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5 minutes with… Mark Dodds, Director and Consultant Compex IT

Mark Dodds Compex-IT

Hi Mark, thanks so much for giving us 5 minutes of your time in honour of World Back Up Day.


How long have you been involved in IT?

For about 20 years… since I left college. I’ve always been fascinated by all kinds of technology, spending lots of time tinkering with computers back in the day. I started as a computer operator where my main tasks were to stare at screen making sure something didn’t break and to swap backup tapes. I started taking my Microsoft exams and quickly moved to work for Siemens. Later I worked for a large IT Support provider and I didn’t enjoy it, it lacked the personal approach I liked giving and I felt I could do it differently. I joined up with my now business partner to form Compex IT.


Do you get asked by your friends and family all the time to help them?!

Not as much as it used to be. Maybe they see the scowl on my face ?… I do tend to asked about all types of electrical devices, nothing to do with computers. They seem to think that if I can fix a computer then I must be able to fix a TV.


We met you in your previous role but what do you do in your current role at the moment?

My current role tends to be a mix of technical work and business development work. So one minute I could be helping a client with an IT issue they have and the other I’m creating a lead generation plan. It’s a very varied role which is what I enjoy.


What services do your company Compex IT offer?

We specialise in helping businesses use technology to work smarter, so we not only help support their IT and to make it cyber secure but we also help them use technology to improve the way the business and it’s team works. Most of this is based around Office 365 and using it to it’s full potential to help businesses improve their teams productivity and increase collaboration. The days of having a server in the corner of the room have gone.


What do you think are the most common IT problems that businesses come to you with?

One of the most common problems is that the business owner is concerned about how secure their data is – they need someone to make sure their IT is secure. Cyber security is a huge thing and I think some smaller businesses are realising it’s not just the household names or the enterprises that are targeted. Businesses need to be aware that unfortunately the weakest link is usually their employees and themselves, that’s why user awareness training is very important.


The other issue we get is that a business owner feels frustrated that they can’t use their existing setup to do what they want to be able to do and it feels over complicated. So for example, they want to be able to access an important document when they are out of the office and need to get someone in the office to email it to them. The vision for them is that can instantly get the document wherever they are, whether that be at Starbucks at the motorway services or at a client’s office in Spain.


Mark Dodds Compex-IT


We hear IT terms quite often in our everyday life but Im not sure that we actually understand them! For example, what does ‘the cloud’ and ‘back up’ actually mean?

Ha ha, the cloud can be a difficult to explain in a non-techy way but I’ll give it a go – First, it’s not just one place that’s home to millions of computer files, it’s lots of different places that are all connected to the internet. ‘The Cloud’ refers to a collection of services that can be accessed by your web browser like Google Chrome, all of the information is stored on remote servers. Simply, it means computing that takes place over the internet.


A backup, simply, is a copy of your data to another location so it can be used to restore if it gets deleted or becomes corrupted. To bring both IT terms into this answer, many businesses now backup to the cloud which involves sending a copy of their data over the internet to a server in another location.


Why is it important to back up your systems and what systems should we be backing up?

A backups primary purpose is to recover data after its loss, however that may have happened. If a business has no backup, then, in the event of a disaster, they’d have no data which would be detrimental – Data is a business’s most important asset so it needs to be protected like so.


A business should be backing up data that is important to them, also, GDPR states that organisations are responsible for their ability to recover lost personal data. Also, a common misconception is that if your data is stored in the cloud it’s being backed up but there are handful of reasons why this is not always the case. So if a business is using something like Office 365 for their email and/or data then a  3rd party backup solution is highly recommended.


What is the easiest way for people or businesses to back up their information?

The easiest way is to backup to the cloud, or better known as an online backup. It’ll be fully automated, it’s scalable, they are generally secure against ransomware attacks (where data is locked and payment is demanded to get it back) because they are performed outside of the office network.


We often say that our technological equipment and systems are like our cars or boilers which we all accept need servicing, MOT’s etc but we don’t yet see our websites and computers needing the same care really. As an IT consultant, what would your advice be to businesses about looking after their computer systems?

I believe its about taking a proactive approach. Prevention, is always better than cure and this is especially true when it comes to IT. Traditionally, businesses would buy their own computers and just call someone in if they went wrong. This is reactive support. The biggest problem with this is that it only deals with specific issues and not their IT as a whole. Also, the IT people they call on will have to spend a lot of time troubleshooting and digging around before they can identify the root of the problem so if they are paying by the hour, that’s a lot of wasted money. Proactive support is all about prevention. In the same way that regular servicing of your car will help keep it on the road, proactive IT teams stop problems before they happen. They perform regular checks and constantly monitor systems for glitches and security breaches. You’ll also find there is a holistic approach to IT – it’s about looking at the bigger picture, how you can use IT to gain a competitive advantage for example.


Just one last quick question: As well as backing up is there anything else coming up in the IT world that we need to know about or anything else we should we doing?

In terms of technology, I think using Office 365 to it’s full potential will be something more businesses will need to be harnessing – so many businesses use it just for email and for Word, Excel etc but there is so much more to it than that. Take Microsoft Teams for example, it’s a communications hub that brings chat, video meetings, file storage and application integration together. This enables businesses to communicate and collaborate a lot more effectively.


As for keeping your data secure, there are still many businesses not even doing the basics. Unfortunately, it’s the people who are the weakest link in the chain. Things like enabling multi factor authentication, it’s a really simple way to prove it’s actually you logging in. Most people have had experience with this when logging onto their banking site or app – it sends a text message to your phone with a secret code, that is multi factor authentication in action and it’s easy to setup. Other things people should be doing is using a password management tool like LastPass to protect their passwords. I could go on ?

Thank you so much for your time Mark.


Compex IT help business owners in Birmingham and the West Midlands focus on driving their businesses forward by taking care of all their IT worries and frustrations. For more information please head to www.compexit.co.uk or email mark.dodds@compexit.co.uk


For details on website back ups and making your website more secure visit https://adventuregraphics.co.uk/wordpress-care/ or email hello@adventuregraphics.co.uk


If you would like to take part in ‘5 minutes with…’ drop us a line at hello@adventuregraphics.co.uk. We’d love to hear from you.

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