20/20 Vision: Illuminating Risks Through Innovative Solutions5 January 2023
January saw Landform Surveys initial integration meeting with NexGen, Lucion Group’s Business Operating System, for all project and client-related data reporting. This is the third acquisition to complete its project management integration process within the last 6 months, signifying the continued development of the NexGen evolution.
Following their initial integration meeting, the team at Landform Surveys will be using NexGen's automated invoicing system, unlocking NexGen's operation and project analytics, facilitating efficient stream-lined project management.
Following this essential step and the successful onboarding of both Aberdeen Radiation Protection Services and Delta-Simons onto NexGen late last year, NexGen Development Manager Paul Hayball provided key insight on what it takes to create a secure, robust and accessible software system and why opting out of suppliers utilising third-party software facilitates resilience and growth during economic uncertainty.
20/20 Vision: Illuminating Risks Through Innovative Solutions
Do you know what would happen if your server burned down tomorrow?
- Over half of all companies only keep one backup of their data.
- Over a third have no backup at all.
- If that's you, if your server burned down, you would lose everything.
- 93% of companies that lost their data for 10 days or more filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% filed for bankruptcy immediately.
Contrast this with a more secure, robust, accessible system, built on modern technology, such as NexGen. NexGen is Lucion Group’s business operating software, built on the web, for the web, provided freely to our clients with our range of risk and environmental management services. We host over 240GB of critical project data, and 19TB (19,000GB) of images on our system. We transfer over 50GB of raw data a day, not including images. If you wrote our daily raw data transfer down on paper, this would equate to a stack of books that would reach out into space as far as the international space station. With this much data moving about every day, we ensure our software and backups are watertight.
We replicate our data across the globe. Even a meteor couldn't stop us. If our primary data centre went up in flames right now, a stand-by is ready and waiting to take over within minutes. We can roll back to any 5-minute window in the last 31 days at the click of a button.
This is all possible because NexGen uses standard, modern, cloud technologies. Proper backups aren’t just best practices, they’re a must. If you have data you can’t afford to lose, you should expect this as standard in both your own software and your suppliers' software.
Unlike many suppliers, NexGen is developed entirely in-house. We are a core part of the Lucion Group and the primary operating system for the entire Group of companies. In the beginning, we developed our system primarily for our own operations, facilitating our teams around the world. NexGen proved itself to be robust. And in time, this robustness proved useful to the end client, where we now offer NexGen as a free software solution with our services.
Taken together, robustness, security, and accessibility make up the three main areas you need to consider with any technology in your business.
- Robust is moving with the current technology, it should be standard.
- Secure is considering the implications of a moving technology space, it should be standard.
- Accessible is leveraging current technologies to transform your data into a product that affects impactful change. This is innovation, and it takes investment risk.
Have you ever walked into an office and seen screens covered in sticky notes? And how many of those sticky notes give you all the information you need to log in and start fiddling with the data? Security is hard to identify, hard to implement, and even harder to assess. You may have the best intentions, asking a supplier if they are secure. But you are probably not a security expert.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get an expert to assess the security of everything you use? Luckily, this already exists! We have Cyber Essentials Plus, which means we’ve had our system poked and prodded by experts. We have the credential because we passed the tests.
Accessing your information is a moving goalpost. As technology moves forward, new doors open. The hazardous materials industry has historically had a problem with the accessibility of information, struggling to find the risks relevant to you whilst on premises. You could go find the printed report. Or download the report online and read through that. Even better if you connected to our portal you could search through the data tree. Scroll down through the list of rooms; open the one you're in; read through the list of items and check for anything risky.
If you're sitting there thinking that sounds long-winded, I agree.
A few years ago we had a eureka moment. NexGen has always been fully cloud-based, so our survey data has always been available online shortly after it was collected. We realised we already had the scaffolding in place to skip all of those steps. We developed QR codes we can print on-site, during a survey, in a room, that will shortcut you straight to the information you need. In hindsight, it was a no-brainer. Within a month we started trialling the QR code labels and never looked back.
If you’re looking to build your software in-house or want to figure out if your supplier is all their website makes them out to be, you need to be thinking about and asking about innovation.
It is said that if you are standing still, you are moving backwards. Leveraging current technologies to improve accessibility, means innovation. To innovate in any arena you need two things, an idea, and the time to make it work. We are all busy people, so our time isn't free. It costs us all the other things we could be doing. Spending valuable time on an unproven idea is a risk, but it's worth it.
As a team of software developers, we build prototypes. A prototype is like a bet, in poker. I believe my idea is strong, so I bet 1 week of my time that it will pay off and build a prototype. Even if only 1 in four of these prototypes actually pays off, I've spent one month and come up with a winner. If I never even consider projects that have a 25% chance of paying off, I'm missing out on a wealth of possibilities.
We have a culture of rapid prototyping. Take a week, build the smallest working part, a proof of concept. There is a balance to find between planning and implementing. There is a fantastic phrase, "A camel is a horse designed by committee". If you want a horse, define your scope clearly, have a vision, and stick to it. Start simple, build the smallest working part. Fail fast. Fail often. When a proof of concept clicks, you will know. Avoid falling into the sunk cost fallacy. Have you ever realised halfway through a meal that you’re full, but carried on and finished the dish anyway because “you don’t want it to go to waste”? This is the sunk cost fallacy. Don’t waste any more time than you have on something that doesn’t work.
When you are on to a winner, go all in. If something passes the proof of concept phase, invest in it. Invest smartly, and remember the good/fast/cheap triangle. If you want a good product and you want it fast, it won't be cheap. If you want to build something good, it will be expensive, or it will be slow. Don’t waste an opportunity by trying to build something fast and cheap, the end result will not be good.
So how does NexGen fit into the triangle? Well, it's no secret. Lucion’s services aren’t the cheapest. And we wouldn’t want to be, we want to offer the best quality and the most value to our clients. We are interested in business resilience and, when it comes to your suppliers, you should be too. Cheap is not sustainable. By investing in NexGen, we don’t just ensure our business resilience, we support yours too.
As you look to procure any new software for your business, there are three things I want you to take away.
First, ask your providers:
- Is it secure?
- Is it robust?
- Is it accessible?
Don’t accept anything less, your data depends on it.
Second, embrace innovation. Is it accessible? Remember, this is a moving target. There is no such thing as standing still; you are either moving forward or you are moving backwards. You have the power to drive the industry forward, by demanding more from your software solutions.
Thirdly, vet your suppliers. Ask them about their software. If you have data relying on their systems, and their software is procured and run by a third-party vendor and so on and so forth, you’re at risk. Only one domino needs to fall for the rest to tumble.
For our clients, NexGen makes us, the Lucion Group, resilient as a business and therefore a safe choice of supplier. Having proprietary software means Lucion isn't spending money on third-party software. Our developments don’t stagnate in the face of economic uncertainty. We can continue to facilitate growth and adapt with speed.
About The Author
Paul Hayball is Lucion Group's in-house NexGen Development Manager. He is the architect of our award-winning, Cyber Essentials Plus certified online business operating system, NexGen.
Paul has over 10 years of experience in designing, building, and implementing software, cloud infrastructure, and data migrations. He works closely with our clients and our staff, ensuring NexGen development goals align with the overall goals of the business, and prioritising the NexGen team development and workflow.
The NexGen team has successfully integrated multiple business-doubling acquisitions. They built the tools to collect, manage, and analyse project data from across the globe, and integrated data with tens of third-party databases and platforms.
T: +44 (0)345 5040 303
Linkedin: Paul Hayball
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