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Posted by on in Latest Microtechs news posts

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How one company aims to stop ISPs and businesses from tracking your activities online

Businesses and consumers alike have grown increasingly concerned with protecting their privacy online. Whether it’s avoiding falling victim to a data breach or even a ransomware attack, the tactics used by cybercriminals have become quite sophisticated. However, while we’ve been busy protecting our privacy from hackers, many of us have forgotten about how ISPs, governments and even businesses track our activities online by following the websites we visit and the apps we use.

To help protect consumers from unwanted tracking online, Winston Privacy has launched a new device that sits between a home modem and a wireless router to block users from ads and hackers as well. TechRadar Pro sat down with the company’s CEO Richard Stokes to learn more about its product and how consumers can protect their privacy online.

·        VPN can keep your communications private and secure. Here are the best VPN services

·        For home users, having an updated antivirus is key to fending of cyber criminals. Make sure the one your are using is on our list of the best antivirus.

·        Businesses can look at our list of best endpoint security software to secure their perimeters.

Where do traditional security solutions fall short when it comes to protecting user privacy?

The usual security solution offers well known benefits, such as firewall, antivirus and even occasionally a VPN. However, none of these products or software do anything to protect user privacy. For instance, VPNs are often cited as a privacy solution when in fact all they do is encrypt internet activity and cloak the internet end point. Modern user tracking technologies are much more sophisticated than that, and generally rely little on static IP addresses. Moreover, VPNs are notorious for logging and selling user data, even Facebook has a VPN, while antivirus companies crawl the pages that users are viewing and sell that data to advertisers.

How aware are consumers that ISPs and corporations are keeping tabs on their activities online?

Consumer awareness of lack of data privacy exploded in 2018 with the Cambridge Analytica revelations. Our internal data shows that VPN usage in the US increased by 400% between October 2017 and May 2018. The current challenge is that consumers aren’t aware of all the other products that are tracking them outside of the internet, like apps and connected products.

Have users become more reluctant when it comes to sharing their personal data with businesses?

Anecdotally, there is still a great sense of resignation. Our data indicates that most consumers know there is a problem but lack any real solutions. While privacy software has been around for about 20 years, it generally is beyond the technical capabilities of the average consumer. With the easiest, most widely used solutions, browser-based ad blockers, known to collect and sell user data or offer backdoors for partners. They’re continuing to prove that if the product is free, you're the product. There needs to be an increased awareness on how current ad blockers work and what consumers can do to truly protect their privacy.

You describe your company’s product as a hardware filter for the internet. Can you elaborate on how it filters internet traffic and the kind of traffic it protects consumers from? How does your product differ from a VPN and what makes it more secure?

Winston is designed to be a comprehensive privacy defense for the non-technical home user, so we've tightly integrated a number of technologies, some proprietary, to defeat user tracking. Through Winston, internet activity is encrypted and scrambled through a distributed peer-to-peer (P2P) privacy mesh network, making it impossible to correlate requests with individual users or devices. A beneficial side effect of this is that the user's physical location is hidden, preventing hackers from determine the locale (or even exact location) of a hacked Nest or other device.

At its core, Winston monitors all internet traffic occurring on the home network and assigns every website a privacy risk score (ie: 1-10 where 1 indicates little risk of data collection and 10 a high risk). Based on this risk assessment, dynamic security policies are set which impact how data is exchanged with that site. A few examples on how it blocks ads and hackers is: 

Within Winston, cookie policies are set based on privacy risk, origin, destination and likelihood of breaking a site. For instance, third-party tracking cookies are typically blocked completely as are most disguised first-party tracking cookies. However, a cookie required to play a YouTube video on another site may be allowed, but on Winston it will have its expiration time set to 30 minutes from now while a Twitter cookie may be rewritten with false data.

Browser fingerprinting - a technique which can even deanonymize users in incognito mode - is deactivated within Winston as well.

User agent strings are rotated on a regular basis and shared between all compatible devices in the home, further obscuring the true origin of a particular request.

Domain Name System (DNS) queries are intercepted, encrypted and resolved via Cloudflare or IBM X-Force (Quad 9) services. This includes DNS activity for all devices on the network, which makes Winston an effective defense against DNS rebinding attacks. 

