IT as business enabler: the technology opportunity for professional services

IT as Professional Services business enabler

IT has traditionally had a reputation for micro-management. In too many professional services firms, the Department of No stood in the way of productivity and growth. But post-pandemic, things are changing. During that period, many boards and senior managers had a lightbulb moment – finally realising the value that technology can deliver to the firm.

To accelerate this path to progress, professional services organisations need to continue evolving how their IT department works, and what it is responsible for. In many cases, this will mean outsourcing more infrastructure.

A recent Saffery podcast featuring QuoStar’s Chris White and Saffery’s ITDirector, David Fazakerley, have some fascinating insight on this topic.

The changing face of IT

To add true value to the post-pandemic professional services organisation, the IT department must change its role from technology provider to business enabler. As such, the role of CIO or IT director will evolve into one of translator: speaking the language of business to the board and of bits and bytes to the IT team.

There are three ways we can observe this change happening in organisations today:

Cloud: There was a time when IT managed everything in house. Now cloud services have matured, there’s little justification for such an approach. Public cloud infrastructure, private cloud (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) can be highly cost-effective – enabling firms to scale up and down as required. And they are often more secure than anything that can be managed internally. Increasingly, cloud is seen as just another utility.

That frees IT from the operational shackles of keeping the lights on, to focus on a more strategic role. Today, IT’s role should be to select the right partners and providers to work with, understand what the firm’s employees need to maximise productivity, and deliver the best possible service for clients. Professional services firms aren’t IT shops. They’re lawyers, accountants and specialist consultants. So IT’s role at its core should be to support these client services via optimised use of technology.

Cybersecurity: Cyber-threats are surging amidst geopolitical uncertainty and a cybercrime underground said to be worth trillions annually. One vendor blocked 85.6 billion threats in the first half of 2023 alone. Government figures from April 2023 reveal that over half medium (59%) and large (69%) UK businesses suffered a serious cyber-attack or breach in the previous 12 months.

Professional services IT teams aren’t equipped to handle this deluge all by themselves. Instead, their job is to educate users, understand the organisation’s risk appetite, and outsource where necessary to providers with the requisite skills, resources and technology. It’s about building a cohesive hybrid team, so that when the worst-case scenario occurs, everyone knows their role and can react quickly in order to rapidly contain and recover.

It’s also about recognising that not all of cyber-risk management is a matter of putting in place another firewall or a web filter. The human-shaped problem continues to be a major risk factor, in the form of social engineering and phishing. And that can’t be solved by technology alone. It’s a problem set to get much worse with the advent of generative AI (GenAI), which will democratise the ability to launch highly convincing phishing campaigns in multiple languages.

Security awareness and training programmes will therefore be an increasingly important part of risk mitigation in professional services firms. To stand any chance of success, lessons must be run in short, sharp bursts, contain real-world simulations and cover the whole organisation, from boardroom down to contractors and part-timers. And any courses must be run continuously: as long as the bad guys keep innovating, there’s always something new to learn. Once again, the value from IT will come from choosing the right third-party provider to supply these capabilities.

In short, effective cybersecurity is about firstly stopping the bad stuff getting in. If that isn’t possible, the focus should be on limiting the damage once threat actors are inside the network. And if they are able to cause any damage, ensure the organisation can recover as quick as possible with enhanced resilience.

Artificial intelligence: AI has the potential to transform professional services, especially generative AI (GenAI) of the sort pioneered by ChatGPT. But there’s also a lot of froth and bluster in the market. And the risk of accidentally exposing sensitive information or believing GenAI-generated falsehoods is high. This could have a potentially serious impact on corporate reputation.

Once again, the IT department’s role is not to build its own large language model (LLM) or chatbot tools. It is to assess what’s available on the market and advise the business about possible solutions that match the organisation’s risk appetite. There’s also important work to be done in updating policies, to ensure employees understand what they can and can’t do.

Saffery’s Fazakerley explains that he has been on a steep learning curve over the past few months, familiarising himself with GenAI. The key to optimised use is understanding where GenAI’s strengths and weaknesses are, which is why the firm uses Microsoft Copilot secured within an Azure tenancy, so any sensitive data inputted via prompts isn’t exposed to the wider world.

Fazakerley claims it has transformed and enriched his search experience. And whereas it may not be advisable to generate content on tax advice, it has been extremely useful at summarising existing advice in a more accessible language that clients may better understand. In that way. it’s helped Saffery think differently about how it interacts with clients, to change engrained habits. For that reason, the tech has already garnered significant enthusiasm from non-IT members of staff, which is a rarity, he says.

The road ahead

This is a vision of IT fit for the digital age: as a core business-enabling function. It imagines an IT department focused on how to optimise the organisation’s use of technology, so it can deliver the best possible client service. And on explaining to the board where and how this tech is generating ROI.

