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OPTIMISING IT SPEND IN A TURBULENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE

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Jelle Wijndelts, Director of Business Consulting, EMEA, Snow Software

 

Since the beginning of 2020, work practices have shifted rapidly for a multitude of businesses. Due COVID-19, we find ourselves in a unique situation. This has tempted many organisations to relax procedures and approaches towards the adoption of new technologies in order to enable employees to remain productive at home. For many who found themselves scrambling to keep up with the surge of early requests, IT teams are beginning to sift through the initial chaos in order to properly manage resources and streamline technology spend.

Naturally, in the initial and sudden shift to remote working, cost optimisation may not have been a primary focus. Businesses were keen to get workers up and running as quickly as possible, and by any means possible. However, now that remote working is becoming a new norm for businesses across the globe, IT spend is a core focus in preparation for what is looking like an uncertain economic future.

For many IT leaders and their teams, identifying over-licensed and inactive software and hardware will be crucial to finding additional cost saving opportunities and delivering much-needed value to the business. Unlocking efficiencies within IT spend can have a positive impact on the bottom line and help organisations navigate these times of ongoing uncertainty, whilst ensuring business continuity.

So, how can businesses and IT decision makers determine which technologies they truly need and which they can afford to cut back on, especially in a new era of remote working, and be prepared to address IT cost management requests from their business?

The short answer is visibility.

 

Managing visibility across new IT environments

Having complete transparency and visibility of an organisations entire IT ecosystem is an essential first step to optimising costs. This includes having a full, holistic view across all solutions, whether they are on-premises or in the cloud.

The reality, however, is that many businesses have a fragmented view over the technology applications within their organisation, which makes identifying inefficiencies extremely difficult. Even before the shift to remote work, the evolution of department-led technology purchasing had caused many IT teams to lose visibility of their technology estate, including accounting for what’s being used, how much and what tools are left inactive but still paid for. According to research by Snow and IDG Connect, 67% of IT leaders confirmed at least of half of technology purchasing is now controlled by individual business units and departments.

To gain better visibility, organisations should begin by gathering a comprehensive inventory of the technology in use across all areas of the business. This raw data must then be normalised, categorised and augmented with additional information such as application type or end-of-life data.

 

Determining usage and spend

Once a clear view of all technology assets has been defined, IT teams can then start to assess the current usage and spend of the organisation. With many employees working from home, it is likely they will be using a variety of new tools to work effectively. Whilst it can be difficult to determine exactly what is being used and by who when many workers are remote, having this information is crucial to effectively reducing redundancies.

For instance, there might be a piece of software already in place within the organisation with spare licenses that employees may not be aware of, leading them to purchase an additional license or even another solution unnecessarily. By having this insight, businesses can identify overlapping technology and limit usage to one single solution to dramatically reduce overheads, whilst also improving data management and security. Managing existing licenses or negotiating an early renewal, can also help to free up crucial budget needed to support other areas of the business.

By continually monitoring and comparing both the entitlements and deployments of enterprise software licenses, organisations can use this knowledge to re-distribute licenses for maximum effect, whilst protecting themselves against significant unbudgeted costs.

 

Looking to the cloud

The cloud is another area that IT departments should be assessing now to manage spend. During times of market uncertainty, investment in cloud infrastructure can often surge as businesses need employees to access assets remotely. However, there are significant cost savings to be made when it comes to both hybrid and on-premise cloud models.

For on-premise environments, which are often developed over a longer period of time, going back and performing an audit can be extremely valuable as there may be legacy applications that are no longer required. By doing so, organisations can typically expect to reclaim 10% on resources and free up additional data centre budget.

For public cloud use on the other hand, when it comes to production, it’s best to start with agreements and focus on reserved instances or savings plans. The long-life and consistency of these workloads make it easier to analyse and to commit to ongoing spend for a discount.

 

Managing SaaS costs to unlock hidden savings

Last, but by no means least, Software as a Service (SaaS) should also be a key consideration for cost optimisation. Without the right guardrails around it, SaaS like other types of software, can rack up a whole wealth of inefficiencies and waste through over provisioning, redundant applications and duplicated accounts. That’s what makes SaaS a perfect target when it comes to unlocking hidden cost savings.