What do you think the future holds for the online advertising industry and will we see a noticeable shift in the types and frequency of ads we see online?

It used to be that we traded 30 minutes of our time and attention to advertisers in exchange for a show, like Friends or Seinfeld. It was a fair trade, but today, we give up every personal detail about ourselves in exchange for spam and clickbait. It follows us around incessantly, and who pays when those massive databases get hacked? We do.

As a former insider in the advertising and marketing industry, it appears likely to me that the demand for programmatic (micro-targeted) advertising will decline as users push back on the invasive tracking that these methods require, which is a good thing.

That said, advertising is not going anywhere. Both brands and consumers want to connect, but not in the outdated way that the Silicon Valley powers have decided we should. My hope is that well-executed creative will again come to the forefront of the industry. After all, it's not that consumers hate advertising per se, rather; they hate being spammed and harassed by bad advertising.

Richard Stokes, CEO of Winston Privacy - https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/avoiding-unwanted-tracking-online

 

Microtechs 24x7 white label support services

Based in Surrey, Microtechs are an established and experienced end user support centre. Our Help desk and NOC experts can monitor your servers and support queue (email, RMM & phone) 24x7 or just as overflow. The Microtechs White Label support service offers a cost effective, 24x7 support option perfect for providers with an expanding customer base.

Recent businesses have joined Microtechs services because;

             Communications provider - requiring out of hours incident management

             MSP – customer pressure for UK telephone support agents

             Telcom’s VAR – needing to save costs on end user support

             ISP – growth in hospitality sector requiring 24x7 end user Wi-Fi support

             Cloud provider - requiring end user support desk from inception

             Developer - requiring 24/7 load support for inhouse team

We want to help your business.  We are not a massive call centre operation, we are family run, with a great team of staff who are experienced at both customer service and technical support.

We work very closely with our clients to provide an extremely bespoke service that compliments existing support models and systems.

Hurry...we are offering 10% discount on our monthly fees for new customers joining before the end of March 2019. (excludes entry tiers)

Benefits of using our white labelled service:

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             A dedicated and skilled team ready to give you a hand at busy periods

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             A cost effective and scalable solution

             A seamless extension to your current support team

             Fully staffed 24/7 for those clients who need Out of Hours support

             Pricing starts from £500 per month

What next:

 

If you would be interested to find out some more, then please get in touch with a member of our solutions team, who can talk you though our offering.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

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Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a method for evaluating and selecting optimal antenna designs for future fifth-generation (5G) cellphones, other wireless devices and base stations.

The new NIST method could boost 5G wireless network capacity and reduce costs.

5G systems will avoid crowded conventional wireless channels by using higher, millimeter-wave frequency bands. Transmissions at these frequencies lose a lot of energy along the way, which weakens received signal strength. One solution is "smart" antennas that can form unusually narrow beams -- the area in space where signals are transmitted or received -- and rapidly steer them in different directions.

Antenna beamwidth affects wireless system design and performance. NIST's new measurement-based method allows system designers and engineers to evaluate the most appropriate antenna beamwidths for real environments.

"Our new method could reduce costs by enabling greater success with initial network design, eliminating much of the trial and error that is now required," NIST engineer Kate Remley said. "The method also would foster the use of new base stations that transmit to several users either simultaneously or in rapid succession without one antenna beam interfering with another. This, in turn, would increase network capacity and reduce costs with higher reliability."

This is the first detailed measurement-based study of how antenna beamwidth and orientation interact with the environment to affect millimeter-wave signal transmission. In the technique, NIST measurements covering a broad range of antenna beam angles are converted into an omnidirectional antenna pattern covering all angles equally. The omnidirectional pattern can then be segmented into narrower and narrower beamwidths. Users can evaluate and model how antenna beam characteristics are expected to perform in specific types of wireless channels.

An engineer could use the method to select an antenna that best suits a specific application. For example, the engineer may choose a beamwidth that is narrow enough to avoid reflections off certain surfaces or that allows multiple antennas to coexist in a given environment without interference.

To develop the new method, the NIST team collected experimental data in a hallway and lobby of a NIST research building, using a special robot loaded with a customized channel sounder and other equipment. A channel sounder collects data that capture the signal reflections, diffractions and scattering that occur between a transmitter and receiver. Many such measurements can be used to create a statistical representation of the radio channel, to support reliable system design and standardization.

