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Who is


in your business?




New flexible working

rights for employees

Modernising the
IT infrastructure

How IT product
buying has changed







Probrand Group consists of three award-winning businesses specialising
in IT Products, IT Services and Software.
Whether youre looking to save time and money buying IT products,

get more from your IT with services or transform the way you work
with innovative applications, we have a specialist dedicated to meeting
your needs. Let us help you thrive with relevant technology.


0121 605 1000 | |

of the Year

Reg No. 16


Peter Robbins
Managing Director, Probrand Group

he last 20 years have been characterised by

constant change, but there is one consistent, that
IT, commercial and procurement teams continue to
innovate and help organisations thrive. For that reason the
pace of technology enabled transformation, in all its forms,
is set to quicken well into the future and cement a key
watchword, growth.
We can see it already. Organisations are clearly taking quick
steps to maximise the upturn in the economy and rapid
adoption of new hardware, services and software are clearly
driving the ever-widening touch of technology in business.
Since 1992, weve grown a group of three award winning
specialist technology businesses, covering the three pillars
of IT provision products, services, software and listing
as some of EMEAs fastest growing businesses. Each has
had to undergo its own transformation over time, so we
empathise with your pains.
More importantly, at the heart of our story is investment
in great people, putting value into relationships with our

innovation, commitment and integrity. That is, helping

customers thrive with relevant and innovative technology.
Traits that have seen us roll-out our software across 150
countries in 27 languages for one of the worlds biggest tech
Hard work and innovation do pay off and over the years thats
been acknowledged. For example, His Royal Highness the
Duke of Kent presented our Queens Award for Innovation for
saving organisations millions of pounds buying IT.
What, apart from success, does this have to do with you and
an insightful Magazine?
Probrand Group fulfils many common and niche business
issues with technology and we recognise that there simply
isnt enough support in the world, whatever the level of your
transformation challenge from buying the right IT products
at the lowest price possible to globally unlocking efficiency
and productivity with game-changing software.
Thats why weve launched the Probrand Group Magazine,
bringing you credible articles written by leading tech
journalists on current topics around driving innovation and
transformation, mobility, supply chain and procurement,
security, cloud and infrastructure.
Nows a great time to be an innovator in your organisation.

1. Apprentice Shareen Shafaq and The Lord and Lady Moyoress of Birmingham, 2. Skills & Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock
MP and Mercatos Nicola Collins, 3. HRH the Duke of Kent presents Peter Robbins with the Queens Award for Enterprise 2011,
4. The Queens Award for Enterprise 2011, 5. Peter Robbins and Chris Griesbach meeting The Queen, 6. David Cameron speaking
at Civil Service Awards 2013, 7. Mercato Solutions winning the Technology Award at Made in the Midlands 2012, 8. Birmingham City
Council Leader Sir Albert Bore visits the Group, 9. Sir Albert Bore with school pupils, 10. Francis Maude MP meets leading tech SME


ADVERT 3 - Icomm


Technology in brief


Mind the skills gap

Software platforms are putting


targets for cyber attack

Firewall Survey

Legacy firewalls increase the

risk of ransomware

business teams in control

Is innovation being driven

outside of the IT department?

Discovery, alpha, beta, live: the


prepare for growth

protecting cloud data

Cloud, on-premise or hybrid?

Server downtime: the number


Supply Chain
Following the IT product

one IT issue affecting firms

Businesses still spending over

cost to business

Just one fifth aware of price



Knowing the supply chain

The steps to business


Insurers need to be careful

Digital innovation helps Godiva

compete with bigger players

Getting big value from big data

Short term approaches to

storage can prove costly

The rise of mobile threatens

wireless wipeout


Insufficient licensing leaves

SMBs vulnerable to legal action

Counterfeit IT products
creating cause for concern

Buying IT products - has it

really changed?

how they innovate

Freeing up resources to drive



Modernising the IT

too much
IT product margins: the

Are you prepared for disaster?


market trends 2014

Films risk legal action by not

consider flexible working

The rise of mobile

The cloud helps coffee republic

Law change forces firms to

Securing access to the cloud is


Governments new digital look


Businesses of all sizes are


See page 46 - 75

Contact us:
0121 605 1000
Probrand Group Magazine
provides news, views, analysis
and information on pivotal subjects
relevant to IT, procurement and
business leaders looking to thrive
with technology.
Please get in touch and share your
views on any of the subjects tackled
or any you would like to read about.


Technology research in brief

Digital data to
double every
two years
The volume of global
digital data will double
in size every two years
and will multiply 10-fold
between 2013 and 2020,
according to IDC.
The analyst warned that the amount
of storage capacity available will not
keep pace with the digital universe.
By 2020, the world will only have
enough storage capacity to hold 15%
of global digital data. Fortunately,
most of the worlds data is transient.

Half of CIOs
are struggling
to grasp digital
More than half (51%)
of CIOs claimed they
cannot respond to digital
opportunities in a timely
manner, according to

The analysts CIO Agenda survey

found that 42% lacked the skills
necessary to enable digitisation and
70% believed they would need to
change their IT sourcing mix over the
next three years to take advantage of
the digital opportunities available.

costing UK
UK businesses are
missing out on 30bn
worth of potential growth
due to connectivity
issues, research has
The Smarter Working Britain study,
carried out by the Centre for
Economic and Business Research
(Cebr) and O2, claimed slow uptake
of technological solutions had
resulted in productivity declining
since the onset of the recession. It
said, despite a proliferation of smart
technology in business, 80% of staff
still dont have full access to key
business systems on these devices
which is stifling mobile working.

Half of firms
move beyond
Cloud pilot
Almost half of businesses
have moved their Cloud
strategies beyond the
pilot phase, according to
a report by 451 Research.
The study found that 45% of
organisations have moved to the next
stage and almost a third (32%) have
included a formal cloud computing
plan within their overall IT and
business strategy. The research also
found that spending on private clouds
was happening both on and off
premise. It said 32% of all spending
on hosting was being dedicated to
private clouds, while 26% of onpremise infrastructure spending
was also being dedicated to private

Mobile traffic
to grow 11-fold
by 2018
As mobile device use
increases the data
generated by these tools,
traffic is forecast to grow
11-fold, between 2013 and
2018, according to Cisco.
The networking company claims
there will be 10 billion mobile devices
connected to the Internet by the end
of this period a figure 40% greater
than the worlds projected population.
The study said the traffic generated
by mobile devices will grow three
times faster than fixed connections,
with the majority of this being
offloaded on to WiFi networks.
Probrand Magazine


Driving Innovation

Mind the skills gap

Neil Tonkin examines how the IT
industry can work with educators
to help bridge the growing IT skills
gap in our economy

he Council of Professors and

Heads of Computing predicts
the UK will need 15% more IT
professionals by 2022. Despite this, the
number of students looking for jobs in
the sector has fallen by 50% in the last
decade. Demand is outstripping supply
and we are facing a skills shortage.
The government has started to take
steps to address this problem. It is
introducing a new Computing curriculum
this September which will see children
learning how to code as early as Year
1 - but this still leaves a generation gap.


Furthermore, a survey by MyKindaCrowd

has revealed that 74% of ICT teachers do
not believe they have the skills to teach
computer science.
Its essential that we provide teachers with
the necessary support to deliver lessons
that inspire young people whether this
is via the government, the industry itself,
or a combination of the two. Moreover,
we must ensure that what is being taught
is applicable in the real world in order to
guarantee that children are equipped with
the right tools to enter the workforce.

Software platforms are putting

business teams in control

igital technology is transforming

businesses by helping people to
work smarter, leaner and faster.

The case for digital innovation is clear.

Research in the insurance industry,
conducted on behalf of Mercato
Solutions, found companies are wasting
an average of 3,000 man hours per year
due to legacy processes and poorly
implemented IT. If organisations want
to be progressive they need systems in
place that enable more flexibility, agility
and efficiency.
Ideally, business teams would be able to
develop their own bespoke applications
to automate processes and use data
better. The reality is bespoke development
can often involve long lead times,
considerable cost and risk. There have
been some very high profile examples
of large scale projects which have been
retired without delivering any benefits.
One notable example was the shelving of


Probrand Magazine

the UKs 12bn national Electronic Care

Records system, which was described
by MPs as one of the worst and most
expensive contracting fiascos ever.

These software
platforms allow for
the rapid creation of
intelligent business
applications without
a single line of code
needing to be written
As a result progressive, but risk averse,
organisations are looking to drive greater
efficiency, productivity and growth through
software platforms. These software
platforms allow for the rapid creation of
intelligent business applications without a
single line of code needing to be written.

of ICT teachers do not

believe they have the skills
to teach computer science

We already know that apprenticeships are

a fantastic way to bridge the gap between
education and the workplace. Why then
cant we form a similar business model
between the IT industry and educators?
Developing such a scheme can surely
benefit all involved.
Coding is an extremely skilled occupation
that is constantly evolving but we must
realise a long-term plan that brings
multiple parties together to make it
Neil Tonkin is Head of Development at
Mercato Solutions

by Peter Robbins

Every organisation has processes

where improvements can be made and
these platform-based applications can
automate complex and simple tasks
alike - from surveys, claims processing
and compliance applications to tech
support, configurators and even artificial
With business teams able to take control
of projects away from IT in this way, many
think an internal tussle could break out as
a result. In fact, modern IT departments
are under such pressure with day-to-day
support and network optimisation that the
prospect of giving the business a platform
it can self-manage is seen as a welcome
addition that relieves pressure.
Equally, the prospect of flexible costs and
deployment are welcomed by IT and
finance departments alike.

Peter Robbins is Managing Director of

Probrand Group

by Danny Bradbury

Is innovation being driven

outside of the IT department?

ing Canute would have made

a great IT director. The AngloSaxon ruler, father of King Harold,
is said to have set his throne on the shore
and tried to turn back the incoming tide.
Legend says the whole thing was an act,
planned by Canute to demonstrate a
simple fact to his courtiers: some things
are bigger and more powerful than kings,
and cant be stopped.
Modern IT departments have a lot in
common with Canute. Until now, they
have been the rulers of technology, firmly
in control of the software and devices that
run on their networks. They were seen as
the masters of innovation.
Now, theyre facing a fast moving current
that wont be stopped. It's sweeping
away the old, and ushering in new ways
of working. Business users, from the
postroom to the boardroom, are using IT
on their own terms - and its creating a
tide of innovation.
Take software development as an
example. For over half a century,
companies have been working to
make software development easy for

people with no technical background

in IT training. Over the decades it led
to a category of software called rapid
application development (RAD), designed
to allow business users to create their
own applications - without writing lengthy,
complex lines of code.
Unfortunately, enabling business users
to write their own code can make IT
departments uncomfortable and a little
territorial, says Peter Robbins, managing
director of Probrand Group.
Its like turkeys at Christmas time, he
quips. It isnt that theyre deliberately
obstructive. But were opening up their
skills base to a lot more people, and they
dont like that, Robbins says.


Clive Longbottom, founder of IT advisory
firm Quocirca, argues that it may be
scary for IT departments but things are
Everything has to be presented to the
business in terms of the three variables
that they care about; how does the

change to technology affect the business

overall costs, its overall risk and how does
it add value to the business? he says.
IT departments may have taken months
to develop applications before, but in a
new world where users can develop their
own software without typing a line of
code, that simply wont fly.
To that end, the IT department must
embrace faster ways of developing
applications as they are not going away,
Robbins says.
It makes sense to adopt processes and
platforms that give you the outcomes you
need; something that can achieve the
same results, but faster and cheaper.
IT professionals can find themselves
swept along by this business focus
whether they like it or not, because
its part of a broader cultural change.
In addition to developing their own
applications internally, many business
departments are also turning to thirdparty suppliers who deliver cloudbased applications from outside
the organisation.

It makes sense to
adopt processes and
platforms that give you
the outcomes you need;
something that can
achieve the same results,
but faster and cheaper.

Probrand Magazine


Driving Innovation

Johnathan Mitchener describes another

perceived threat: the onslaught of
consumer devices. Business users want
their own smartphones and tablets, on
which to access these new, seductive
Mitchener is the lead technologist at the
Technology Strategy Board, a public body
that works with businesses to develop
best practices in technology innovation.
He has spent years studying technology
futurism, and is highly tuned to emerging
trends in this fast moving space.
The bottom line for IT departments? Don't
fight it, says Mitchener.
What you need is a realisation that
very few companies could keep up with
and roll out the innovation in devices,
applications and software that individuals
can now do as consumers in a corporate
environment, he says.


Instead of trying to turn back the tide, IT
can define a more strategic role for itself in
the organisation, concentrating on finding
new and innovative technologies that can
contribute positively to the bottom line.
Antony Walker, managing director of
techUK, says that ITs interests must
be completely aligned with those of the
business. Formerly known as Intellect,
techUK is a UK trade association for the
technology industry.
Its moving from a world where the IT
department is an enabler, to the point
where IT is really helping to drive and
shape the future of the business, Walker
And yet some IT departments,
inexperienced in coping with a change
in company culture, may find it difficult
to drive transformation when they feel
as though they are losing control of key
IT assets. Accepting this change as
a positive thing, rather than a loss of
control, is critical to the IT departments
success as companies recraft those


Probrand Magazine

It starts with the skills inside the IT

department, points out Adam Thilthorpe,
director of professionalism for BCS, the
chartered institute for IT in the UK. Every
technological advance creates a need for
different and more diverse skills, and IT is
no exception.
Demand for IT skills today is based
more on the ability to apply and exploit
technology in the business than on pure
technical implementation, he says. He
sees companies relying more on blended
teams with different talents. They are
managing average workload/workforce
levels in IT more closely, and leveraging
external subject matter experts.

Its moving from a

world where the IT
department is an
enabler, to the point
where IT is really helping
to drive and shape the
future of the business.

Those subject matter experts can be

long-standing non-technical members
of staff, who understand the nuances
of a business's process. To date, that
information has been locked up inside
their heads, and difficult to tap. But
by giving them a hand in application
development, the IT department can
perform a valuable service to the rest of
the organisation.

What might that look like in practice?
Mitchener describes a scenario in which
the IT department acts as a central
clearing house or even a marketplace
for innovation that springs directly from
business departments. "It is not unusual
now for some organisations to have their
own app stores, and the business unit to
contribute to that," he argues.
Developing applications is one thing
but it still takes technical expertise to
validate what has been written, and then
distribute effectively to others around
the organisation who might be able to
benefit. IT could handle version control
and updates, introduce standards for
effective software development and
enable different departments applications
to work seamlessly with each other.
In addition to polishing and packaging
technology from business units, there

Adam Thilthorpe,

Director of
for BCS

there is also an opportunity to identify

internal applications that could be
marketed externally to others in an
industry, Mitchener says.
Developments like these can help make
the relationship between IT and the
business units less adversarial, and more
cooperative, he adds. "I wouldnt say
its a support role; it's more a question
of involvement, and partnership," says
Mitchener. The users develop what they
want, and the IT department helps finish
it off."

These more mature relationships work
because instead of resenting each other
and hogging their own territory, both sides
get something out of the deal. It makes
requirements analysis far easier. Capturing
information about business processes in
lengthy Word documents is a notoriously
gruelling task for IT departments, who
in many cases may not know which
questions to ask.
Enabling non-technical staff well versed
in the business process to design their
own applications collapses the layers
between the users and the developers.
In fact, as Robbins points out: These
products dont need developers; they
need implementers.

It also benefits the business, by giving

it more control, Robbins points out.
Traditionally, a business department may
have to stand by as IT development costs
spun out of control. By the time it realised
that something was wrong, it may already
have spent several months and significant
financial resources on the project. Putting
development in the hands of nontechnical users closer to the business
side introduces more visibility.
"Because you're going back to people
with developments swiftly, it speeds up
the process, enabling you to control the
costs more," he points out. "This lets
you make judgement calls on projects
early on, and that's crucial to businesses

For all of this to work, IT departments
must give up their own preconceptions
about how technology is provided within
a company. But business departments
must also rethink the relationship in some
cases, warns Longbottom.
The business is still not including
IT at the beginning of the business
decision making process, which leads to
technology being decided upon in a rush
and so being suboptimal, he says.