To find out how QuoStar can help your professional services organisation, get in touch today for a complimentary strategic review with Chris White or another of our C-suite consultants. They’re on hand to deliver the strategic leadership mid-sized companies need to transform their IT function, and align it with long-term business objectives.

Tempering the ”super-hype” around AI: A realistic outlook

Avoiding the “super-hype”

AI will be transformational, so we don’t need to debate or doubt that. However, when we look at the implications for businesses, we need to take a breather and blow a bit of the froth from the frenzied hype that is being whipped up right now. There is both fear and excitement in equal measure, and in many cases, both are unfounded. This is just distracting for businesses as they plan for the future. My contention is that by thinking clearly and taking good advice, businesses can avoid expensive mistakes and find value in practical and relevant applications of AI today.

We hear a lot about the societal and political implications of AI replacing some or even all white-collar work in future. While this makes for interesting and provocative reading, I want to focus on what business leaders should be thinking about today.

We are still in the very early days of this AI wave, and that creates hype. The news sites want content that is sensational, and the consulting firms want you to pay for consulting projects to alleviate the fear they create. You’ll notice that many blogs, articles, and IT talks use words like “could” and “should” rather than “does” and “will.” You also frequently hear “expected,” “projected,” and “forecasted” from consulting firms.

We are in “super-hype” territory, similar where we were with Cloud 15+ years ago.  Was cloud transformational? Yes, it was, completely – the world got smaller, markets grew, and all of us got access to the technologies previously reserved for the global giants.  We got this for a small fee per user plus a lot more. It took time for that value to filter through though, and for markets and technologies to mature. I expect AI to mature faster, and the potential impact to be broader but for most of us, the same principles will apply over the next couple of years.

We are seeing a lot of hype right now, particularly around ChatGPT and Copilot. Is ChatGPT delivering huge value to the masses really? Is Microsoft Copilot going to give you a real competitive advantage right now? They are very useful tools for sure but not earth-shattering yet. The whole arena is still immature.

Unless you are a very large business, a corporate giant, a specific niche player or perhaps a research organisation, I’d say your requirements will be met naturally by the market. It’s happening now, and you will not miss the boat if you think this through carefully and take advice from trusted and qualified technology partners.

 

Value from AI today

Although in their early stages, there is value to be had today from practical applications of AI, largely at the Machine Learning end of the spectrum. Many software and platform vendors are building and buying AI technologies to enhance their offerings already, and some have done so for several years. We are seeing steady developments in most business systems, and here are a few examples:

  • Cybersecurity: With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated, mid-sized businesses are adopting AI-powered cybersecurity solutions like SentinelOne and MS Defender, which use machine learning to detect and respond to security threats more efficiently than traditional antivirus products. AI can also help businesses with data protection, compliance, and incident response.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Businesses are using AI-enhanced CRM platforms like Salesforce or HubSpot to streamline their sales processes and improve their customer service. These platforms can leverage AI to predict customer behaviour, personalise communication, and automate responses, leading to more efficient sales cycles and higher customer satisfaction.
  • Accounting: AI tools are being used to automate bookkeeping and financial analysis. For instance, many accounting platforms use AI to categorise expenses and make tax recommendations. AI can also help businesses with cash flow forecasting, fraud detection, and risk assessments.
  • Human Resources and Recruitment: HR tools with AI-enhancement assist in automating payroll, benefits administration, and recruitment processes. AI algorithms can screen resumes, schedule interviews and even predict candidate fit and thereby make hiring process faster and more effective. AI can also help businesses with employee engagement, retention, and development to foster a positive and productive working culture.
  • Inventory Management and Supply Chain Optimisation: Mid-sized retail and manufacturing businesses utilise AI for inventory forecasting and supply chain optimisation. Tools like NetSuite or SAP Business One employ AI to analyse sales data and predict inventory needs to reduce overstock and stockouts.  AI can also help with demand planning, logistics, and quality control, improving operational efficiency and client satisfaction.
  • Marketing and Customer Insights: AI within products, such as Marketo and Pardot help businesses analyse customer data, predict market trends, personalise marketing campaigns and ultimately increase engagement and conversion.  AI can also help businesses to create content, manage social media and web analytics to enhance brand awareness and reputation.
  • Predictive Maintenance in Manufacturing: Companies are implementing AI for predictive maintenance in manufacturing; using sensors and data analytics to monitor the condition and performance of machines and equipment, predicting and even preventing failures. Tools like IBM Maximo or Microsoft Azure IoT use AI to optimise maintenance schedules, reduce downtime, and extend equipment life, thereby saving costs and improving quality.

Get the right guidance

I hope I have shown that AI is delivering practical and relevant value now for organisations that know how to make use of it. The market is delivering the functionality and evolving it continually. That does, of course, mean that businesses should keep their eyes open and watch their markets.