NIST study results confirm that narrow beams can significantly reduce signal interference and delays, and that an optimized beam orientation reduces energy loss during transmissions. For example, the time interval during which signal reflections arrive (a metric called RMS delay spread) dropped dramatically from 15 nanoseconds (ns) to about 1.4 ns as antenna beamwidth was reduced from omnidirectional (360 degrees) to a narrow 3 degrees or so-called pencil beam.

Future research will include extending the method to different environments and analysis of other wireless channel characteristics.

Story Source:

Materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181210115756.htm

Microtechs 24x7 White Label Support Services

Based in Surrey, Microtechs are an established and specialised support centre providing 24x7 outsourced helpdesk and NOC monitoring solutions to businesses on a completely white labelled basis.

Are you set for the New Year? Perhaps it’s a good time to consider what savings you could achieve through outsourcing with Budget reviews approaching.

Benefits of using our white labelled service:

•Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
•A dedicated and skilled team ready to give you a hand at busy periods
•Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi
•A cost effective and scalable solution
•A seamless extension to your current support team
•Fully staffed 24/7 for those clients who need Out of Hours support

Benefits of working with Microtechs:

•We are not a massive call centre operation, we are family run, with a great team of staff who are experienced at both customer service and technical support.
•We work very closely with our clients to provide a service that compliments existing support models.
•Our operation is well practiced, and we can provide elevated levels of service to all end users.
•We can be extremely bespoke to you and your customers support requirement.

What next:

If you would be interested to find out some more, then please get in touch with a member of our solutions team, who can talk you though our offering. Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

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The latest news, views and developments in the exciting world of the IoT.

What is the IoT?

The world around us is getting smarter and more connected as technology becomes a common sight in many areas.

Digital devices are not just in our pockets or our offices, but increasingly in our homes, buildings, and many places and cities. Helping collect, analyse and monitor data and information about their surroundings, these devices are able to communicate with each other through the ‘Internet of Things’.

Often shortened to the IoT, this worldwide, interconnected network allows devices to talk to each other and to us, delivering reams of data through smarter processes that will greatly increase the quality of life around the world.

The Internet of Things is predicted to revolutionise the way in which we live our lives, with many industry experts tipping it to have the biggest technological impact since cloud computing, as more data than ever before can be collected, stored and analysed.

Many consumers are already enjoying the benefits of the IoT, as popular products such as the Amazon Echo smart speaker and the Nest thermostat from Google becoming common sights in homes around the world.

But the wider world can also benefit from the IoT, with businesses being able to streamline previously complex and data-hungry processes through improved automation, freeing up employees for other tasks.

Public sector organisations such as hospitals can also use sensors to monitor patients more effectively, and local governments can monitor pollution, traffic levels, weather data, and much much more.

The IoT is growing fast, and is set to affect more and more areas of our lives in the years to come, resulting in a smart world that previously was only imaginable in science fiction.

By Mike Moore

https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/what-is-the-iot-everything-you-need-to-know

Image via Stutterstock

Microtechs 24x7 White label outsourced support services

Based in Surrey, Microtechs are an established and specialised support centre providing 24x7 outsourced helpdesk and NOC monitoring solutions to businesses on a completely white labelled basis.

Are you set for the New Year? Perhaps it’s a good time to consider what savings you could achieve through outsourcing with Budget reviews approaching.

Benefits of using our white labelled service:

•Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
•A dedicated and skilled team ready to give you a hand at busy periods
•Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi
•A cost effective and scalable solution
•A seamless extension to your current support team
•Fully staffed 24/7 for those clients who need Out of Hours support

Benefits of working with Microtechs:

•We are not a massive call centre operation, we are family run, with a great team of staff who are experienced at both customer service and technical support.
•We work very closely with our clients to provide a service that compliments existing support models.
•Our operation is well practiced, and we can provide elevated levels of service to all end users.
•We can be extremely bespoke to you and your customers support requirement.

What next:

If you would be interested to find out some more, then please get in touch with a member of our solutions team, who can talk you though our offering. Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

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Report predicts 50 percent rise in phishing attacks over the winter months.

 

Businesses across Europe have been warned to stay alert to a rise in phishing attacks.

