Trustmarque and Dell Technologies: delivering for customers
IT solutions provider Trustmarque is laser-focused on customers, as Andrew Downes, Head of Strategic Partnerships, explains. “We provide customer-centric IT solutions which enable our customers to run their businesses more efficiently and give them a competitive edge in whatever marketplace that they happen to work in. We have six key go-to markets, really, namely cloud and data center, modern workplace IT, asset management, security, RPA and data and analytics.” The company has a strong heritage serving public sector customers, but the corporate side of the business is growing fast. “One of the things that stands us apart from our competition is the depth of technical knowledge that we have. We offer professional and managed services alongside the IT hardware and software that we provide to our customers. We really like to think of ourselves as an extension of our customers’ IT departments.”
As a 20-year veteran of the industry, Downes has seen plenty of innovation. “The rate of change is phenomenal. I think it's actually one of the reasons that people get involved in the business in the first place. In my time, the biggest accelerant for that change that we've seen has been around the adoption of cloud technologies.” He emphasises that it isn’t enough for IT solution providers to merely keep up with the rate of change. “You need to stay ahead of it so that you’re best placed to advise your customers and guide them through new technologies as they come to market. What we're seeing further down the line is the adoption of AI and RPA technologies, which are promising to deliver huge efficiency gains, hence why we’ve expanded our capabilities in that area.”
Trustmarque is a trusted partner of Dell Technologies, holding Titanium partner status within Dell’s partner programme. “We're one of the most accredited partners in the UK, with a specialism in unstructured data storage and next-gen cloud elastic storage,” says Downes. “We were the first Dell partner in the UK to sell both Isilon and the object storage platform ECS - with us being the only partner accredited in the UK to deploy ECS.” As a key strategic partner, Downes emphasises that Dell is a keystone vendor with which Trustmarque collaborates closely. “We're working to deliver the best possible outcome for our customers, so we need to be working together to draw on the technical knowledge within the vendor themselves. Needless to say 2020 has thrown up some unique challenges such as massive supply chain disruption. So close communication with the vendor from that perspective was also absolutely key to ensure that project delivery and timescales were unaffected or adjusted accordingly.”
Downes reiterates that the future heralds an acceleration in its customers’ digital transformation strategies, not least due to the events of 2020. “A great example of that has been in some of our healthcare customers, where we've seen cloud adoption like we've never seen before.” Also coming down the line are new and transformative technologies, such as the rollout of 5G. “We're also going to have a more disparate workforce than we've ever seen, which throws up its own security challenges,” says Downes. “That’s why we're working with Dell to facilitate this new working environment as part of their Workplace Redefined initiative.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”