AI will arrive through the sales engines of technology vendors. And this is where most care is needed: to avoid being swept up by the hype of a new technology, buying vapourware and undertaking projects that will never realise the sold visions and dreams.

Most importantly, this all means that every business needs access to sound advice from partners who live these technologies daily and whom they can trust to provide practical guidance rather than speculation. I always recommend appropriate research, evaluation and piloting to build awareness and familiarity. There is value to be had for sure, but we do need to calm some of the hysteria.

Reassessing IT Security in Professional Services: A Board-Level Imperative

Doing “the basics” is not enough

The landscape of IT security has shifted significantly, yet a sense of apathy remains, rooted in the scaremongering sales tactics of the past decade. Today’s reality is starkly different: every firm and individual is a potential target, and the consequences of lax security are not just damaging but potentially catastrophic, leading to public embarrassment, hefty fines, and severe business disruptions.

Alarmingly, many professional services firms are not adhering to even the basic tenets of Cyber Essentials, a fundamental cybersecurity framework. Worse still, some firms rest on the mistaken belief that compliance with such frameworks alone guarantees security. Cyber Essentials really is ‘just the basics’ – not a badge of being secure.

Technical controls like advanced firewalls and detection systems are prevalent but often give a false sense of security. The analogy of a fortress with an open back window is apt; firms have robust protections in certain areas but unknown critical vulnerabilities in others. The security measures are not as integrated and comprehensive as they should be.

A glaring gap in many firms is the absence of a solid GRC framework and an Information Security Management System (ISMS). IT security is not just about technology; it’s about ongoing processes, risk management, evaluations, reporting, and testing.

Implementing an ISMS, particularly one aligned with ISO 27001, is essential for establishing a strong cybersecurity posture. Utilising key elements of this standard can significantly bolster a firm’s defence against cyber threats, even if you don’t certify against the standard. There’s no reason why every firm shouldn’t at least have a risk register and details of the security controls associated with countering those risks. It seems odd not to do it when you understand how much common sense it makes.

Despite the technical aspects of cybersecurity, the problem is not confined to the IT department, it is a challenge that must be tackled at the board level. Many firms still erroneously view Information Security and Cyber Security as IT issues when they are, in fact, most certainly broad organisational concerns.

It is vital for the business and IT to have a clear understanding of the organisation’s risk posture; identifying all risks faced by the business and the controls necessary to manage them. Regrettably, this level of understanding is often absent within a number of IT and business leadership teams, leading to insufficient risk management strategies. As an example, I’d argue that a significant number of firms don’t appropriately assess the security of their supply chain. This is almost as if they’ve delegated accountability to their suppliers for their firm’s operation; that’s a big statement to make i.e.  ‘we are going to close our eyes and hope they’ve got it under control’.

The issue is compounded as many IT teams are currently overwhelmed in firms. They were historically tasked with maintaining operations but are now also burdened with managing numerous transformation projects post-COVID, along with a vast information security landscape to get control of. Many are really struggling, yet the board won’t assign the necessary focus or budget to really get hold of it.

Reassessing IT Security in Professional Services

Conclusion

Professional services firms must urgently re-evaluate their approach to IT security, transitioning from outdated perceptions to a holistic, board-level governance model. This shift is critical not just for the integrity of their IT infrastructure but for the survival and competitiveness of the firm in an increasingly digitized and threat-prone world.

Resolution

In response to the demands of professional service firms, QuoStar’s CISO service has been built to manage all of the key areas highlighted, from the ground up. It’s a comprehensive support service to give the IT team and the firm’s board real confidence that they are managing cyber security appropriately and effectively. In addition, it delivers:

  • Ongoing senior IT security leadership and guidance.
  • IASME or ISO 27001 implemented and managed (if desired).
  • The ability to effectively manage and respond to cyber-security threats.
  • A defined, ongoing roadmap for cyber-security protection.
  • All key documentation, policies and processes agreed and in place.
  • All key parties engaged in security standards implementation.
  • An overall definition of cyber-security strategy and tactics.
  • All key stakeholders understand the business objectives.
  • The ability to formally evidence management of cyber-security
  • Continual review & evaluation of the threat landscape to control your risk profile.

Schedule a complimentary review with a CISO.

Public, Private, or Multi-Cloud: Getting the right mix for your business

For many businesses, the challenge with IT generally and with Cloud specifically, is one of complexity and choice. There are simply too many options to choose from, leaving firms uncertain about how to make good strategic choices.