A report from security firm F5 Labs has highlighted that such scams are set to skyrocket over the next few weeks, as winter heralds the start of peak season for cybercriminals.

The company claims that fraud incidents from October to January rise over 50 percent compared to the annual average, meaning firms need to be on their toes to make sure they don't fall prey to new threats.

Phishing attacks

F5 says that phishing attacks are becoming more damaging than ever before, highlighting that three quarters (75.6 percent) of all websites taken offline by its F5 SOC between January 2014 and the end of 2017 were related to phishing attacks.

The company also revealed that the vast majority (70 percent) of phishing scams looked to impersonate just a handful of major companies, with the likes of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Adobe, Dropbox, and DocuSign among the most mimicked.

“We’re in the middle of a cyber-crimewave where phishers and fraudsters take advantage of people at their most distracted,” said David Warburton, senior EMEA threat research evangelist, F5 Networks.

“It is prime season for individuals giving up credentials or inadvertently installing malware. Businesses are wrapping up end-of-year activities, key staff are on vacation, and record numbers of online holiday shoppers are searching for the best deals, looking for last-minute credit or feeling generous when charities come calling.”

https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/businesses-warned-to-beware-winter-phishing-risk

Image via Shutterstock

By Mike Moore

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Support Services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Proactive NOC monitoring

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

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On one of the busiest traveling holidays of the year, drivers may be focusing on getting to grandma's house for Thanksgiving dinner, not on what smart car technologies are saving them in fuel costs. But in the first study to assess the energy impact of smart technology in cars, researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have put a number on the potential fuel-cost savings alone: $6.2 billion.

"That's not insignificant," said Yeganeh Hayeri, an assistant professor at Stevens whose work lies at the intersection of civil and environmental engineering and public policy. "That translates to between $60 and $266 in the pocket of car owners every year, not to mention additional savings created for each driver due to more smoothly-flowing traffic, fewer accidents and aerodynamic efficiency of all other vehicles on the road."

While many studies have looked at the social impacts of driverless cars with high levels of automation, this study is the first to look at the energy impact on lower levels of automation and individual technologies that are either already introduced in our cars, pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles or will be in the next few years.

To figure out the impact of these technologies on fuel-saving cost, Hayeri and her colleagues at Stevens, including Saeed Vasebi, a graduate student in Hayeri's lab, and Carnegie Mellon University conducted a comprehensive review of the literature on the energy and safety impacts of automated features, providing precise data for predicting how these features would affect fuel consumption nationwide.

Using these data, they then analyzed the benefits and costs associated with each automation technology, which were categorized into three groups: warning systems (i.e. for lane departures, blind spots, forward collisions, speed limit detection, and traffic warnings), control systems (i.e. for adaptive cruise control, collision detection braking, active braking and cooperative adaptive cruise control) and information systems (i.e. parking aid system and dynamic route guidance.)

In their work, recently reported in Transportation Research Record, Hayeri, Vasebi and colleagues show that drivers of low-level automated vehicles (those equipped with all technologies considered in this study) could reduce fuel consumption by 27 to 119 gallons per year for each vehicle. This saving equal from 6 to 23 percent of average fuel consumption in the U.S. and could save each vehicle owner up to $60 to $266, as mentioned above.

This Thanksgiving weekend, it is estimated that 54.3 million Americans are planning a road trip, a 4.8 percent increase over last year, despite drivers expecting to pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices in four years, according to AAA. That means traffic congestion, construction, a dearth of parking, idling engines at stoplights, intersections and construction zones, not to mention getting lost.

"Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic," said Hayeri. "What we did is put a number of fuel-saving costs that come with technologies that assist us with making smarter choices on the road. We hope to use this information for improving future transportation, and consequentially improve the environment, save lives and keep the air we breathe cleaner."

Stevens Institute of Technology. "Smart car technologies save drivers $6.2 billion on fuel costs each year." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181120125829.htm>.