Over the past few years IT departments

and business units have become wary
of each other and it takes two to break
down a wall. Involving IT early on in the
discussion stage, rather than treating
it as a potential barrier, could provide
businesses with unique strategic insights
into new projects.
Technology experts can advise on a
variety of topics, from how datasets can
be analysed to best determine target
audiences for applications, through to
how social networks could be used
intelligently to drive an initial campaign
and everything in between.
The power of data is well understood
among business leaders, but that doesnt
mean that other parts of the business will
have that knowledge in how to make it a
reality, points out techUKs Walker.
For that kind of relationship to develop,
both sides need to be constructive,
forward thinking - and willing to get their
feet wet. Is your organisation up to the

Danny Bradbury is an award winning

freelance technology journalist

The business is still

not including IT at
the beginning of the
business decision
making process, which
leads to technology
being decided upon
in a rush and so being

Probrand Magazine


Driving Innovation

Discovery, alpha, beta, live:

the governments new digital look

rom this summer, people

registering to vote or update their
electoral register details have been
able to do so online in just three minutes
- thanks to a new national system.
The website,,
now connects to every local authoritys
electoral register and cross checks
identities against the DWPs national
insurance database.
Greg Clark, junior Cabinet Office minister,
said the introduction of this online
registration will strike a blow against
electoral fraud.
In its scale and ambition, however, the
electoral registration project initially had
all the hallmarks of a classic government
IT disaster waiting to happen. It had
to meet a national policy deadline
(moving 46 million voters to individual
registration), while cutting across tiers of
government and pioneering new identity
matching procedures. In the past, this
would have been the cue for delays and
The systems developers at the
Government Digital Service say the
success of the project is thanks to a new
agile approach to development, which
removed the inflexibility of previous big
bang government IT systems.
The online electoral registration is one of
25 projects pioneering a new approach
for developers of digital by default public
services, as set out in the Government
Service Design Manual. This approach is
breaking down projects in to four phases,
Discover, Alpha, Beta, Live (DABL).
Discovery involves finding out what users
need, what to measure and what the
constraints are.
Alpha is the stage of building a prototype
and testing it with users.

by Michael Cross

Beta is scaling up and going public while retaining the ability for continuous
Live is where the system becomes
available to all users.
This DABL approach is attracting a lot
of attention. The big question, however,
is whether it can be applied to the
really large scale projects endemic to
government and especially to the UK
Chris Haynes, a veteran of e-government
projects in local and central government,
is cautiously optimistic. Although he
warns of the dangers of messianic zeal,
he says DABL offers a way out of a major
problem with public sector IT the lack of
solid technical skills.
He said: Over the past 15 years the
government has denuded itself of IT
skills and left itself vulnerable. A benefit
of the DABL approach is to re-introduce
expertise at a low level.
New approaches allow for rapid
application development, which
compresses timeframes and risk. If you
have the ability to prototype youre 90%
of the way to getting customer support.
The prototype stage is also where to
decide which tehnical platform the end
system will use.
He adds: Im 65% certain that the
outcome will be really positive in the long
run. You need to deal with the technical
vacuum in government.
Over the next year, as the remainder of
the digital by default projects work their
way through the DABL stages, the new
philosophy will be put to the test. With the
UK still lagging in European e-government
benchmarks, there is definite room
for this improvement.

Michael Cross is a technology

journalist, formerly with the Guardian
and the Independent
Probrand Magazine



Law change forces firms

to consider flexible working
With the government extending the scope of who can
ask to work from home or non 9-5 hours, Gary Flood
asks how employers can best react to this change of law.

by Gary Flood

ollowing a change of law in July

2014, anyone who has been
working for an employer for
more than six months is now legally
empowered to ask if they can work
Employers might be used to this kind of
request from staff who are either parents
of young children or who have to care
for others. But now the government
has decided that everyone, even those
with no dependents, can put a "flexibility
request" on their managers desk at
least once a year and employers will be
expected to respond.
The extension of flexible working
legislation has raised fears, in some
quarters, that there will be a flood of
requests that bosses will be hard-pressed
to meet - especially within mid-range or
smaller companies.

When a member of staff

asks for flexible working,
the employer must
consider the request in a
reasonable manner.


Probrand Magazine

Employers may be reassured to know

that these changes provide no cast-iron
guarantee that all requests will need to be
accommodated. Legally, employers have
to consider the request but can reject it at
any time on business grounds, points out
Tina Wisener, partner at London-based
employment solicitors Doyle Clayton. But
employers still need to tread carefully
to ensure they are following the correct
procedure around this, she adds.

When a member of staff asks for flexible

working, the employer must consider
the request in a reasonable manner, she
warns. Employers must also consider the
plea carefully - balancing the benefits for
the employee and the business against
any adverse impact for the business.
In reality, an employer can refuse a bid
on a number of grounds, such as cost to
the business or the impact on their ability
to meet client demand, according to
employment law expert Dan Peyton from
law firm McGuireWoods.
So long as the request is turned down on
reasonable grounds, employers should
be OK. But if they do not, they need to
be aware that they could face legal action
on grounds which could include disability
or indirect sex discrimination - among
other possibilities. If it goes to tribunal,
employers may also be liable to pay out
So while there is no gun being held to
employers heads, they do need to tread
carefully around this issue. Meanwhile,
there is also the factor that in todays
interconnected world technological
advances mean that, on paper at least, a
staffer should be able to work wherever
they want.
Modern technology is likely to have the
most impact on decisions on requests

Tina Wisener,

Dan Peyton,

Claire Blyth,

Doyle Clayton


Red Setter

to work from home, given the ease with

which employees may now access work
IT systems remotely, notes Peyton. It
may be more difficult for an employer
reasonably to assert that such a request
contravenes one of the statutory grounds
for refusal.

Good Business
The reality is that employers need to be
up to speed with what technology can
do to support flexible working. After all,
the whole idea of telecommuting has
been around for years, although, its only
in the past few years - since the growth
of the World Wide Web and 3 and now
4G Internet broadband - that its become
more than a slogan.
Some mid-range companies do claim,
however, that such advances mean that
enabling flexible working is a doddle. One
such is Red Setter, a Brighton-based
business development consultancy. To
attract and retain the very best people, we
offer significant flexibility, says its director,
Claire Blyth.
Weve never seen flexibility as something
that needed to be imposed by regulation;
for us, it is simple business sense if
someone wants to come in 30 minutes

Weve never seen

flexibility as something
that needed to be
imposed by regulation;
for us, it is simple
business sense.

late so they can do the school run or work

from home a couple of days a month
because the trains are disrupted. In fact,
our longest-serving member of staff now
works from home full-time.
To support such structures, Blyth says
she and her fellow managers have had to
ensure the right technology is set up to
make it possible. But so positive has the
experience been she says, I would urge
other SMEs to see flexible working as an
opportunity to really engage and energise
your workforce.
So the bottom line seems to be that
employers need to get ready for flexible
working approaches, which could now
come from anyone in the firm. Employers
need to spend some time thinking about
their response to these requests and what
technology will effectively support such
ways of working.
The price involved in enabling flexible
working could well be worth it, however.
As Red Setters Blyth puts it, Senior
professionals are looking for a job which
uses the skills and knowledge they have
gained over many years in an industry
they love - but which doesnt require them
to work 14 hour days, six days a week.
They want a job which fits around
their lives.

Gary Flood is a freelance

technology journalist

Probrand Magazine



The rise
rise of mobile

s organisations look to enable flexible working and increased

collaboration, the deployment of mobile technology has
become a top priority in business. Companies have sought
to gain these advantages as quickly as possible and in so doing have
been allowing, and in many cases encouraging, employees to use
their own mobile devices for work purposes.
Providing employees with access to corporate networks via mobile
devices has not been without its challenges, however. Concerns
around the increase in mobile cybercrime and the leaking of sensitive
data, which can be stored on these devices, has led to security
becoming a priority for businesses.

Companies are realising that

by enabling employees to
work from a location of their
choice using their preferred
technology, they are taking
one of the single most
important steps in motivating
business productivity
- Adriana Karaboutis, CIO of Dell

Flexible working

Consumerisation of
IT cannot be ignored.
Providing employees
with a simple secure
way to access the
company network is
a key factor which will
enable employers
to embrace mobile
working and BYOD.
- Bob Tarzey, service director
at industry analyst Quocirca



Probrand Magazine

of SMB
were remote
workers in 2013
- Symantec


ring Your Own Device (BYOD) is an approach that allows employees and
partners to utilise personally selected and purchased devices, such as
smartphones, tablets and laptops, for work purposes

of UK adults now use a

personal smartphone, laptop
or tablet for work purposes

of companies are allowing,

accommodating and encouraging
the use of personally owned devices
Vanson Bourne

"What happens if you buy a device for an employee

and they leave the job a month later? How are you going to settle up? Better to
keep it simple. The employee owns the device, and the company helps to cover
usage costs - David Willis, vice president at Gartner

Mobile security

Enabling mobile
Virtualisation bridges the
gap between the network
and BYOD by allowing users
to connect from anywhere,
on any device. Furthermore,
BYOD highlights the
things that thin clients and
virtualisation do best, like
securing corporate and
customer data.

Companies need to wake

up and realise theyre facing
a massive security issue and
risk having their intellectual
property walk out of the door
with people.
- Alastair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle

of tablets and smart
phones connecting
to company networks
are insecure
- Ponemon

9 in 10 38%
UK office workers are
storing, sharing and
accessing corporate
data on personal devices

of mobile users
have experienced
mobile cybercrime
in past 12 months

- Ipsos MORI

- Norton

- Tom Flynn, HP chief technologist


of firms hit with security issues

implemented encryption solutions,
such as virtual private networks,
to protect information in transit
- Ponemon


of firms hit by a security breach

introduced endpoint security, such as two
step authentication, to provide protection
when devices access networks remotely
- Ponemon


of large corporations have

implemented VDi due to BYOD
- Decisive Anlaytics
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Supply Chain
by Oscar Diamond

Following the IT product market trends 2014

Oscar Diamond of leading
market research company
GfK takes a look at the IT
product market to highlight
current trends and forecast
where things are likely to
go next.

Where IT growth will come from in 2014

he overall IT product market is

expected to grow slowly - by
around 1% each quarter during
2014 - as the tablet market levels out
and growth comes from the emerging
areas in desktop computing, storage and

The tablet market declined in value
(-5.4%) in the first quarter of 2014, even
though the volume of sales increased 4%
year on year. This was the first decline on
record for tablets and signified that the
market is now maturing.
The decline has been brought about
primarily by a swing towards smaller and
cheaper 7inch devices. This markets
ongoing transformation is likely to see a
further drop in the average selling price.
The B2B market (10% of sales in Q1
2014) is, however, expected to remain
static for the rest of the year. The joint
issues of security, productivity and the
fact that working on tablets is a large step
change for workers will prevent B2B sales
from taking off as retail sales have done.

increases. B2B desktop sales, however,

remained flat in Q1.

The falling price of hard drives combined
with a slow uptake of higher capacity
products and increased competition from
cloud storage has left the storage market
struggling this year. The market is down
9.3% in value, despite being up 1% in
Growth can, however, be found in the
SSD market (up 42.4% in value in Q1).
With the price of higher capacity SSD
drives falling and the install base still far
away from saturation, we can expect to
see growth continue at between 30% and
40% in Q3 and Q4.
Network Attached Storage (NAS) also
saw volume growth of 27.1% and value

growth of 6.5% in Q1. We would expect

strong volume growth for this sector to
continue but with muted value growth as
prices fall.

The theme of networking is now more
about the widening of access rather
than increasing network speed. In B2B
enterprise, switches and switch modules
are driving growth. In retail, growth is
coming from powerlines and repeaters.
Traditional routers, however, continue to
struggle due to a very slow adoption of
the new WiFi standard, AC, which has
not been helped by a lack of support from
leading consumer devices.
The market, which has been improving
steadily for the last four quarters,
experienced value growth of 5.6% in
Q1 2014.

The traditional desktop market is
experiencing a renaissance in 2014, due
to the popularity of consumer focused
products. Retail sales were up 10.8% in
volume and 20.9% in value in Q1.
The growth is occurring in high end tower
computers and all-in-one devices. This
uptick in demand is being driven by PC
gaming and is expected to continue as
the system requirements for new games

Probrand Magazine


Supply Chain

Knowledge is

when buying IT

Technology journalist Michael Cross looks at how

organisations are gaining competitive advantage by
examining supply chain information.

by Michael Cross

f you read Government reports on

recent public sector spending it gives
the impression things are finally being
brought under control. The Cabinet Office
has released a barrage of figures claiming
unprecedented savings in everything
from better management of commercial
relationships (1.8bn over four years) to
closing unnecessary websites (60m last
year alone). But has the UK public sector
really got to grips with its IT spending?

routinely paying above the best practice

industry margin of 3%, as defined by the
Society of IT Management (Socitm).

The evidence suggests not. Some public

sector organisations have been shown
to be falling short by not negotiating
the best possible deals with their
suppliers. Benchmarking research,
carried out by KnowledgeBus, found
some organisations have paid nearly
seven times the recommended margin
for products supplied under contracts.
Such overpayments make it harder to
demonstrate returns on investment in IT
projects. And with public spending under
ever-growing scrutiny, these purchases
have the potential to
cause severe political

Yet many, if not all, of these overpayments are avoidable if organisations

have a clear view of the stock and
price levels in the market. Any
organisation without visibility in these
areas is negotiating deals with a clear
disadvantage especially when a fifth of
products in the UK IT market can change
price overnight.

It is not just the public

sector struggling with
the margins being
paid to suppliers. The
study, which included
200 procurement/
ICT managers (with
annual budgets over
50,000), found most
UK organisations are


Probrand Magazine

In fact, the public sector did on average

perform better than a number of
other sectors, such as banking (39%
average margin). There were, however,
some alarming exceptions. One NHS
organisation paid an astonishing 673%
margin, while a university paid 426% and
a local authority 327%.

There is a whole plethora of factors

impacting on those price levels, such
as currency fluctuations, raw materials
shortages and even natural disasters.
For example, when an earthquake and
tsunami hit northern Japan in March
2011, the price of hard disk drives
quadrupled. The introduction of around
300 new products into the IT market each
day is also impacting the price of their
predecessors on a constant basis.
Managers are beginning to overcome
these complications, however, by taking
advantage of a new generation of
benchmarking software that is providing
transparency around the price and stock
levels in the market.

South Staffordshire College, a further

education college spread over four
sites, is one organisation which has
been demonstrating the potential of this
technology. With an annual turnover of
30 million, more than 20,000 students
and 850 staff, it sees itself as a pacesetter in a highly competitive environment.
Jamie Smith, director for strategy and
infrastructure, said: The chief executive
wants us to be in the vanguard of
development across all areas - the learner
experience, the campus buildings and this
also includes procurement.
In the current spending climate, this
is a tall order. If you want to be this
progressive when budgets are contracting
you need to be innovative as there is
pressure to deliver the best possible
return on every pound, says Smith.
To achieve this return with its IT
spending, South Staffordshire deployed
benchmarking tool KnowledgeBus and
the information delivered an immediate
payback, Smith says. With the
information provided, we have been able
to negotiate supplier margins down from
an average of 30.9% to less than the best
practice 3%.
For example, we recently required seven
laptops, which would cost about 900
each from major suppliers. We bought
them for 420 each and made a saving of
almost 2,000 on that purchase alone.

He added: This has translated into more

or better IT for an improved learning
Another organisation taking advantage of
benchmarking to achieve big savings is
the Home Group, one of the UKs largest
providers of social housing. The social
enterprise and charity has a turnover of
more than 300 million and works with
more than 200 local authorities nationally
to house some 120,000 people a year.
Although Home Group was able to
negotiate low margins on its main
framework supplies contracts, it has
previously had difficulty getting value for
money from ad-hoc purchases. These
were costing on average 21% more
and up to 350% more for individual
purchases, says Laura Davidson, IS
supplier relationship manager. This had
to change.
By deploying KnowledgeBus, the
procurement team has been able to
get a grip of this situation. Davidson
said: We unearthed supplier sales
tactics such as inflating margins for high
volume, low value consumables whilst
appearing to provide competitive pricing
on low volume, high value equipment.
For example, we found mark-ups of
approximately 60% on laptop bags but
minimal mark-ups on laptops.
On smaller items, we have seen suppliers
asking for mark-ups in excess of 100%.

This was something we had not have

realised previously.
Home Group has now capped
commercial agreements with suppliers
limiting the mark-ups possible. This is all
policed using benchmarking software.
Davidson claims this approach has paid
rapid dividends. Our cost avoidance
figures show that Home Group saved
50,000 over six months as a result and
we are likely to save more than 80,000
over the course of the year.
The benefits of price visibility do not just
rest with an ability to beat resellers down
on price, however. The insights delivered
by benchmarking also allow organisations
to spot seasonal price changes.
By observing these trends South
Staffordshire has developed a
procurement strategy which has seen it
buying products at specific times in the
year to deliver cost savings.
Smith added: Powerful big data
functionality allows us to view historical
stock and pricing levels to spot and
analyse trends. We have set alerts
to provide early warnings on any
fluctuations, which can be dramatic.
These insights have led us to both delay
and bring forward purchases.
When buyers are able to identify the
potential for these kinds of savings
from supply chain information, it
appears knowledge really is power.
Probrand Magazine


Supply Chain

IT product margins: the

avoidable cost to business

ith prices so volatile, IT

managers and procurement
professionals face a huge
challenge trying to achieve best value
when purchasing IT equipment.
If prices never altered it would be easy to
keep track of what a fair price should be
and negotiate with resellers accordingly.
In reality, a whole host of factors affect the
supply and demand for products which
impacts the price on a daily basis.
Without knowing the current trade price,
however, it is difficult for IT buyers to
know the mark-ups being achieved by
resellers and they can be substantial.
Mercatos recent IT Product Margins
study found that UK organisations were
routinely paying above the best practice
industry margin of 3%, as defined by the
Society of IT Managers. In one incident an
organisation within the NHS was found to
have paid an astounding margin of 673%
on a single purchase.
While the results showed that some
sectors have reduced the average
margins paid over the previous 12 months
- councils saw an average of 29% drop
to 11% last year other sectors are


Probrand Magazine

getting worse. Banks were shown to have

paid average margins of 39% in 2013,
compared to 19% in 2012.
Al Nagar, Mercato head of benchmarking,
said: Organisations are overspending on
their IT and this is hitting bottom lines at
a time when many are fighting to become
more efficient. Negotiating the best price
on every purchase is a necessity but a
volatile market makes this difficult. At
the core of this issue is that buyers rarely
manage to find and use validated trade
prices as a bartering tool with suppliers.
IT suppliers capitalise on the fact
that most organisations cant keep
track of supply chain stock levels, new
product launches or seasonal trends
that contribute to changing prices. For
genuine best value, buyers need to
police and benchmark purchases.

