The Year of the Enterprise Tablet

by Paul Sparkes 2. May 2012 09:48

Advances in technology are seeing mobile devices become a key way in which businesses can boost their productivity and remain competitive in challenging times (as the infographic below illustrates). Mobile working gives businesses the flexibility and agility they need in a 24/7 economy and can even help to create business opportunities. For some, working away from the office is becoming the norm and it’s essential that they can work on the move and access their accounting software as easily as if they were in the office.

Research from IRIS Accounting & Business Solutions shows that three quarters of businesses now offer remote working to its employees, with 76 per cent claiming it makes their organisation more profitable and one in ten saying it gives them the edge over their competition.

The research of 140 business leaders shows that the benefits of remote working extend beyond efficiency and productivity. One in five businesses say that mobile devices allow them to provide customers with a better, more flexible service.

Trust issues amongst employers and staff regarding remote working are a thing of the past, as nearly all businesses asked (93 per cent) said they trust staff, and actually one in five found that it made staff up to 50 per cent more productive.

3 in 10 businesses say smartphones are the technology of choice for remote working. Emerging technologies are proving crucial in enabling staff to work remotely with 1 in 10 handing out tablets and 24 per cent providing workers with dongles. The move is a sign of the times as businesses embracing virtual offices becomes more popular.

We’re so used to using smartphones, apps and tablet devices in our personal life that it’s inevitable that this way of working is starting to become more widespread in business.  

Infographic courtesy of Vertic.

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Could the Olympics Signal a Move to Remote Working?

by Paul Sparkes 30. January 2012 15:13

With the Olympics expected to generate 1m extra passenger journeys a day on London’s already overloaded transport network and a third of Londoners expected to change their travel routines during the 2012 games, could the inconvenience to business signal a move to remote working?

Commuters will notice changes to rush-hour patterns as crowds descend on some of the busier Tube lines and in the centre of town will be the greatest impact.

 “It is going to be very much life is unusual and business is unusual,” the ODA has already helpfully commented, leaving it to lie with the City’s employers to decide on a solution to ease the strain on commuters.

 But could letting staff rely on remote working, staggering their hours or working from home during the Games be viewed as a soft option?

 At BT, nearly three-quarters of its staff operate some kind of flexible or remote working. Staff can ask to vary their hours so that they can plan social activities, parenting and a reduction in travel expenditure around their role. It’s paid off for BT as a cost cutting exercise – they estimate to have saved £500 million by encouraging it.

 And at American retail giant, Best Buy, corporate headquarters staff were allowed time off to play golf, sleep in and then work evenings to catch up. The remote working experiment, suicidedly bold some might say - resulted in a staggering 35% increase in productivity – suggesting that freedom from the distractions of the office, pays.

So if some of the Capital’s main employers let staff work flexibly or remotely during the Games for three weeks and they too receive the benefits of reduced expenditure and happier, more productive staff, then why stop there?

The Olympics could be used as a springboard towards a much more widespread four-day office week with either staff working from home, doing compressed hours, or going part-time. A move that not only will help employers cut costs and ease the strain on commuter rail and roads (and ultimately the tax payer who funds their repair) but to help ease the pain of tough economic times. Perhaps then we will finally discover that remote working really can be a win-win.

 

Here are my tips to ensure that your organisation could benefit from a remote working strategy:

  1. Be creative – Launch a pilot programme in your organisation. Start with one or two departments or a set period of weeks (the Olympics could be an ideal time) and monitor results against set targets.
  2.  Develop criteria – Get a good remote working policy in place. Generally, the adoption of remote working involves building the minimum appropriate infrastructure – hosted solutions, or software installed and hosted in secure scalable data centres. Tools could include remote control applications, collaboration software and video conferencing software. It may be easier to reach team members via the web than walk around the office.
  3. Technology – Ensure that you choose a hosted service that includes the ongoing management of the servers, software and data including the provision of backup services, installation of security patches and various levels of technical expertise and support.
  4.  Communication – create a schedule for regular communication. Use instant messaging and video chatting for spontaneous conversations to ensure that staff don’t miss out on ‘the real world’.
  5. Metrics - It’s well known that when staff work from home they are happier, free from office distractions and often more productive. However what about staff that need supervision? Rather than monitoring hours worked per day, set production targets or goals to be completed.

