We’ll always have a need to manage paper in our offices.

Long time readers of mine will know that I grew up around computers and associated technology — my dad was a computer analyst in the late 1970s, and so it was usual in my house to talk about minicomputers, mainframes, and computerish terms like “paperless office”.

The term comes from a Business Week article from June 30th 1975 entitled “The Office of the Future” and take on a life of its own from there. …


Telephone systems have always been an odd fit within the IT market. Might we prefer just to use Zoom instead?

When I was growing up, my dad was a computer analyst and my grandad was a mechanical engineer. This influence led me to develop a fascination with systems and technology — about how things could be ordered and structured and systemised. Before I was in double-digits I used to catalogue and number the comics my other grandparents would buy me, and I used to write database systems on my Dragon 32 in my bedroom. Back then though, computers were unusual, but telephones were not — I could get my hands on telephones every day, but computers very rarely. Cue the…


SharePoint is a weird product that nearly everyone uses, but no one really uses properly.

SharePoint is a strange beast because a good number of SMEs merrily pay for it each month, but don’t use it and/or don’t even realise they have it. SharePoint comes with business subscriptions of Microsoft 365 — and although a lot of SMEs end up using personal subscriptions of Microsoft 365 at work — more often than not it just sits there waiting to be used, overlooked.

SharePoint is a very old product in the Microsoft stable that has it’s remained essentially unchanged since its launch in 2001. …


Don’t lean in to the compromises inherent in laptop design.

The principle of flow is that it’s a state of productivity where we get completely absorbed in our task, and produce work at a very high rate. When we’re working in flow, things just seem to happen — and we often find at the end that more time has gone past than we were expecting.

For most of us, we do a lot of our professional work on a computer. …


The way that we work and our relationships with employees, suppliers, and customers has changed forever.

In general, IT teams tend to be very bad at reacting to unannounced changes. We are not a discipline that is good at dealing with emergencies — we do not like emergencies. We like everything to be set out, planned and agreed.

But recently, IT teams throughout the country have been tasked with dealing with an overnight change from everyone working in an office, to a distributed workforce mostly working from home, By all rights, given how badly IT teams are at dealing with unannounced changes, this shift should have been an unmitigated disaster and should not have worked. Yet…


Every action within our business results in some data that can help us make better decisions

In a recent blog post, we looked at how we could start to think about becoming data-driven. In this post, we’re going to look deeper in the idea into being data-driven.

There is a principle in police forensics called Locard’s exchange principle that talks about how every time an individual walks through a space he or she will bring something with them, and leave something behind. …


CRM is the one area that SMEs can invest in that really sets them apart

“CRM” is a particularly tricky topic for SMEs. Most businesses know that they need one, but it can often be difficult to put your finger on exactly “why?” It’s common to see people who have gone ahead and implemented one, but then struggle to get any more value out of it than if they just had a “shoebox full of business cards”.

Phases of life

A good place to start is having a look at what CRM means — it stands for “customer relationship management”. This is the first area where we can come unstuck because the “customer” here is a misnomer. Your…


They were useful for a time, but now their time is passed

Network attached storage devices — aka “NAS” devices — are commonly sold into small-to-medium enterprises as a solution for storing files on their network. They typically come from a number of manufacturers, commonly QNAP, Synology, Asusstor, and Netgear.

On a business network, there tends to be two types of devices — laptops or desktop computers that people use, and servers. Servers are designed to hold data and do other jobs that don’t require a human being to directly interact with them. Before the cloud become so prevalent in SME IT, it was pretty much required for a network to have…


Secure your business more effectively with this one weird trick

One of the issues that owners of SMEs has to deal with as far as their IT goes is that of malware — i.e. software that is specifically designed to “act badly” and damage your data and your business. Whereas historically malware was designed to lets hackers “show off” — “how far can we make this software spread, and how much damage can we do?” — these days malware is typically published and distributed by criminal gangs in order to provide them with a revenue stream. That revenue either comes from ransomware (putting your data beyond use until you pay…


The one cybersecurity issue that keeps me awake at night.

If there is one IT problem that keeps me awake at night, it is the ransomware attack. They are indiscriminate, and hugely destructive. They operate largely in a highly mechanised and automatic way — and are so prevalent within the IT landscape that you are generally lucky not to find yourself targeted by one.

The principle of a ransomware attack is based on taking your data and putting it beyond use. It does this by using encryption — essentially the data is “scrambled” and can only be unscrambled by using a key that ransomware author (i.e. the hacker) has. …

Matt Reynolds (@mbrit)

I’m the founder of It’s What’s Next IT, the UK’s first IT support company that happens to be a social enterprise — www.iwn-it.com

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