Competitive pressures, cost control and a need for businesses to be more agile and responsive are all good reasons to invest in Cloud. The pandemic only accelerated this trend with new investments in IT projects promising to deliver radical improvements to core business processes in terms of greater control and reduced costs. Alongside this, a Cloud platform can also bring with it new threats, most obviously to security, with ransomware a persistent and growing risk which can threaten the reputation and even the viability of an enterprise. More broadly, new challenges in Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) arise for which most businesses are ill equipped.

The Risks of Following the Herd

Against this background, making the right choice is challenging, as it is unlikely that an internal IT team is up to speed on the best options as well as the challenges and pitfalls which can arise.

Fear and uncertainty can then become the main drivers behind Cloud investment and “strategy” sometimes amounts to little more than following prevailing wisdom in the sector. This very often means a wholesale commitment to a Public Cloud platform from one of the globally recognised brands such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).  Whilst this often seems like a safe choice, an exclusive commitment to one provider or platform can result in a spiralling costs and IT systems which drift from the specific requirements of a business.

A common problem arises when proprietary applications which are essential to the smooth running of a business, are transferred to a Public Cloud platform and poorly integrated with other applications. Far from improved productivity, this often leads to poorer performance which can impact profitability.

All of his can lead to a stand-off between frustrated IT teams and sceptical senior management.

Choosing a Cloud Platform which fits your Business

At QuoStar, we do not think there is a “one size fits all” approach to Cloud.  Every business is unique with its own specific challenges and its own commercial strategy. We have been designing, building and managing Cloud platforms for over 15 years, in each case ensuring that our clients get platforms which are fit for purpose.

We always start with understanding what a business is trying to achieve.  With a clear business context, we apply analysis to assess the requirement for Cloud or, if Cloud platforms are already in place, to uncover opportunities for better security, stability, and effectiveness. Our assessment also delves into licencing and resource allocation to find ways to reduce spend whilst maintaining quality.

A Platform Agnostic Approach

Crucially, we are platform agnostic which means that we will always propose the right mix of Public, Private and Multi-Cloud to fit the needs of a business. Whether the need is for a single virtual server in a Private Cloud, or a global hybrid environment incorporating Public, Private and on-premise platforms, we can deliver a robust managed service. This is underpinned by our true purpose-built Multi-Cloud platform which, together with our clients, our engineers can deploy over the short or long term.

At the heart of our service is an elite team of Cloud professionals, each with 10 years’ experience in delivering Cloud platforms. We know that no single enterprise can have all the specialist IT skills to keep their systems running, so QuoStar can support IT teams through their transformation journey and help them to develop.

Empowering Businesses to Exploit the Potential of Cloud

We are committed to empowering clients to exploit their expanding Cloud capabilities and have earned recognition for our comprehensive Cloud training programs which bridge the skills gaps in their IT teams. We partner with these teams and facilitate knowledge sharing as demands on them increase. Our selection as a nominee for Cloud Services Provider of the Year Award at the 2023 CRN Channel Awards highlights the quality of service we consistently deliver to our clients.

We also recognise that the success of our solutions extends beyond the technology itself. For example, GRC is second nature to us, so we make it a priority to support our clients with systems and processes which embed best practice and provide year-round support.

Your business isn’t generic, and neither should your Cloud solution be.

Schedule an initial consultation with a QuoStar Cloud specialist.

Why an Azure Managed Service is essential

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, more and more businesses are turning to cloud solutions be that private or public to streamline their operations and stay competitive. Azure is one of the most popular cloud computing platforms on the market, providing a wealth of benefits for businesses of all sizes. However, managing Azure can be complex and time-consuming, especially for organisations without in-house IT resources. That’s where an Azure managed service from a managed service provider (MSP) like QuoStar comes in. In this blog post, we explore why an Azure managed service is critical for any business using Azure.

Cost Control

One of the primary benefits is cost control. Azure provides a wide range of pricing options and services, making it easy for businesses to overspend if not managed carefully. An MSP can help optimise Azure usage, identify unnecessary costs, and recommend cost-saving measures. They can assist in selecting the right Azure services based on specific needs, adjusting usage patterns, and leveraging cost-saving opportunities such as reserved instances.

Furthermore, an Azure managed service helps accurately forecast Azure expenses, enabling effective budget planning. This aspect is particularly crucial for small and medium-sized businesses that may lack the resources to handle unexpected costs.

Security

Security is another crucial consideration for businesses utilising Azure. As cyber threats evolve and become more sophisticated, having a robust security strategy in place is paramount. An Azure managed service can help implement best practices for Azure security, including identity and access management, network security, data encryption, and more. They also keep you updated with the latest changes, security patches, and updates to minimise the risk of security breaches and data loss.

A sophisticated Azure managed service, provided by the right MSP, can monitor your Azure environment for suspicious activity and proactively address security threats. This capability is especially important for businesses operating in regulated industries where data security is critical, such as legal or finance.