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Cloud computing | Hosted solutions | News | Remote working | Topical

Productivity Future Vision

by Paul Sparkes 2. November 2011 10:21

Microsoft released a video in 2008 and another one this week that together predict the sleek, wireless, connected gadgets we'll all enjoy by the year 2019.

It’s a beautifully produced vision of the future of mobile and remote business solutions which isn't surprising that a film produced by Microsoft would celebrate business travel and efficiency. As you watch the viseo, think about how the technical trends we observe today can be extrapolated to create the experiences Microsoft depicts in the future.

Why these are great predictions

What’s probably the most amazing thing is that everything in this video is being worked on, refined and developed. If you follow current trends for compute power, display technology, networking speeds, device miniaturisation, flexible displays, touchscreens, gesture technologies and others, you will get this future.

And Microsoft itself is working on much of this. The intelligent displays are really just advanced versions of what's possible now with a Microsoft Surface table. The in-air gestures are advanced versions of what Kinect for Xbox 360 users are already doing.

While the future is impossible to predict, at IRIS we too are constantly looking forward, analysing trends, and gathering insights to gain a deeper understanding of how our developments in software and technology can further develop the remote working capabilities of our products.

This video portrays how future tech will help us make better use of time, attention and strengthen relationships by getting things done at home, work and on the go.

It’s an exciting business vision and I’m looking forward to strengthening our Microsoft relationship to make the most of its Productivity Future Vision both now and in the future for IRIS Exchequer customers.

IRIS Exchequer LIVE

IRIS is committed to responding to customer and market demands and as a result, has further developed the remote working capabilities of its award-winning product, IRIS Exchequer.  IRIS Exchequer LIVE uses the latest technologies to enable users to operate and collaborate efficiently by providing real-time access, irrelevant of location, through an intuitive and highly functional new interface (IU).  By taking advantage of leading edge developments, IRIS has created a new ‘Rich Internet Application’ (RIA), which enables both office-based and remote users to have access to live data, providing an essential gateway to accurate business information. 

IRIS Exchequer LIVE is not purely for remote workers; the solution delivers the capability for office-based users to access, manage and tailor transactions to their individual working requirements.  Key to the design of this all new solution is the ability for users to create a personalised view of key information.  An intuitive panel provides a ‘snapshot’ view of activities, unique to each specific user. 

IRIS Exchequer LIVE has responded to the challenge of the demands of the changing working environment by providing a fresh and dynamic approach to accessing critical business data from both an office and remote environment. 

To find out more about IRIS Exchequer LIVE, please visit www.irisexchequerlive.co.uk    

Remote Working – A trend or necessity?

by Paul Sparkes 27. October 2011 13:45

Remote working is not a new working practice, but is one that as a society, we are becoming increasingly reliant on.  It is now the norm that today’s working environment demands instant access to key business data and the emphasis falls on IT systems and software developers to be able to provide this access, in a secure and reliable fashion. 

Today’s technological advancements can enable an ‘anytime/anywhere’ working philosophy, if organisations choose to invest in software capable of facilitating access to live systems from remote locations.  But just how important do organisations view remote working to be and is it a priority, in particular for finance departments to be able to work remotely?  In this post I’m going to look at how remote working is affecting the modern day finance department and consider how organisations are responding to changes in technologies. 

The Benefits of Remote Working

The competitive nature of the working economy depicts that key decision makers need to have instant access to live, accurate information at their fingertips.  Remote access can empower employees, enabling them to make informed decisions at anytime.  This can be critical in today’s competitive business world, especially in a fast paced sales environment.  Competent business software should not only facilitate remote working, it should also make it easier and be able to automate the delivery of essential and valuable information directly to a mobile phone or PDA device, providing a ‘snapshot’ of organisational KPIs. 

