CTO Insights January Newsletter

CTO Insights January 2024  

A new year, a new set of technology challenges and opportunities to tackle in 2024. As always with a new year, it’s a chance to look forward. This being IT let’s not look too far forward though! What’s likely to be challenging us in the first part of 2024? 

No escaping the AI beast 

The use of AI will continue to dominate business IT conversations. Microsoft’s co-pilot, OpenAI, Google etc are all continuing to push driving these technologies into every area of our lives. Co-Pilot is a particularly interesting one, with Microsoft already including it as an app in Windows 11, free as part of its Bing Chat service, and of course as an increasing presence across Microsoft 365.   

It’s not just here though. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES2024) AI was front and centre. This included the intriguing Rabbit R1 which is an AI-powered “pocket companion”, imagine a smartphone with an AI interface. Techradar also ran a story from CES about Volkswagen being the latest car manufacturer to build ChatGPT into their cars, although I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that, it shows how AI will continue to become ever more pervasive. 

As IT business leaders we do need to prepare for this and have the appropriate controls in place to protect to ensure we use AI appropriately in both business and personal settings. 

The Cybersecurity threat isn’t going anywhere 

No surprise here as cybersecurity is never going to be done. A friend of, Kirk Ryan, recently posted this blog regarding cybersecurity trends in 2024.  Two tips caught my attention. His “AI Arms Race” pointed towards the cyber security threat posed by AI. How technology such as deepfake presented new threats that in reality are difficult to stop. This is an emerging area business and security leaders need to understand and find ways to identify these threats, much of this will need to be manual, however, as right now it’s hard for technology alone to stop. 

He also discusses “The Great Cloud Caper. Cloud has certainly increased the threat posed by leaked credentials and poorly configured security. While leaked credentials leading to the deletion of cloud infrastructure is thankfully rare, less rare is the threat posed by misconfigured cloud accounts and services, we continue to hear of misconfigured cloud repositories leading to significant data leaks.  

How secure is your cloud infrastructure? This is a question we should all be asking. Certainly, we should be carrying out regular basic security auditing to ensure we don’t have basic misconfigurations. We should ensure we are not over-provisioning guest access to our Teams groups and SharePoint sites or having under-protected, over-elevated accounts that if breached can be used to raise havoc in our cloud environments.  

Managing Costs  

Not surprisingly, we are going to see continued economic pressures on business and IT is a part of that. Whether it’s capital expenditure or operational costs the need for better insights into them is becoming increasingly in demand, especially with cloud spend. Having insights, especially predictive insight, into cloud costs should be a consideration for anyone with any kind of complexity to their cloud environments, especially those with multi-cloud setups. Knowing the best place to run a workload, and understanding how to ensure you are right-sizing them can have a significant impact on overall costs reducing them significantly.  But this is also true on-premises, making sure we are running a right-sized environment can reduce capital and operational costs. It’s a difficult area to manage, but it is, and rightly, going to stay high on the agenda as we move through 2024. 

While no doubt there are other areas of interest, I imagine much of the initial part of 2024 will see us dealing with those three areas. 

Tech Takeaways 

New year, new episodes! In 2024’s first episode, we are discussing alternative networks. These are connectivity providers who live outside of the UK’s traditional BT and Virgin media networks. Alt-nets own their infrastructure and build their services, which opens a range of custom services that can appeal to businesses of all types. Is an Alt-Net something that you could use? Dave Ferry of ITS joins us to explain more. Find the video version here or if you prefer audio it’s here 

CTO Insights  

In episode 2 of CTO Insights, I’m joined by NetApp field CTO, Grant Caley. With 20+ years at storage vendor NetApp, Grant has great experience and he shares a broad set of insights into the data industry. Join me as we explore the future of data ranging from cost optimisation to backup and recovery. 

You can watch the video here or if you prefer listen to the audio version here. 

Thanks for reading CTO Insights, look out for more coming soon. 


Optimising Your Microsoft 365 Environment: Why It Matters

In today’s digital age, businesses are increasingly relying on cloud-based solutions for their productivity and collaboration needs. Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) has emerged as a go-to platform for organisations seeking to enhance their workflow and boost efficiency. However, simply adopting Microsoft 365 is not enough. To truly maximise its benefits, it’s crucial to optimise your M365 environment. In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of Optimising your Microsoft 365 environment and provide some practical tips to get you started. 