Technical Landscape

The technical landscape of Azure is constantly developing, with new features and services introduced regularly. For businesses, this presents both opportunities for innovation and challenges in keeping up with the ever-changing Azure ecosystem. An MSP can help navigate this landscape, stay up to date with the latest Azure features, and provide recommendations on how they can benefit your business. They can also help you avoid common pitfalls, such as overprovisioning or underutilising Azure services.

Automation

Automation plays a crucial role in an MSP’s services. Implementing automation on their own can be challenging and time-consuming for businesses. Automation saves time and resources, increases efficiency, and reduces the risk of errors. An MSP can automate routine tasks like patching, backups, and monitoring, allowing businesses to focus on their core operations. It also facilitates the deployment of correct frameworks and enables quick responses to security threats, minimising the risk of data loss or downtime.

Why QuoStar’s Managed Service

At QuoStar, we offer a comprehensive Azure managed service that blends automation and advanced monitoring, ensuring consistent and high-quality support. We’re committed to delivering personalised assistance to each of our clients, taking the time to understand their unique needs and tailoring our services accordingly. Here’s what sets us apart:

  • Azure expertise: Our seasoned team of Azure experts goes beyond the basics, covering everything from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to Platform as a Service (PaaS). Benefit from the depth of our Azure knowledge.
  • Microsoft Solutions Partner: We’re not just another service provider; we are a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure).
  • Industry recognition: Finalists for Cloud Services Provider of the Year at the CRN Channel Awards 2023, which shows that we’re among the best at what we do.
  • 24/7/365 support: Count on our UK-based support team to be there when you need them, ensuring your cloud environment runs smoothly around the clock. Rest easy knowing expert assistance is always within reach.
  • Risk-free assessment: Take advantage of our complimentary Azure assessment; if no significant issues are found, there’s no charge.

Don’t let the complexities of Azure management overwhelm you. With QuoStar’s Azure Managed Service, you can confidently take control of costs, ensure security, and smoothly navigate Azure.

Experience Azure’s benefits for cloud success.

Start a conversation with us or book your risk-free assessment today. Whether you need Azure consultancy or ongoing managed services, we’re here to assist you at every phase of your Azure journey. Take the first step towards a more efficient Azure solution, supported by a trusted partner.

Microsoft Solutions Partner for Infrastructure and Finalists for Cloud Services Provider of the Year at the CRN Channel Awards 2023

Microsoft Inspire 2023: Announcements Round-up

Microsoft’s premier annual event, Microsoft Inspire 2023, recently concluded, providing industry leaders and partners alike with a glimpse of Microsoft’s vision for the future. There’s no doubt that Microsoft wants to empower individuals worldwide to work in a new AI-driven way, expanding the scope of AI technology to help everyone in various aspects of their roles. In this recap blog, we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from the event and how it sets the stage for a secure and AI-driven business landscape.

Advancing AI ambitions

Regardless of your feelings about AI technology, it’s hard to ignore the platform change that Satya Nadella (Chairman and CEO at Microsoft) laid out in the keynote speech. The next big shift in our way of working is here – using natural language as our interface with technology, facilitated by AI.

The event marked the launch of two groundbreaking AI-driven solutions, Bing Chat Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Copilot, promising to redefine how we work, delivering increased efficiency for business advantage through AI-driven insights and automation.

During the event, Microsoft detailed the functionalities and pricing of these new tools:

  • Bing Chat Enterprise: Think of it as Google on steroids, working with both public and private data while maintaining appropriate data governance to ensure your IP is not leaked. Currently available in preview, we expect this to roll out in late 2023 or early 2024 for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium users at no additional cost. For those rare clients without some form of M365 licensing, the standalone offering will be available for $5 per user per month.
  • Microsoft 365 Copilot: While Bing Chat Enterprise will reference business data and aid you in your day-to-day tasks, Copilot takes it to the next stage of evolution It offers integrated AI that can work with and for you in your native applications, through a natural language interface. Hand off those menial tasks and focus on the exciting stuff. Microsoft has initially released Sales Copilot, with the promise of wider integration to come and we finally know how much it will cost. $30 per user per month for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium clients. While it may feel expensive for some, how and who you deploy it for will be key.
  • New AI capabilities across Microsoft 365: AI is coming to the rest of the M365 suite, enhancing productivity and engagement with features like Copilot in Teams Phone and Chat, Microsoft Viva updates, Windows 365 Frontline, Microsoft 365 Backup, and Microsoft 365 Archive.

To learn more, read the blog post by Colette Stallbaumer, General Manager, Microsoft 365 and Future of Work here.

Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella speaks to partner attendees at Microsoft Inspire 2023.  Judson Althoff, Microsoft executive vice president and chief commercial officer, speaks to partner attendees at Microsoft Inspire 2023.