Materials provided by Stevens Institute of Technology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

 

Microtechs 24/7 White Label Support Services

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team. This is normally to help with covering support overnight and weekends, because they want to free up their senior staff to work on project or development duties, because of issues with staff retention or because they have already outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our help desk and monitoring services which include:

  • 1st /2nd line remote support calls
  • 24/7/365 or office hour
  • Incident management services with third party escalation
  •  Proactive monitoring NOC services
  • Catch and dispatch only monitoring services
  • Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
  • 30-minute response times
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • Completely white labelled to your brand
  • Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software 
  • Pricing from £500 per month

 

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

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By 2025, businesses will be spending 22% of their budget on cloud technologies

Businesses are spending more money on cloud infrastructure compared to legacy, on-premise environments for the first time, according to the Cloud Industry Forum.

The CIF’s study, conducted by Vanson Bourne revealed that firms are more open to multi-cloud environments, with three-quarters of firms adopting the use of more than one cloud service to power their digital transformation process.

“UK businesses clearly recognise the need for transformation and are gradually leaving legacy technologies behind in favour of next generation technologies as they pursue competitive advantage,” Alex Hilton, CEO of CIF said.

“Cloud is critical to this shift, thanks not only to the flexibility of the delivery model, but also the ease with which servers can be provisioned, which reduces financial and business risk. Furthermore, cloud’s ability to explore the value of vast unstructured data sets is next to none, which in turn is essential for IoT and AI.”

UK businesses are spending 19% of their IT budgets on cloud infrastructure, compared to 18% of budgets spent on-premise. Within four years, the CIF thinks the amount of money spent on the cloud will increase to become 22% of budgets. The firm is predicting the gap will widen as more organisations realise the benefits of cloud vs. on-premise architecture.

Although take-up is growing, there’s still a way to go until more businesses can use the cloud to power their digital transformation journey, with the CIF highlighting skills shortages as a major barrier to both cloud and cloud-powered application adoption.

“It’s clear that the majority of UK organisations are right at the start of this journey and many are being prevented from exploiting IoT, blockchain and AI due to skills shortages, a lack of vision, and, indeed, a lack of support from vendors,” Hilton added.

“The research further supports this idea as 15% of respondents reported they would struggle to find the right partner to assist in the implementation process, suggesting that while there’s a willingness to adopt these technologies, businesses are challenged by supply-side issues in the channel.”

Written by Clare Hopping

https://www.itpro.co.uk/cloud/32378/cloud-infrastructure-spending-exceeds-on-premise-for-the-first-time

Image via shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 White Label Support Services

Most of our customers approach Microtechs as they are looking for a partnership with a fully flexible, UK based support team. We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our services to dovetail to your individual requirements.

Do you have issues with; 

  •  Covering support overnight and weekends
  •  Need to free up your senior staff to work on project or development duties
  •  Staff retention
  • Outsourced offshore and have experienced a high number of complaints.

 

Cost savings, operational efficiencies and service improvements can be found through your team working in conjunction with us.

 

Microtechs Service Desk and NOC solutions provide the right level of support for you. 24/7 access to a client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams, scalable models to meet your requirements, proactive monitoring and alerting, backed up by a state of the art service desk infrastructure.

So, what does all this mean for your business and customers? Increased up-time, reduced costs (in some cases by more than 40%), lower overheads, incident reduction and continual service improvements – all managed by Microtechs.

  • Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
  • 30 minute NOC response times
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands
  • Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi
  • Pricing from £500 per month

 

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

Posted by on in Latest Microtechs news posts

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*****COMPETITION TIME! *******

We are giving away this incredible Virgin Wine advent calendar to a lucky winner just in time for Christmas! To enter simply answer in the comments below the following question and share the post on linked in or facebook.

"What are our hours of coverage for our white label help desk services at Microtechs?"

Competition closes Monday 26th November 2018, Winner selected at random from all entries and will be posted for 1st December 2018. Competition running across all Microtechs social media platforms.

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6468131006497980416

*****GOOD LUCK******

hashtag#competition hashtag#christmas hashtag#wine hashtag#advent hashtag#calendar hashtag#microtechs #247 hashtag#support hashtag#socialmedia hashtag#technology hashtag#it hashtag#networking hashtag#newyear hashtag#office365 hashtag#outsourcing hashtag#customerservice hashtag#monitoring hashtag#computing hashtag#msp hashtag#shares

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Do you get frustrated and angry when your Wi-Fi connection stops working? It could be because of your personality. When digital technology stops working, people with a fear of missing out (FOMO) -- the anxiety that you're missing a social experience others might be having while you're not online -- or an internet addiction have more extreme reactions, according to a new study in Heliyon.

