Viewing archives for IT strategy and vision

17 Critical Cyber Security Questions To Ask Your IT Team

Suddenly the office is closed, and everyone’s working from home.

The IT team is coping, but you’ve got a nagging doubt about whether these hasty arrangements are secure. You ask the IT team a few questions about cyber security, but the answers seem to be in a different language!

Well, you should be concerned. Criminals are ramping up their activities, because systems are more vulnerable when people work from home.

But there’s no need for panic. Most cyber attacks are successful simply because basic steps haven’t been taken.

Here is a simple checklist to ask the person responsible for IT. The answers should all be YES!

Protect your data

  1. Do we know for sure that our backups are actually working?
  2. Does data stored on a home user’s hard drive get backed up?
  3. Does our central data storage have versioning?
  4. Have we got a Data Loss Prevention system running?

Protect your remote devices

  1. Do we have multi-factor authentication set up for our systems?
  2. Will our anti-virus, anti-malware and patching tools automatically update for home users?
  3. Has everyone who’s working from home signed a communications and internet usage policy?
  4. Have we given cyber security training to the team within the last six months?
  5. Are our GDPR policies appropriate for people working remotely and at home?

Protect your network

  1. Do we use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect remote users to the company network?
  2. Is our email system encrypted, and has DKIM, DMARC and SPF been set up on the Domain?
  3. Do we have mobile device management systems controlling all mobile equipment on the network?
  4. Do we have an appropriate system usage and data management policy?
  5. Are business applications configured to provide least-access privileges?

Stop the bad guys

  1. Is our video conferencing protected against rogue attendees and are calls secure?
  2. Have we got proper checks in place to stop us losing money through fraud?
  3. Are our remote support tools secured against rogue access?

If you value your business, make sure the answer to all these questions is YES. Visit our Cyber Security and Covid-19 knowledge centres, which include more content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

IR35

Here’s a brief video of one of our founders, Steve Clarke, explaining how the IR35 change is affecting small operators, interims and freelancers. Steve explains how our model is different and means we don’t have these tax issues.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Bitcoin – What is It and What Does It Mean to Businesses?

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a “crypto currency” that was created in 2009. It has many (or perhaps all) of the characteristics of a currency. The total value of Bitcoins in circulation is now over $190Bn, and it is widely used as a currency around the world, every day!

Specifically Bitcoin is based on sophisticated maths which limits the number of Bitcoins that can ever be produced. And the mechanism for recording Bitcoins transactions, which is called Blockchain, is secure and reliable.

These things make Bitcoin very much like an ordinary currency, but Bitcoin is unusual as conventional currencies are controlled by banks and governments. Bitcoin exists without any sponsorship like this and parties transact without requiring a trusted third party (such as a bank) at all….

Read the full CEO’s Briefing on Bitcoin here:

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

The Scale Up Phenomenon October 2019

At one of our recent joint events, Ivan McKeever explained 8 Key Drivers that can significantly impact your company’s value both negatively and positively. The event involved meeting and networking with other local business leaders to gain insights and expand perspectives.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use technology to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation. 

Board Action Plan: IT Roadmap for Growth

To download, save or print this CEO’s Action Plan, click here

Companies planning growth need to have a plan for how their IT can support and drive this growth. An IT Roadmap allows them to scale-up confidently, whilst maintaining or improving their margins and customer service. Whether you’re identifying problems such as poor reporting; inefficient processes; lack of standardisation or fragmented data to name a few, there are ways to address these and get back on a positive path.

Our CEO’s action plan aims to provide a stepped approach that starts with the business objectives; identifies the programme of work and ensures you include everything such as processes and the technology you use. The plan encourages you to identify and remove the operational pains that are having large impacts. An IT roadmap may also encompass ideas around bespoke software, big data and even Artificial Intelligence, all of which can make a real difference. Staying flexible and ensuring you are always delivering on the IT objectives is critical as well as making sure you are clear on who owns the IT roadmap as it’s their role to make sure it stays alive and is constantly under review to optimise its success.

Visit our Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT Directors, CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Infographic – The 6 Must Haves of Hiring ‘Simply the Best’ CTO!

Only the sharpest applicants make the Freeman Clarke cut. They posses an enviable range of talents that make them ‘simply the best’! We call these talents, the 6 blades!

Download the infographic to see what we think makes up a game changing Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for your business.

We have created a variety of content on this subject as the demand for CTOs grows rapidly:

Recruiting a CTO is getting harder for mid-market businesses

Why CTOs are on the rise in mid-market businesses (video)

Transform your business and increase revenue using custom software (video)

All of which can be found on our CTO Knowledge Centre Page

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Recruiting a CTO is Getting Harder for Mid-Market Businesses

IT leaders who are focussed on software development and digital are often called CTOs (Chief Technology Officers). The terms CDO (Chief Digital Officer) and CIO (Chief Information Officer) are also sometimes used but, in this content, we’ll stick with CTO.

You can download the briefing where we talk about

What exactly does a CTO do?

Why are CTOs so hard to find?