Just one fifth aware

of price volatility

ess than a fifth of UK buyers are

aware of the level of price volatility
in the IT market, a study has found.

The research, based on over 150,000

items, found as much as a fifth of
products can change price within a 24
hour period some by as much as 67%.
The study also revealed that over the
course of a quarter just 16% of products
maintained their value.
If buyers have agreements stipulating the
margins suppliers can charge on top of
the channel price, then understanding
this price volatility is crucial. A study
with 1,000 IT purchasing managers by
Mercato Solutions has revealed, however,
that 81% were unaware of the scale and
frequency of these price changes.

In total there were nearly one million

individual price changes throughout the
quarter under review. Analysis of one
single model of Voice over IP phone
showed it changed price 50 times in this
three month period.
Price changes were also discovered to
be going both up and down. The study
identified one entry level storage solution
which experienced a drop at the start of
month one and an increase of 3,000 at
the end of the second month.
The highest variance saw a product price
increase by 66.7% and the greatest price
drop was 28.6%. On larger items these
changes can have a significant impact on
cost. When a Quantum storage products
price went down by 5%, the cost
dropped by over 20,000.

Knowing the supply chain

nderstanding the supply chain

and knowing what vendors are
likely to do next can be a big
advantage when buying new IT products.

before they can get to work. This all takes

time and once built it can still take 8-10
weeks to ship to Europe if transported by

When you take a look at the current

computing device market, with Microsofts
new operating system and touch
screens, it is hugely unstable there
is a huge variety of notebooks, tablets
and ultrabooks to consider. In these
circumstances it can be helpful to know
that vendors plan their product line-up
about a year ahead of its arrival with
resellers. With the right insight, therefore,
its possible to predict what is coming

By having knowledge of where vendors

are going, youll know what stock is likely
to be about months ahead. It may also be
that certain products may only be around
for 3 to 6 months. At times suppliers will
build one batch at a low price to affect the
market and when that stock is gone its
gone. If buyers want consistency of image
or continuity of specification they need to
look at established products, normally the
business or corporate ranges.

Al Nagar,
Mercato Head of

There were nearly one

million individual price
changes throughout
the quarter
Al Nagar, head of benchmarking at
Mercato Solutions, said: Benchmarking
applications can help buyers beat the
system by tracking thousands of products
every day as well as monitoring historical
trends and alerting IT buyers of
exactly the right time to buy.

by Gary Price, Product

and Category Manager
with Probrand Group

Many people these days will use Google

to do their own research but talking to
someone who can explain where the
vendor is going with its products, and
its proposition, can be a big advantage.
Impartial advice can also be crucial in
ensuring you get the right product, which
is fit for purpose, and that you are not
press ganged into buying products which
companies are simply trying to shift
because they have a load of stock
filing up the warehouse.

If you consider the development of a

notebook, there are many things a vendor
needs to consider before manufacture.
They will need to do their research into
what customers require and what level
of demand there is likely to be for each
product. They will also have to take on
board what Microsoft and Intel are doing
and negotiate with component suppliers
Probrand Magazine


Business Transformation
By Rob Bamforth,

the steps
to business

External specialists might be engaged,

but the appetite for change must come
from within. To be credible, real business
transformation must enable a tangible,
non-incremental jump in business
capabilities, so that an entire operation is
working smarter - stretching imaginations,
not resources.


Nothing will reach a successful
conclusion without focus, clarity and
the conviction that change is not only
necessary, but worth doing right.
There must be authority, but this alone
is not sufficient, nor is the cloak of
management. Successfully transforming
part of a business requires management
commitment, dedication and drive.

Business process
Existing ones need to be well understood
and those post transformation must
be properly codified and structured to
match the identified business needs and
not depend on historical legacy. Silos

Probrand Magazine

at Quocirca


ome might think business

transformation involves handing
a seemingly unending flow of
budget resources to a burgeoning team of
external consultants for nebulous results,
and past experience of business process
engineering specialists might justify this
thinking, but it isnt necessarily right.


Principal Analyst

based on departmental fiefdoms or past

IT solutions should not determine the
direction or the outcome.

Business alignment
It is critical that all resources committed to
business transformation are aligned with
business needs. Change for its own sake
is not the intention. Requirements should
be based on business strategy and goals,
with an iterative path towards completion.
Resources need to be committed to
initiate and implement each stage, then
repeated until the desired final outcome is

Strategic IT
Many short term quick fix IT investments
that will cause greater headaches and
expense over time. The effective time
window of short term fixes rapidly
closes as most companies find their
legacy IT riddled with complexity
and interdependencies. Business
transformation requires architecting for
flexibility with an efficient and virtualised
core that is capable of handling an
increasingly diverse and mobile range of
devices at the edge.

Vision, not hype

Innovative technologies can support
business transformation, but they must be
evaluated on impact to the business and
not market buzz. A pertinent example
is big data. It might seem a great idea
to capture anything and everything, but
strategies are better set on business

goals not storage capacities - good,

relevant and rapidly applicable data
will be more useful than accumulating
terabytes of junk.

Demonstrable success
Clear assessment of worthwhile return
at the end of a transformation cycle is
vital, but should always be in meaningful
and measurable terms. For some this will
be explicitly financial, but consequential
impact can create broader and synergistic
values to the organisation. These must
still be measured and evaluated, but
against a template of business impact,
which can then be traced back to IT
decisions, so as to demonstrate the
business value of action taken.
Finally it is important to remember that not
all aspects of business transformation will
occur at the same rate. While strategies
can be readily defined and systems
rapidly implemented, other aspects of
change can be much slower. People,
organisational culture and working
practices take time, support and effort to
adapt to radically different processes.
The commitment to initiate change needs
to be matched with a commitment to
follow through, and to recognise that it will
be required again. It might seem trite to
say that the only constant is change, but
it is true. However, it is always better to be
initiating, rather than reacting to, change.

Quocirca carries out research and

analysis on behalf of IT decision
makers across Europe

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Business Transformation

Insurers need to be careful

how they innovate

he insurance sector is often

portrayed as a somewhat
conservative and traditional
industry - operating with long established
business practices and processes.
However, as time moves on, new
business models emerge and legacy
processes become inefficient.
Research released by analyst firm
Quocirca, in conjunction with insurance
trading platform KnowledgeKube,
revealed that insurance firms are on
average wasting up to 3,000 man hours
per annum due to inflexible systems and
The inflexibility of these processes is
also preventing insurers from taking full
advantage of new digital sales channels,
stifling revenue growth. Software that

enables users to quickly and easily

perform the tasks they require without the
need for abundant technical support will
undoubtedly unlock substantial returns in
this sector.
Without decent IT guidance, however,
different lines of business will often
opt for IT software that fits the needs
of the moment. As a result, different
departments can become locked into
disparate systems that continue to
reinforce poor processes.
It is important to involve the internal IT
departments in order that resources
can be pooled for the benefit of the
organisations as a whole. New technology
should sit among and be connected to
legacy systems, to help move business
processes forward. This is protecting

by Steve Vallis

those relevant legacy investments and

complementing them with new efficient
Organisations should seek to progress
with updated business processes and
flexible IT systems aligned. This requires
good communication and understanding
between IT and internal departments,
or external suppliers. A pooled and
considered approach to the legacy issue
can optimise aging but solid processes
and drive new processes that lead to an
overall competitive advantage.
The key is to establish ways of
empowering the business to take control
and ownership of transformation.

Steve Vallis is a Business Systems

Consultant with Mercato Solutions

Digital innovation helps Godiva compete

with bigger players
Case study

eploying new digital solutions has

enabled insurance broker Godiva
to grow in a market dominated
by larger competitors.
The Coventry-based firm had been
looking to grow its landlord business
but, with margins tight, it recognised its
business processes had to become far
more efficient in order to expand. The
manual nature of its existing systems
were slow and restricting scalability.
Looking at the costs from cradle to
grave against the margins available,
we realised we were not able to do the
volume required to make it pay. We had
to fundamentally change our model to


Probrand Magazine

stay in the market, said Barrie Roberts,

Godivas commercial operations manager.

business with a more customer-centric

approach, said Roberts.

To enact those changes, Godiva decided

it needed to automate processes where
possible and use a software platform
to develop an online insurance product
which the customer could self-manage.

The new online system has also allowed

us to unlock new business channels
and work with a large affinity partner to
offer our products online to almost 6,000
developers and lettings agents.

Its new automated online system has

allowed the firm to compete at the
smaller, high volume, end of the market
- previously it had only targeted larger
commercial clients. Being online also
allowed Godiva to pursue new digital
sales channels.

The business has been able to diversify

thanks to the ability to quickly test
new markets and products. It has also
removed the risk previously associated
with this process and we recently began
automatically cross-selling additional
and more complex products online like
buildings insurance. Put simply, this low
cost operational model has stepped our
business up a level. This is proving

Landlords often prefer self-service out of

normal business hours and, with our own
branded trading website, we are driving

Getting big value from

BIG data

by Peter Robbins

Big Data holds huge potential for innovative businesses but extracting
value requires business transformation to go alongside technology.
Peter Robbins explains how organisations can realise this potential.

aining value from Big Data rests

on how organisations extract
meaningful insights from an
ever-increasing amount of information.
Although businesses are amassing
huge data sets, it is often unstructured
and underutilised. It is not unusual to
see databases managed by separate
departments in unconnected silos,
offering little value to other areas of the
enterprise. A well planned Big Data
project will, however, complete the data
jigsaw. It will enable the organisation to
drive improvements and efficiency across
the business.
Getting your data in order is a key project
priority but working out how employees
are going to access, interpret and use
this information in their daily processes
should also be a major consideration.
This requires businesses to enact
business transformation alongside
technological solutions.

Fail to plan,
plan to fail
With any Big Data project, its critical
to have clear and defined objectives at
the outset. As many industry reports
show projects often fail to deliver as
the outcomes arent properly debated,
agreed upon, or even properly written
down before commencing work. The
targeted outcomes must pass the
SMART test - Specific, Measurable,
Achievable, Results-based and with a
Timeframe. We have to go further than
to simply hope for more effective data

Bridging the gap

Its not simply about how an organisation
gets more from the information that
resides within existing systems. Its about
how best to locate, integrate and push
that data to where people need to use
it. Only when youve got a complete
picture can you truly extract measurable
value that can improve processes and
The approach should aim to overcome
the huge disconnect between isolated
data islands and create a model that
can join up, normalise and share data
between all enterprise systems - ERP,
CRM, SRM, HR and the spreadsheets
generated and shared within various
teams. This is the bridge between
storing and handling data and actually
extracting actionable value from within it.

Simplify, simplify,
We are all aware of organisations looking
to source a Big Data Solution, implying
its a quick win and out of a box. Thats
simplistic. Big Data challenges often
span multiple locations, departments
and roles. In order to maintain high levels
of productivity, organisations require
large scale data management and
simple online tools to guide colleagues
to the value.

A successful approach will provide a

well contained, structured, data-friendly
eco-system and new ways of working.
For example, automating how data is
captured, used and shared within an
organisation will reduce unnecessary
or repetitive human intervention and,
with that, the potential for errors and

Employee engagement
A Big Data strategy isnt just about
utilising a bigger volume of data more
effectively - its about the impact on daily
tasks, routines and workflow. With this
in mind, change management is a top
priority for any organisation to consider
within their project planning.
Keeping people informed about the
project and its likely impact is an
important element of delivering success.
If the project is correctly planned from the
outset, colleagues can feel empowered
to contribute their own insights. A truly
successful Big Data project is one that
transforms an organisation positively and,
through more effective data management
at the back end, helps employees to
do a better job.

Peter Robbins is Managing Director of

Probrand Group

What tangible value will these new

insights actually bring? Will it automate
previously laborious procedures and
release resources? Can we provide
better services by unifying data and then
using it to drive automated business
Probrand Magazine



Businesses of all sizes are

targets for cyber attack

he modern world is now heavily reliant on the Internet.

Websites and social media have become vital channels of
communication allowing companies to interact and sell to
customers. Online business now contributes 6% of UK GDP.

As the significance of the Internet has grown, however, so has

the incentives for cyber criminals. The scale of the threat is now
enormous and at the highest level organised gangs, and even
nation states, are targeting some of the worlds biggest firms.

Businesses are also providing employees and partners with online

access to their systems, and facilitating flexible working through
cloud computing.

However, with sophisticated cybercriminal tool kits now available

for just a few thousand pounds, businesses of all sizes are
vulnerable to attack.

Sophisticated malware and exploit

kits are widely available to cyber
criminals for as little as 3,000

UK Government

of the FTSE
100 have been
by cyber
- UK Government

The extent of what is

going on is astonishing
with industrial-scale
processes involving
many thousands of
people lying behind both
state sponsored cyber
espionage and organised
- Jonathan Evans,
Director-General of MI5

must have a
plan for dealing
with infections
and data
breaches; they
cant just say
this is an issue
that doesnt
affect me. Any
company that
stores data
is a potential

For too long the

public's perception
of cybercrime has
been a lone bedroom
hacker stealing money
from a bank account.
But the reality is that
cyber criminals are
organised and global,
with a new breed of
criminals selling 'offthe-shelf' software to
aid gangs in exploiting
the public.

- Idan Aharoni, Head of

Cyber Intelligence at RSA

- James Brokenshire, Minster

for Crime and Security

Intellectual property
theft and industrial
espionage costs
UK businesses

16.8 billion
a year

Home Office

It is becoming easier to participate in

cybercrime. The challenge is immense, and
it is growing rapidly. For any company the
impact of being targeted in a cyber attack
could be catastrophic, whether for your
intellectual property, reputation or future.
- William Hague, Foreign Secretary

More than a third

of global attacks
are aimed at
small businesses
- Symantec

Probrand Magazine



Firewall Survey
by Paul Maher

t is a depressing fact that cyber

criminality continues to become more
sophisticated, and no one is safe from
Big or small we are all vulnerable. Even
the biggest technology firms such as
Microsoft, Apple and Facebook, who
you would think could adequately defend
themselves, have admitted to breaches.
From a financial and reputational
perspective, the consequences of these
attacks can be huge. In one of the largest
global incidents to date, US retail giant
Target saw the personal and financial
details of up to 110 million customers
As more and more high profile incidents
like this have hit the headlines, there
has been a dawning realisation within
organisations, of all sizes, that they need
to take cyber security seriously. And the
evidence shows that businesses are
starting to do that.
The Icomm Technologies Survey,
conducted with more than 400 IT
executives in small to medium businesses
(SMBs) in the UK, has revealed that more
than a third (37%) of firms have updated
their firewall protection within the last 18
months and more than half (56%) within
the last 30 months.
Companies have been advised to update
their firewalls as the increasing complexity
of cyber attacks has meant solutions
are now required to do much more than


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simply check where traffic is coming from

and going to. Over the past five years
security firms have been rolling out next
generation firewalls which can provide a
more thorough level of protection.

to con and trick their way around these

traditional solutions. They will also attempt
to smuggle malware through firewalls by
burying it within encrypted traffic which
appears on the surface to be safe.

What is needed is a deep package

inspection and that is what a next
generation firewall provides - it digs
further down to check for a virus or an
intrusion, said Mark Lomas, IT consultant
at Icomm Technologies.

Today, up to 35% of enterprise traffic is

secured using the Secure Sockets Layer
(SSL) protocol. Cybercriminals know this,
and they have begun to use SSL to hide
their attacks. Organisations which are
still relying on legacy firewall with no or
limited SSL Inspection capabilities can
be compromised said Florian Malecki,
International Product Marketing Director
at Dell.

