that, but only to a point as they want to see that you are capable of running this kind of business on your own two feet. Like I say, they helped me, but it was my business plan and I was the one who had to sell it to the bank. I had to be sure that I really believed I could do it too, because obviously the bank don’t lend you all the money, I had to put every penny I had into starting the business which is not something I would have done if I had any doubts I could make it work”.

In the end, the bank must have believed in Joe as much as Ken did, as Joe raised the money and became the very proud owner of the Right at Home franchise for Cardiff.

“The training was full on, but it just made it so clear that trying to set up a business like this on your own would be a nightmare. Again, one of the biggest surprises was Ken; I couldn’t believe how involved he was. He was at almost every session and he has so much experience in franchising as well as the care industry. It just reinforced that I had made the right decision – I wanted my own business, I wanted something that I would have to work really hard at, have the potential to make good money, be able to really help people and build something I could be proud of, but, and I really mean this, I knew I would need really great support and guidance to make it happen. Right at Home have more than lived up to their side of the bargain and I hope they feel I have too”.

Two years into the business how does Joe feel about his decision?

“Best decision I ever made; no question. I’m in my thirties and I can see a really bright future where I own maybe 3 or even 4 Right at Home territories. I have put an amazing team together and the support I get from Head Office is just as good as it was at the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, it can be stressful at times, people really rely on the services my care staff provide and we can’t ever let them down.

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