A quick review of 2022 and what our plans are for 2023.
Looking Back at 2022
Our office in Lenwade was a little small and certainly could not accommodate our growth plans. Our new office in Hevingham is a good size and should be enough for a number of years. We have a dedicated training room and workshop and pretty soon we’ll have a Microbrewery opening up opposite – what more could we possibly want?!
We’re using Mastodon
After years of avoiding ‘the usual’ social media outfits (though we did look at ello.co a few years ago) we’re delighted to have created an official account using a Mastodon server. To learn why you should seriously consider switching to Mastodon, head over to https://joinmastodon.org and take a few minutes out to read why it’s good for everyone. Give us a toot at https://hostux.social/@sditn
We’re using 3CX
We’ve replaced our primary phone system with 3CX which is based on open standards so its adoption supports our Purpose and Values. We’ve set up the same call flow but have added an emergency out of hours extension so – if you have a major issue out of our usual business hours – you’ll be able to get through to one of us. More details (and learn about our hold music) at https://www.itnorwich.uk/2022/12/were-using-3cx/ If you are in the market for a new phone system them please contact us – phone systems are now an IT function after all.
We are pretty much post COVID19 now, or rather it is endemic rather than pandemic and things are generally back to normal, albeit a little different. Home working remains more popular than it was three years ago as customers that invested in laptops, VPN’s and modern telephone systems are still able to leverage them, though many prefer to work in an office – we are social animals after all. It’s not just about hardware or remote working though – some customers have moved services from ‘on premise’ to ‘in the cloud’.
The Cloud = Someone Else’s Server
Post pandemic things really do seem to have settled down, but the rush to adopt certain services or working practices over the last couple of years might need a moment of reflection. For many customers the concept of “The Cloud” is a vague space on the internet where cool things happen and data resides in a sort of amorphous mass. This is an amazing marketing job carried out by tech firms of all sizes but “The Cloud” is just a euphemism for “somebody else’s server”. There is nothing wrong with hosting data on third party servers – there are often distinct advantages – but a little oversight is needed and this is what we want to shine a light on in 2023.
Where we’re going in 2023
Big Tech and Trust & UK vs EU GDPR
We published our Purpose and Values 18 months ago and this already feeds into some of the services we offer. At time of writing most customers (regardless of the reason) do not consider how the services they select as the platform for their business have long term effects on society, privacy, or other variables including higher long term costs. Even ‘free’ services have a cost which typically means you or even your customers are the product. Google Analytics is a good example of how you don’t have sovereignty over your own data. Such large tech firms are repeatedly showing they are not to be trusted despite us all relying on them in one form or another. We’ve had the banning of journalists on Twitter, (now unbanned) anticompetitive practices by Google, and harming choice by Microsoft. In the EU both Germany and France have both now banned use of some Microsoft products for use in schools as they are not considered fully GDPR compliant. Even the UK government may weaken UK GDPR and so EU GDPR is likely to remain the gold standard. You’ll have to adhere to EU GDPR if you hold any data about an EU citizen so you might as well adhere to that.
Your Technology Choices
Big Tech and GDPR aside, our goal for 2023 is to start the conversation about how we can help you adopt solutions that could save money, be better for your staff and customers and at the same time respect privacy, data sovereignty, and transparency in software. The UK government are obliged to do it and so it’s no stretch to think businesses can too. These are all considerations when selecting what IT provider to use, what services to use, how those services are set up and where to place your businesses data and your customers data. To be clear we are not asking customers to change – we’re simply hoping to help them make more informed choices in the future.
Your Values and Your Customers Values
If your customers start to make purchase decisions based upon ethics or values or wage gaps or your environmental statement or any of those dozens of other things we’re all now interested in then it’s only right that the values you wish to adopt should touch every part of your business, including the IT you use and the organisations that deliver it. We already took our first step in trying to ‘walk the walk’ with our value statement, our second step is to assess and offer alternatives that might better fit your businesses more subtle needs.
From early next year we are going to be more visible in offering alternative technology choices to customers. We have and will always support our customers with whatever technology fits their business needs best, but as those needs change we think alternative solutions could become a better fit. By way of example, our customers can already choose to have open source operating systems on their desktops but (as expected) take up is currently very low due to lack of visibility, vendor lock in or inertia. We’re already looking at tools we can use to integrate open source systems into existing networks and over the next few months we’ll be publishing our findings and offering alternative services we’re happy to support alongside what we offer now. If you want to us to keep you in the loop about what we’re doing then please let us know and we’ll send you the occasional email about it.
You can already see our direction of travel – offering and supporting technology solutions which are open and transparent alongside existing ones. We’ll continue with our RMM Subscriber Discount scheme and our Community Technology Programme which benefits non-profits among others. Our plan for 2023 is therefore to keep doing what we do but to introduce alternatives that could save you costs in the longer term; we also hope to become a Living Wage Employer in the first half of 2023.
With this in mind our annual hourly rate review year has now completed. We’ve always had low prices when compared with other IT providers and in setting our prices for next year I have had to consider not just how the cost of living is impacting staff but also how me might deliver on our ambitions to retain and develop our staff, expand our offer and improve our service. Our new prices have now been published on our new Rate Card. As you can see our discount scheme remains in place and unchanged with most customers receiving discounts of between 10% and 20%. The Standard Labour Rate upon which these discounts are applied has risen roughly in line with inflation, plus a little extra for the reasons we’ve described.
Thanks to all our customers for working with us in 2022, we look forward to seeing you in 2023, whatever your needs are.