If you have not refreshed your firewall


companies have
never tested
their firewall

within the last three to five years the

chances are that you are using a legacy
firewall which is no longer fit for purpose.
The Study revealed, however, that almost
one in six (17%) organisations have
not, or were unsure whether they have,
updated their firewall in the last five years
which is leaving them vulnerable to
modern attack methods.
The danger lies in the fact that
cybercriminals have now found ways

These Icomm Technologies Survey

results suggests that message is finally
starting to get through. The problem is
there are still many businesses, especially
SMBs, which think they are not being
targeted and dont believe they need to
update, when that is not true.
Research, by Symantec, has shown
that 30% of all global cyber attacks are
actually aimed at small businesses, where
defences are perceived to be weaker.
Cybercriminals will also target SMBs in
stepping stone attacks as they seek
to target larger organisations.Large
companies can work with many SMBs,
and they may be given some admin
rights. Criminals will look to exploit those
rights and attack the smaller businesses
where defences might not be as tight,
explains Malecki.

have no plans to,
or claim they will never,
update their firewall
It is one thing having a next generation
firewall but it is another thing checking
the solution that has been deployed is
actually doing its job. It is recommended
that companies check their firewall with
penetration testing at least once a year
on average. For companies with sensitive
information or customers personal or
financial details, this might take place
The Icomm Technologies Survey found,
however, nearly one in every eight
companies (12%) have never tested their
firewall to check that it is working properly.
Im actually pleasantly pleased that that
figure is not higher, said Malecki. A lot
of people seem to think because they
have a firewall they are fully protected
when they might not have the right
policies in place. Penetration testing is
important to ensure everything is working
as it should.
He also adds: As Verizons recent Data
Breach survey has shown, when a
business is compromised it can be a long
time before that is discovered and quite
often it is the third parties doing these
penetration tests that are the ones who
are finding these breaches.

When it comes to refreshing a firewall
solution, companies are also advised
to do so every three to five years, as
they would their servers. This is not just
about evolving threats but also about
performance. If a company grows in
size, organisations need to be sure their

solution can handle the increase in traffic,

and a bottleneck is not created.
The Icomm Technologies Survey revealed
almost half of firms (48%) have plans to
carry out this refresh within the next five
years. Although, almost a third (32%)
admitted they either dont have any
plans or claim they will never update their
One respondent also said they will only
update once their current solution has
broken. It would be interesting to know
when someone thinks their firewall is
broken, as its not a case of checking
whether the lights are on, said Lomas.
If you have a traditional firewall it will not
be protecting you in the same way it was
when you bought it, so in my eyes it is
already broken.
By not deploying the latest technology,
companies will also forego additional
benefits, such as the granular controls
provided by next generation firewalls.
In an era of cloud computing, next
generation firewalls are now ensuring
that productivity is not impacted by
overwhelming demands on Internet
These granular controls will, for example,
allow the marketing department to
promote the business on websites such
as Facebook and YouTube but can at
the same time prevent online gaming
or excessive video streaming on these
Malecki explains: If an England football
game is on, some companies will be
happy to let their staff stream this but it

One sixth

of organisations have
not, or are unsure if
they have, updated their
firewall over the last
five years

could affect bandwidth and prevent access

to essential cloud applications such as or other CRM systems.
Next generation firewall will, however,
allow you to reserve a percentage of the
bandwidth for certain applications to
ensure the business remains productive.

Paul Maher is a freelance

technology journalist

Probrand Magazine


of the Year


Legacy firewalls increase

the risk of ransomware
Case Study

usinesses with legacy firewalls

are leaving themselves
vulnerable to ransomware
attacks by not refreshing their solutions.
Security experts, such as McAfee, have
highlighted a big uptick in this type of
cyber-attack, which sees criminals hack
organisations, encrypt sensitive data and
hold it to ransom.
Successful attacks often result in the
perpetrator attempting to extort money
for the money. Icomm Technologies
was privy to one such attack in which
the hacker pledged to expose sensitive
information to a companys entire email

contact book unless 500 was paid into

their bank account.
A word document file left on the
business owners computer read You
have been hacked. Inside were details
of the criminals demands and the
consequences of what would happen if
payment was not made.

for payment, said Icomm Technologies

Technical Manager, Mark Allbutt.

The menacing message read: I do not

require to do much more work on my
part to ruin you. The hacker even left
a reference number to be quoted for
payment purposes.

The client was vulnerable as they had

been using a legacy firewall that does not
interrogate traffic and application use. We
had made them aware of the risks, but
from their perspective it had been a case
of if its not broke, dont fix it.

I have heard of hackers doing this before

but Ive never seen anything so brazen or
cheeky as to quote a reference number

Unfortunately the older a firewall gets

the more vulnerable it becomes and the
hackers are getting cleverer.

Securing access to the

cloud an imperative

by Ian Callens

As demand for cloud services continues to surge, Ian Callens looks at how firms
can enable these solutions without exposing the business to risk.

ith organisations able to

access new technology and
flexible working solutions
easily through the Cloud, interest in this
delivery model continues to grow. This
appeal will see demand for cloud services
increase by 25% this year, according to
research by IDC.
Given the online nature of the Cloud,
however, companies need to take steps
to ensure they always have easy access
to their applications and solutions, and
that their access is secure.

Modern firewalls
As applications are being accessed over
the Internet, there is a need to deploy
firewalls which go beyond simple security
and also monitor traffic and bandwidth.
The modern firewall, therefore, needs
to allow traffic controls to be set at a
granular level.

For example, policies can be put in place

to give additional bandwidth to one
type of application over another when
necessary. If enough user sessions of a
preferred type, such as remote desktop
services, come on-stream your firewall
policy can throttle other applications,
such as video, to ensure business-centric
applications have enough throughput.

web enabled device. The two factor

authentication provides more secure
access via the end user device by
making use of two separate channels,
for example a desktop computer and a
mobile phone.

Data encryption and


When accessing applications remotely

over the Internet, another effective
security solution is to deploy a secure
sockets layer virtual private network
(SSL VPN), especially when coupled with
token-less two factor authentication.

Best practice would also include

encryption from source. IT administrators
should be issued with a personally
defined encryption key before data is sent
to the cloud. Business continuity best
practices would also require cloud data to
be backed up to a co-location for added
fail-over and protection from any form of

SSL VPN gives remote users secure

access to client server applications and
internal network connections using any

Ian Callens is Sales Manager at

Icomm Technologies

Strong authenticated

Probrand Magazine



The cloud helps coffee republic

prepare for growth
Case study

everage chain Coffee Republic

has prepared for future growth by
embracing cloud solutions.

During a recent refresh to its ICT

infrastructure, the London-based coffee
company decided to consolidate its
physical estate in order to reduce costs.
It also took the decision, however, to
increase IT security and improve business
continuity capabilities by deploying cloud
Mark Roughton, IS manager at Coffee
Republic, said: We had an aging
infrastructure that offered little resilience or
fail-over. This was coupled with unreliable
access to our core data centre. It was
not a platform for growth.
After virtualising 60% of its server
estate, within its London data centre,

the organisation was able to provide

fail-over for its Exchange, SQL database
and EPOS System data via replication
at hosted data centres in Manchester
and Birmingham, using the cloud service
Roughton added: An integrated cloud
and on-premise solution offers an
environment primed for performance,
agility and high availability. It is a cost
effective way of protecting the business
and improving the quality of service our IT
system delivers.
Long term this approach will save us
money in both operational overheads
and capital expenditure. The secure and
robust cloud backup solution itself means
we now have a backup and recovery
procedure without the added cost.

This development breaks the traditional

mould for us and furnishes the business
with the most efficient and future-proofed
IT platform for us to go forward.
Coffee Republic also improved availability
and secure access to its data centre
by deploying next generation Sonicwall

An integrated cloud and

on-premise solution
offers an environment
primed for performance,
agility and high availability

Firms risk legal action by

not protecting cloud data

K businesses are being urged

to carry out due diligence on
their cloud storage and backup
providers to avoid falling foul of data
protection regulations.
With the threat of cybercrime and cyber
espionage escalating it is important
customers question potential providers
and know exactly where customer or
employee data is being physically kept.
Not doing so could put an organisation
at risk of breaching the Data Protection
Act 1998. The law specifically states that
companies need to keep information
secure and ensure data is not transferred
to countries outside the European
Economic Area unless it is adequately


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The UKs Information Commissioners

Office (ICO) has shown it is also prepared
to fine any organisation not taking data
security seriously. It issued fines totalling
2.6m for data security breaches last
year, this included a 250,000 against
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.
Cloud service providers provide viable
and economical solutions to the challenge
posed by huge data growth and can
provide a second data storage site to
enable disaster recovery. However, few
cloud providers openly state the country,
general locality and legal jurisdiction which
cover the data being stored.
It may suit them to store data in countries
where costs are lower but a report by the

Business Software Alliance (BSA) claims

regulatory governance is not consistent
and many countries compare poorly to
the UK. For example, the BSAs Global
Cloud Computing scorecard ranks
the major growth economy of Brazil
particularly badly. It places the UK sixth
in the world on 76.6% for protection
against cybercrime, while Brazil scored
just 35.1%.
Research firm IDC has also urged
businesses to carry out thorough
background checks when choosing a
cloud provider, after it claimed that 30%
of suppliers active in the cloud market are
likely to be out of business by 2015.

Cloud, on-premise or hybrid?

With cloud service usage expected to grow rapidly during 2014,
Mark Lomas examines the pros and cons of going off premise.

hen businesses weigh up

the Cloud they will consider
two main factors - cost and
Some will want complete control over
their data and to own their infrastructure.
If this is the case they will face an upfront
expense for the cost of the equipment,
the software licensing and the resources
required to house all of the servers
running their applications.
They will also need to look at refreshing
their technology every three to five years.
On top of this, they will need to bring in an
IT team or have a support service in place
to maintain the servers.
The Cloud approach is more of a rental
model, without the big upfront cost
for equipment or software licenses. If
applications and servers are hosted in the
Cloud, it will be the service provider who
also has the responsibility for monitoring,
maintaining and refreshing the technology.
Businesses just take out an agreement
and start paying for a certain number of
services on a monthly basis.
Which model is the most cost effective
will vary from business to business - it
is important to look at the return on
investment in each scenario. Before any
decision in regards to cloud services,
however, there are a number of other
factors which need to be taken into

Factors to consider
Firstly, where is your data going to be
stored and how will it be protected?
Secondly, what sort of financially backed
guarantee are they offering you in the

by Mark Lomas

event of any down time? Some providers

will simply give you free credit in the event
that they have a problem, whereas other
providers will put their money where their
mouth is and give a refund if they have a
problem. In this respect, it is important to
examine the service level agreement and
look at the guaranteed up time.
Finally its a good idea to double check
what back up and disaster recovery
arrangements are in place and whether
data is likely to be moved. Some
providers might store data in the UK on
day one but six months down the line
you might find hosting has moved to a
different location - in some cases without
your knowledge.

Hybrid approach
In certain circumstances an organisation
may decide cloud services are unsuitable.
Legalities may require their data is
held within the United Kingdom or the
European Union, and companies may shy
away from cloud providers completely in
this situation.
Organisations may also have bespoke
applications that simply need to be run
in-house. However, there might be other
more generic software, for example
Microsoft Exchange, Outlook or Office
services that can be provided under
a software as a service model. In this
situation organisations may look to adopt
a more hybrid approach and use cloud
services in some areas but look to keep
other elements in-house.

Mark Lomas, IT Consultant with Icomm


Which model is the

most cost effective
will vary from business
to business - it is
important to look at the
return on investment in
each scenario.

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Server downtime: the number

one IT issue affecting firms

ith server downtime proving

to be the number one
technical issue impacting
UK businesses, it is essential that
organisations have an effective disaster
recovery solution in place.
A survey of almost 2,000 SMBs,
conducted by Icomm Technologies,
revealed that server downtime was
affecting organisations more than any


of businesses
experienced at least
one episode of server
downtime last year

other IT problem (22%). This is due to

factors which include power problems
and outright server failure.
Further research has shown that 86%
of businesses experienced at least
one episode of server downtime last
year leading to an average loss of 2.2
working days. On average organisations
experienced 16 outages a year.
Company profits are hampered by poor
business continuity from unscheduled
IT downtime. Without proactive
management of IT, businesses are
inadvertently costing themselves tens
of thousands of pounds in lost working
hours, said Ian Callens, business leader
at Icomm Technologies.
In this digital era, businesses need
to have access to data and software
applications at all times. Ensuring
quality business continuity demands

by Ian Callens

constant and timely network and server

The Icomm survey also found businesses
were suffering major IT issues as a result
of data growth, with 15% of IT issues
related to low disk space and 16.5%
caused by backup failures.
Callens added: If data storage and
backup services are not working
properly and a company encounters a
disaster, such as burst pipes flooding
their data centre, this ultimately could be
devastating for the business. Research
has shown that most organisations
which experience a disaster without
effective backup go out of business
within two years.

Ian Callens is Sales Manager at

Icomm Technologies

Are you prepared for a disaster ?

Mark Lomas, IT consultant with Icomm Technologies,
explains how the Cloud is helping organisations get back
online with minimal disruption.

n IT disaster can take many

forms. Some can be caused
by extreme events, such as an
earthquake or hurricane, while others
simply come down to the failure of an
individual piece of equipment.
Many businesses would find it disastrous
if this failure knocked out their email and
communications infrastructure. If things
were not back up and running quickly,
and the necessary preparations had not
been put in place, there is a genuine risk
that organisations could face the end of
their business.
A full business continuity plan will ensure
there are processes in place to ensure

that the IT system can withstand any

failure and can continue functioning
normally with little or no disruption.
A completely fault tolerant solution may
be beyond some companies but everyone
can, at least, have a documented set of
procedures to implement in the event that
something goes seriously wrong.
Some organisations may think they are
safe because they have got some sort of
tape backup but many are simply putting
the tape in the server every day without
carrying out the necessary testing. Also,
many backup solutions only target key
data for protection rather than the full

by Mark Lomas

server - when for most IT environments

the key foundation element is the server.
Companies need to be thinking about
more sophisticated technologies such
as virtualisation and full server imaging,
which takes a complete image of the
entire server hard drive. If we think about
the nature of virtualisation, were turning
each individual server into an image.
This allows third party cloud providers
to replicate all your data and virtual
machines, in a secondary location, and
get everything back online quickly in the
event that you have a problem.

Probrand Magazine



Modernising the IT


by Danny Bradbury

T today is about doing more with

less. Corporate demands on the
infrastructure are increasing but
budgets are often frozen, if not shrinking.
So how can companies modernise their
IT infrastructures to make the most of
their resources?
Consolidating equipment using
virtualisation is still one of the best ways
to drive those efficiencies into the IT
department. Traditionally, companies
bought a separate dedicated physical
server for every application that they
wanted to run. This avoided applications
clashing with each other, and stopped
vendors dodging responsibility by
blaming each others software for a
problem during support calls.
It also meant that most of the servers
used little more than 10% of CPU power,
which was uneconomical. By recreating
those physical servers as software
containers, virtualisation consolidates
multiple operating systems onto one
physical box - enabling them to run
their own applications while maximising
resource usage.
If you can put in something that saves
money, then its far more likely to
happen, says Tony Lock, programme
director and analyst at IT advisory firm
Freeform Dynamics. Its a case of lets
do this with an eye of what can we use
it for later.

Whats next?
Beyond simple cost savings, just what can
virtualisation be used for later, and what
comes next in the journey to modernise
the IT infrastructure?
In many cases businesses will want more
flexibility over their virtualised operating
systems, perhaps enabling them to be
provisioned and deprovisioned dynamically,
as workloads request it. Those virtual
machines may need to be moved between
different physical servers for performance
and backup purposes. IT departments
may even want to give users the chance
to provision their own virtual machines for
testing and development. This is where
private cloud computing comes in.
True cloud computing includes the ability
to automatically allocate workloads across
virtualised infrastructures to make best
use of the available resources. It can
also include a self-service layer, enabling
business users to specify their own


Probrand Magazine

computing resources where necessary and that can include storage resources
This flexibility enables cloud deployments
to extend beyond the confines of the
enterprise and Alex Hilton, CEO of the
Cloud Industry Forum, argues that public
cloud environments are becoming a
significant factor in many IT strategies.
Surveys have shown that 69% of
organisations are adopting public cloud,
he says.
But not all data is destined for the cloud,
he admits, suggesting that hybrid cloud
deployments that stretch between public
and private infrastructure will become more
significant in the future. Were showing
a slight drop in organisations saying I will
put everything into the cloud, more and
more theyre saying that its going to be
a mixed environment, he says.

Storage and networking

CPU time isnt the only IT resource that can be dynamically
allocated. Storage is another area where companies can
modernise their infrastructures by making provisioning more
Historically, companies have also tied local storage to
individual physical servers, connecting them via direct SCSI
links, for example. But that dedicated the capacity on that
storage device just to that server, creating pockets of unused
storage around the organisation and forcing up capital
These storage infrastructures can then be placed onto highspeed networks known as storage area networks (SANs),
again separating the logical resource from the physical
hardware. Its effectively a cloud for storage.

