21 Dec Beyond the box – Technical Services and Support from Academia
Recently, on a cold and rather wet Tuesday in the Academia head office, our Marketing Manager Brad Chuck headed down to the area that has affectionately been nicknamed as the ‘Nerd Cave’ – a centre for all things technical support in the digital age. Amongst the hard drives, microchips and a constant murmur of server devices, Brad found James Dancer, the Technical Director for Academia and invited him for a quick chat about his role, the future and what he likes to eat on a Friday night.
Brad: Hi James, thank you so much for inviting me down to the Technical hub of Academia, how are you today?
James: Busy as ever! But welcome to my office. Please excuse how busy it is, but this really is a typical day down here
B: Not a worry! So James, for the readers of the Educator, who are you and what do you do?
J: Oh, straight into are we? Ok, I am James Dancer, Technical Director of Academia and I look after the Technical Sales and Technical Delivery function of our business, as well as being involved with the Development of our internal systems.
B: Great, so what come on, why is your role at Academia so important?
J: I am sure the Marketing Manager would know….but for the readers, my role is important because it brings everything we do as a business together. We sell a lot of hardware, and in a growing number of instances specific knowledge is needed to integrate and manage it – this is why our Technical Services division was born.
B: So how is this relevant to the Education industry?
J: For any IT department in any Education establishment, we’ve found that the intention is to spend their time finding ways to better serve Education with Technology – trying out new things, looking at how their existing Technology can better aid the curriculum and course content, and researching the latest technology to be on the cutting edge. In reality, we tend to find IT departments spend a lot of their time firefighting – which takes them away from being able to do the things that they want to do. My role exists purely so that Academia can provide services and support to Education establishments to allow IT managers and staff to be more proactive than reactive – we take the burden away.
B: 2018 is looking like a big year in Technology, what from your point of view is the main focus ahead?
J: Security is a huge focus for 2018 – not least because of the GDPR in May (which I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about by now!) but also due to the advancements in attack methodologies and social engineering in the last year or so – just look at how many cryptoware and hacking articles there have been in the news! This makes management of devices so important because if you can’t manage it, you can’t protect it.
B: How do clients react when you discuss device management?
J: Lots of establishments that we talk to don’t know how many Apple devices (or sometimes, any devices) are present on their network. While this is not uncommon by any means, it’s a huge security management no-no – if you don’t have control of the devices, you don’t have control of the data. If you don’t have control of the data, there is no way you can possibly know you have an information security-compliant environment. As a result, we’re expecting to see a lot more customers get on board with Mobile Devices Management across all sectors and platforms.
B: How is your Tech Team, and the services you offer, relevant to the Education industry?
J: While we offer lots of different services, our Bread and Butter in the Education market is the integration and management of Apple devices within a traditional Windows environment. We partner with multiple MDM and Integration software providers, will recommend the best one for the situation and consult on routes and methodologies to ensure all Devices are fully managed and security compliant. We engage right from the “I have no idea how many devices we have, or what they are” conversation through to a fully Managed Service or supported self-service… and everything in between.
B: One thing I have learnt about IT Managers, is that they do not like getting advice on IT. How can you convince them to listen to you?
J: Treat me and my team as an outsourced research service. We spend a lot of time talking to multiple vendors in all realms of technology and have years of experience in testing and implementing their products, so tend to have encountered most situations. We’re a friendly bunch of people, and will always give you the benefit of our experience without you having to go through the pain yourself.
B: A big question I have been urged to ask you…. Xbox or PlayStation?
J: Xbox (or PC). Categorically. Because [answer has been truncated due to excessive length and rambling]
B: And what else does a busy Technical Director do for fun?
J: There is more fun outside of the Xbox? Well, I’m a big fan of Sci-Fi films and TV series, history and especially “hidden London”. Tours of the latter are insane!
B: Are technicians into sport? Do you follow a particular sport of any kind outside of playing computer games?
J: Xbox IS a sport! But I do follow Formula 1 when I can dedicate the time to it!
B: Finally, and it’s a question I always like to ask as they are my 2 favourite foods – what do you prefer, Fish and Chips of Curry and Rice?
J: Curry and Rice. Friday night is curry night!
James Dancer is the Technical Director at Academia and is heading up the new Technical Services team in 2018. To speak with one of his team on how Technical services can help your establishment, please call 01992 703 900 or email Technicalservices@academia.co.uk
Brad Chuck is the Marketing and Press manager for Academia, any enquires can email firstname.lastname@example.org