Over 180 guests came along to enjoy our fifth year of festivities on 25 November, after a pause during Covid-19. The atmosphere at the event was fantastic, with a heart-warming speech by James Cracknell OBE, winner of two Olympic Gold Medals and six World Championship titles.
Auction prizes, which were donated by the charities and partners, included a training ground experience at AFC Bournemouth, signed Tyson Fury boxing gloves, a guided tour of Sky TV & Studio and a four-hour Sunseeker boat experience.
We’ve had some great feedback from partners and the charities:
Rob Mitchell, Commercial Director at AFC Bournemouth said: “Thank you to our official AFC Business partners, QuoStar, for hosting their Christmas charity lunch. We had a very entertaining afternoon and it was fantastic that almost £16,000 was raised for the chosen charities, including the Cherries Community Fund.”
Linda O’Sullivan, CEO at Dorset Mind said: “Your donation and support has been inspirational. Thank you super stars at QuoStar!”
Nicki Cluley of Lewis-Manning Hospice Care added: “It was absolutely fantastic seeing so many coming together and raising so much money for so many wonderful charities. We were especially delighted to raise £2200 thanks to the auction prize of the Sunseeker. You’ll all be pleased to know that our patients will getting the ‘Bags of Kindness’ this year thanks to your help.”
Tim Sills from MYTIME Young Carers said: “Absolutely amazing amount raised. Huge congratulations for how successful and brilliant the event was and thank you for your support as always.”
“It was a wonderful afternoon celebrating the start of the festive season with our partners. We would like to thank all the guests who supported the lunch and to everyone who helped us make a positive difference to local charities across our community.
The Dorset community is close to QuoStar’s heart, and we always do our best to give back to organisations that play a critical role for many people in the region. We’re extremely grateful that our annual lunch has once again raised an incredible amount that will help support the wonderful work of these charities over Christmas and all year round.”
You can relive the fun and festivities by watching our event highlight reel below or by visiting the event photo album on our Facebook page.
QuoStar has appointed three new senior members to its recently restructured board as part of the firm’s continued growth plans. Since the start of the year, 20 new people have joined the experienced QuoStar team, with the new additions set to bolster the company’s growth trajectory in 2022.
Andrew Forder, who has nearly 20 years’ experience in the IT service sector, joins QuoStar as Commercial Director. Previously Head of Sales at Nasstar, Andrew has a wealth of sales and account management experience in both mid-size and large UK organisations. He will be managing a dedicated team of enterprise sales individuals focussing on new business while maintaining QuoStar’s first-class client service.
Joining as Chief Technology Officer, Gavin Vickers will take charge of service delivery, IT project management and pre-sales processes. Well-respected industry veteran Gavin was previously Principal Consultant at Nasstar and brings unrivalled experience and capabilities in technical transformation to the role
QuoStar also welcomes Neil Clark as its first Cloud Services Director. Neil, who will lead the cloud services team, has designed, built, and managed numerous cloud platforms over the last decade. Neil previously held the position of Director of Cloud Services at GCI and Nasstar before moving to Head of Service at IT firm Transparity.
With the extended board, the team will continue to develop QuoStar’s position as a leading consultancy and service provider. QuoStar has started working with some well-known clients earlier this year and is continues to expand with a further product launch set for later this year.
James Stelfox, Managing Director of QuoStar, said: “As a team, we’re firm believers in bringing the right industry-leading expertise to each pillar of the business. With these new hires, we’re reiterating our commitment to deliver the best service possible to our clients, which is not only deeply personal to us but also unrivalled in the industry. We’re joined by some of the very best talents in their fields and are excited to leverage their expertise to drive forward their areas of the business.”
Robert Rutherford, CEO of QuoStar, added: “It is an exciting time for QuoStar and we’re delighted to welcome Gavin, Neil and Andrew to QuoStar’s board. Our firm has always been seen as a smaller, heavy hitting consultancy, but the time is now right for us to expand our team and make this transition, while retaining the real care, quality, and outcome-focused attention we have always been known for.”
QuoStar continues rapid expansion in 2022 with a series of key hires
QuoStar has announced a series of new hires to support its 2022 growth trajectory
New additions to the team include Alan Drake joining as Service Delivery Manager, Rob Goult as Senior Technical Consultant and Cliff Woodward as Relationships Manager
New members of the team and further product launches are set to be announced in the first half of 2022
QuoStarhas bolstered its team with a raft of key appointments as part of its growth forecast in 2022.