In many cases, networks must also be upgraded to cope

with the demands from virtualised storage and servers, and
consolidated core networking has become a key development
trend in the data centre. Using high-speed connections for all
traffic can help to reduce cabling and I/O port overhead, while
also making core network management far easier.
Mark Lomas, IT consultant at Icomm Technologies, says that
different high-speed networking protocols have developed
quickly in the datacentre. Fibre channel, which has traditionally
been a go-to architecture for high-speed SANs, has been
consolidated onto high-speed Ethernet networks in recent
years, using the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol.
Converged network adaptors are starting to become a thing,
thanks to increased demand for bandwidth and protocol
efficiency, he says.

Appliances: modernisation in a box

All of these developments are being encapsulated in new
generations of hardware appliances that marry various
features together. For example, it is possible to buy a 'cloud
in a box' appliance that orchestrates all of your virtualisation
and cloud management for you. Similarly, appliances can take
many of the headaches out of virtualising storage.

client side. The virtualisation movement has extended to the

desktop in many cases - with virtual desktop integration pulling
client-side operating systems back into the server. Thin client
devices are being used to access desktops that can be more
easily configured, managed, and where necessary, rebuilt and

The idea is to move out of the server and inside an

appliance, Lomas explains. We can then flexibly configure
the amount of storage so that we can go into an admin
console and type in how much storage we allocate to a
specific server. That lets us keep on flexibly changing the
amount of storage that is allocated to different workloads in
the environment.

And the devices themselves are changing, as tablets and

smartphones revolutionise the work environment, thanks to the
emergence of 'bring your own device' policies that allow users
to bring different device formats into the workplace.

The key here is that the appliance automates a lot of the

management, packaging configuration into a single easy to
administer interface. This brings these modernisation steps
within the reach of smaller businesses that may not have had
the expertise to configure different components of a cloud
server or networking solution to work together.
While these developments continue in the server room,
there is also a modernisation movement happening on the

With IT infrastructures evolving so quickly both at the back

end and on the client side, todays IT department has an
unprecedented opportunity to cut capital expenditure and
operating costs in the server room. The modernisation process
can also create a stronger relationship with the user base by
offering them more flexible ways of working both inside and
outside the office.
But effective modernisation takes a mature approach to
planning architectural change, testing and deploying different
components over time. Few companies forklift a modern IT
infrastructure into place all at once but instead will opt for an
iterative approach. After all, if Rome wasnt built in a day, it
probably wont be renovated in 24 hours either.
Danny Bradbury is an award winning
freelance technology journalist

Probrand Magazine


e n t e rp ri se

Gold Partner


Freeing up resources to
drive innovation

by Mark Allbutt

With the job of maintaining data centres overwhelming

the IT team in many small to medium sized businesses,
Mark Allbutt looks at how freeing up resources can help
organisations drive innovation.

t is estimated that just keeping the

lights on in the data centre is, on
average, eating up between 72%
and 85% of IT budgets. The time it
takes to attend to hardware, software
and infrastructure is also curtailing the
IT teams ability to focus on progressive
Organisations can free up resources,
however, if they bring components
together and introduce more automation.
This will deliver the efficiencies necessary
to reduce costs and the pressure on time.
IT executives can then concentrate on the
initiatives which are capable of providing
businesses with a competitive advantage.
There are three ways businesses can do

Pool resources
Organisations can reduce the amount
of hardware needed in the data centre
by bringing components together. By
consolidating data in a storage area
network (SAN), efficiency technologies,
such as deduplication and thin provision,
can be deployed which reduces the
amount of physical equipment requiring
maintenance. This also means less power
and cooling - freeing up extra finance for
new projects.
The deployment of automation for
systems such as backup would also
reduce the amount of manual checks
currently carried out by IT staff.

Increase agility
Organisations can also free up resources
by creating a more agile data centre
which utilises the Cloud. Cloud providers
are allowing businesses to scale their
infrastructure up and down as and when
required. By taking advantage of cloud

services, firms can reduce the amount of

kit they need to maintain on-premise.
If organisations are experiencing seasonal
peaks in demand on the data centre this
may well be a cost effective option. An
e-commerce business may experience
heavy demand for just a few weeks of
the year and then be able to operate with
a reduce infrastructure for the remaining

Be more responsive
If IT teams find themselves unable to
respond quickly to the demands of
the business, they could be creating
headaches for themselves when end
users seek their own solutions. The
increased usage of cloud services has
created a scenario where individual
departments are prepared to source their
own solutions - rather than wait for the IT
department to get around to solving the
However, as employees use cloud
services, such as sync and share tools, IT
has been left to deal with consequences.
Many are having to deal with the potential
security issues this has created to ensure
sensitive information doesnt leave the
IT teams need to get ahead of the end
user and be more proactive in this regard,
if they are going to alleviate the tendency
for employees to look elsewhere.
It may be the only way the IT Team can
get ahead, and become more responsive,
is to free up resources in the first place.
Reducing hardware, introducing efficiency
technologies and automation, and utilising
the cloud where possible could all be
essential in achieving that goal.

Mark Allbutt is Technical Manager at

Icomm Technologies
Probrand Magazine



Short term approaches to

storage can prove costly

he seemingly endless demand

for data storage is creating
headaches for all organisations.
IDC estimates that the amount of digital
data held globally will double every two
years until the end of this decade.
The growing use of Big Data, analytics
and business intelligence tools is only
likely to exacerbate problems further.
With this in mind, it is important that
organisations take a long term approach
when it comes to data storage, and
look to take advantage of efficiency
Organisations that dont plan ahead,
and simply buy extra storage units when
existing capacity is overloaded, are likely
to end up paying much more in the long
Those that plan, however, will realise
big savings through technologies such
as thin provisioning and deduplication.
These solutions are already available
with some vendors but the benefits are

often overlooked as many buyers only

consider the price of the disk. They are
not comparing like-for-like, however.
By not procuring this technology at the
start, demand for storage may well mean
that organisations end up acquiring these
solutions at a later date when they will
come as add-ons, at a much higher price.
Deploying premium solutions may cost
more upfront but organisations will gain
an extra 30-50% in storage capacity
straight out of the box. Thin provisioning
can identify spare disk capacity available

Deploying premium
solutions may cost more
upfront but organisations
will gain an extra
30-50% in storage
capacity straight out of
the box

The rise of mobile threatens

wireless wipeout

ith traditional wireless

networks struggling to cope
with the demands placed
upon them by modern mobile devices,
strategic infrastructure planning has
become crucial.
Connectivity becomes a big issue for
organisations when slow download
speeds and frequent disconnections
frustrate end users and disrupt work. At
the root of the problem are aging wireless
local area networks (WLAN), designed to
cope with just one mobile device to every
three users.
The Bring your own device (BYOD) trend
has, however, turned those figures around
and Gartner estimates organisations now
need to handle three devices per user.


Probrand Magazine

by Ian Callens

Nowhere is this issue felt more than

in the education sector where tablets
have become a key learning tool. The
British Education Suppliers Association
(BESA) claims almost a quarter (22%)
of pupil facing computers will be tablet
computers by the end of 2015.
Any organisation planning a strategy to
cope with this problem needs to look at
future usage, guest usage and usage

Future Usage
Organisations need to think about mobile
devices use, not just today but tomorrow,
and develop a three year plan. Future
proofing against the ongoing mobile
explosion is critical if you are to reduce
costly mistakes.

across a storage area network (SAN)

and make it available when required.
Deduplication will also free up disk space
by removing multiple versions of the same
Sometimes the budget is the budget and
companies can only afford the cheapest
SAN in the short term. However, we are
in an environment where businesses are
looking to sweat their assets for longer
and it doesnt make sense to buy a SAN
which will in time require a greater
outlay of investment.

Ian Callens is Sales Manager at

Icomm Technologies

by Steve Buett, IT consultant

with Icomm Technologies

Guest Usage
Before expanding the mobile device
estate, organisations need to check the
WLAN can cope with higher demand. It is
also important to remember the impact of
visitors and partners here, and dont only
think of internal users.

Usage policies
As wireless devices are slower than
desktop devices connected to a physical
network, it is also important to manage
expectations and set usage policies. This
will reduce any frustrations and ensure the
faster policy speeds are available to
all end users.


Insufficient licensing leaves SMBs

vulnerable to legal action

mall to medium sized businesses

(SMBs) are unwittingly leaving
themselves vulnerable to legal
action by not managing software licenses,
a recent study has revealed.
The survey of 250 IT buyers and end
users, carried out by Probrand, found
that 87% of SMBs were either over or
under licensed. As a consequence,
organisations are either wasting money or
operating illegally.


of SMBs are either over

or under licensed

Managing software licenses can put a

strain on the resources of time strapped
SMBs but without an appropriate level
of coverage companies can face legal
challenges from vendors or the Business
Software Alliance. Furthermore, as larger
organisations are more likely to have the
resources in place to ensure compliance
with software licensing, enforcement
officials are increasingly targeting the SMB

George Hesketh Probrand software

specialist, said: SMBs in particular have
the biggest under license issue and are
most at risk of legal challenge.
Many businesses are either confused
by the complexity or so time and cash
strapped that they are allowing software
licenses to lapse without renewal.
Alternatively, businesses are renewing
without re-counting the number of
licenses they actually need. This leaves
them under or oversubscribed using the
same license for multiple machines or
renewing licenses for PCs or users no
longer with the business.
The renewal of software or Software
Asset Management is a big problem for
private and public sectors alike. From
an asset management perspective, the
intangible license often gets forgotten.
But compliance is critical.

Counterfeit IT products
creating cause for concern

n increase in the number of

counterfeit IT products creeping
into the supply chain is creating a
cause for concern for businesses.
The UKs Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
annual crime report has revealed that
IT equipment is among just a handful of
goods which have prompted a higher
number of investigations this year.
Computer parts, electronic components
and electrical goods were all among the
top ten goods investigated by the IPO.
With high street retailers and online
auctions being among the top locations
investigated, the report has provided
a stark warning to businesses looking
to source low cost products. Price
conscious buyers have been warned
to do due their diligence and only buy


Probrand Magazine

Original Equipment (OE) from trusted

The danger counterfeit IT products pose
was recently highlighted by the death
of air stewardess Ma Aillun, after she
was electrocuted using a non-Apple
USB charger. When employee safety
and business continuity is taken into
consideration, ensuring products are
genuine becomes an imperative.

Product checks
The growing complexity of the OE global
supply network, and manufacturing in
low cost regions across Asia and Eastern
Europe, has made it harder to prevent
counterfeit parts and products entering
the supply chain. Business can, however,
carry out a number of checks to ensure
their parts and products are the real deal.

Buyers are advised to ensure products

have a warranty and confirm if the
supplier offers any guarantees or
after-sales service. Businesses should
also register the warranty with the
manufacturer - this will quickly determine
whether the product is genuine or not.
The products designated serial number
can also be used to track the products
authenticity with the manufacturer.
Although the IPO report claimed that
IT hardware was under the spotlight, it
added that there had been a reduction
in the number of investigations involving
software and computer games this year.
This was attributed to a switch in buying
behavior, towards internet downloads,
and the increased awareness of the
counterfeit issue as a result of campaigns
led by the gaming industry.

Buying IT products
has it really changed?
by Peter Smith,
Lead Editor of Spend
Matters UK/ Europe

ts around 25 years since I first got

involved in purchasing IT products and
services, although I should emphasise
that I dont consider myself a deep IT
specialist. However, my first Procurement
Director role included personally putting
in place major contracts across the Dun
& Bradstreet Group Europe, where IT was
our most significant spend category. And
actually, at that time, my openness (some
might call it naivety) probably helped.
Whilst many colleagues were suspicious
of how Dell could sell PCs at half IBMs
price, I just asked if they worked, and
then suggested we really should be
buying them.
In subsequent procurement director roles,
at the Department of Social Security and
NatWest, IT was similarly critical, and Ive
maintained an interest in the spend area
over the years. So with that historical
perspective, lets look at how recent
developments have changed the world of
IT procurement - hardware in particular
- compared to those days when Michael
Dell was a fresh-faced disruptive force in
the industry.

been the domain of large manufacturers.

So whilst markets are often highly
competitive, even buyers who feel they
have substantial volume actually hold
limited market power.
The pace of change is something else
that hasnt changed. Buyers need to keep
up with the market, what is available and
what will be available.
But there has also been real change.
The most significant recent trend in IT
overall has been the Cloud but that has
had more effect perhaps on software
buyers. The Cloud has had less effect on
hardware buying when compared to the
informed buyer.
IT and procurement managers now have
to contend with colleagues who are
major users of IT in their non-work lives.
Whilst they wont all be real experts, the
days of the user who couldnt switch on
their PC are gone. As technology-savvy
youngsters come into our organisations,
they have strong views on what they
want and how it should work. The need
for effective stakeholder management

by procurement is therefore greater than

Linked to the change in the user
capability, weve also seen a big move
to online procurement. This has had a
knock-on effect in terms of the role of
the IT re-seller, the traditional middleman in the hardware market. No longer
is it enough for them to simply provide
an attractive catalogue of products. To
demonstrate their worth, they need to
add value for the buyer, through provision
of benchmarking services or market data.
In terms of the external dimensions,
supply chains have tended to become
more complex as products have become
more advanced. Insight into those supply
chains is vital to stay ahead of the game.
How should buyers respond to these and
other changes? The increased challenge
suggests that good market intelligence,
and deep understanding of key supply
chains, providers and products will all be
essential if our IT buyer wants to deliver
real value to their organisation, and
indeed prove their own worth.

The summary might be, plus a change,

plus cest la mme chose. Whilst
much has apparently changed, some
fundamentals remain. For instance, in
general terms, IT hardware has always

Probrand Magazine


Contents - What we offer

The IT Index
IT Products. Save time and
money buying. Europes largest
B2B marketplace online.

IT services. Get more from your

Cloud Backup



Cloud Disaster Recovery

Bespoke and branded software


Cloud Anti-Virus

platforms. Transform the way


Managed Firewall

you work.


Managed remote access

IT. Managed IT services.

Proactive IT


Private Marketplaces
Global marketplace
processes made easy.


KnowledgeKube -


Fully managed support

Platform to automate


Software and hardware

business processes fast.


IT solutions


presales processes


Storage Area Networks


Network infrastructure

KnowledgeKube trading

Server & desktop




KnowledgeKube common


KnowledgeKube specialist

and Wireless





Remote access and

automated IT price and


stock benchmarking

Contact us:
0121 605 1000
Over the next few pages
Probrand Group showcases
the depth and breadth of
products and services it
offers. If you would like to
explore anything further,
please get in touch.


Probrand Magazine

Company Overviews
Probrand Group
Your technology partner.
Probrand Group is a leading end-to-end provider of technology through three
multi-award winning businesses specialising in IT products, IT services and software. Established professional brands
dedicated to helping customers thrive with relevant and innovative technology.
With over 20 years of heritage, Probrand Group has a global outlook and now serves an extensive customer base of over
3,500 private and public sector organisations as a Crown Commercial Service framework supplier. The business prides
itself on investing in great people, putting value into relationships with its own innovation, commitment and integrity.
Since 1992, Probrand has grown from a small Value Added Reseller to a multi-award winning group. Three years of
growth spawned specialist IT services business, Icomm Technologies, in 2000, the launch of online marketplace The
IT Index in 2002 and innovative software business, Mercato Solutions in 2006. All three have sustained growth and
been acknowledged with numerous awards and listings. The pinnacle of which includes a Queens Award for Enterprise

The IT Index
IT Products. Save time and
money buying IT.
The IT Index is Europes largest specialist B2B marketplace online, offering an awardwinning personalised experience and a best practice approach that quickly gets IT
buyers to the best priced top branded products from almost every category. It helps
buyers save time and money through CIPS accredited procurement excellence.
The IT Index also offers managed services to support customer aspirations for
more strategic procurement, including IT purchase benchmarking for transparent
buying and trusted advisory support for large scale solutions and technology refresh

Icomm Technologies
IT Services. Get more from your IT.
Icomm Technologies provides managed IT services, proactive IT support and IT solutions, offering decades of
award-winning technical service excellence to large organisations and SMEs alike.
The business retains a technical edge and is proud to employ a workforce of over
60% technical professionals, operating out of Birmingham and Manchester.
A best-of-breed mindset helps customers get more from their IT.

Mercato Solutions
Software. Transform the way
you work.
Mercato Solutions is one of EMEAs fastest growing and most innovative enterprise
application providers. The business helps a global client base transform business
processes with bespoke and branded software platforms and applications that drive
smarter working.
An award-winning portfolio consists of delivering Private Marketplaces world-wide,
KnowledgeKube for automating business processes fast and KnowledgeBus for
automated IT benchmarking.

Save time and money

buying ICT.
Europes largest specialist B2B marketplace online
Over 150,000 products and services from more than 2,500 brands
Hourly updated and ranked by best price and stock availability

A personalised buying experience.

