ESOS What is the Truth?

When the UK administration introduced its ESOS Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme reactions from business people followed a familiar theme.

  • Do nothing it will go away
  • The next Westminster will drop this
  • Another stealth tax. I don’t have time for this
  • Give the problem to admin and tell them to fix it

ecovaro decided to share three facts with you. These are

(1) ESOS is not a government money spinner

(2) all major political parties support it, and

(3) it is a cost-effective way to put money back in your pocket while feeling better about what business pumps into the environment.

Four More ESOS Facts

1. You Cannot Give the Problem to Admin ? Energy is technical. The lead belongs with your operations staff because they understand how your systems work. Some things are best outsourced though. ecovaro is here to help.

2. ESOS is Not Going to Go Away ? A company inside the regulation net must submit its first report by 6 December 2015. Non-compliance risks the following penalties:

  • ?5,000 for not maintaining adequate records
  • ?50,000 for not completing the assessment
  • ?50,000 for making a false or misleading statement

3. The Employee Count is the Annual Average – The employment criteria (unlike balance sheet and turnover) is the monthly average of full and part-time employees taken across the full financial year. The fact you have <250 employees in December 2015 when the first report is due does not necessarily let you off the hook.

4. The 6 December 2014 Report is No Big Deal ? When you think about it the administration is hardly likely to spend years wading through 9,000 detailed company energy plans. It has no authority to comment in any case. All that is required is for a senior director to confirm reading the document, and a lead assessor to agree it complies with the law.

Does this mean that ESOS is a damp squib? We do not think so, although some firms may take the low road. ecovaro believes the financial benefits will carry the process forward, and that the imperative to make the world a better place will do the rest.

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How SOA can help Transformation

Undoubtedly, today’s business leaders face myriad challenges ranging from fierce market competition to increasing market unpredictability. In addition, the modern consumer is more informed and in control of what, where and how they purchase. Couple these challenges with effects of globalization, and you will appreciate that need for business transformation is more of a necessity than a privilege.

As recent business trends show, top companies are characterized by organizational and operational agility. Instead of being shaken by rapid technological changes and aftershocks associated with market changes, they are actually invigorated by these trends. In order to survive in these turbulent times, business leaders are opting to implement corporate transformation initiatives to develop leaner, more agile and productive operations. In line with this, service oriented architecture (SOA) has emerged as an essential IT transformation approach for implementing sustainable business agility.

By definition, service oriented architecture is a set of principles and techniques for developing and designing software in form of business functionalities. SOA allows users to compile together large parts of functionality to create ad hoc service software entirely from the template software. This is why it is preferred by CIOs that are looking to develop business agility. It breaks down business operations into functional components (referred to as services) that can be easily and economically merged and reused in applicable scenarios to meet evolving business needs. This enhances overall efficiency, and improves organizational interconnectivity.

SOA identifies shortcomings of traditional IT transformation approaches that were framed in monolithic and vertical silos all dependent on isolated business units. The current business environment requires that individual business units should be capable of supporting multiple types of users, multiple communication channels and multiple lines of business. In addition, it has to be flexible enough to adapt to changing market needs. In case one is running a global business enterprise, SOA-enabled business transformation can assist in achieving sustainable agility and productivity through a globally integrated IT platform. SOA realizes its IT and business benefits by adopting a design and analyzing methodology when developing services. In this sense a service consists of an independent business unit of functionality that is only available through a defined interface. Services can either be in the form of nano-enterprises or mega-enterprises.

Furthermore, with SOA an organization can adopt a holistic approach to solve a problem. This is because the business has more control over its functions. SOA frees the organization from constraints attributed to having a rigid single use application that is intricately meshed into a fragmented information technology infrastructure. Companies that have adopted service oriented architecture as their IT transformation approach, can easily repurpose, reorganize and rescale services on demand in order to develop new business processes that are adaptable to changes in the business environment. In addition, it enables companies to upgrade and enhance their existing systems without incurring huge costs associated with ‘rip and replace’ IT projects.

In summary, SOA can be termed as the cornerstone of modern IT transformation initiatives. If properly implemented great benefits and a sharp competitive advantage can be achieved. SOA assists in transforming existing disparate and unconnected processes and applications into reusable services; creating an avenue where services can be rapidly reassembled and developed to support market changes.

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The Cloud: Changing the Game for Small Businesses

There is a consensus among cloud experts that the onset of cloud computing will benefit small organisations the most. In fact, many even go as far as saying that the cloud and small businesses are a match made in IT heaven. How much of this is true and how much of this is merely part and parcel of the hype surrounding cloud computing?

The Cloud as the Great?Equaliser

If you closely examine the essential characteristics of cloud computing, particularly public cloud services, you will see why small organisations would be very interested in the cloud, and would eventually flock to it, like moths to a flame. And why not? Cloud computing is turning out to be the weapon that can allow small and medium organisations to compete on a more level playing field against large enterprises.

Here are some cloud computing benefits that may just close the gap between the two.