10 new team members are in place and all bring extensive knowledge of working in the IT industry to QuoStar’s already highly experienced team, with a few more senior tech high hitters in the pipeline to come onboard by May 2022.
Alan Drake joins QuoStar as Technical Service Delivery Manager with over 25 years’ experience in the IT industry. Alan rose through the ranks of service through to Technical Service Delivery Manager at GCI. Alan will step in to lead QuoStar’s new 24/7/365 UK-based manned service desk, which launched at the beginning of 2022 and provides customers with all-hours IT support from highly skilled professionals, 365 days a year.
To assist him in his role, Drake is joined by Liam Baxter, Greg Foster and Carl Bennett from Nasstar, who each bring upwards of six years’ experience working in IT services.
QuoStar being joined by such seasoned professionals in the industry has meant the business has bypassed ‘first line support’ – which in turn means clients will automatically be communicating with someone far more experienced in their field.
Further appointments at QuoStar include Michael Swart, who joins as a Technical Consultant with more than 30 years’ experience, Joanna Roper as Service Desk Team Manager with close to 30 years’ experience in tech and telecoms, and Rob Goult, who steps in as Senior Technical Consultant. Goult brings with him over 20 years’ prior experience supporting decision-makers in the IT industry to develop and implement cost-effective technology solutions.
The QuoStar team has also expanded their team of Relationship Managers. The team has been joined by Cliff Woodward and Jody O’Reilly, who both bring over a decade’s experience each in business development within the tech space, and Andy Green with over two decades experience in the field also. Reece Scarley, a previous QuoStar employee, returned to the company at the end of 2021 too, taking the position of Professional Services Consultant, to architect technical solutions and to help with project delivery.
This latest announcement is part of QuoStar’s 2022 rapid growth trajectory, which has also included the unveiling of a brand refresh led by its new Marketing Manager, Teila Hurlock-Phillips, who joined the company mid-2021 – with two previous marketing roles in the tech industry under her belt among others.
Already this year QuoStar has been busy sealing deals with some high-end, high-brand customers, and is due to announce further key product launches over the coming months. The company has some more high-ranking players joining the QuoStar family soon, and some very exciting changes afoot, that are set to shake up the industry this year!
Robert Rutherford, CEO at QuoStar comments:
“These new additions to our QuoStar team have been driven by our commitment to deliver the best service possible for our clients. All our new joiners have many years of experience working within IT services and we’re extremely pleased that they’ve chosen to bring that experience to QuoStar.
We spent a lot of time during COVID positioning the business to come out stronger and with all the services mid-markets need in a forever changed world. We’ve released a raft of new technical, security, cloud, and strategic services, with our 24x7x365 manned UK service desk being a critical piece of our services wrap.
“These are very exciting times for QuoStar and we look forward to seeing the positive results that the growth of our proposition and team will bring for our clients.”
QuoStar CEO Robert Rutherford looks to the future, sharing his view of what’s going to be big for businesses this year.
Tech trends in 2022.
A shortage of tech talent will widen and rapidly develop the global IT skills market
There is a significant skill shortage in the UK from an IT perspective, which has been coming for some time due to numerous factors. The COVID crisis has certainly added fuel to the fire, as businesses have got used to working effectively with staff and 3rd party suppliers in a digital-only manner. This will certainly push more and more businesses to outsource parts of IT service, development, and other IT projects to outside partners.
You’ll see many businesses reach overseas to where the talent lies at the perceived right price. However, they are going to have to be extremely careful, especially where service is involved. The management overhead is also often underestimated, both during start up and day to day operations. You really need experienced and proven managers and frameworks to get the overseas play correct. The lure of ‘cheap’ labour always has hidden costs.
Digital First a core strategy
Anything that can be done digitally will be getting real focus in 2022. In any new business and departmental strategy, or project that involves a process or a procedure (most, if not all), a digital solution will gain extra weight by default. This is going to be driven by a need to improve efficiency, margin, and security, whilst also improving the user or customer experience. Of course, a digital first strategy doesn’t mean that every operation and interaction must be digitised, but it must be considered.
It is important that digitisation isn’t viewed as simply purchasing technology to solve problems. It’s about understanding the operations and processes (systems) within a business operation and choosing the right technological change or transformation to achieve a business result that is both measurable and positive. This is certainly going to lead to a board having to really get to grips with the strategic use of IT, whilst also bringing in senior IT professionals, such as aCIO, into the core of the business decision making process.