Best practice procurement. Better Value.

It has saved over 15% of our consumables

budget, enabling the organisation to stretch
its IT budget. Savings made on individual
products range from 3 6% and as an example
we reduced our 120,000 bill for inkjet, toner
and fax cartridges by 20%.

Save up to a day a week buying time previously spent manually

managing purchase information

Cheltenham Borough Council.

Proven on average to save 10% on ICT budgets

We are now saving 5 days a month which we

used to spend managing procurement admin

Drive value in and cost out of your procurement processes

Coffee Republic.

Easy and accurate purchasing.

Unique self-service tools narrow choice to complex needs exactly
and efficiently
Free login for personalised catalogues, special bids and promotions
direct from manufacturers
Direct purchasing. No re-direct to 3rd party websites
Greater management visibility to help stamp out off-policy rogue


Probrand Magazine

The IT Index has saved us in the region of

30% on our IT budget. We can now get more
from our budget.
Bradford Grammar School.
Efficient one-stop-shop procurement
process coupled with customer service
excellence, both cashable and non-cashable
savings have been yielded.
Ashfield District Council.

Best priced products.

Shortest possible time.

For Business

Powerful guided experiences

Management tools

Value added advisors and tools to present relevant

products at the right price fast, supporting your
decision making. Better match needs to relevant
choice more accurately and efficiently.

Control a role-driven environment offering ethical

purchasing of products at validated best value. Track,
analyse, plan & forecast budgets. Improve spend
visibility and reduce rogue purchasing.

Personal order pad

Drive collaboration

Save time by maintaining a list of regular purchase

items updated hourly with price and stock.

Multiple logins per account. Share product catalogues

across organisations. Reduce duplication of effort.

Dynamic personalised cataloguing

Rapid integration

Gets you closer to suppliers who communicate only

relevant, lowest priced personalised deals direct in
real-time. Get the best deals most relevant to your
sector and segment.

End-to-end P2P operational excellence. Simple

connection to ERP and line-of-business systems.
Streamline order processing, catalogue management
and payment.

Rapid advanced search

Added value services

Quick predictive search by product parameters; brand,

category, type, code, specification.

Strategic procurement service

A managed service providing the advice and guidance
you need to make better buying decisions

Automated comparison
Prices compared across the market hourly. Products
ranked by best price and availability. Eliminates
time consuming supplier ring rounds and manual
comparison. Drives mini-competition.

Single procurement dashboard

Purchasing done direct. View, manage, investigate and
plan with tailored information.

Dedicated account management with back office

support from product and category specialists
Direct introduction to leading manufacturer partnerships
for large projects and maximum value
Field team and end user engagement for large and
complex projects

Benchmarking service
Automatically see special bids. Order online at preagreed discounted pricing. Get the best deals most
relevant to your segment. Digital by default.

Smart basket
A new standard. Minimise cost of delivery. Securely
specify different services for different products and
multiple sites or departments. System generates
lowest possible basket price including delivery.

Price transparency
Sustained fixed margin agreed up front across all

Want to understand the margins of all your suppliers?

Talk to us about a full in-depth spend analysis. Drive
more informed procurement decisions with access
to over a terabyte of ICT market data. Analyse
historic purchases against an archive of over 600,000

Supply chain management and

bespoke cataloguing
Service to build and manage unique product
catalogues within or outside of the ICT market. Talk to
us about improving your supply chain communication.

Talk to us 0800 26 26 29

0800 26 26 29
45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.

Probrand Magazine


Framework approved


Managed IT services

Cloud Backup
Protect your organisation for less with fully automated data backups.
Scaleable and fit for your needs

Cloud based managed service

Fully automated protection for your business

from 75p per GB
Consultancy, backup and restore support included
24x7 access to your data
Unlimited and scalable data storage facility

Strong data security measures

Highest level of information

governance ISO:27001
Strong authentication at every log-in point
All files 256-bit encrypted from source.
Customer defined encryption key.
All data transmitted via 256-bit AES encryption
Storage in our own secure hosting facilities on
high end dedicated servers
Data integrity maintained via autonomic healing
and validation
Email reports sent to verify every backup

State-of-the-art enterprise level software

from Asigra
Monthly payment terms

Single users to multiple sites and remote locations

Store data, operating systems, exchange databases,
mailboxes, SQL data, applications
Local, national or international data access from one
simple internet interface
Flexible scheduling to match your organisation

Quick and easy recovery

Simply retrieve last data snap-shot via secure

internet connection
Data recovery in the same format as you stored it

Total compliance and assurance

Data stored in two data centres on UK soil

and jurisdiction
As used by global organisations

Compressed data. Compressed Cost. 75p per GB

Enterprise level quality without the cost

Data encrypted and compressed to reduce actual

storage space used
Cost saving passed on to the customer
Only pay for the exact storage you need, not an
empty vault

Tape/Disk Backup

Icomm Cloud Backup

Costly to install & maintain

Easy to install, fully automated

Complicated to operate

Intuitive, easy to use interface

Vulnerable & unsecure

Data stored off site, replicated & encrypted

Error prone & unreliable

(Gartner estimates 15% fail)

100% reliable automated process.

Errors flagged and resolved.

All data, every day

Backup only new or changed data

Difficult and time consuming to restore

Data instantly available via web client

Expensive limited capacity tapes

Totally scalable. Only pay for the storage you need

Cloud based backup and recovery from 75p per GB.

Talk to us about protecting your server structure as well.

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


Tape/Disk Backup vs Cloud Backup

Managed IT services

Cloud Disaster Recovery

Too many businesses are not prepared to
deal with disasters

8 out of 10 have no disaster recovery plan

1 in 5 businesses suffer disruption each year
Most suffer the consequence
93% go bankrupt within a year of disaster

The quicker you are back to business, the greater the

chances of survival.
Get proactive with a cloud based Icomm managed service
Snapshot of your server structure and operating
systems taken
Files stored in the cloud
Cost-effective and quick-to-deploy
In the event of disaster, business continuesto have
access to its core systems as employees remote
access into your replica server environment in
the cloud

One cost effective solution

High end DR solution without the high end cost

A managed Icomm service for peace of mind
Cloud flexibility offers scalable service and monthly cost
Annual DR Recovery test procedure, demonstrating to
you it works

Protecting your server structure

Complete imaging allows for rapid recovery
An environment to recover to giving you virtual
spare hardware
Remote access to enable users to work from home,
office or any internet enabled device
Back to business in hours not weeks (24x7 for
additional cost)
A Lite version offers minimum protection at lower cost
Full cloud provision offers total protection

Full service

Be safe and secure in the cloud

Lite service

Backup to storage vault in Birmingham

ISO 27001 information governance excellence to
protect your data

New Infrastructure


hosted on
VM platform


How it works
Included in Lite service

Snapshot of live server structure and OS taken

Image stored on NAS box on-premise for Business Continuity in the event of
hardware failure


Image stored on Icomms virtual servers

Disaster occurs
Latest image restored to secure cloud based private environment
Customer provides latest data backup to Icomm which is then loaded onto Icomm
Business users access systems via remote internet access to Icomm for duration of
Icomm provides data backup from live system to customer to enable system to
revert back to local live operation


User at home

Disaster Recovery should not be an option,

it should be a necessity!

... from only 99 per month cost can no longer be an excuse.

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


Ask us about Cloud Backup to protect your data as well.

Managed IT services

Cloud Antivirus
Eradicate security threats automatically
Cloud based managed service

24/7 remote monitoring to ensure security risks and threats are

quickly eradicated
Automatic alerting and job booking means engineers fix issues rapidly
Security and patch reports emailed to you weekly


Full Support


Product Upgrades

Increase Return On Investment

Be up to date and stay ahead of threats

Better manage and monitor remote user antivirus
Gain automated protection from viruses, trojans and spyware with
sophisticated scan engine
Central management system delivers best practice implementation
Enjoy full reporting of risks and threats resolved

Quicken computer processes

Lightweight scanning engine optimises computer speed

Daily out-of-hours virus scans remove traditional slow
down, improving user productivity
Free up to 21% of server resource by removing antivirus
management burden
Drive automatic computer shutdowns after scans
Unlock employee productivity with greater machine
and server availability


Up to Date

Remote Users



Saves time and money

Fixed predictable cost so no more financial surprises

Flexible payment terms enable switch to manageable
operational expenditure
Reduce management costs

All Inclusive Pricing


Price per
Machine p.a.



10 - 19


20 - 29


30 - 39


40 - 49


50 - 100




Automated Antivirus protection

from 35.99 per year.

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


Includes installation, support and upgrade costs.

Managed IT services

Managed Firewall

A market leading way of securing your network. Govern web traffic and application usage.

Gateway Security

Fully managed approach

Standard solution installed by Icomm and
tailored to your needs
Centralised, secure environment for end users
to focus on business
Protection at the perimeter of your infrastructure

Let Icomm improve web service delivery

Manage internal abuse of internet access

Protect against security threats
Prevent employees accessing inappropriate
sites and social networks
Improve service to users with a market
leading solution

Drive out cost

Drive down capex and manage operational costs

Release time for your IT staff to focus on
bigger issues
Reduce down time associated with viruses,
spam and malware

Managed Firewall at a glance

A solution that gives application visibility and control;
bandwidth management; and the highest throughput of
any firewall with all services enabled.
An approach that makes sense on the bottom line:

Application control and visibility Identify the

applications that are utilising your bandwidth:
Skype, Facebook and BitTorrent for example
see what was previously secret
Web filtering Log and control unwanted
applications and setup filtering policies against
specific user profiles. Prioritise role-based access
to systems or environments
Wireless access management Control,
maintain and optimise wireless access in your
environment. Automatically manage share of
bandwidth fairly amongst users and improve user
WiFi experience
SSL VPN and remote access (optional) improve
security with two stage tokenless authentication
and a secure tunnel for remote access if you
require it

Ask us about Wireless LANs and

remote access to unlock more
connected business.


Gateway Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, Intrusion

Prevention, and Application Intelligence and
Control Service delivers intelligent, realtime network security protection against
sophisticated application layer and contentbased attacks, including viruses, spyware,
worms, and more. Configurable tools prevent
data leakage and enable visualisation of
network traffic.
Bandwidth management and control
Bandwidth resources prioritised to critical
inbound and outbound network traffic
and application usage to improve network
performance. Guaranteed minimum
bandwidth for priority traffic based on access
rules created in the Firewall.
Granular Control
Application Intelligence and Control provides
granular control and real-time visualisation
of applications to guarantee bandwidth
prioritisation, prevent data leakage, and
deliver more precise control over
network traffic.
Optional 24/7 support
Onsite hardware repair and replacement and
8+5 support included
Minor change requests taking less than one
hour included
Optional 247 service or round-the-clock
telephone and web based support
Content Filtering
Content Filtering Service blocks multiple
categories of objectionable Web content and
provides the ideal combination of control
and flexibility to ensure the highest levels of
productivity and protection.
Access highly customisable, easy-to-read
reports. Graphical illustration of network
activity like bandwidth utilisation and
observed threats.
Automatic configuration backups
Configuration updates and backup managed
Icomm automatically

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


Protect your business without thinking about it!

Managed IT services

Managed Remote Access

Unlock remote working without the capital expenditure.
A managed service with monthly payments
One centrally-managed client site installed gateway
that controls remote network access

Improve productivity for a low monthly cost

Best of breed remote access technology

SSL VPN delivers user-friendly, secure remote
access tunnel
Service includes install, support, monitoring
and reporting portal access
All for a monthly fee with no capital expenditure

Fast ROI by increasing user productivity

Sustainable long term budget savings from
remote access reduced cost of ownership
Validation of users with increased security
Improve business continuity options by
enabling remote working

Users gain remote access quickly and securely

Enable your business with minimal effort and cost!
Standard solution tailored to your
individual needs
Centralised, secure environment to help end
users focus on business
Stop hackers and secure your data
High availability and easy-to-use


Simply click an Aventail icon and log-in to your

SSL VPN web page.
Users input everyday network password and
log-in details for remote access.
(Optional) Secure token based authentication to
enhance security.





Your everyday login details

Your PC


Fully Managed SSL VPN your

secure tunnel


Dell SonicWall Aventail SSL VPN. A dedicated and

hardened security appliance that supports access from
most end point devices, including PCs, windows devices
and smart phones. A simple, cost effective way to give
mobile workers a complete in-office desktop experience.


Future proof The most future-proofed remote

access controller on the market
Secure Traffic fully encrypted between end
users web browser and the SSL VPN appliance

Ongoing assessment of performance

Includes backup of configuration
Ongoing telephone and web based support, during
office hours
Option to extend to 24x7
Automatic upgrades to firmware when needed as new
threats arise
Reporting portal

Managed deployment

Enables customers to view staff usage and traffic

Hardware quickly installed amongst your existing

network infrastructure
Timed for least business disruption

Switch capex to opex

No capital costs, only monthly opex costs, with minimum
36 month commitment

Ask us about improving your wireless network and next generation

firewalls to protect you and your bandwidth?

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.



Proactive IT support

The right proactive IT support for you

Get expert help from Icomm to support your IT estate.
Choose the right service for you.
Software and Hardware support

Comparison Matrix

You have a list of IT equipment you want supported

Annual or monthly payment

Each approach provides varying levels of proactive support

price matched to your needs based on Service Level
Agreements and objectives.


Software and
Hardware Support

Fixed overhead for the year

If you have an issue just book a call
Make as many calls as you want
Multiple service level agreements to fit
different budgets
Annual or monthly payment plans


Cost covers support for all software

and hardware
Also known as a break-fix contract
Can include parts and labour for repair
under agreement
Can cover peripheral hardware i.e. switches,
firewalls etc.
Has SLAs 2, 4, 8 hour next day and 24 hour
Upgradeable to Managed Service at any time

Fully managed support

Outsource your IT support or go a step further and
outsource all IT management to Icomm.

Total proactivity; spots and fixes issues without

you even noticing
Less Hassle
Less Downtime
Increased Staff Productivity
Fixes, cuts and controls costs
Automates security and compliance
Reduces Total Cost of Ownership
Extends IT lifecycle by up to 50%
Transparency and flexibility of contract
On going contract review to match support to
your changing business needs


Goes way beyond Hardware and

Software support.
Proprietary Software installed for 24/7 365
monitoring. Enables prediction and fix
before fail
Backup monitoring
Power, patch, asset management
AntiVirus checks
Seamless Remote Management
Management reports

Fully Managed

Low initial cost

Fixed & Predictable Cost
Guaranteed Response 8 hour
Guaranteed Response 4 hour
Guaranteed Response 2 hour
On & Off-Site Support
Technical Advisory Service
Dedicated Account Management
Value for Money
Unlimited Support
Optional 24/7 Cover
Loan Equipment
Favourable Payment Terms
Asset Tagging & Management
24/7 365 Monitoring
Back-up Monitoring
Preventive Maintenance
6 Weekly Optimisation
SMART Defrag
Automated Patch Management
Reduced Total Cost of Ownership
Improved Return on Investment
Exchange Monitoring
Monthly Management Reports
Bandwidth Usage Tracking
Licence Compliance Tracking
System Audits
Seamless Remote Management
Audited Remote Control
Power Management Optimisation
Application Deployment
Back-up & Disaster Recovery
Upgrade for Life Membership Program
Over 100 Years best Practices Experience
User Screen Monitoring

What People Say About Icomm

The fully managed support service has paid
for itself many times over.
Andrew Jones, S Jones Containers

We decide how and where our money is

spent and have seen real savings already on
previous contracts.
Paul Pearce, Sea Products International Ltd

Talk to us about a range of IT

services, including Cloud backup,
network and wireless LAN services.

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


IT solutions

Virtualisation servers and desktops

Do more with less. Save time and money with a more agile IT infrastructure.
Optimise and future proof IT infrastructure

Turn one physical machine into many virtual machines

Host multiple Operating Systems and applications on one machine
Develop and test systems and applications without impacting production environment
Flexible and scaleable to your needs

Reduce operational and capital expenditure

Consolidate physical server, storage or desktop estate

Eliminate need to purchase more physical machines in future
Better utilise existing computer resources
Cut demands on power, cooling and space
Release management time to focus on key tasks

Unlock improvements to back-up and Disaster Recovery

Dynamically distribute work load across several virtual servers to improve performance
Multiple virtual machines equal high redundancy and multiple fail-over points
Virtualisation of servers is ideally supported by a centralised Storage Area Network to further
improve resilience whilst reducing ongoing costs and administration

Improve experience and delivery of end user services

Better utilise resources to be more robust and deliver applications and files faster
Maximise throughput, quicken response times
More efficient provision of services, more efficient work force

Get expert help from Icomm to virtualise your server and desktop estate
Server virtualisation turn one into many

End-to-end projects tailored to your needs

Detailed capacity and performance review to assess where
improvements can be made to your technology estate
Migration of data and applications
Training and hand-over of management to in-house teams
Fully pro-active support to ensure smooth operation ongoing

Desktop virtualisation
Empower your staff through desktop virtualisation.
Run multiple desktop operating systems on a single
server and improve operational efficiency of flexible
computing resources, manpower and capabilities.