The researchers behind the study, psychologists Dr. Lee Hadlington and Dr. Mark Scase from De Montfort University in the UK, also show that certain personality traits directly influence people's responses to failures in digital technology: people who were seen as being more neurotic and extroverted had more extreme reactions to failures in digital technology.

"The 'frustration' response is one of the things we all experience on a daily basis, so it seemed to be a logical step in our research," said lead author Dr. Lee Hadlington. "Much of the existing research on this topic is from the 1940s -- you could say that this research is the first of its kind to actually explore how individual react to failures with digital technology, and more importantly, places this in the context of the modern digital era."

If something goes wrong with digital technology that prevents us from being online, we will react in different ways. 'Maladaptive' responses include getting angry, panicking or feeling depressed; these responses are not only unhelpful, they have also been shown to have a detrimental impact on productivity and achieving goals, and can therefore lead to poor job performance. If the digital technology failure is due to a malicious cyberattack, this could affect many people and businesses, so it's important to understand the responses in order to limit the negative effects.

"If we can understand what leads individuals to react in certain ways, and why these differences occur, we can hopefully make sure that when digital technology does fail people are better supported and there are relevant signposts for them to follow to get help," said Dr. Hadlington.

In the study, 630 participants aged 18-68 completed an online questionnaire in which they self-reported their responses to failures in digital technology, fear of missing out, internet addiction and answered questions that scored them on the BIG-5 personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism

The results showed that the fear of missing out, internet addiction, extroversion and neuroticism all have a significantly positive influence on maladaptive responses, meaning the people most psychologically dependent on digital technology are most likely to have maladaptive responses when it goes wrong.

They also showed a link between age and response: as age increases, the level of frustration that a person experiences decreases.

"The more we use our devices, the more we get attached to them, so when they don't work, we tend to just go a little bit 'crazy' or just switch off and stop doing things altogether," said Dr. Hadlington. "But there are things people can do when technology fails to make their lives a lot easier -- extreme reactions only make things worse!"

Story Source: Materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Elsevier. "People with Internet addiction react the worst when Wi-Fi fails: Do you get frustrated and angry when your Wi-Fi connection stops working? It could be because of your personality." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181101133843.htm>.

Image via Shutterstock.com

Microtechs 24/7 White Label support services

The festive season and 2019 is fast approaching and this means two things:

1. Trying to cover your Help desk to provide support for your clients when you or others in your team need to take time off with the family.

2. Statistically the end of January is when the most people hand in their notice to move onto pastures new.

Microtechs is here to help, we can:

1. Provide an overflow support to work in conduction with your current team.

2. Extend your opening hours to full 24/7 support

3. Take on the first and second line tasks to allow your team to focus on projects which bring in extra revenue.

We are trusted by more than 100 different technology companies, big to small, to support their clients from our 24/7/365 Helpdesk based in Guildford, Surrey and prices start from £500 per month.

·        24/7 or office hours available – packages available from £500 per month

·        A great value alternative to recruiting or expanding internally

·        NOC facilities and proactive monitoring and under 30 min response times

·        Fully white labelled to your business name

·        Various models to meet all business needs

If you would like to find out more, please contact us on 01483 407417.

We look forward to help finding a solution to improve support coverage and save you money in the process.

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Niraj Ranjan Rout, founder of a help desk software company Hiver, has identified the most important and useful metrics to use to gain insight into the effectiveness of the systems and processes being used by your support team.

He mentions that nothing is better at allowing your customer support team to see if their efforts are in alignment with the goals and values of the company.

Likewise, this ability to see their efforts assists help desk managers in staying on track, keeping agents accountable, identifying areas of improvement/training, and encouraging growth and progress.

These are the most important customer support metrics that you need to track and are explained below;

1.            First response

2.            Rate of resolution

3.            Agent utilisation

4.            Customer satisfaction

5.            Cost per ticket

First response

Put yourself in the shoes of an end user. Imagine this one:

You submit a ticket or make a complaint call, and the person who responds transfers you to another “more appropriate” person. Before you know it, there are long hold times, huge email threads, and chaotic communication exchanges.

