While many enterprises are digging their heads in the sand with the imminent end to support of our beloved Windows XP, the field-based IT team at TNS have been working hard on a new software platform for their 750 market researchers to upgrade to Windows 7 on their existing hardware.

They have seen the sense of urgency because after April 8, Windows XP will no longer receive new security updates or non-security hotfixes and with security high on the agenda for TNS, this was a date to be beaten.

Ipsos Mori, TNS and Kantar, three of the top five market research companies in the United Kingdom all share one thing in common (core business aside). They outsource their laptop and hand held support for every single one of their 'in the field' workers and researchers to a small medium enterprise (SME) Sussex based business, TEK Express Ltd (www.tekexpress.co.uk). Not only does this buck the current trend to outsource support services overseas, it also demonstrates that a highly focussed and specialized SME has enough skill and capacity to successfully rise to the challenge.

Learn more about Tek Express's Core Management System, Lucy.

There are many ways in which hardware asset management can assist organisations employing large teams of field workers and home based staff. Our own hardware asset management software – Lucy – helps our clients to save money, reduce downtime and maintain software compliance. If you are looking for a system to help you manage your inventory, there are certain key elements you need to ensure are in place. These include:

Windows XP has been the OS of choice since August 2001 when it was first released but now, the end is in sight with just 6 months before Microsoft stop supporting it altogether! Reports show that a staggering 40% of enterprise businesses are not set to upgrade to the next operating system by the 8th April 2014 - the official date when the support is withdrawn. We believe, in the main, this is because the step to upgrading software will not only cost businesses in licencing but for many, the hardware will also need to be refreshed as Window 7 cannot be supported on the existing hardware platforms.

But what will it cost businesses when the security updates cease from that date? And then of course, in time, software updates from other vendors such as the browsers we use daily, will become incompatible to XP. XP was a good OS but times change and now a decade down the line with the growing mobile device era, it just cannot meet the demands of the ever changing IT landscape.

Jean Forster has been a Kantar Operations market researcher for over 6 years. Unlike many of the Kantar field force, Jean works full time - it's not unusual for her to work a six day week and a 10 hour day. In addition to looking after herself so that she can tread the boards across an area that covers 120 miles, she has to make sure that her laptop is fit - and if it's not, that a replacement is quick to hand.

Says Jane "I love my job at Kantar. My role is to secure interviews with people who have received a random survey, mainly a social government one. Sending out the survey letter is the easy part - it's then down to me to knock on that person's door and fix an appointment to interview them".

Our cloud-based core management tool, Lucy, helps our clients to budget accurately and reduce IT expenditure by at least 20%.

If you operate a business with many field and home based staff you are likely to understand the importance of effectivehardware asset management. For businesses employing large teams of staff, keeping track of all your mobile devices, including laptops, tablets and phones, can be a laborious process without the right management technology in place.

TEK Express have yet again been selected as finalists for the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards for Customer Delight. Having been a finalist three years running, the 13 year old Crawley based company are delighted to be in the top 3 once again!

Says Sam Francis, Managing Director of TEK Express, "we are thrilled to be nominated yet again for such a respected and sought after prize. The team fully embrace our approach to customer service and this award reflects the dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism displayed by all of them. 

The BYOD trend was one of the most talked about subjects in IT last year and the popularity of the movement shows no signs of diminishing in 2014. However, many businesses are concerned about the potential cost implications of allowing staff to use their own devices. Here are eight top tips for implementing your BYOD programme cost effectively.

1. Establish A Clear BYOD Policy

Whether you plan to implement a basic or comprehensive BYOD strategy, it's critical to establish clear policies from the outset. There are numerous financial questions that need to be considered in the process of setting your policy.

Will you provide stipends to employees for purchasing mobile devices of their choice? Will you cap mobile usage allowance? What level of technical support will you provide? How will you repair and replace faulty devices? A poorly constructed BYOD policy which doesn't address these questions could lead to spiralling costs further down the line.

In recent years there has been explosive growth in the number of employees using mobile devices such as tablets, laptops and phones to fulfil their job roles. However, access to business email alone is insufficient for many mobile staff. Increasing the productivity of your mobile workforce requires consideration of numerous strategic, technical and inter-personal challenges.

Increasing the productivity of your mobile workforce is especially challenging for businesses with large teams of people in the field. Here are some top tips for greater efficiency:

When your laptop goes under the knife, make sure TEK Express operates!

"If our engineers were in the medical profession, they'd be the specialist surgeons."That's how confident joint business proprietor Sam Francis is about the service, quality and devotion that TEK Express or otherwise known as The Laptop Specialists commit to customer care."Laptop repairs, servicing and support are our lifeblood," says Sam Francis one of the founders and Joint Managing Director. "We are totally focused on it." One reason why the Crawley based company, who celebrate twelve years of business this year, was both winner of the "Green Business of the Year" category and finalist for the "Customer Delight" category of the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards, presented by Rory Bremner and held at Copthorne Effingham hotel."

TEK Express offer advice and support to businesses still using or looking to upgrade from Windows XP.

Since Microsoft officially closed support for Windows XP in April of this year, we have been offering advice and support to clients who have yet to upgrade their devices from the popular 13 year old operating system. We're sometimes asked why it might be necessary to upgrade and what the benefits for doing so are. So, we've created a short guide on the reasons for upgrading and the key things to consider through the upgrade process.

The BYOD ("bring-your-own-device") trend of recent years has presented numerous security and deployment issues for IT security departments. COPE ("corporate owned, personally enabled") aims to bridge the gap in these areas, without imposing too many restrictions on the employee. For businesses employing large teams of field based staff, a COPE strategy can be deployed very efficiently using TEK Express's mobile device management solution.

Early adopters of BYOD policies identified potentially huge cost savings in terms of upfront capital expense. However, some of these organisations may not have been prepared for the significant increase in costs in terms of supporting the multitude of devices chosen by their employees. Added to that is the problem of all the personal applications and software used on these devices and the reticence on the part of the employee for these devices to be managed using MDM (mobile device management) software.

For the first time, NatCen have looked to outsource the support of their field researchers to TEK Express. NatCen are Britain's largest independent social research agency. For the last 40 years they have worked on behalf of government and charitie organisations to find out what people really think about important social issues and how Britain is run.

It was when Stuart Chapman, Director of Facilities and IT discovered that TEK supported some of their largest competitors that he needed to know how TEK could benefit his company. After a couple of visits, he soon realised by outsourcing the support to TEK, his team would be freed up to drive necessary improvements within the business and at the same time, he could shave £20,000 in support costs from his budget in the first year alone. The outsourced contract involves the following support for their field based workers;