Talk to us about improving your storage as well.

We also offer a fully managed IT support service.

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


Save money and space by investing in one

server that replicates multiple platforms. Todays
computing environments are becoming increasingly
complex, demanding greater resources to operate
and maintain. Moving resources to virtual platforms
allows IT departments to consolidate and better
utilise existing flexible computer resources and
delivery better end user services whilst optimising
staff time.

IT solutions

Storage Area Networks

Centralise storage for quick pay back and long term savings
Let Icomm implement a NetApp SAN to enhance your enterprise storage.
Your growing pains

Spiralling operational overheads

Lack of resource to manage IT estate
and data growth
Increased demand on limited data
centre space
Organisational risk due to poor
fail-over or backup processes
Little available time to keep up
with technology change
Limits on data accessibility
Protect capacity and investment with
efficiency tools
Reduce size of all types of data; primary,
secondary, file and block
Maximise storage capacity with unified tools;
I/O caching, volume cloning, deduplication,
compression etc
Protected capacity equals better performance
and protected investment

Quick and smart backup

Take high-speed, low impact snapshot

images of your data
Effortlessly manage frequent snapshots,
replication policies and movement to tape
in one console
Reduce backups by up to 98%

Implement a more efficient solution

From a traditional approach

Protect business with improved recovery

and continuity



To a best practice virtualised approach

End-to-end projects tailored to your needs


Easily configure multi site-to-site data

replication for added fail-over
Boot virtual machines from the SAN for quick
and easy replacement of faulty host servers
Facilitate quicker recovery time objectives
and improved business continuity
Reduce down-time by up to 50%

Migration of data and applications
Training and hand-over of management
to in-house teams
Pro-active support for smooth
operation ongoing


Talk to us for guidance on and delivery of an integrated

virtualised server and storage environment.

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


IT solutions

Network infrastructure and Wireless LAN

Wireless that works!
Unlock business agility, reduce cost and complexity

Market leading technology. More reliable

and better coverage.

Get rid of standard WLAN issues

Unstable connections
Dropped packets
Pixelated video
Choppy voice
Poor coverage and capacity
Erratic performance

Dynamic Beamforming
Adapts Access Point signal steering for
the most reliable Wi-Fi.

More reliable and connected business

Smart Mesh networking

A high-end solution without the cost

and complexity
Release management to focus on more value
add activities
Robust, secure, scalable
Fits within any existing network architecture
Quick to deploy

Smarter wireless
Site survey, installation and configuration by Icomm of
a Ruckus WLAN provides a smarter solution with better
range and reliability.
Wide coverage
Enable 400+ clients per Access Points, so fewer
Access Points cover a wider area, reducing capital and
operational costs.
Cost effective
Robust wireless LAN at a fraction of the cost of
conventional alternatives. All the functionality of a highend system with fewer access points for lower CAPEX
and easier management for lower OPEX.
Fast install
Configuration and deployment in half the time of
conventional solutions. Easy to install, configure and
expand. Automatic client-side administration and
advanced security.
Secure, scalable, and simple-to-use platform
A smarter wireless LAN that self-optimises and is super
simple to manage. Provision guests in a snap, deliver
up to four times coverage and throughput. Dual band
functionality enables multiple device types.
No costly cabling
Simply plug access points into a power source and
connect without any requirement for Ethernet cabling.

Eliminate costly task of pulling Ethernet

cable wherever you want access points.

Dynamic user security

The latest link layer encryption and
authentication mechanisms but
delivered simply. From 802.1x support
to Dynamic Pre-Shared Keys.

Adaptive RF signal routing and

interference avoidance
WLAN-wide optimum signal path
selection and automatic interference
avoidance. Automatic Radio Frequency
coordination adapts to the constantlychanging Wi-Fi environment.

Cutting Edge Access Points

High-performance dual-band (meshed
or wired) that deliver high-performance
at range to new 802.11n and legacy
802.11a/b/g clients.

Network infrastructure
high performance and resilient
Icomm has decades of expertise in planning, building and
upgrading every aspect of wired and wireless network
infrastructure from industry standard cabling the backbone
of your connectivity, to configuration of network hardware
& software and high availability switching that delivers
services to end users. Enterprise level partnerships with high
performance providers ensures the very best advice and

Ask us about remote access and

firewalls to leverage and protect
your wireless network.

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


IT solutions

Protect against the most sophisticated web threats
Adopt a next generation Firewall

Cybercriminals are using the web to access

corporate networks
Sophos has identified that 85% of malware
comes from the web
Over 30,000 websites are infected every
single day
Cybercriminals leverage soft security targets;
social networks, smartphones, tablets and
BYOD environments

Gateway Security
Gateway Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, Intrusion
Prevention, and Application Intelligence and
Control Service delivers intelligent, realtime network security protection against
sophisticated application layer and contentbased attacks, including viruses, spyware,
worms, and more. Configurable tools prevent
data leakage and enable visualisation of
network traffic.


A firewall older than two years offers limited protection

Lacks interrogation of application usage and

traffic payload
Cannot identify and manage good traffic
from bad

Comprehensive Anti-Spam
Comprehensive Anti-Spam Service blocks
spam phishing and virus-laden emails at
the gateway. With one click, the service
immediately starts blocking junk email and
saving valuable network bandwidth.

Reduce costs and risk of down time from security threats

Protect at the perimeter, not within

your infrastructure
Manage internal abuse of internet access
Prevent employees accessing inappropriate
sites and social networks
Improve web service delivery and
user productivity

Granular Control
Application Intelligence provides granular
control and real-time visualisation of
applications to guarantee bandwidth
prioritisation, prevent data leakage, and
deliver more precise control over
network traffic.

Welcome to next generation firewalls

A solution that gives application visibility and control;
bandwidth management; and the highest throughput
of any firewall with all services enabled.

Content Filtering
Content Filtering Service blocks multiple
categories of objectionable Web content and
provides the ideal combination of control
and flexibility to ensure the highest levels of
productivity and protection.

Advanced threat protection Deep Packet

Inspection (DPI) of the entire packet payload
for intrusion prevention, malware detection,
gateway antivirus, traffic analytics, application
control and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
decryption. Deliver granular traffic inspection
to allow intelligent enforcement of
security policies.

Performance without sacrifice Network

traffic inspected with little impact on
throughput and application performance.
Enable DPI without buffering or
packet reassembly.

Productivity through application visibility and

web filtering Analyse, control and prioritise
real-time bandwidth and application usage.
Identify applications consuming bandwidth:
Skype, Facebook and BitTorrent for example.
Log and control unwanted applications. Setup
filtering policies against specific user profiles.
Prioritise role-based access to systems
or environments.

Access highly customisable, easy-to-read
reports. Graphical illustration of network
activity like bandwidth utilisation and
observed threats.

Looking for a managed firewall

approach instead?
Talk to us.

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


Web services expose businesses to greater attack

IT solutions

Remote Access and Security

Work anywhere, anytime, efficiently and securely.

Combining best of breed remote access and a

choice of authentication technology
SSL VPN delivers user-friendly secure remote
access tunnel
Physical token and web-based two factor
authentication for everyone
Tokenless two factor authentication for
larger organisations

Fast ROI by unlocking and increasing remote

access productivity
Sustainable long term budget savings from
reduced cost of ownership
High availability and easy-to-use
Total validation of users with increased security
Improved business continuity by enabling
workforce to operate remotely

Users gain remote access quickly and securely


Dell SonicWall Aventail SSL VPN. A dedicated and hardened

security appliance that covers the most end point devices,
including windows and smart phones. A simple, cost effective
way to give mobile workers a complete in-office experience.

Improve productivity and reduce overheads

SSL VPN your secure tunnel

Simply click a remote access icon and log-in

to the SSL VPN web page, supplying everyday
standard network log-in details.
Users then input their authenticated user code
generated through two different channels for
truly strong authentication and security.

User authentication tailored to you

two options
1. Token-less authentication for larger organisations
Swivel Secure token-less multi-factor authentication offers
the reassurance of strong security without the cost and
management of physical tokens. As approved by UK
Governments national technical authority for Information
Assurance, CESG.

Why not ask us about wireless

networking and next generation
firewalls to protect you and your

Future proof The most future-proofed remote

access controller on the market
Easy deployment No need for pre-installation
of specialist client side software
Secure Traffic fully encrypted between end
users web browser and the SSL VPN appliance

Less cost On average 73% cheaper than the

cost of buying, implementing, managing and
maintaining a token based system
Easy management save time with instant add
and remove of end users across any web
enabled devices
Scalability Single Swivel server can provide
authentication for all remote services,
VPNs, Websites, cloud and web applications

2. Tokens and web based authentication for every organisation

Cost effective, flexible and scaleable hardware tokens and
web-based two factor authentication from the worlds biggest
provider, Vasco. As used to meet tight tolerances of financial
institutions and online banking.

Scalability Physical tokens to fit all shapes, sizes,

environments and budgets
One Time Passwords generated at, not before,
point of user request for absolute security
Flexibility Option of cloud-based managed service
for single sign-in to multiple web-based applications
using dynamic passwords webmail, salesforce,
Office 365, Google Apps

0121 248 7931

Icomm Technologies Limited, 45-55 Camden Street, Birmingham, B1 3BP.


One centrally-managed gateway to control remote access

to network resources

Global marketplace processes

made easy for manufacturers
and distributors
Implement compelling experiences via
an online private marketplace
Combine the award-winning and innovative bespoke technical skills
of Mercato Solutions with its ground-breaking development platform,
KnowledgeKube. Automate complex supply chain and pre-sales processes
and make them available on the internet to your customers, internally and
to your suppliers.
Transformation through agile development
Mercato Solutions specialises in data management, Business Intelligence
and the development of high performance productivity, line-ofbusiness and collaborative applications. A winning approach that helps
organisations work smarter.
Capture automate transform online
IT development capability and understanding of large-scale supply chain
challenges, create game-changing private market place solutions.
Use our digital platform, KnowledgeKube, to form part of your private
market place solution. It enables rapid creation of business applications
through its streamlined modular system. Bring system development closer
to, and more under the control of, the business.
Leverage our specialist knowledge of the rapidly changing IT supply
chain from manufacturers, vendors and resellers to after sales service.
Transferrable knowledge, proven to solve customer trading challenges.

The business case

Achieve cost savings greater than
implementation costs comfortably within the
first year by reducing headcount in customer
facing roles and enabling staff to be moved
into more value adding customer activities.

Shorten and strengthen supply chain

interaction and communication to
capture and drive emerging markets and
expand growth capabilities for up-selling
into local markets

Unlock deep Business Intelligence with a

360 degree view of business inside and
outside of the supply chain

Strengthen brand experience across your

supply chain

Reduce operational costs and generate

valuable business data that can be
distributed back into your eco-system

Radically shorten sales cycles and enable

users throughout the supply chain to
work smarter and with higher satisfaction

Probrand Magazine


Private Marketplaces

Deep experience of the challenges you face

International solutions - Enabling a standard solution that can be
localised by customers to meet specific language, country and/or
regional requirements.
Global roll-outs - Managing and on-boarding customers, making
solutions attractive to continuously drive usage, eclipsing manual
support services previously provided to customers.

Dynamic web content - Presenting user, customer, role and context

specific web content for products, pricing and promotions.
Advanced search - Built to facilitate smart searching across multiple
data sources.
Productivity solutions - Configuring and delivering dynamic
smart questionnaires, complex rule-based configurators and guided
experiences that only offer selections that are compatible, will work well
together and, if appropriate, are available.
System integration - Real-time connection with ERP and CRM systems,
by enabling dynamic updating with your Oracle and SAP product
Deal registration and pricing solutions - Encompassing automation
of highly complex business and rule-driven authorisation processes.
Total flexibility - Open and alive to change, often with
no IT interventions.

A Mercato solution provides

more functionality, less risk,
time savings of 80% and
cost reductions of 75%
over traditional methods.

Deployment and support options

Customer hosted, outsourced provider hosted,

Mercato hosted solutions

Customer or Mercato maintained and supported

Highly experienced catalogue management

capability, providing round-the-clock services
and lower cost options for more manual tasks

Why Mercato?
World-wide credentials.

Implemented global solutions for some of

the worlds largest vendors

One of EMEAs fastest growing and

award-winning software businesses

UK Government nominated Made By

Britain World-beating manufacturer

Technology accreditations; The Institute

of Chartered Accountants, CIPS

ISO 27001 Information Governance

20 years of IT supply chain domain

experience on hand as a Probrand Group

Best-in-class competencies in; agile

development of high performance
software applications; large scale data
management across a spectrum of
differing formats, quality and sources;
supply chain knowledge and process skills
to boost real-life end user productivity

0121 605 2050


Probrand Magazine

Mercato Solutions Limited.

45-55 Camden Street,
Birmingham, B1 3BP


Seamless integration - Multiple data feeds, from multiple sources, in

multiple formats with a variety of update frequencies. We manage over
50 concurrent data feeds for customers. Helping everyone work from
more accurate and reliable data, directly delivering faster, more accurate,
higher net margin sales. Connecting many touch points of your indirect
worldwide supply chain.

Automate business processes fast.
Create applications at reduced cost and risk.
Drive efficiency. Transform productivity.

Create business applications and portals fast.

KnowledgeKube is the go-to platform for rapid creation of applications and portals that automate
business processes. Drive efficiency and transform productivity on a global scale.
Without the time, cost and inherent risk of writing code, take control and rapidly innovate.
A flexible platform environment and user friendly tools enable extensive configuration of data,
forms, expressions, workflow and documents. Automate intelligence. Integrate data to and from
anywhere. Connect and extend systems like SAP, Oracle and Salesforce as part of any process.
Better processes deliver lower costs, increased revenues, inspired employees
and ecstatic customers.
Do difficult things quickly for unprecedented ROI.

Probrand Magazine


Automate processes fast and transform the way you work.

Implement a solution that benefits business and IT management, IT developers and project managers alike.
Tackle business pains with new applications and portals, covering almost every business process area you can imagine, including:

Get closer to customers
and qualify needs better.
From simple customer surveys
and product configurators to fully
interactive advisory experiences.

Trade more profitably with
stakeholders. Sell more, faster.
Transactional vertical market portals
that unlock growth.

Common Processes
Unlock daily productivity
and efficiency.
Expenses claims, holiday requests,
administration processes,
procurement authorisation and

Specialist processes
Complex tasks made simple.
Business or role specific processes

Unprecedented ROI.

Low TCO. Results in days.

Create advanced applications quicker and at less cost
Introduce business efficiency and improve productivity fast
Unlock global scale with options for elastic Cloud deployment that meets
demand instantly
Support scarce IT resources. Let the business innovate and deliver
Maximise existing systems and data. Connect and extend more efficiently

Go create. Have it your way!

KnowledgeKube is as customer centric as you want it to be.

Thats the beauty of a flexible platform.
Deployment options to suit your needs.

Software and Services model

Access a dedicated services team
that works alongside your business
and IT teams to own the applications
you create. Actively participate in an
iterative process to further improve
accuracy, reduce timeframes and
lower inherent risk.

Enterprise platform license

Alternatively, if you have the internal
skills, resources and want to have a
more hands-on approach to rapid
application development, well provide
the platform and the training and you
can do the rest. We have a pricing
model to suit whatever your chosen
deployment strategy.

Accurate decisions, faster.
Automate behaviour
Build and add advanced mathematical
rules that automate decision making and
intelligence directly into your applications.
Deliver personalisation, accuracy and
consistency into business processes for
better business outcomes.

Extract value and join the intelligent
Collate, rationalise, add and extract value
from your existing data repositories. Easily
connect, extend and add value to existing
systems and data sources. Integrate data
in and out, to and from anywhere via an
intuitive user interface.

Agile for faster outcomes
Make relevant things happen faster.
Configure multi-channel outputs with
absolute flexibility - emails, calendar
updates, data processing and more.
Design first class workflows to
collaborate and manage complex
enterprise interactions.

Simple. Flexible. Controlled
Where life begins. A sophisticated and
flexible builder enables advanced forms
to be created and continuously improved.
Introduce data capture fields for free
text, drop downs, multiple selections and
even machine learning. Easily introduce
mandatory and optional decision making,
field validation, look up lists and
help text narrative.

Raise expectations
Branded and personalised role driven
documents rendered in multiple formats,
a given. Whatever the requirements,
generate high quality documents that
support entire data gathering and output
needs, however complex. Incorporate
form and expression data plus external
information. Render out through standard
office applications. Distribute anywhere.

Global scale and results.

In less than a week we had built an
application and secured 90,000 of cloud
services quotes in minutes not hours of
manual technical pre-sales effort.