How will you feel the next time around? Likely discouraged and unlikely to call back when you have another problem/query/complaint. The result is that you’ve lost confidence in the company’s ability to handle issues efficiently. If they can’t help you out in a reliable way, how likely are you to stick with them?

The good news for help desk teams is that first response isn’t just important to measure, it’s actually quite easy to measure.

The easiest way is through first response time trackers that you can find in help desk dashboards.

The more issues you solve within the first exchange with the customer, the happier everybody will be.

These trackers measure the number of minutes you are managing to shave off your reply times. They are a great way for an employee to keep an eye on their own progress and see if they are improving.

Rate of resolution

This is one metric you just can’t escape. Often, the user’s satisfaction is directly and heavily correlated to the rate of resolution, especially within the first exchange.

According to a study done by SQM Group, for every subsequent exchange, the satisfaction of the user could drop by around 15%.

While we all know that leaving a ticket unresolved is out of the question, it can be easy to become lax on this one: every ticket deserves a timely and informed answer.

You can again use help desk tools to track this KPI and see how many complaints are being resolved in the first exchange, how many escalations there were, and how many times a ticket has been reopened.

Knowing your rate of resolution on a constant basis allows you to take immediate steps when you see a drop.

Agent utilisation

Agent utilisation is perhaps the best measure of productivity, but it’s not as easy to assess as first response. Here’s a well-established way to measure it:

(Average calls/tickets handled per month) x (Average time to took to handle those calls/tickets)

÷
(Number of days worked in a month) x (Number of hours worked per day x 60 min/hr)

If you are hitting a 70-80% agent utilisation rate, then you should probably look out for your turnover rate. Make sure to keep an eye on this KPI so that neither your cost per ticket nor your employee retention rate will suffer.

While it’s important to remember that you have to maintain an optimal agent utilization rate, taking this to an extreme by trying to squeeze the most out of every agent you have will undoubtedly lead to increased cost due to agent turnover rates.

A happy help desk agent is crucial to having a happy customer.

Customer satisfaction

Nothing beats this help desk KPI. It’s the one your entire team will rally behind. You may think that you are getting everything right, that your systems are efficient, and your agents are productive, but the customer may not agree.

The point is, it is the customer who must be satisfied in the end.

They need to be given a way to rate and review your service. But to evaluate the overall value of this KPI, you’ll need to first measure the ratio of the number of surveys sent to customers compared to the number of surveys completed.

The volume of your customer feedback surveys should be large enough for you to draw conclusive results. If you are an early-stage start-up, getting a large enough volume of completed surveys will take time. Be patient but keep this KPI top of mind.

Cost per ticket

This is a metric that you can use to judge the overall performance of your help desk service. A lot of data inputs go into calculating this one.

Cost per ticket includes calculating (at least) the following:

             Salaries and benefits for the agents

             Salaries and benefits for managerial/admin

             Tech expenses used on help desk software, computers, etc.

             Telecommunication expenses

             Facilities expenses

The majority of the cost here comes from agents and other personnel, which is why monitoring agent utilisation is just as important as monitoring cost per ticket.

If your cost per ticket is higher than the industry average, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doing a bad job; this could even be an indicator that the quality of your service is higher than average. Balancing the quality and cost is certainly crucial here.

In general, the cost per ticket KPI is a great way to judge the efficiency of the processes and the agents. But, it’s important to balance this focus on “hard” metrics with the immeasurable “soft” aspects that are crucial to help desk success.

The full article by Niraj can be found here: https://www.klipfolio.com/blog/most-important-help-desk-kpis

Image via Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 Outsourced Help desk and NOC services

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team. Now the holiday season is approaching you may notice some pain points with team members on holiday.

Do you need help with; 

  1. ·       Covering support overnight and weekends
  2. ·        Freeing up your senior staff to work on project or development duties
  3. ·        Solving issues with staff retention

We have a mixture of clients which use our help desk and monitoring services which include;

 

  • 24/7/365 or office hours
  • 1st /2nd line remote support calls
  • Incident management services with third party escalation
  • Proactive monitoring NOC services
  • Catch and dispatch only monitoring services
  • Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
  • 30-minute NOC response times
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands
  • Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software
  • Pricing from £500 per month

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

 

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

 

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The cybersecurity measures needed to protect flexible workers

In an age where technology has transformed the workplace and employees can work from anywhere at any time from different devices, businesses are facing new challenges to their cybersecurity. People working away from the office may use a combination of business assigned equipment along with their own personal laptops, PCs, tablets or mobiles which might not be protected adequately or are shared with other family members, increasing the risk of data becoming exposed to information-gathering malware. According to a recent survey by HPE, 31 per cent of people have lost corporate data via mobile device misuse, emphasising the need for companies to ensure that there are strong policies in place to allow employees to work flexibly safely.