Embracing the future of security with AI

Emerging technologies are rapidly evolving, and cybersecurity has become more crucial than ever before. Microsoft Inspire cast a spotlight on the future of security powered by AI, highlighting the unique opportunity to harness AI’s power alongside an end-to-end security solution for building a resilient security posture with rapidly adaptable defences.

Based on Microsoft’s internal data, cyber-attacks are rapidly adopting automation through AI-assisted tools. The number of password attacks detected by Microsoft has surged significantly, growing over threefold in the past year, from 1,287 per second to more than 4,000 per second.  As a result, the cost of cyberattacks is continuously rising. If organisations stick to outdated security measures and only rely on past strategies, they may leave vulnerabilities in their security posture.

Partners and clients were introduced to valuable resources to strengthen their defences against ever-changing threats. They showed how using AI can help to spot and stop potential risks before they become a problem. They also emphasised the importance of safeguarding critical data and customer information. Throughout the event, it was clear that Microsoft is dedicated to empowering businesses with smart security solutions.

For the full details, read the announcement here to learn more.

Nicole Dezen, Microsoft corporate vice president and chief partner officer, speaks to partner attendees at Microsoft Inspire 2023.

 

Conclusion

Microsoft Inspire 2023 revealed a series of key announcements and technologies, showcasing the tech giant’s dedication to AI advancements and comprehensive security solutions. From fortified cybersecurity measures to innovative AI tools elevating collaboration and productivity, Microsoft is continuously pushing the boundaries in the tech space.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, embracing these transformative technologies becomes crucial for achieving business success in today’s competitive environment. Sure, these technologies can be exciting, but we get it – they can also feel overwhelming, and you don’t have to navigate it alone.

Whether you want to secure your business against evolving cyber threats or explore how AI can enhance your operations, our team of experts is ready to support you every step of the way. Reach out to us here.

 

QuoStar achieves Microsoft Solutions Partner for Azure Infrastructure

We are proud to announce our achievement of the Microsoft Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure) designation. This recognition represents a significant milestone in QuoStar’s journey to provide unparalleled cloud solutions and support to our valued clients. In this blog, we will delve into what it means for both QuoStar and our clients to be a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure), highlighting the benefits and expertise we bring to accelerate their digital transformation.

In 2022, Microsoft introduced a transformative evolution of their partner program, replacing the traditional Gold and Silver competencies with Solution Partner Designations. By achieving the Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure) status, QuoStar demonstrates our unwavering commitment to staying at the forefront of industry advancements and equipping our clients with cutting-edge solutions.

Let’s explore how our expertise translates into tangible benefits for our clients:

As a Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure), QuoStar possesses a diverse range of capabilities aimed at empowering our clients to expedite the migration of their critical infrastructure workloads to Microsoft Azure when best placed to do so.

  • Comprehensive Infrastructure Services: With our broad capabilities, QuoStar excels in designing, implementing, operating, and optimising infrastructure architectures that drive efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and robust security measures. We collaborate closely with clients to ensure their infrastructure aligns with their unique business requirements and objectives.
  • Seamless Workload Migration and Modernisation: QuoStar is well-versed in the art of migrating and modernising diverse workloads, including virtualised environments and virtual desktops. We leverage our in-depth understanding of Azure to deliver seamless and efficient transitions, enabling clients to unlock the full potential of the cloud.
  • High-Performance Computing and Azure Management: Our expertise extends to the onboarding and management of high-performance computing workloads in Azure. We empower clients to harness the capabilities of Azure for resource-intensive tasks, unleashing new levels of productivity and performance. Additionally, our adeptness in management, governance, security, and DevOps with Azure Arc ensures clients have robust control over their on-premises, cloud, and multi-cloud environments.
  • Driving Customer Trust and Recognition: The Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure) designation acts as a mark of distinction, allowing clients to identify QuoStar as a trusted partner with a proven track record of success. Our commitment to training, accreditation, and delivering exceptional solutions guarantees clients that their infrastructure will be in expert hands.
  • Certified Professionals: Our team includes certified professionals who have achieved Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification as well as becoming Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate. These certifications showcase our team’s deep understanding and expertise in Microsoft technologies. By continuously investing in our employees’ professional growth, we ensure that they stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices.

“With Azure’s powerful capabilities combined with our multi-cloud approach QuoStar can provide enhanced scalability, security, and reliability to meet the evolving needs of our clients. The designation not only strengthens our reputation but also positions us as a trusted partner in the Microsoft space.” 

Neil Clark, Cloud Services Director at QuoStar

Ready to Speak to an Expert?

If you are looking for a partner to accelerate your migration to Microsoft Azure, optimise your infrastructure, and unlock the full potential of the cloud, we are here to work with you.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Cloud Expert.