CRM technologies and their uptake will develop quickly
CRM growth has been ramping over the last few years due to customers’ service demands and expectations. Again, due to COVID, the expectation for rapid and effective service in a personalised manner has increased. The fact that most markets have in effect got smaller due to globalisation, businesses are going to need to do more to mine and utilise their data to compete and hold market-share.
It should be noted that CRM is not simply an IT project. It’s really an organisational transformation piece that involves most of the business, and it can take a year or more to even begin to realise the true value it can deliver. Too many businesses have been flying out to ‘buy’ a CRM post-COVID, which will typically lead to a failed ‘business’ project.
Automation will become essential
Due to skills shortages and growing competition, businesses are going to need to get leaner and smarter in how their operations and services are delivered. AI and other technologies are certainly going to help, however businesses do need to take responsibility for truly understanding, mapping and measuring their processes. This is where organisations can protect, as well as increase their margins, plus improve employee and client satisfaction.
You are certainly going to see process improvement and automation come down into the small and mid-market, as margins get squeezed, as the world effect becomes smaller, and as the pace of change ramps – fuelled again by COVID. The demand for systems and business analysts is certainly going to rise, but again the UK is significantly disadvantaged due to a lack ofstrategy from successive governments. Businesses are often going to need to train and develop their own talent to deliver initial and ongoing value.
Improvement in the User Experience
Many industries have been really let down by their main Line of Business vendors, in terms of the Customer Experience (CX), support and product development. This is going to create real friction points due to the more fractured way of working. Software vendors and those providing services to customers online are really going to have to work hard to ensure their products and service offerings better fit the new working model, in terms of the user’s experience.
Businesses are also going to have to consider how easy it is for their staff to complete their duties, especially when working in a remote manner. Are they really as effective as they should be? Is their working experience acceptable? Can they get support when they need it, i.e. 24x7x365? There is a growing trend of staff leaving businesseswhere they feel the technology and support overlays are holding them back.
Cloud workloads move around
There’s been a rush to the cloud prior, and during the pandemic, particularly the public cloud, and predominately Microsoft Azure for day-to-day operations infrastructure and systems. However, the cloud markets move extremely quickly, and a single infrastructure doesn’t fit all workloads, in terms of functionality, security, performance, interoperability and price. The market is pushing private and public vendors to compete within these areas and thus splitting workloads between public and private cloud. A true hyper-connected hybrid model will typically deliver organisations the best value going forward, right now and ongoing.
The rise of cloud multi-platform management, automation tools and the competitive landscape continues to drive innovation and creates specialist vendors and cloud providers. It’s continually becoming simpler to run, manage and migrate between different cloud vendors and platforms with ease. The shift is certainly empowering and aiding the customer. You’ll certainly see more workloads (not entire infrastructures) reverse out of the large public cloud providers into niche players who can deliver greater support, performance, and operational value to specific sectors.
ZTNA becomes the focus
The rapid escalation of remote working has dramatically increased the risk profile of a large percentage of operations. This will rapidly move the focus and ramp adoption of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) – theGartner coinedterm to enable greater control and security of network access.
Traditional VPN type connections are clunky and can be slow, they also consume significant resources, in terms of equipment and management overheads. Organisations will look to ZTNA to improve the granularity of control of their remote workforces’ access to corporate systems, whilst also simplifying it through ABAC (Attribute Based Access Control) and RBAC (Role Based Access Control). There’s too much to go into here but the rise of cybercrime led by organised gangs focused on monetary rewards means that every door must be locked shut, whilst also not hampering the user experience.
Cyber security becomes board’s problem
Many leadership teams have had some experience of cyber security, due to experiencing a painful incident or perhaps implementing Cyber Essentials (the very basics). However, due to the risk landscape being so huge, and the impact of a security incident being so great, boards are going to have to take the reins on risk management from a cyber security perspective. They are going to have to fully understand risks and controls, thus expect to see a ramp in the demand for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS’s) and the experience of aCISO.
If a board doesn’t insist on an ISMS to ensure that Information Security is managed appropriately then in reality, they are being negligent; regulators know that, as do customers and insurers. No longer can the board leave Information Security to the IT team, they are going to have to take direct responsibility for some of the largest risks their businesses face.