Here are three ways of doing so:

  • Reduce unused licenses:  unlike the traditional on-premises world, in a SaaS environment you can simply stop paying for a license if you are no longer using it. By gathering detailed usage data, you can manage contracts by buying and renewing only the subscriptions you need. 
  • Downgrade excessive entitlements: different license tiers of SaaS applications have vastly different costs. And often, you will have employees with advanced licenses who use just the basic features of an application. To be able to identify this and recoup the wasted spend, businesses need detailed understanding of both the license and its usage.

 

Optimise applications: most organisations have two, three or more application that serve the same or very similar functions. Regularly reviewing and consolidating to one application, making this available to the end users via an approved application list, will benefit organisations in multiple ways. This includes potential volume discounts – due to an increased in users, and lower support and security cost as there will be less applications to support and maintain.

 

Navigating market turbulence

No one knows the long-term effects of our current reality, but economies around the world have been feeling the impact. During a time like this, having full visibility of IT spend through effective asset management can be a tremendous resource for businesses planning for future sustainability and growth.

Another effect of the economic impact is the increase in vendor audits. The ‘mad’ scramble to home working and shift in IT approach means that lots of companies are now potentially exposed as the software use has changed, in turn affecting compliance. Again, step one is to ensure visibility: understanding what is out there, how is it used, who is using it, and when is it being used.

Regardless of what’s in store, complete visibility across your technology environment has never been more critical. Comprehensive insight into your organisation’s infrastructure, cloud usage and applications will keep businesses profitable and compliant as we ride out this storm.

 

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STOCK TRACKER TO OPTIMIZE YOUR SHORT-TERM GAINS

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When it comes to trading for short-term gains, there are many options to explore. For example, you could dive into technical analysis and trade based on data. Next to that, you could thrive on the sentiment of the market to get your gains. In any case, it is important to have the latest state of the market captured, including your holdings in that market. Having the best stock tracker could help you realize that. In this article, we will explore how a tracker can support short-term traders to increase their gains.

 

Connect with brokers for a holistic perspective

If you are an active trader, you probably hold stock at multiple broker accounts. For example, one broker could be leveraged for the US market while another broker has more favorable conditions to trade in Europe. With the best stock tracker on the market, you can integrate with these brokers through API and have an overview of all your holdings in real-time.

 

How does an API work

Since it concerns your stock holdings, you could receive this data sharing with some healthy skepticism. Do note that APIs are perfectly safe and only transfer data that is approved by the parameters defined by the broker. For example, you need to provide a special key to retrieve the data and can only retrieve information that is allowed to be retrievable. Often, this is limited to the holdings and quantity of the holdings.

 

Information on your trades

With API connections to brokers, and also a possibility to integrate with crypto brokers, you can also have an overview of transactions inside your stock tracker. This allows you to analyze your trades and up your game. For example, the tracker can indicate if the trade worked out well for you, or if it was better to hold on to the stock. You can analyze this information and continuously improve.

 

A proactive investment tracker

The power of an investment tracker can be found in the proactiveness of your portfolio. In the past, retail investors would combine their holdings into a spreadsheet and update those regularly. This has already started shifting with special macros that allow you to get real-time stock information from stock exchanges across the world, providing an element of automation. With a stock tracker, this is brought to the next level on two different dimensions.

Real-time data and push notifications

Naturally, the data of stock prices get updated automatically. Where it does become interesting is the notification setting possibility. For example, you could set a push notification when stocks gain or dip by a certain %. This allows you to be on top of your game, without the need to continue watching the market. In short: more freedom for you while your stock tracker is analyzing the market.

 

Relevant news

Especially when trading for short-term gains, market sentiment is essential. What will be the decision of the FED? How is a certain industry performing? Did you hear about that latest scandal? The best stock tracker also includes the latest stock market news, which can be provided through push notifications as well. For example, you can configure it to receive news that relates to your holdings for optimal coverage.

 

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Wealth Management

VOID OR VALID : 10 WAYS YOU COULD BE INVALIDATING YOUR CAR INSURANCE

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  • Being the named driver on your child’s car could invalidate your car insurance 
  • Driving with pets can have an impact on your insurance cover 
  • co.uk reveal ten ways to legally reduce your insurance

 

Car insurance prices have reached a seven year low1, with Covid helping to drive down the price, but it’s important to remember to be as accurate as possible when providing your personal details.

Providing false information or failing to update with changes of circumstance, whether accidentally or not, can invalidate your insurance, meaning your insurer is able to refuse to pay out for claims, or even cancel your policy. Some types of misinformation may even be classed as fraud and could see you end up in court.