QuoStar achieves Microsoft Solutions Partner for Modern Work

Microsoft Solutions Partner for Modern Work - QuoStar

QuoStar is proud to announce its achievement of the Microsoft Solutions Partner for Modern Work designation. As Microsoft retired its Gold and Silver competencies in 2022, this new designation signifies our commitment to helping clients enhance productivity and successfully navigate the shift to hybrid work using Microsoft 365. By becoming a Solutions Partner for Modern Work, we have demonstrated our expertise through training, accreditation, and the delivery of transformational solutions that drive client success.

What Does It Mean for Our Clients?

Being recognised as a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Modern Work means that our clients can trust us to provide comprehensive services and solutions that enable them to thrive in the digital workplace, delivering:

  • Boosted Productivity: We offer deployment and modern management services for Microsoft 365 services , ensuring that our clients can leverage the latest technologies to enhance productivity across their organisations. With our expertise, our clients can streamline workflows, optimise resources, and empower their workforce to achieve more.
  • Enhanced Communication and Collaboration: We specialise in implementing and driving the adoption of, Microsoft Teams, , and Microsoft Teams Rooms solutions. By leveraging these powerful tools, our clients can foster effective communication and collaboration among their teams, regardless of their physical location. We help them harness the full potential of Microsoft Teams to improve productivity and foster a connected work environment.
  • Empowered Frontline Workers: QuoStar is dedicated to digitally enabling frontline workers. We deliver tailored services and solutions that equip these essential employees with the tools they need to excel in their roles. By leveraging Microsoft technologies, we empower frontline workers to access critical information, collaborate seamlessly, whilst  enhancing their  experience, resulting in improved operational efficiency and satisfaction.
  • Enhanced Employee Experience: Leveraging Microsoft Viva’s suite of services, we help our clients deliver exceptional employee experiences. We enable organisations to create engaging digital environments that enhance employee well-being, knowledge sharing, and professional growth. Our expertise in Microsoft Viva ensures that our clients can build a positive and inclusive workplace culture that attracts and retains top talent.
  • Tailored Solutions for Unique Needs: Our team of experts collaborates closely with clients to understand their unique challenges and design tailored solutions that streamline processes and drive innovation. Our ability to tailor our solutions ensures that our clients receive a personalised service that aligns perfectly with their business goals.
  • Certified Professionals: At QuoStar, we invest and take pride in our team of certified professionals. Our engineers have achieved prestigious certifications which highlight our team’s extensive knowledge and expertise in Microsoft technologies.

“QuoStar’s achievement of the Solutions Partner for Modern Work designation underscores our expertise in leveraging Microsoft technology and empowering our clients in the modern workplace. This recognition further strengthens our position as a trusted partner, enabling us to unlock the full potential of hybrid work environments. We are excited to continue tailoring innovative solutions that enable our clients to drive their business growth and thrive in today’s digital-first world.”

Dominic Lloyd, Head of Microsoft Partner Relations at QuoStar

Conclusion:

QuoStar’s achievement as a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Modern Work marks our unwavering commitment to helping clients succeed in the evolving digital landscape. Through our expertise in deployment, management, collaboration, and custom solutions, we empower organisations to boost productivity, enhance communication and collaboration, digitally enable frontline workers, and deliver exceptional employee experiences. Our recognition as a Solutions Partner for Modern Work is a testament to our dedication to training, accreditation, and delivering impactful solutions that drive client success.

Ready to Speak to an Expert?

If you’re ready to embrace the power of Microsoft solutions and drive your organisation’s success in the modern workplace, we invite you to get in touch with our team of experts.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Cloud Expert.

Beyond the buzz: The impact of AI on the Tech industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the buzzword of the moment. It’s hard to browse any tech-related news site without seeing the latest development, product or service related to AI. But how is AI really impacting the tech industry?

The Rise of AI-Powered Products and Services

One of the biggest impacts of AI on the tech industry is the rise of AI-powered products and services. From digital assistants like Siri and Alexa to machine learning algorithms that can predict your shopping habits, AI is everywhere. Microsoft 365 Copilot is a great example that showcases the immense potential of AI to enhance user experience and increase efficiency. By using the power of large language models (LLMs) and integrating it with source data across all Microsoft 365 apps and services, Copilot promises to transform the way individuals engage with their tasks by turning user input into a powerful productivity tool.

Other tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are also investing heavily in AI-powered products and services. Google has made significant advancements in natural language processing, while Amazon is using AI to improve its supply chain management. Facebook, as another example, is using AI to improve its content moderation capabilities.

 

 

The Future of Work and the Role of AI

AI is going to have a significant impact on the future of the workplace, not just how we work and interact but how we leverage technology to coordinate, plan and accomplish our goals.  Whilst AI isn’t going to take your job, perhaps the user that harnesses it more effectively will.