Optimising manufacturing operations isn’t always easy, but it can be achieved with the right IT Solutions.
Manufacturing businesses are typically the best at seeking out efficiency and productivity in their operations, particularly on the shop-floor. However, many still do not apply the same LEAN principles to the rest of their operations, and that can mean the optimisation of processes is more challenging because of a lack of consistency throughout the business.
Systems and process analysis, and automation can be used throughout an organisation to drive down inefficiencies. IT is certainly an enabler of an efficient and well-performing optimisation.
As QuoStar’s Robert Rutherford was recently quoted in the Manufacturer: “Finance operations, for example, are often very bloated, but IT can facilitate outsourcing or offshoring, not only reducing costs but also allowing the process to become quickly automated to a good extent.”
What types of IT solutions and services can help with Optimising manufacturing operations?
Historically, manufacturers were always at the forefront of technology. This has in many ways meant that they experienced the falls and disappointments that come with testing cutting edge solutions. However, technology systems have also been driving results for manufacturers in some areas – such as IoT, cloud services and CRM.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) has certainly given advantage to manufacturers both on the shop-floor and within their products on customer sites – by helping in support and maintenance, but also in querying big data for insights and value. It’s driving decisions around productivity, wastage and research & development to deliver wins across the board.
Cloud services are also still extremely valuable to manufacturers. Although many still keep heavy processing in a private cloud, the public cloud (particularly AWS and Azure) allows operations and development to flex, trial and scale-up (and scale-out) without the traditional costs and complexities of big kit in the server room. The pandemic has heavily accelerated change. Customers have demanded faster innovation, more data and information, greater integration, and increased security.
CRM systems have moved on significantly and its greatly improving the service manufacturers are able to deliver to customers, whether it is on managing expectations, delivering value or collecting relevant information. They can also drive an increase in sales in terms of new business wins, cross-sales and real-engagement with marketing automation.
Big CRM projects were historically associated with large capex costs. However, now they virtually all come in a cloud-based delivery model on a price per user basis.
Digital Transformation Road Mapping & IT Consultancy
Many organisations have seen their cloud computing bills rise and rise – when many costs have gone down over the last 12 months, in both public and private platforms.
So, how should organisations be reviewing their cloud computing to ensure that they are paying the right price for the right cloud infrastructure?
Review licensing of your cloud computing regularly
It’s worth regularly reviewing licensing, particularly around the Microsoft stack. Microsoft makes regular changes to licensing, particularly around cloud-based services; some small adjustments can deliver significant savings within an estate. It’s worth noting that many organisations are doubling-up on licensing, particularly when using Azure and Microsoft licensing, i.e. Not using the Azure Hybrid Benefit program. If you bundle this program with reserved instances, then savings of up to 80% can be made.
Ensure that you are using reserved instances where appropriate. Many organisations are still using pay as you go billing and ultimately losing out versus locking in pricing for a year or more. In some scenarios you can save more than 70% with reserved instances.
Price matchingbetween cloud computing providers
Most public and private cloud providers will match their direct competitors on price. If you are up for renewal on your cloud platform or not in contract it’s important to take this into account. Also, even if you are in contract it may be worth speaking to your provider about extending your contract term for a reduced monthly fee.
Look at containers
Cloud containers are lighter weight than virtual machines and thus cost less. Look at your applications. See which you can repackage into containers to reduce the VM footprint and also costs.
Many organisations are paying to host their development and testing environments. This is typically unnecessary, and most cloud providers will allow you to run these workloads and licenses at a significantly reduced cost.
Move from database virtual machines
Often, due to technical and operational familiarity, a lot of databases sit on VMs when they could sit in an elastic database. You can gain significant cost-savings, resiliency and often security, without a huge amount of work.
Look for redundant disks
So many cloud estates have idle disks lurking around with them. It’s important to identify where these are as they will be costing you every month. Most cloud providers, particularly within the public cloud arena make this easy, i.e. Look at the disk owner (or lack of) within the Azure portal’s disk screen.
Look at storage tiering
It’s easy overtime for data usage on disks to change. It’s important to ensure that the right data is stored on the right type of disk. That will ensure you are paying the right amount to store or process that data. Storage tiering, particularly automatic storage tiering, if not in use already should be evaluated to get the right balance for spend vs performance.
If you’d like an audit of your cloud platforms to validate that you have the right cloud infrastructure at the right price get in touch now.