Very quickly we automated a custom

learning experience and Skills Award
Scheme. We have 80% more students
now doing the skills award as a
direct result.

Gareth Carr. Icomm Technologies

Richard Riley. Small Heath School

Remarkable. A KnowledgeKube team of

two built a working pre-sales portal from
scratch within 2 working days. Bespoke
development would have
taken months.
Global Insurer

We are able to market, manage and

offer well-articulated insurance cover
quicker, more accurately and with
minimal cost.

KnowledgeKube is set to help Capita

Insurance services and Cobalt become
a market-changer by driving risk out of
workflow processes around
complex products.
John Holm. Capita

KnowledgeKube enabled us to deliver

guided pre-sales experiences to over 150
countries in 27 languages to a user base
of over 25,000 companies.

Reports and Business Intelligence

Actionable insight delivered fast
Drive real-time reporting on your process
performance and status. Customise a drag
and drop dashboard out-of-the-box for BI
reporting on any element of your process
and outcomes. Continuously improve
processes and applications based on
insights you glean.
Deliver outside home markets
Support multiple cultures and markets in
different languages. Models, expressions
and document generation come fully
globalised with built in localisation tools.
The freedom to innovate further
Maximise existing investment in systems,
libraries and custom code vital to on-going
operations. Create question plugins,
expression functions and custom workflow
actions using Microsoft C#, VB.NET or even
managed C++ with a high performance
extensibility model.

We have released thousands of sales

man hours globally with KnowledgeKube
pre-sales applications. These are more
feature rich and were created 77%
quicker and 87% cheaper than the
alternative development resource. More
consistent outputs and better processes
have transformed customer experience.
Blue chip tech giant

KnowledgeKube has delivered a

veterinary trading portal targeting 6,000
vets, faster and cheaper than
bespoke development.
Global Pharma Corp

Global hardware vendor

Trevor Roberts. Godiva

KnowledgeKube is a product
of Mercato Solutions Limited.
45-55 Camden Street,
Birmingham, B1 3BP


0121 605 2050



Get closer to customers.

Qualify and respond to needs better.
From simple surveys and configurators to fully
guided interactive buying experiences.

Transform pre-sales and advisory services.


Automate business
processes fast.
Create applications at
reduced cost and risk.
Drive efficiency.
Transform productivity.

Pre-sales and qualification of needs are difficult, expensive and often manual
processes, particularly where detailed sales or product knowledge are required or
highly configurable products and services are being offered.
Transform your manual processes into interactive digital applications that enhance
customer experience and reduce reliance on specialist
sales expertise.

Unprecedented ROI. Low TCO. Instant results.

Deliver control, accuracy and efficiency into pre-sales estimates and processes,
improving sales conversions with more consistent customer centric approaches
Remove manual intervention and lower the cost of winning new business.
Improve net profitability by infusing efficiency into your processes
Maximise sales and marketing ROI by improving long and complex sales
processes. Better qualify leads and increase conversions
Respond to market needs quickly to gain competitive advantage
Unlock your business potential by sharing pre-sales knowledge through
on-line experiences and generate more revenue at lower cost

KnowledgeKube is a product
of Mercato Solutions Limited.
45-55 Camden Street,
Birmingham, B1 3BP


KnowledgeKube is the go-to platform for rapid creation of applications that

automate business processes. It has been deployed by many leading businesses to
deliver an unmatched pre-sales solution.
Product and service configurators
Implement simple to use configurators for off the shelf products, or more complex
configure to order products and services, such as build, order and manufacture of
custom HGVs or bespoke IT hardware systems.
Administer complex rules-based guided experiences, offering only customer relevant
selections, compatibility and stock availability.
ROI and TCO calculations in customer proposals are a powerful sales tool, but they
are often difficult and time consuming to deliver. Create simple to highly complex
calculators. Provide customers with value added information. Trigger workflow to
automatically generate custom outputs along with fully personalised and branded
Telemarketing and sales decision support
Script a sales team to cross-sell a relevant service or product with conviction.
Empower them with deep levels of knowledge. More accurately qualify and match
stakeholder needs and configure workflow to automatically generate outputs to
nurture ongoing contact. Capture opportunities and better qualify leads. Adjust live
questions and configure intuitive guidance to sharpen yield.
Customer service
Better manage and accurately script contact centre advice provision with powerful
and intelligent decision support tools. Prompt users to capture information
quickly and respond appropriately. Unlock efficiency and scale. Empower consistent
diagnosis, troubleshooting and resolution such as clinical decision support or new
starter training.
Surveys and market research
Whether fact finding globally, profiling contacts locally or conducting needs analysis,
improve contact engagement quality. Auto-collate responses, process and publish
research quicker. Reduce survey build, publish and distribution times. Create powerful
smart questionnaires that provide instant feedback to users and deliver rich outputs
PDFs, standard Microsoft Office or SharePoint formats.

KnowledgeKube enabled
us to deliver guided presales experiences to over 150
countries in 27 languages to
a user base of over 25,000
Global Hardware Vendor

We have built an on-line IT

support contract configurator
to enable inexperienced
sales resources to deliver
highly complex quotes more
quickly, and sometimes more
accurately, than experienced
sales people. Weve increased
new business and reduced
cost of sale dramatically.
Ian Callens. Icomm

We have released thousands

of sales man hours globally
with KnowledgeKube presales applications. These are
more feature rich and were
created 77% quicker and 87%
cheaper than the alternative
development resource. More
consistent outputs and better
processes have transformed
customer experience.
Blue chip tech giant.

Were able to respond rapidly

to keep premiums attractive,
driving automatic renewals.


0121 605 2050


Barrie Roberts. Godiva Insurance.

Trade more profitably with stakeholders.

Sell more, faster.
Transactional vertical market portals
that unlock growth.

Transform the way you trade


Automate business
processes fast.
Create applications at
reduced cost and risk.
Drive efficiency.
Transform productivity.

Many businesses share the modern day problem of scaling marketing and business
development without having huge investment budgets, a large salesforce or with the
capability to train and up-skill staff.
Whether you operate in a large scale, frequently changing market like IT or
insurance, or are looking to unlock new sales fast in niche verticals like dentistry
or veterinary practice, we can quickly build a bespoke trading portal. Self-manage
ongoing changes and configuration, unlock new sales, maximise business flexibility
and increase your profit margins.

Transform profits
Rapid ROI. Reduce time and cost of taking products and services to market.
Shorten the sales cycle. Sell more, faster and without the costs of scale.
Gain competitive advantage. Quickly test new products and adjust attributes
live. From insurance ratings to broker, intermediary and /or customer discounts.
Accurately meet customer needs and beat the competition by responding to
market dynamics fast.
Improve customer experience and loyalty. Needs more accurately met
through a highly efficient own-branded experience from portal to personalised
documentation. A superior end user and customer journey.
Broaden sales reach and grow revenues. Empower non-technical employees
to up-sell complex products and services. Enable a receptionist to quickly build
and transact an accurate customer dental plan or enable a vet to configure a
complex well-being pet plan and amend an exclusive discount in a live face to
face consultation.
Sales with scale. Internet based portals enable access for multiple internal or
external users across sales and franchise networks or direct to customers. Elastic
cloud deployment instantly scales to meet demand globally if needed.

KnowledgeKube is a product
of Mercato Solutions Limited.
45-55 Camden Street,
Birmingham, B1 3BP


KnowledgeKube is the go-to platform for rapid creation of applications that

automate business processes. We build trading portals quickly, all supported by a
rich set of back office features, before handing control back over to your business
users to modify, test and implement key trading processes online.
Real-time product and service configuration by the business
Effortlessly build and manage a catalogue of offers. Introduce keywords, expression
results, rich text and images, hide and show single questions or question groups. Add
validation, look-ups, help text and endorsements or dynamically calculate discounts,
commissions, renewals and more.
Powerful question and rating engine
Questions refine customer needs, calculations and analytics validate and streamline
the process and journey. Only offer what is relevant to the user
or customer.
Give your users options
Give users and customers multiple, side-by-side product or service options such as
comparative insurance quotes or highlight gold, silver and bronze alternatives based
on a service plan.
Branded experience
Advanced content management tools enable full customisation of all branding, look
and feel.
Personalised documentation and communications
Automate content rich, branded and personalised outputs for emails and documents.
Author and render certificates, contracts, reports and more into multiple formats
including PDF and Word for distribution, print and download.
Role based access and functionality
Control user access to relevant actions and content from admin to sales, to enable
items such as differential pricing calculated by role.
Preview everything
Easily test and pilot fully featured user and customer experiences prior to promoting
into live environments.

KnowledgeKube is set to
help Capita Insurance Services
and Cobalt become a marketchanger by driving risk out
of workflow processes of
complex products.
John Holm. Capita

Finally, vets are able to build

their own plans and pricing
structures live to be more
competitive and efficient in
meeting complex customer
needs, so increasing direct
debit recurring business.
Added value for veterinary
practices and added value
for us.
US pet well-being plan provider

Patients have different

care needs and allowances
to cater for variable price
services. Users now select the
social care they need within
their prescribed per head
budget. Weve connected
multiple providers to multiple
buyers based on budget
authorisation. It is delivering a
better service and
saving money.
Social Care provider


0121 605 2050


Seamless integration
Connect, extend and optionally write back to data sources, services and systems.
Close the sales loop, connect with CRM, finance and payment systems.

Unlock daily productivity

and efficiency gains.

From expenses claims to holiday requests

to more complex processes.

Streamline and automate your common

business processes
Automate business
processes fast.

Common or everyday business processes are often the least efficient element of
any working day. These are often repetitive manual processes or disjointed legacy
applications. Automating and improving them unlocks time and cost savings,
allowing businesses to focus resource elsewhere.

Create applications at
reduced cost and risk.

However, prototyping and delivering solutions to these problems has traditionally

cost more than continuing to complete the process manually, until now


Drive efficiency.
Transform productivity.

KnowledgeKube has broken the mould as a platform that enables business users
to develop their own business applications that simplify common tasks at radically
reduced cost. Simple, flexible, efficient.

Transform daily
Ever increasing ROI. The more you automate and improve, the greater the ROI.
Tailored to you. Automate processes how you work. KnowledgeKube is
flexible, so applications can be tailored by you, by your own people or by our
implementation team.
Quick delivery quick ROI. Deployed from the cloud for instant use. Streamlined
configuration, changes made easily and in a controlled environment, so timeline
and costs are compressed.
Absolute scalability. KnowledgeKube has already proven its scalability with
applications that are in use world-wide in over 150 countries in 27 languages
handling over $1bn of transactions per month.
Rapid and simple integration. Easily integrate with your existing data, services
and systems to leverage your investments.

KnowledgeKube is a product
of Mercato Solutions Limited.
45-55 Camden Street,
Birmingham, B1 3BP

Common Processes

KnowledgeKube is the go-to platform for rapid creation of applications that

automate business processes.
The KnowledgeKube application portfolio is growing daily as more business uses
are identified and more business applications are created.
Every business area can benefit from automation of common and daily business
processes, including Management, Health & Safety, IT, HR, Finance, Compliance
and Sales & Marketing.
Example common areas that can be transformed with KnowledgeKube
Management processes

Flexible work tracking

Employee induction

Document management

Absence monitoring

Expense tracking

Performance management

Health & Safety management

Probationary reviews

Compliance procedures

Overtime reporting

Recruitment process management

Awards schemes and training


Fraud detection

By automating some of our

common manual business
processes we delivered
considerable time savings
for our advisors within a
short development time
frame and within days of
Central Government
service provider

We developed a working
prototype with two
Implementation consultants
on site for two days, with
no other work involved
a process that would
previously have taken months.
IT Director Global Insurer


0121 605 2050


Need more? Develop your own business applications with the KnowledgeKube
platform or get our implementation team to modify existing or create new
applications for you.

Specialist tasks made simple.

Organisation or role specific
processes transformed.

Transform and differentiate with

new ways of working

Automate business
processes fast.
Create applications at
reduced cost and risk.
Drive efficiency.
Transform productivity.

Business leaders often look to do things differently from their peers; identifying
weakness in processes and implementing new ways of working whilst continuously
improving and refining.
Are you looking to differentiate your organisation or perhaps innovate processes
specific to you, your sector or role?
KnowledgeKubes flexibility enables rapid configuration of customised line-ofbusiness applications to your exacting needs, automating manual yet specialised
processes. Connect and extend existing systems, services and data sources too.
If you are looking to automate and better control your procurement process,
implement a high performance in-store advisory service, or improve a variety of
other specialist processes, KnowledgeKube delivers quickly.

Streamline your business processes

and increase productivity.
Unprecedented ROI. Low TCO. Instant results
Streamline and improve processes for better business outcomes, save time,
save money
Be more productive and release time to focus on more strategic tasks
Maximise existing systems, services and data. Connect and extend with
minimum risk and expense
Let the business innovate and deliver. Empower your IT department with a
streamlined development platform; enable control and governance to be retained
whilst relieving everyday development pressures.

KnowledgeKube is a product
of Mercato Solutions Limited.
45-55 Camden Street,
Birmingham, B1 3BP

Specialist Processes

KnowledgeKube is the go-to platform for rapid creation of applications that

automate business processes. It enables even the most complex and specialised
processes to be automated and extended.
Empower your users - Quickly and consistently deliver an interactive process that
equips and guides users based on their role in the enterprise and the information
they provide.
Automate intelligence and decision making - Be more process focussed. Remove
manual intervention by adding logic to your end user journeys. Progressively present
only those elements that are relevant to the role or task at hand.
Any business or role can feel the benefit - From niche single role-based
processes through to the most complex global organisations, understanding and
intelligence can be delivered faster and with better quality assurance.
Integrate everywhere - Connect, extend or supplement enterprise level ERP
and CRM systems such as SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. Integrate with systems
and infrastructure provisioned in the cloud including BizTalk Services or custom
applications within Microsoft Azure data centres.


0121 605 2050


Enterprise procurement requisitioning and auction application.

Single system joining disparate data, locations, processes, suppliers,
customers and approvers. Product catalogue updated daily
to enable online ordering from only approved supplier base.
Integration with customers Active Directory and ERP systems.
Purchasing and IT improved internal SLAs by 20% and reduced
admin costs of purchase orders by 70%.


0121 605 2050

81% of organisations could

save money buying IT*
Many still pay up to 673% margin

Compare. Negotiate. Save.

CIPS accredited KnowledgeBus enables IT buyers to quickly benchmark purchases
against daily trade guide price and stock levels on over 150,000 products from
more than 2,500 manufacturers.
Measurable benefits from day one:
Save up to 24% on ICT budgets
and an hour per order
Identify fair price and spot overcharging
Plot key market trends for more
strategic procurement

*Download the full report at:

KnowledgeBus is a product
of Mercato Solutions Limited.
45-55 Camden Street,
Birmingham, B1 3BP

We managed to reduce our IT

spend by approximately 10%.
Sage UK
Dave Banks, Senior IT
Procurement Coordinator

0121 605 2050

Rapid Benchmarking
KnowledgeBus IT Edition facilitates rapid
benchmarking activity so you can
negotiate and validate better deals with
suppliers fast. It advises you of daily
updated specification, trade guide price
and stock levels on products held within
the UK IT supply chain. It will help you
save time and money.

Import lists
Upload one-off checks or
catalogues for automated
population with buy-price,
margin and stock.

Framework pricing
Cross check buy-prices with
your subscribed frameworks
and channel pricing to
validate point of best value.
Auto alerts
Set automatic notification of
price/stock/End Of Line
movements for your products
to stay ahead of suppliers.

Spend Analysis
Set periodic automated spend
analyses on existing lists or
interrogate new lists to police

Request For Quotations

Automated RFQs to shorten
the purchase process.

Exchange rates &

raw materials
Access and chart stats to
assess market patterns for
more strategic purchasing.

Management single view

Quickly unlock more from your budget with an intuitive tile based
dashboard that delivers deep levels of information in a single view.

Total Integration
Join-up your benchmarking workflow with third party solutions from
ERP to cloud apps and Microsoft Office.

Procurement Hub
Optional facility. Add a buy button. Validate prices then purchase at
guaranteed fixed margins.

Big Data
Drive informed procurement decisions with access to a terabyte of daily
updated ICT market Business Intelligence, covering 150,000+ live products
from 2,500+ manufacturers across every category. Analyse an archive of
data on over 600,000 products.

Reduce duplication of effort by sharing outputs, alerts, product lists and
related benchmark information across departments or a network of offices.

Benchmark on the go
Conduct mobile procurement activity on tablets, iPads and smartphones.

Benchmarking Services
Optional service. Let us deliver your spend analysis. Then use our deep
IT supply chain insight to coach purchasers on best practice and how to
achieve best value.

0121 605 2050


*KnowledgeBus IT Edition survey evaluated over 1,000 organisations

with perceived supplier relationships of between cost +3-5%.

Your technology partner
0121 605 1000

IT Products
0800 262 629

IT Services
0121 248 7931

0121 605 2050

of the Year 2010