We see performance as one of the four integral key pillars to any IT strategy success.  Our unique approach and forward-thinking looks to support and deliver ‘outstanding’ around those 4 pillars, which also include security, resilience and compliance plans.

Just like adequate business insurance, network security is often reviewed after a significant security breach has already occurred. Businesses face constant threats from cybercriminals in the forms of phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks.

With sweeping privacy regulations such as GDPR that are now in full effect, the actual cost of inadequate network security for businesses is twofold. The financial cost of stolen data is compounded by severe fines of up to €10 million for non-compliance with GDPR data privacy regulations.

An effective IT strategy combines business application services with a reliable connectivity infrastructure to increase productivity and performance. Compared to almost every other business investment, technology contributes significantly to the long-term efficiency of business operations.

At Think Connect, we are heavily invested in offering our customers an array of performance-enhancing technology solutions together with complementing consultancy services. We can advise on a cost-effective solution that will suit your business needs and deliver performance results to propel your business forward.

Coming up are several key areas that we focus on to boost the performance of any business. High-speed network connectivity, public and private cloud computing, edge services, and collaborative applications all play their part.

High-Speed Internet Connectivity

As more applications migrate to the cloud, quality high-speed internet connectivity is no longer merely a business luxury. Fast, reliable internet access can boost business performance, increase efficiency and lower overall operating cost by ensuring services such as voice, video, and remote working solutions work effectively.

Services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams increases efficiency by allowing businesses to conduct virtual meetings with clients and remote workers. Cloud services simplify and centralise data sharing applications and server compute-power to reduce hardware, software licencing, and support costs.

High-speed internet bandwidth allows for Wi-Fi calling to be enabled. This feature sends company mobile phone calls via the internet at a fraction of the cost. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) reduces land-line telephone bills still further, whilst adding features such as auto-attendant, call diverts, and voicemail-to-text.

The UK’s Gigabit Programme is a government initiative targeting over one million homes and businesses in even the hardest to reach areas. A government voucher programme is now available to help cover the installation costs of reliable gigabit-speed broadband. One of our team can quickly confirm if your business is eligible.

Public & Private Cloud Computing

With office-based and remote workers using many online applications such as email, voice, video, chat, document sharing, and off-net storage, cloud computing has been a real game-changer for many businesses.

For most businesses, public cloud services accessed via the internet, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, have been preferred. This model is usually cheaper and more efficient than maintaining server hardware, storage and applications locally.

Over time, performance-related issues can creep in. We have helped numerous customers boost the performance of their existing public cloud services by consulting on advanced caching, load balancing, granular QoS, and hybrid SD-WAN.

Think Connect also offers a private cloud service that can further improve the performance of your cloud-based applications. Your business can utilise private MPLS lines or low-cost internet connectivity (via secure VPNs) to access our private cloud network. The performance gains from dedicated bandwidth allocation, granular traffic prioritisation and improved service SLA’s are a worthy investment.

Edge Computing

Edge computing is a design model that enhances the performance of real-time data services by reducing network latency. We have found this solution is especially beneficial for our customers in the retail, manufacturing, and health sectors.

This design transforms the way real-time data is processed. Both data storage and processing power are located closer (usually on-net) to the IoT devices gathering it rather than suffering the latency constraints of cloud computing services.

  • Retail businesses can run in-store customer and inventory analytics in real-time to ensure optimal efficiency. 
  • Manufacturing firms can make instant adjustments to product specifications in real-time on the production line. 
  • Healthcare consultants can use handheld IoT devices for instant patient analytics.

Think Connect combines several complementing technologies to produce a bespoke high-performance edge computing solution. Small-form-factor edge servers, bespoke local applications, upstream cloud services, IoT devices, and high-speed WAN services all play their part in our overall edge computing design.

SD-WAN

Although utilising low-cost, high-speed internet connectivity is clearly a step in the right direction, sending all business data through a single high-speed pipe has its drawbacks. The quality of time-sensitive services, such as voice and video calls, are often impacted by bulk downloads and 4k video streaming services.

The next step to improving WAN performance is Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). Using a centrally managed controller, SD-WAN ensures wide-area network traffic uses the most efficient path between branch sites, head office, data centres, private cloud services, and the internet. 

SD-WAN can use multiple low-cost, high-speed internet or MPLS lines to balance traffic in the most efficient way possible. The central controller is monitoring each sites WAN lines in real-time, checking latency and remaining bandwidth capacity.

Time-sensitive traffic such as voice and video can be prioritised to use the path with the lowest latency. Internet or bulk download traffic can take the path with the highest remaining bandwidth capacity. This method dramatically increases overall application performance.

Anywhere Operations (AO)

Anywhere Operations (AO) is a modern workplace solution that provides an environment for both office-based and remote employees to work seamlessly together and with customers in an efficient, flexible, and secure way.

When employees are part of a flexible Anywhere Operations (AO) model, overall productivity increases dramatically. Employees report a boost to their overall morale and well-being, plus sick leave also begins to decline.

More than just a work-from-home model, AO enhances productivity and collaboration by seamlessly combining technologies. Think Connect can help your business use public & private cloud, team-focused applications (discussed next), edge computing, high-speed internet connectivity and SD-WAN for a full AO experience.

Using Microsoft Teams Effectively

Performance is not only about specific systems and services. Your employees overall productivity is also a key area. Modern workplace solutions can have a dramatic effect on human performance. Effectively using team-centric applications such as Microsoft Teams should be central to your workplace solutions model. While assisting clients to increase the overall performance of their Teams installation, we have made several interesting observations:

– Teams Chat

When used correctly, chat is an extremely powerful and versatile tool that is often overlooked. Chat is a simple and effective way for employees to have ultra-fast 1-2-1 and group conversations to exchange information in real-time.

Chat tends to lead to an increased usage of video meetings (discussed next). These can be extremely productive compared to physical in-office meetings where employees may have needed to commute unnecessarily. Collaborative file sharing via chat is another feature utilised more when a company brings chat into its operational culture.

– Teams Video Meetings

The human element of business should never be overlooked. Video meetings have become simpler to use, are packed with features, yet many companies have not invited this powerful communication tool into their working culture. If you are not using video calls and meetings to your advantage, your competitors will.

As with most video conferencing programs, Microsoft Teams allows you to meet with colleagues or customers virtually, face to face. These calls can be anything from a quick 1-2-1 video call to a scheduled video meeting with multiple participants. Remote employees can build more solid work relationships when using video day-to-day.

Screen sharing allows anyone participating in the call to share information such as presentations in real-time. An entire video meeting can be recorded for training or compliance purposes. Employees who may be on-the-road can dial in from their mobile phones using audio-only or enjoy the full video experience using the Teams smartphone app.

– Teams Voice Calling

Voice calling is seamlessly integrated into Microsoft Teams. Thi allows individuals to make calls to colleagues or customers who are also using the Teams application. Your employees can use Teams when in the office, working from home, and even using the mobile app when on-the-road.

All the voice features you would expect from a traditional VoIP solution are available, such as cloud voicemail, auto-attendant, call queuing, and direct recording. 

We have found that the Microsoft Teams voice feature is a ‘gateway’ that encourages users to try additional Teams productivity features. The ability to quickly turn a voice call into a video call, share a screen, and invite multiple attendees encourages employees to use the multitude of other collaborative features that they may not have done before.