On another level, remote working also allows employees the attractive and flexible option to work from home, from a different office or location or even whilst commuting. From a green point of view, I believe it has a positive impact on the environment encouraging reduced travel.

The Importance of Remote Working 

To understand how important remote working is, IRIS conducted a recent survey with 167 UK finance professionals.  The results highlight and re-enforce the ever growing importance and reliance on the benefits of remote working.  You can see more in the Slideshare presentation below.

76.6% of those asked felt that remote working was essential or important to their organisation.  Only 6.6% had no remote workers within their organisation.  These statistics clearly demonstrate the increasing dependence on software capable of facilitating such mobile working environments. 

The survey also indicated that the demand for remote working is on the increase with 96.4% claiming that over the last 6 months remote working had stayed at the same level or increased.  Over a third of respondents claimed an increase. 

The Role of Software in Remote Working in a Finance Environment

It appears that software providers have been responding to the demand.  Only 15.6% of those questioned stated that their accounting solutions software prevents them from accessing the financial data they need.  When asked specifically what financial data they required access to, respondents cited a variety of requirements:

  • 74.3% required information on individual accounts
  • 35.3% required detailed data on debtors
  • 32.3% needed to track KPIs
  • 24.6% needed access to exception reporting data

These responses highlight the need for accounting solutions and business systems to provide live access to all spectrums of the data in a secure, reliable and safe environment, and also represents the breadth of workers who take advantage of remote access.

In terms of the technology adopted to facilitate remote working, respondents used multiple methods, with 65.9% using their home computer and 43.7% using a lap top or notebook.  Nearly twice as many respondents use a RIM Blackberry as all other forms of PDA or Smartphone.  Surprisingly, considering many accountants work away from the office visiting clients, only a very small number of accountants in practice use a Blackberry or Smartphone to access financial information.  The vast majority of hand-held devices are used by FDs.  It will be interesting to see how this trend develops in the next 12 months as the iphone and other devices become more readily adopted. 

Conclusion

Instant access to accurate and relevant information is essential to organisational agility and success and therefore remote access has become a crucial feature of modern accounting systems.  Developers therefore need to consider carefully a number of methods for accessing their systems remotely, including via web-browser as well as through more mobile forms of technology.  Due to the sensitive nature of the data, software developers need to provide a secure access route, ensuring security is not compromised.  Users need a fast and reliable connection to the data they need to work from so efficiency is also not compromised. 

Recent external environmental events beyond our control have pinpointed how crucial it is for workers to be able to access systems and data remotely and organisations need to ensure that their software developer can provide a secure and reliable platform to facilitate this.

IRIS Exchequer LIVE

IRIS is committed to responding to customer and market demands and as a result, has further developed the remote working capabilities of its award-winning product, IRIS Exchequer.  IRIS Exchequer LIVE uses the latest technologies to enable users to operate and collaborate efficiently by providing real-time access, irrelevant of location, through an intuitive and highly functional new interface (IU).  By taking advantage of leading edge developments, IRIS has created a new ‘Rich Internet Application’ (RIA), which enables both office-based and remote users to have access to live data, providing an essential gateway to accurate business information. 

IRIS Exchequer LIVE is not purely for remote workers; the solution delivers the capability for office-based users to access, manage and tailor transactions to their individual working requirements.  Key to the design of this all new solution is the ability for users to create a personalised view of key information.  An intuitive panel provides a ‘snapshot’ view of activities, unique to each specific user. 

IRIS Exchequer LIVE has responded to the challenge of the demands of the changing working environment by providing a fresh and dynamic approach to accessing critical business data from both an office and remote environment. 

To find out more about IRIS Exchequer LIVE, please visit www.irisexchequerlive.co.uk


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