The Significance of a Well-Optimised M365 Environment

  1. Enhanced Productivity

An optimised M365 environment ensures that your employees can work seamlessly and efficiently. When your tools and applications are configured to align with your specific business needs, tasks become easier to complete. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity across the organisation. Features like real-time collaboration, cloud storage, and integration with other business apps become more powerful when optimised. 

  1. Cost Efficiency

Optimising your Microsoft 365 environment can help you make the most of your investment. By ensuring that you’re only paying for the features and licenses your organisation truly needs, you can reduce unnecessary costs. Additionally, streamlining processes and automating routine tasks can lead to significant savings in time and resources. 

  1. Enhanced Security

Security is a top concern for any organisation, and an improperly configured M365 environment can pose risks. When you optimise your environment, you can implement robust security measures, including access controls, data encryption, and multi-factor authentication. This reduces the chances of data breaches and ensures the confidentiality of sensitive information. 

  1. Scalability

As your business grows, your IT requirements will evolve. An optimised M365 environment is flexible and can easily adapt to accommodate changes in your organisation’s size and structure. Whether you need to add new users, departments, or features, an optimised environment makes scaling up or down a smooth process. 

  1. Improved User Experience

A well-optimised M365 environment leads to a better user experience. Employees will find it easier to collaborate, communicate, and access the tools they need. This can boost morale and job satisfaction, ultimately leading to higher employee retention rates. 

Practical Tips for Optimising Your M365 Environment 

Now that we’ve highlighted the importance of optimisation, here are some practical tips to get you started: 

  1. Conduct a Thorough Assessment

Begin by assessing your current M365 environment. Identify areas that need improvement, such as licensing, permissions, and configuration settings. A comprehensive audit will help you pinpoint areas for optimisation. 

  1. Customise Your Environment

Tailor your M365 environment to match your organisation’s unique needs. Customise SharePoint sites, Teams channels, and other applications to align with your business processes. Implement automation and workflows to simplify repetitive tasks. 

  1. Implement Security Best Practices

Enhance security by implementing best practices such as multi-factor authentication, data loss prevention, and email encryption. Regularly update security policies and educate your staff on cybersecurity awareness. 

  1. Monitor and Maintain

Continuous monitoring is crucial for ensuring your M365 environment remains optimised. Regularly review usage patterns, troubleshoot issues, and apply updates and patches as needed. Consider investing in management and monitoring tools to simplify this process. 

  1. Train Your Team

Proper training for your staff is essential. Ensure they are well-versed in using M365 tools efficiently and securely. Encourage ongoing learning and provide resources for continuous improvement. 

  1. Seek Expert Assistance

If your organisation lacks the in-house expertise to optimise your M365 environment, consider consulting with Microsoft 365 experts or managed service providers. Their experience can help you navigate complex configurations and ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment. 

In conclusion, Optimising your Microsoft 365 environment is not just a one-time task but an ongoing effort that reaps numerous benefits. Enhanced productivity, cost savings, improved security, scalability, and a better user experience are all outcomes of a well-optimised M365 environment. By following the practical tips outlined in this blog, your organisation can harness the full potential of Microsoft 365 and stay competitive in today’s digital business landscape. 

Free Health Check 

Unsure of the savings you could be making in your Microsoft 365 or Azure environment? Want to know more about your employees’ adoption and usage of new solutions? Keen to better understand security and identity vulnerabilities?  

We’ve been running free health checks with our clients to help answer two simple yet significant questions:

• Am I investing in the right licenses?
• Am I making the most of my licenses?

This helps our clients optimise, secure, and control their environments, that can result in savings between 19% and 36%. 

To claim your free M365 health check, fill in a contact form here or call us at 0151 220 5552 

Not convinced? Why not check out a series of podcasts that give you more information on the value of Optimising your environment.  

Stop spending too much and optimise your m365 costs | Ep 2 

Unlocking Cloud Optimisation Strategies | Ep 25 

Optimising cloud costs | Ep 30 

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