Archive for the ‘Technical’ Category

Social Media in the Modern Workplace.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it! Ok the last example was a lie, but the all-encompassing behemoth of Social Media is, whether you like it or not, here to stay.

When a service has got to the point where my Mum is using it, there is no going back. It’s not too far off the truth to say that she contacts most of the family via Facebook now, foregoing the phone. It’s a shift in how families communicate and in my eyes a welcome, more convenient one.

However, all is not rosy in the garden. Too often we have read in the papers about celebrity faux pas exposed on Twitter and other networks. More often than not this is a case of drink-fuelled quick-fingery on their Blackberry and after the initial media furore their agent smooths things and we go away and wait for the next mistake. (Schadenfreude is a great thing). Normally the only result of this is free publicity for the star.

In business however, badly handled social network interaction can often result in actual harm to the company, be it in reputation or monetary loss, and this is when done as a deliberate act of marketing!

Conversely, well-done social media interaction brings the customer in to a much closer relationship with the company. Mobile Telco’s are a good example of this, with at least Vodafone, O2 and Three using Social Media platforms to assist with customer support. A personal example of this is my interaction with 3 when asking about an update to an Android handset I own. They responded within an hour which was refreshing.

What happens when you unleash the great-unwashed on the social networks during company time? Thankfully in the majority of times, nothing -however… According to the Ponemon Institute, a recent survey of company IT professionals revealed that 63% think that social media puts an organisation at risk and most IT managers monitor or block social network use.

Really though, is social media usage in the work place a totally bad thing? Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, commented:

“I suspect there’s more than one reason why staff are using social networking sites at work. Of course, there will always be people who take advantage, but bear in mind that employees in the States and the UK work very long hours, so they have to spend some time while at work to organise their lives”.

It could be argued that social media usage during the working day is a stress reliever, a healthier alternative to a smoke break maybe.

Whatever your thoughts, there are some things that definitely should be considered:

  • Is there a chance of data leakage?
  • Is there productivity loss?
  • Do you have a social media policy?
  • Can you control it?

Every company should be thinking seriously about social media in the workplace, and how it affects them. Steps taken now will undoubtedly save corporate face later.

Don’t be too quick to shut the gate on social media though. A happy employee is an efficient employee!

Now, just off to update my Facebook status, my Twitter feed, my Tumblr blog, oh and I have a couple of pictures to upload to Flickr… and I MUST not forget to check-in on FourSquare…


Mark Thomas, is 40, Mayor of his local take-away and hates being disconnected from the hive-mind. Follow him here – where all his spoutings are his own and in no way associated with First Option Technologies.

Celebrating LEO, the world’s first business computer.

Friday, November 18th, 2011

This year marks the 60th anniversary of LEO, the world’s first business computer—built by J.Lyons & Co, a leading British food manufacturer at the time that also ran a famous chain of tea shops.

Lyons management had long been keen to streamline their back-office operations. In 1947, two Lyons managers visited the U.S. to learn about the latest business processes, including whether the electronic computers they’d heard about during their wartime service, like ENIAC, might be useful. (At the time, the closer-to-home advances at Bletchley Park were still a well-kept military secret.)

They returned inspired by the possibilities and keen to build a machine of their own. After several years of development, LEO, a.k.a. Lyons Electronic Office, took on its first office job on November 17, 1951—weekly valuations for the bakery division, calculating margins on Lyon’s output of bread, cakes and pies.

LEO: Celebrating the Pioneers


Source: Google Blog

Pictures from the Ford Dealer Technical Conference

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Pictures from the Conference

DTC2010 – What FOT can do for your dealership.

Monday, December 6th, 2010

We are going to be at The Dealer Technology Conference 2010 this year. This unique event is aimed at raising the awareness of technologies available for use by Ford dealers and technologies being used today by customers and prospects.

DTC2010 is on December 7th and is being held here:

Henry Ford College

Google Maps Link

Here is what you can expect from our offering, DealerSecure:-

    Ford CDS Access

We have been providing FORD retail dealers and fleets with CDS access and full 24×365 support for over 10 years. As the leading provider of CDS access, our job is to get you working and keep you working, regardless of which DMS you use.

    Public Internet Connectivity

With the freedom to choose your own internet access provider comes the opportunity to expand the service and reduce costs. But not all broadband connections are the same. “Cheap as chips” doesn’t sound so good when it takes twice as long to complete a vital process because the connection is struggling. We deliver leading business quality broadband without breaking the bank.


Getting out onto the internet is critical. And so also is stopping all those who want to get into your systems. But it’s not a “set and forget” task. It’s a fast moving and ever-changing world. We will manage your vital firewall, working with your existing hardware or providing you with the leading SME firewall solution from Watchguard.


Your firewall can’t stop all hostile internet traffic from entering your systems. Clearly you want your email, and that’s often the easiest entry point. So we partner with F-Secure for the best business anti-virus solution, with the industry’s fastest AV updates.

    Email System

It’s not just about the email program on your desktop. There’s the critical server too which needs management. Whether you want the conventional Microsoft Exchange, or the innovative Google Apps service, or even your own Linux system, we will set it up and maintain it for you.


Losing a computer by accident or through theft is never pleasant. It’s a lot worse if your precious customer and business data is then in someone else’s hands. We provide the proven Alertsec system with full 24×7 support to give you full access without letting everyone else have it too.


Cloud computing brings you flexibility, power and savings. But business data deserves more than just a user-name and password. Heavy access control systems will destroy the flexibility and cost reductions you’re seeking. With the innovative FireID product, you can keep the flexibility saving s which cloud computing offers. And stay safe!

See you there!

The FOT Ford Dealer Liaison Team
Twitter @fo_tech

What’s Hot in Social Media This Week?

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

What’s going on this week?

Source: mashable

I remember when this was all floppies…

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Windows is 25 tomorrow. Now I feel old. – Happy Birthday!

Zen and the art of Help-desk.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”
–Ernest Hemingway

Most of the funny help-desk stories you read are fiction based largely in fact. They make good reading and can bring a smile to your face, but there is often an underlying issue. The customer has a problem with X but does not have the technical know-how to communicate this sufficiently to the help-desk and a lot of the time the engineer doesn’t help the situation; either by not taking the situation seriously, or latching onto an idea and running with it without considering the whole picture.

In an ideal world a help-desk operative would be one-third engineer, one-third mind reader and a final third psychologist!

Our help-desk services have grown over many years into the company you see before you and a lot of this success is down to the fact we really listen. With comprehension comes understanding and once a problem is understood it is well on its way to resolution.

Often the best way is to take a step back and look at the situation from a high level. It can be quite easy to get lost in detail. Sometimes it really is a case of have you turned it off and on again. Yes, you may laugh but you would be surprised how many times this fixes a problem.

Being a good listener is not the be-all and end-all either. You must know your limits.

Stubbornness can often be a mixed blessing when it comes to help-desk work. You want to see the problem through from the initial customer contact to a successful outcome but you are pushing your knowledge to its limits. This can cause the problem to drag on longer than it ought to.

There is nothing wrong in saying you have tried to resolve the issue but it has beaten you. Pass it over to a colleague with more knowledge of the issue and learn from the experience.

Finally you need to understand that the customer is not calling deliberately to annoy you (well, not all of them…). They genuinely have a problem that is interrupting their ability to work and you are their lifebelt.

So it’s not always about the technology. It’s about the people.

“Only those who respect the personality of others can be of real use to them”
–Albert Schweitzer