The World Economic Forum has estimated that by 2025, AI and automation could replace 85 million jobs, whilst also creating 97 million new ones. It feels inevitable jobs will be replaced by AI-powered services over time and the nature of remaining jobs will change, and in turn new jobs will be created.

We expect there will be shifts similar to the changes seen with other major technological advances such as the invention of the printing press, telephone or the internet.  Shifts which will require new ways of thinking about skills and training to ensure users are prepared for the future and that there is enough talent available for critical jobs. As AI becomes more prevalent, companies need to adapt by investing and deploying new technologies effectively, retraining their employees, and creating new roles to work alongside AI.

Responsible AI

While AI has many potential benefits, there are also ethical considerations to consider.

Implementing a responsible AI strategy is a challenge many organisations struggle with – ensuring that AI models do not perpetuate biases or discrimination based on race, gender, age, or any other protected characteristic is a key consideration.

AI relies on vast amounts of data and it’s essential that this data is kept secure and private. It’s particularly important that businesses prioritise data privacy and security, ensuring that user data is protected and used responsibly in compliance with relevant regulations and laws.

Businesses should also consider the potential implication of replacing human workers with machines. While some jobs may be lost to AI, new jobs will also be created. However, it’s important to consider the social and economic impacts of this transition.

Statistics

It’s clear that AI is already making a profound impact on the tech industry. As an example, ChatGPT gained a million users in just five days after its launch in November 2022, as reported by OpenAI. This app has now become the fastest-growing app in history, with over 100 million users estimated to be using it. The recent data from Similarweb also reveals that chat.openai.com has received approximately one billion visits in the last 30 days, highlighting a significant interest in AI-powered communication. It is worth noting that the effectiveness of AI-powered tools largely depends on the quality of the data inputted; accurate and timely business data is crucial for achieving the best results.

Conclusion

AI is rapidly changing the way we work and interact with technology, and its impact is being felt in every aspect of our lives. The proliferation of AI-powered products and services is just one example of this transformation, and as users, we are embracing these new technologies at an unprecedented pace. While AI cannot do everything for us, it can undoubtedly improve task efficiency and effectiveness. As an example, ChatGPT was responsible for proofreading and copywriting most of this article.

As AI continues to evolve, it’s important for companies to stay ahead of the curve, invest, and adapt to the changing landscape.  At QuoStar, we understand the importance of keeping up with the latest technological advancements, and we are committed to sharing insights and helping our clients leverage these technologies to achieve their business goals.

The Power of AI - Stats by MS

Source: Download a copy of the infographic.

Why Privileged Identity Management (PIM) is critical for businesses using the cloud

"Privileged accounts are a prime target for cybercriminals..."

Privileged Identity Management (PIM) is an essential security practice for businesses using the cloud. It focuses on securing and managing privileged accounts and access rights within an organisation. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of PIM for businesses, particularly those using the cloud, and why every business should consider implementing it as part of their comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

What is PIM?

PIM refers to the processes, policies, and technologies used to manage and secure privileged accounts and access rights within an organisation. Cybercriminals often target privileged accounts as a means of gaining access to sensitive information and systems. PIM aims to reduce the risks associated with privileged accounts by providing a central solution for managing and securing these accounts. It involves identifying, managing, controlling access, and monitoring privileged account activity.

Importance of PIM for Businesses

Privileged accounts are a prime target for cybercriminals, and a breach can result in severe consequences, including data theft, business disruption, and reputational damage. PIM is essential for businesses because it helps to mitigate the risks associated with privileged accounts. By implementing PIM, businesses can control who has access, monitor, detect and respond to suspicious behaviour, and reduce the impact of a breach if one occurs.

Why Every Business Using the Cloud Needs PIM

Cloud computing has transformed the way businesses operate, providing flexibility, scalability, and cost savings. However, the cloud also presents new security challenges, particularly when it comes to privileged accounts. Cloud environments typically have many privileged accounts that can access critical resources, making them attractive targets for cybercriminals. PIM is especially important for businesses using the cloud because it provides a central solution for managing and securing privileged accounts across all cloud services and platforms. With PIM, businesses can identify and manage privileged accounts, enforce access controls, and monitor activity. Implementing PIM in the cloud can also help businesses to meet compliance requirements.

Conclusion

PIM is a critical component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, particularly for businesses using cloud computing. By implementing PIM, businesses can manage and secure privileged accounts, control access to critical resources, and monitor privileged activity. PIM can help to reduce the risk and mitigate the impact of a breach if one occurs. Every business using the cloud should consider implementing PIM as part of their cybersecurity strategy to protect against the growing threat of account breaches.

If you’d like a member of QuoStar’s consulting teams to assess your risks and advise on potential controls, without obligation, please contact us.