That’s why CarParts4Less has shared ten easy to make mistakes that might be invalidating your car insurance.

  1. Lying about your main address

Car insurance premiums can vary depending on the postcode, as some areas have higher rates of thefts and break ins. It can be tempting to put down your home address as somewhere different to where your car stays every night  – a parents’ house while you are at university, for example, or at your house when you spend five nights a week living at your partner’s. However, doing so can mean your insurer can refuse to pay out any claims made, for example if your car is broken into in the location it actually resides.

Insurance companies have investigative departments (called special investigations unit, or SUI) dedicated to making sure information on your insurance and claims are correct, so while you may think you can get away with not updating your address, the likelihood is is that this will be found out when you make a claim.

  1. ‘Fronting’

Insurance for young drivers often costs more than groups deemed less of a risk, and one way some motorists try and get round these higher premiums is by having a low risk driver, such as a parent or partner, named as the main policy holder, and adding the real motorist as a named driver. If you get caught ‘fronting’, your policy will immediately be cancelled, and any claims denied. These cases are often taken to court, too, as it is classed as insurance fraud, with outcomes including fines of up to £5,000 and six points on your license.

  1. Ignoring your morning commute

There are three types of car usage that insurance covers; social only, social and commuting, and business. Social only insurance covers driving for social or leisure use; driving to and from friends’ houses, going to the supermarket, etc. The commute to and from work, or even to and from the train station, are not covered by this policy, so upgrading to a social and commuting is necessary, even if you only commute a few times a month. Insurance companies may dispute or refuse claims made during a commute if the policy is social use only, even if it is claimed to be only a one off.

If you use your car for work purposes outside of commuting, for example using it to get to meetings, or carrying equipment, you will need to get business cover.

  1. Not informing your insurer about any car modifications

Car modifications can affect your insurance premium for two reasons; if they increase the likelihood of an accident, or if they increase the likelihood of theft. Optional add ons for brand new cars, including something as simple and common as fitting in a SatNav, can impact insurance so it’s important to ensure these options are noted when applying for insurance. Your insurer will also need to be made aware of modifications that are made during your policy, as this may require a change in policy.

  1. Not informing your insurance company of minor accidents

In the case of small bumps or minor accidents where only cosmetic damage occurs, it’s common for motorists to have their car fixed without making a claim. However, even if you intend not to claim, it is important to inform your insurance of any damage received, as to not do so is a breach of your policy. This helps in the event that the other driver changes their mind and decides to claim, and also ensures damage is accounted for if you do need to claim after future incidents – damage which is inconsistent with a claim may mean that your claim is denied.

  1. Using more miles than you thought

Your annual mileage is one of the main factors used to calculate your insurance premium; the higher the mileage, the higher the cost. It’s important to be as accurate as possible when providing this figure, rather than just guessing, as it’s possible your insurance provider will decide not to pay a claim if your mileage is higher than what you’ve estimated. When working out how many miles you drive, don’t forget to include weekends away, weekly shopping, etc, and add some contingency miles – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

  1. Driving with pets

If you are driving with your pet in the car,  you are legally required to make sure they are secured. Unsecured pets can make a car more at risk of accidents, as they may distract the driver or even physically get in the way of driving. If you crash with an unsecured pet in the car, it’s likely that your insurance company will refuse to pay for your claim.

  1. Letting other people drive your car

While it’s possible for your friends or family to have insurance policies that allow them to drive other people’s cars, it is unlikely these policies cover damage to the vehicle in the event they are in an accident. It’s more than likely  that your own policy only covers vehicle damage that happens when a named driver is in the car, so while your friend can legally drive it, any accidents that occur may not be able to be claimed for.

  1. You’ve recently changed jobs

Your current occupation is one of the factors used to determine your risk profile, so it’s important to update your insurance company if you have changed jobs or occupations. Failure to do so many mean any claims made after a job change can be denied by your insurer.

  1. Charging for lifts

Some policies specifically exclude cover for car sharing, whether you make profit or not. For those whose policies do allow lift sharing, it may be void if you make a profit from giving lifts – many state you may only make enough to cover petrol and driving costs. Earning money from giving lifts can identify you as a ‘taxi hire service’, making a policy which does not cover this void.

It’s important to always read the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy, to ensure that you have not accidentally invalidated the policy. Keep your insurance provider up to date with any change of circumstances, regardless of whether or not you think it’s relevant, as some seemingly unrelated life changes can impact your premium.

 

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