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.
QuoStar is one of few UK businesses that is onshoring – while others offshore support facilities.
As a leading IT consulting and service provider we are now delivering 24/7/365 service desk support to provide clients with specialist assistance exactly when they need it. This additional UK based service provision has been bolstered by the raft of new, experienced hires that have been employed since November 2021.
Designed as part of our ongoing response to the impact of Covid-19, QuoStar understands that in today’s working world businesses are operating differently, so we have adapted our business model to suit the needs of our clients.
Today’s flexible and hybrid working means individuals are now working outside of the usual office hours, and they require support at any time to continue to work effectively and securely.
For Quostar, it’s not just about support – it’s the why.
A true UK based 24/7/365 operation means we can respond promptly, ensuring the security needs of clients can be managed around the clock and we can take a proactive approach to management and maintenance – which is far easier to carry out outside of a client’s working/open hours.
Having done away with the tradition method of having ‘First Line Support’ means the QuoStar Support team can be more efficient and clients get a better service. All staff are experienced from the first point of contact rather than just logging a ticket for issues to be dealt with in the morning.
“IT services require more support and management than ever before as businesses try to settle between hybrid and in-person working models. Continuing to provide flexible and cost-effective solutions for our clients therefore remains a key priority for us this year. With our UK-based 24/7/365 service desk, we’re adding another tool for our customers to benefit from the support of our growing team of highly skilled professionals.”
“The last two years, whilst challenging, have brought the opportunity for us to assess our ability to remain agile and efficient as a business whilst making us more resilient to dealing with redefined ways of working. QuoStar aims to provide services that respond to our customer’s changing needs in the long term, and we’re ready to bring disruption to the market to achieve that.”
We look at where the IT Support needs of SME’s are heading and why.
Here at QuoStar we’ve certainly seen an increase in the demand for Managed IT Support Services, particularly over the last 12 months. And especially by Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s).
The driving force behind the need for Managed IT Support Services
A primary driver is that IT teams have been running flat-out trying to control a significant increase in cyber security threats, whilst dealing with a rapid move towards hybrid working over the last 18 months. And it’s unlikely to slow down any time soon, with security threats and hybrid working both on the rise. Forbes suggests theHybrid Modelwill rewrite the future of work.
Gartner predicts that: “By the end of 2021, 51% of all knowledge workers worldwide are expected to be working remotely (up from 27% of knowledge workers in 2019).” They also estimate that remote workers will represent 32% of all employees worldwide by the end of 2021 – up from 17% of employees in 2019. That figure has almost doubled in just two years!
Most organisations have required the skills, experience and pure horsepower of a managed services business to speed up their projects up, while also taking the reins within various parts of their IT operations, such as IT service,IT security,networking and cloud platforms.
What common snags have IT teams been hitting?
The pace of change within organisations in terms of digital transformation and cyber security has been rapid over the last few years, spurred on even more so by the workplace changes forced upon everyone by Covid19.
IT teams have been swamped by internal demands over the last few years, as well as having been diverted onto other internal projects pushed down from the board. When you couple that with some quite large skills-gaps, managed IT services are a perfect solution, both now and into the future.
What are the benefits of Managed IT Support Services for businesses?
Put simply, Managed IT Support Services provide organisations of all size access to guaranteed experts and service-levels at a fixed cost.
The information technology space is rapidly changing, yet is absolutely critical in virtually every single sector, and for all sizes of operation. Using a managed IT solutions provider means organisations can pick and choose the right operational support to build the IT operation they desire, without many of the complexities and costs of doing it internally.
It’s often extremely beneficial for an organisation to outsource to managed service providers in order to free up internal IT staff to focus on business improvement and transformation. It takes the pressure off when you can leave others to “keep the lights on” so to speak.
The need to free up internal IT teams by outsourcing to a managed service provider is going to be further fuelled by the skills shortage in the UK and globally while the need for rapid transformation within businesses grows as they try to compete on a national – and in many cases international – basis.
Why are managed IT Support services so important to SME’s (small and medium enterprises)?
They don’t need, nor could many justify, a full-time resource. But they do, however, still need access to, and the ongoing support of, an experienced C-level executive. Accessing that means they remain competitive and secure in a rapidly changing world.
What managed IT services can QuoStar offer SME’s?
QuoStar provide a wide range of managed services across a broad spectrum of industries. We predominantly work with businesses with 30-300 employees. It’s often these businesses get left behind in the market – even though they are the ones most likely to need the additional support.
In terms of sector, we vary, but we find that we have a strong base within the legal and the recruitment sectors because our experience over many years has given us a great depth on knowledge in those fields – and that in itself is in demand.
We can provide everything a business needs, from the service desk through to IT management and CIO level consultants on a flat fee basis. This allows our clients to pick and choose the right capabilities to support and compliment their needs as required.
IT Support & Managed Cloud
We provide businesses – both with or without internal IT teams – with the right skills, teams and service levels to keep them available, stable and secure. We run public, private and hybrid clouds for organisations. This ensures that the cloud services are delivering the right levels of service at the right price point.
