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A North East IT Success Story

I caught up with The Journal's Mark Lane talk about Forfusion's agile and risk-averse approach.

Please summarise Forfusion business on less than 100 words.

Sure. Forfusion is typically invited in by customers who feel:

  • Burdened by risks from ageing technology infrastructure
  • Worried about ineffective customer experience
  • Isolated by poor collaboration between teams and customers
  • Alarmed by the spiralling total cost of ownership of IT systems

Serving as a trusted advisor and partner, rather than just another IT supplier, Forfusion alleviates these pain points.

For over 10 years, Forfusion’s flexible and agile approach has proven successful for customers far and wide in finding the most effective solution that de-risks the planning, deployment, adoption and support of new technologies.

You have grown rapidly in a crowded field. What has been key to that growth? And how do you differentiate yourselves?

It’s clear that technology is playing an increasingly bigger role in practically every aspect of business. This presenting significant opportunities for efficiencies and cost savings, but also poses huge risks. The risk of choosing the wrong vendor’s technology for the desired business outcomes.

The risk of being unable to integrate with legacy systems. The risk of your IT systems not being to scale with your organisation. The reputational risk (personal, departmental and organisational) if it things goes wrong. And the most serious of all, the risks of cyber-attacks. These risks are a real challenge, and present a myriad of pain points for not just the IT department, but C-Suite.

What’s been to our growth is our approach. We only work with customers who have genuine pain points that we can help overcome. We don’t sell technologies and products per se, that’s of secondary importance. Our approach starts with asking similar questions to the following, which determines whether we can do business:

  • What is the business outcome you’re looking to achieve / pain points you’re trying to overcome?
  • How long has this been an issue?
  • Have you tried to do anything about it?
  • How much has the issue cost the business? 
  • What would happen if you did nothing?

This approach is refreshing for the both ourselves and our customers. And it’s one I think I think sets us apart from others trying to compete in this region, underlying our consistent double-digit growth rate over the last four years. Our customers know that we are not just trying to sell them something. They understand that we are trying to get to the heart of their issues to determine whether we can help or not.

Increasingly, we are invited in by organisations whose biggest pain by far is cyber-security (or lack of it).

What is driving this market?

We’re entering what commentators are calling The Fourth Industrial Revolution – digital transformation on a massive scale. More and more devices or ‘things’ are becoming connected. To each other and to the internet.

In 2015, there were around 7.3 billion people and around 6 billion connected devices. Today, there are twice as many connected devices in the world today then there are people! About 15 billion. That’s an increase of about 150% in the last two years. There are more connected devices in India than there are toilets…

By 2030, there could be as many 500 billion (devices that is, not toilets!). This exponential change in ratio is going to have profound implications for not just the business world, but humanity as a whole.

Moreover, more than 90% of the world’s data was created in the last 2 years! There has been more created since you started reading this article than there was for centuries of human existence… What an incredibly exciting and terrifying time to alive!

What are the key trends and issues in data security right now?

The problem is, knowledge of cyber-security best practice has not kept pace with the growth in scale, frequency and severity of cyber-attacks. As the world becomes more connected, there more opportunities available to those that seek to sabotage, pillage and plunder from hard working businesses.

This is confounded by the fact that more organisations embrace flexible and remote working. Whilst it is almost undeniable that remote working has a vast array of benefits to both employees and employers, it can be extremely difficult to protect remote workers from cyber-attacks. Because it’s too easy for them to bypass the corporate network – willingly or unwillingly (without digressing onto Hillary Clinton’s email shenanigans!).

There’s no one magic solution to cyber-security. If anyone suggests otherwise, run the other way. Organisations need to think about Defence in Depth – multiple layers of security to mitigate the vast array of risks and varied attacks that can be launched on modern IT infrastructure.

The first line of defence, particularly for mobile workers is at the DNS layer. And that’s why Cisco’s recent acquisition of OpenDNS represented a significant step in protection of mobile workers –defence via a Secure Internet Gateway. However this alone is not enough. It can’t protect your organisations from email application activity. For this, you need a next generation firewall to combat the increasing sophistication of cyber-attacks.

There are obviously many types of cyber-attack, but one particular attack has shot up recently and that is Ransomware - the denial of digital services held for a financial ransom.

The genius of Ransomware is that it monetises assets that, in most cases, are only valuable to that of the victim. The most painful aspect of these attacks, is that not all hackers play fair. Often, even after the victim has paid the ransom, their data and assets are never retrieved. Some sources report that Ransomware attacks increased threefold in 2016, with one in five businesses affected worldwide.

The implementation of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in May 2018 is another big issue that will affect every business. This regulation will increase privacy for individuals and give regulatory authorities powers to take action against businesses that fail to adequate steps to protect their data. In fact, companies can be fined 4% of annual global revenue or €20 million – whichever is greater!

Regardless of Brexit, the regulation applies to non-EU companies that process personal data of individuals residing in the EU. What’s worrying is that many businesses are unaware of this regulation, and could be sleepwalking into non-compliance.

Are you working internationally?

Forfusion is proud to have been working with international customers since 2009. We were drafted into assist in the planning and deployment of multimillion pound unified communications project with the Gold Coast Hospital in Australia. Since then, we have been invited in by customers from Central Europe, Scandinavia, South East Asia and even Africa.

Our approach is renowned, and up until fairly recently, was mostly spread far and wide through word of mouth. Three of our biggest customers are multinational companies, enlisting Forfusion’s help to de-risk their IT operations across site across the globe. Whilst our engineers may miss the green, green of home here in the North East from time to time,

Thanks for your time Sean.

Thanks Mark!

You can read the write up here.

 

Categorised Under: Company Updates

18th Apr 2017

Forfusion Marketing Executive Sean Ball