Options for finding a CTO

Part-time or fractional CTOs

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about CTOs, their role, how to find and recruit  them and the invaluable benefits they provide to a business. All of which can be found on our CTO Knowledge Centre page here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Hiring a CTO – What are the 6 Must Haves?

We hire more CIOs, CTOs and IT Directors than any other organisation in the UK and we are often asked about our approach.

Our recruitment process is sophisticated and detailed and our screening and selection has been developed and improved over several years.

We have an infographic which highlights the 6 must have talents that we think makes the best CTO for your business. View the infographic.

So what do we look for?

We specifically look for 6 things. All are equally important and all are absolutely essential.

    1. Technical Expert. Custom software and digital technologies are complicated and involve deep and specialist knowledge. CTOs need an extensive understanding of technology, security and engineering built up over years in the industry. They need to understand infrastructure, business systems and online technology and, in addition, they need up to date and detailed experience of products, vendors and evolving practices. No field changes as rapidly! The best CTOs don’t just follow the field, they are leaders – active at events and in online discussions.
    2. Focussed on People. Of course, all of business is about people. Even the most complex software needs to be built by people, and for people, and team working is at the heart of any successful venture. The CTO needs to be a coach and mentor to his team, respected by all those around him. Communication needs to flow easily upwards, downwards and across.A CTO needs to engage with all the stakeholders, be a source of energy and good-humour, and needs to fit in.
    3. Creative Entrepreneur. The CTO needs to be passionate about driving growth and fully committed to the ambitions of the business. That means understanding funding and valuation mechanisms, business plans, and the full range of disciplines like marketing and legal.Of course, any complex project has issues and the CTO needs to be creative, agile and proactive to rapidly recognise when changes are necessary to stay on track with the vision.
    4. Commercial Manager. Running the team and suppliers requires good planning, good communication and careful attention to detail. CTOs are often responsible for a range of compliance issues and need to be aware of the implications of contractual and regulatory frameworks.Budgets need to be carefully monitored and managed and contracts and prices negotiated. Managing suppliers is a careful balance to maintain good relationships and long-term commitments whilst ensuring that costs are kept under control.
    5. Strategic Thinker. Technical discussions are often extremely (painfully!) detailed. Bespoke digital technology is complex and intricate but a good CTO sees the bigger picture and how the technology will be part of the business strategy. Often discussions around the Board table are vague; opportunities are ambiguous; the key questions are about the art of the possible and good CTOs need to be comfortable with this. A tech strategy must be creative but also sensible, useful and flexible.
    6. Compelling Leader. The CTO forms part of the senior team and needs to lead from the front. The CTO contributes to decisions, is bold and visionary and holds others to account. As the business grows the stakes become higher and the CTO needs to be confident despite the pressure. Where there are external investors, partners or other stakeholders the CTO needs to represent the business to them. External investors, in particular, need to draw confidence from the CTO as his or her role is so critical to the success of the venture.

We devote a huge part of our management effort to recruitment, screening and selection of CTOs, CIOs and IT Directors. And, because we work in the mid-market, we only select CTOs who can fit in with dynamic businesses rather than needing the comfort of the corporate environment!

It is rare to find all of these talents in one person – which is why a good CTO is so valuable.

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about CTOs, their role, how to find and recruit  them and the invaluable benefits they provide to a business. All of which can be found on our CTO Knowledge Centre page here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Why CTOs are On the Rise in Mid-Market Businesses

Many of our clients are using custom software and digital initiatives to drive sales, increase efficiency or improve service. Sometimes they are disrupting entire markets. As a result the requirement for a commercially astute CTO is on the rise. Our Co-Founder and Director Graeme Freeman discusses this in more detail in our video below.

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about CTOs, their role, how to find and recruit  them and the invaluable benefits they provide to a business. All of which can be found on our CTO Knowledge Centre page here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Board Action Plan: 10 Steps to Digital Transformation

Ambitious business owners will always look for ways to improve the way their organisation functions. Digital transformation is just one way. It enables a business to function more efficiently and in the long term with greater cost savings. But to see any of these transformations occur there is a requirement for a solid IT strategy that fits in with the overall business strategy and an experienced technical leader to help you get there.

This is our final piece in the DT series and is the Board action plan that will help you get started on your own journey. It covers ideas around automation and artificial intelligence, risk analysis, data visualisation and much more which are all achievable if you’ve got a vision and the right people to get you there.

So what exactly is Digital Transformation?

For our clients, Digital Transformation simply means using IT to deliver dramatic improvement. That’s different to just an upgrade or fixing some niggling problems. It means: using IT to make a significant change for the better.

That may just mean simple IT done well – that’s surprisingly rare! Or it may mean genuine technology innovation, something that is breaking new (or new’ish) ground.

We simplify this issue by defining 4 different kinds of transformation:

1. Market break-through
2. Wow customers
3. Internal redesign
4. Tame the risks

For an explanation about the 4 types, read our original post.

Visit our Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

Subscribe to our Business Insights

Plain English board-level briefings focused on technology strategies to deliver competitive advantage and business success.

* Please enter an email address
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Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

Call us on 0203 020 1864 with any questions.