Fully Managed IT Support: Total Service
Co-Sourced IT Support
Managed Cloud Services
Hybrid working platform: Workspace Ignite
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Hosted Telephony & VoIP
We deliver a wide range of managed security solutions. We provide technological controls to the risks posed to organisations on 24x7x365 basis. So you don’t have to attract, employ and retain IT Security experts. Something which is virtually impossible in all but the largest enterprises.
QuoStar provides top-tier, proven and experienced IT leaders, such as CIOs (Chief Information Officers), CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) and CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) on a fractional basis. This gives mid-sized and smaller organisations access to the support of industry leaders, but again on a monthly basis as and when required.
Office 365 consulting
Microsoft Azure Consultancy
Network and Communications
Agile & Hybrid working
We help businesses take the next step in their digital evolution. It’s imperative for any business in today’s world – and even more so when looking for expansion.
CIO as a service
Data & BI
IT Strategy & Roadmaps
Coaching and mentoring
Ensure your business stays ahead of the curve by using the right Managed IT Services Support for your business.
There are a great deal of IT support providers out there, as you may have notice.
So, your company has decided it wants to outsource some, or all, of its IT function to an IT support provider. Finding the right one for your business can be complicated. Putting a business-critical function, such as IT, in the hands of a third party can be quite daunting.
Interviewing potential suppliers is a vital part of choosing the right IT support provider. Here are a few questions to get you started and the types of answers you should look for.
1. Where are you based?
This doesn’t mean the location of their head office, but more about where your servers are located. This is important if the IT outsourcing company will be providing services such as cloud hosting or VoIP, as it can affect the quality of your services.
GDPR and other laws can also have implications for data storage. Especially for companies working in a highly regulated sector, such as financial services or legal.
2. What geographical areas do you cover?
You no longer need your IT support provider based in the same location as you. However, if you plan to move premises or expand into different countries you need to be sure your provider can support you.
3. As an IT support provider, do you offer different levels of support?
Many IT support companies offer a choice of services levels to suit different budgets and requirements. This may include:
4. What exact IT Support is provided in your contract?
Be wary of a company that claims to “support everything” without actually going into any detail about what is included. Too often companies think they have complete cover, but discover they can only log a set amount of support tickets a month or there’s an extra charge for certain services. It is better to be clear from the outset on exactly what level of support you would be getting. Otherwise, you risk getting tied into an unsuitable contract. If it turns out what you were considering isn’t quite right you can always ask whether there are different levels of support.
5. What isn’t covered in the IT support contract?
Although you may think this would be covered by asking what is included, asking this additional question will provide you with extra detail. There may be a number of services that are not included in the contract and it is important that you have examples of what may be billed separately.
If there are any services that are not included in the support contract, ask about their ad-hoc or hourly pricing.
6. Do you have any guaranteed response times?
You should expect your IT support company to offer guaranteed response times in the case of a problem. The exact response time may depend on what level of support you are willing to pay for, and there may be different response times for different priority levels. For example for a high priority issue or a P1, the company might guarantee that you will receive the first response in 15 minutes.
It is also important to differentiate between response and resolution times. If your company just says two hours, ask them to clarify if this means they will respond to you within two hours or they will resolve your issue within two hours.
If a company guarantees they will resolve an issue in a certain time period, be cautious. Of course, you should expect a target timeframe, but how can they guarantee when a specific issue will be fixed? It can sometimes take longer than expected to get to the root cause of the problem.
7. Do you provide remote management and monitoring?
Prevention is better than cure. You want a company who offers 24×7 monitoring and is proactive in their approach, taking action to prevent problems which would cause major disruption to your business.
8. Will we get a dedicated account manager if you become our IT Support Provider?
It’s helpful to have a single point of contact at your IT support company, with who you can build a long-term relationship with. They will get to know your business and plans for the future, to ensure IT aligns with your goals. It is reasonable to expect one or two dedicated contacts you can deal with.
9. Will I get a dedicated engineer?
It would be unreasonable to expect to only work with one engineer. All technical staff will have different areas of expertise, therefore it makes sense for an IT support provider to assign the best-suited engineer.
10. Do you work with specific hardware and software companies?
It’s not necessarily a problem if a company works with specific manufacturers, but watch out for those who put their vendor relationship above your business needs. If your provider is vendor-agnostic they will focus on finding the best solution for your requirements, rather than where it comes from.
11. How and when will I be charged?
Terms vary depending on the IT support company. Ad-hoc or pay-as-you-go work typically comes with 15 to 30-day payment terms. Contracted work depends on your company’s terms. This can be billed monthly, quarterly or annually, and is usually payable in advance.
12. How can we raise IT problems with you?
IT problems are frustrating, so you want to make sure it’s easy to contact the company. Ask if your company has a dedicated number, an online support request system or a direct email address. If your contract includes 24x7x365 support, ask how you would contact the service desk out of hours.
13. If I phone you, will I be able to speak directly to a technician who can help?
Does your IT support company operate a call centre where someone simply takes your details and passes it on? Or can you reach the service desk directly? There may be occasions where it’s necessary for your problem to be escalated to a second or third tier of support, but it can be frustrating if you can’t at least speak to someone technical directly in the first place.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will provide you with a good foundation when you start interviewing the company that may become your IT support provider.
You can find out more about our IT Support and Managed Serviceshere.