  • Significantly lower IT spending. With little to no investment at all on hardware infrastructure and practically zero maintenance costs, SMBs that would have required substantial capital for IT are now finding it easy to get a business started from scratch or develop and test out new products by using the cloud as the backbone of their IT set-up. The pay-as-you-go pricing scheme that cloud computing offers allows companies to start small and scale up as needed, or when the revenue starts coming in.
  • Higher employee productivity. Licensing fees for software applications can run high even if you don’t have a large staff. Good thing there are now a host of cloud-based office tools – word processors, spreadsheets, presentations, accounting systems, etc. – that can boost employee productivity without the corresponding costs that small businesses can ill afford. Plus, team members in remote locations can continue to collaborate with the rest through any internet-connected device in real time.
  • Easier, better communication. The easy accessibility of communication apps has also changed the way employees interact with fellow employees and more importantly, with customers. Whether through email, instant messaging, or social networks, cloud services have given individuals and businesses more ways of giving and getting feedback. The best thing about it is that most of these services don’t cost much or are even free, giving SMBs ample tools to create better products and improve service.
  • A Look at the Figures Many small businesses are already seeing the potential in the cloud, with SaaS (Software as a Service) applications most commonly used among the early adopters. These services include email and other communication apps, file sharing, and backup.

In a February 2012 Edge Strategies survey (commissioned by Microsoft) of 3,000 small businesses in the US, the following data came to light:

  • The number of small companies with 2 to 10 employees using paid cloud services will triple in the next three years;
  • Current cloud users report purchasing an average of 4 services in the cloud now and expect to use 6 in the future;
  • Fifty percent agree that cloud computing is going to become more important for businesses such as theirs.

Further, a survey of 323 SMBs recently released by social business site Spiceworks and sponsored by EMC reveals that from 48 percent at the start of 2012 and 28 percent a year ago, 62 percent of the businesses surveyed now use some type of cloud app.

What these numbers show is that cloud adoption among small and medium enterprises is starting to gain ground and for sure, more will do the same as understanding and awareness increase. Yes, these businesses should still perform their due diligence as there is no one-size-fits-all cloud solution. But for those companies who have managed to find the right cloud apps and services for their needs, it’s all sunny skies up ahead.

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Excel Spreadsheet Conversion to SQL Reports

Spreadsheets are flexible, inexpensive and easy to use. They are especially handy when it comes to beating report submission deadlines or making impromptu data computations.

Unfortunately, organisations heavy reliance on spreadsheets have made these User Developed Applications (UDA) into high-risk office tools. Simple spreadsheet errors like leaving out a negative sign or a cut-and-paste mistake have already caused million-dollar discrepancies. Also, when a fraudulent employee enters into the picture, the risks become unimaginable.
Think TransAlta’s spreadsheet cut-and-paste glitch (the company later called this a ‘simple clerical error’) which caused the energy firm a whopping $24 million loss or Fidelity’s overstatement of its earnings owing to the omission of the minus sign on the spreadsheet of a $1.3 billion net capital loss.

Denizon can convert your Excel Spreadsheets to a web based SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). It does not import Excel data, rather it allows the creation and deployment of reports in a more efficient manner by querying the data.

So what is the problem with Spreadsheets?

  • Plagued with risk issues and vulnerable to fraud
  • Lacking in control features especially when copied, edited and emailed between many users
  • A burden to regulation compliance e.g. SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley)
Moreover:
  • Accidental copy-paste/Omission of a negative sign/Erroneous range selection
  • Incorrect data input or unintentional deletion of a character, cell, range, column, or row
  • Possibility of the user working on the wrong version
  • Prone to inconsistent company-wide reporting
  • Often ‘defenceless’ against unauthorised access

See Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets

What makes SQL Server Reporting Services better than Spreadsheets?

  • Free from spreadsheet risks & equipped with built-in controls that substantially reduce risks to data
  • Less prone to fraud
  • More suitable for regulatory compliance e.g. SOX
  • Designed for an agile business environment

Automatic consolidation eliminates errors and wasted time caused by tedious copy-pasting of data and linking of cells
Better collaboration capabilities allows team members to bring their heads together for planning, budgeting, and reporting even while on the go
Mobility support enables users to input data or retrieve information through their wireless mobile device

Superior sharing features ensures that everyone is exactly on the same page and viewing real-time information
Dashboards provide insightful information at-a-glance through KPIs, graphs, and various metrics
Drill-downs enable users to investigate unusual figures and gain a better understanding of the details that contribute to the big picture
Easy to learn interfaces allow your organisation to cope with fast personnel turnaround or Mergers & Acquisitions

Don’t know how to shift from Spreadsheets to SQL Server Reporting Services?

We’ve got the knowledge and expertise to assist you in:

  • Making a smooth and cost-efficient transition from risky spreadsheets to reliable reports
  • Designing and implementing SOX-compliant report-generating methods and procedures
  • Putting exposure to high-risk reporting methods a thing of the past

Ready to work with Denizon?