Communication and education

It is vital when creating a cybersecurity policy for flexible working that businesses understand what is required, the desired outcomes and the obstacles that may be faced for both employee and employer. Staff need to be educated on policies for using business and personal devices remotely, informed of which applications and websites are permitted for business use and situations where access to company networks or data is prohibited. Workers also need to be educated about who to contact in their company in the event of an issue or data breach.

Understand your data and who needs to handle it

Businesses need to categorise data and limit access based on the role the employee is playing in the organisation. Personal and sensitive data must only be used in-line with the consents agreed. Policies must prohibit the communication of company documents/data using employees’ personal emails and prohibit the storage of that data on any personal cloud storage sites. The IT team may enable Server level Encryption to provide a further layer of data protection.

Check your Wi-Fi

Open and free Wi-Fi is available at most hotels, coffee shops and some restaurants, and so is commonly used by flexible workers for getting work done on the go. Many people may have auto-attached set-up on their devices, for convenience. However, once attached to a free unknown Wi-Fi connection, account login details could be compromised. Public Wi-Fi connections often do not require authentication and are therefore vulnerable to ‘evil twin’ Wi-Fi attacks, where hackers set up a fake network to mirror the real one, and can steal account names, passwords, and intercept files, causing damage to company reputations or compromising a business’ network. Flexible workers should set devices to ask for user permission to connect and rely only on trusted Wi-Fi networks or connect via a 4G connection on their own mobile device.

Play it safe

The basic security measures of device login/authentication at startup and after devices are idle must be in place, along with remote wipe capability to enable the IT team to cleanse ‘lost’ devices.  Additionally, ensuring automatic software and antivirus updates are in place and local firewalls configured to safeguard against malware and viruses provides a solid base for employees to work from.

Secure private cloud technology that enables collaboration between colleagues to continue working even while away from the office is an easy way to ensure data and the business network are segregated. Businesses should enable multi-factor authentication for these applications in order to safeguard against the compromising of login credentials. This can occur because some applications now support multiple devices and allow workers to be logged-in across multiple devices concurrently. If login credentials are compromised, someone could be accessing accounts alongside the worker.

By implementing clear policies and educating workers on simple ways to employ cybersecurity best practice, businesses will ensure employees can reap the benefits of working flexibly and foster a more productive and satisfied workforce. 

Written by Chris Martin, CTO at PowWowNow

https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/the-cybersecurity-measures-needed-to-protect-flexible-workers

Microtechs 24/7 White Label Support Services

The festive season and 2019 is fast approaching and this means two things:

1. Trying to cover your Helpdesk to provide support for your clients when you or others in your team need to take time off with the family.

2. Statistically the end of January is when the most people hand in their notice to move onto pastures new.

Microtechs is here to help, we can:

1. Provide an overflow support to work in conduction with your current team.

2. Extend your opening hours to full 24/7 support

3. Take on the first and second line tasks to allow your team to focus on projects which bring in extra revenue.

We are trusted by more than 100 different technology companies, big to small, to support their clients from our 24/7/365 Help desk based in Guildford, Surrey and prices start from £500 per month.

·        24/7 or office hours available – packages available from £500 per month

·        A great value alternative to recruiting or expanding internally

·        NOC facilities and proactive monitoring and under 30 min response times

·        Fully white labelled to your business name

·        Various models to meet all business needs

If you would like to find out more, please contact us on 01483 407417.

We look forward to help finding a solution to improve support coverage and save you money in the process.

CONTACT US

Our business truly is 24/7, We operate entirely out of this office using our own staff.

Microtechs Head Office

Microtechs Ltd
Sussex House
11 The Pines
Broad Street
Guildford
GU3 3BH  

T: +44 (0) 1483 407400
Einfo@microtechs.co.uk

Alternatively, please use our Contact Us Form

 

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