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Don’t panic! But don’t hide either.

Don’t hide from the risk of Cyber fraud

Have you seen the news this morning? Apparently, everyone who has Smart devices in their home is at risk from cyber fraud.  This isn’t a new story, in fact it’s one that’s regurgitated every few months to alert the general public to the fact that there is a risk.

If you take the headline on face value you’ll perhaps panic, if you don’t know a lot about the technology, you’ll perhaps panic, and if you know little about cyber security you’ll perhaps panic.  Don’t.  Take this as an opportunity to educate yourself about the risk and review the products you have installed at home.

Take control

If you have a great range of disparate IoT products (Amazon Alexa, Smart TV, Ring doorbell etc) all connecting separately to your wifi – each being controlled by its own app and perhaps not effectively password protected – the chances of you getting hacked are certainly greater than someone who has invested in a home control system, such as Control4.

Home control systems that are networked and properly secured using firewalls and encryption reduce the risk of hacking dramatically.  They ensure that you have full control of your entire Smart set-up, that it is a secure as it can be, and that your products are as efficient and integrated as possible.

Find an expert who can help

Technology is moving at warp speed and it’s important that you stay on top of the possibilities, whether your tech-savvy or not. The reality is, though, if you’re already bogged down by what life throws at you on a daily basis, use today’s headline to inform yourself of what the possible risk is. And if you’re worried that you’re not investing in your home cyber security as well as you could do, get in touch.

Collaboration in Action

An image of the Ugot logo and the My VIP Card logo to demonstrate collaborative working

Collaborate: To work jointly on an activity or project.

co-operate, join (up), join forces, team up, get together, come together,
band together, work together, work jointly, participate, unite, combine, merge, link, ally, associate, amalgamate, integrate, form an alliance,
pool resources, club together.

One of the biggest thing we’re advocates of is supporting local businesses, and with that in mind we’re proud to announce that we’re now a Business Partner of the Hampshire based, award winning My VIP Card. The My VIP Card connects the public with local businesses who provide excellent service and unique products with the perk of providing a discount just for shopping locally!

What’s the benefit?

The aim of the card is simple, to help local businesses and to save money.  Did you know that £1 spent with a small or medium-sized local business, 63p stays in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business?

Also, local businesses support local causes, clubs and events, and without local businesses investment (with sponsorship or provision of premises for example) many local community groups could not exist. By joining the My VIP Card scheme and offering discounts to loyal customers we’re ensuring this trend continues.

Save money, support local

Picture of man holding piggybank with money around him on the table.  By fabian banks on Unsplash

My VIP Card holders are entitled to a 10% discount on any Smart installations, this can be either for commercial or domestic projects, and a 5% discount at our online store at www.ugotonline.co.uk

“Support each other and support your local economy”

Building Relationships

Another massive benefit of being a member of the My VIP Card is that we are one of many Business Partners and we work together to support one another. Remember that apple pie I mentioned last week? We all have the satisfaction of knowing we have someone to share it with!

Teamwork makes the dream work

Use your differences to collaborate for the best outcome.

Let’s face it, the first thing everyone does when they create a marketing plan is look at their SWOT analysis. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It is essential to know what all of these are because they help clarify what it is you offer and to whom. But I’ve noticed a massive shift in thinking since I qualified in marketing some (ahem) 20..ish years ago working for Big Blue (IBM for anyone under 30 before you Google it – they used to sell computers once upon a time). Where there used to be a mass of negative thinking about the competition (they might steal our business, let’s hammer them, we are better than them because…) collaboration is now key.

Never before has it been so important to embrace others in your industry. I’m a member of a number of collaborative business groups (Hampshire Women’s Business Group, Collabor8, and My VIP Card to name a few) and the most positive thing I experience from all of them is how much people want, and need to collaborate nowadays. We all want a piece of the pie but surely you want the piece of the pie that you like the most? Personally I want the sweet, flaky pastry. You on the other hand probably want that warm, sticky apple oozing from the centre. You see, I’d happily eat the whole lot but I’d most enjoy my favourite bit, that’s the bit I get the most satisfaction from.

You can do it, but should you do it?

So let’s apply this to the working environment, home cinema installations are a perfect example. Many a tradesperson could happily source a projector and screen, install the electrics, paint the walls, lay a laminate floor and present your ‘Home Cinema’. But you’d be throwing away money because it may look good, it may even be cheap, but acoustically it would be awful. And when the Home Cinema experience is all about hearing and seeing a movie in the way it was intended by the Director, you’d end up asking yourself why your tradesperson didn’t offer you a better service in the first place!

Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

What a good tradesperson, an should be doing is the bits they are expert at and then use their network of trusted contacts to work with them. They will have built their network over time and, recognising when they are not the expert, will call upon someone who is to complete the project with them. First of all they’d build, wire and prep the room, then they’d use experts with years of experience and training in acoustics to design the room, source and install the ‘tech’ (because they’ll understand the attenuation, know where to hang the baffle, and will know whether to diffuse or deflect sound waves in order to decide which ends of the room should be dead or live). Then, the tradesperson will call upon an expert in soft furnishings to fit the carpets (which won’t distort the sound like a laminate floor) and install the right furniture. And at the end of it? A happy customer who can tell their friends about each of the experts they encountered, and projects which take less time for each expert and enable them to move on to other clients more quickly.

Collaborate to Win

Collaborative business is where business is now – and to survive Brexit it may the only way for some companies. Let’s face it, we all have to work, and if you have to work you may as well enjoy what you do. Focus on what you’re really good at, what you really enjoy, and what you get the most satisfaction from. A happy by-product of collaborative working is that you’ll get more business. When you’re part of a trusted network you automatically widen your audience. You have access to your ‘team’s’ network, and they yours. It’s a win, win situation.

Tips for Collaboration

It’s far quicker to build a house together than for one person on their own.
  • Be good at what you do
  • Be clear about the services you offer and always, always deliver the best service you can for your customer
  • Seek good, reliable people that you want to forge a relationship with
  • Actively promote others when it’s not a job you can do because even if an enquiry comes and you pass the work to someone else, that client will remember that you helped them initially and may well use you in the future
  • Make collaboration part of your marketing plan
  • Don’t get spooked! Sharing is caring – it’s not about stealing business, but sharing it

And most importantly remember, it’s teamwork that makes the dream work.

Ugot sponsors Hiltingbury AFC U11’s

We talked earlier this week about supporting your community and at Ugot we like to practise what we preach. This year we’re supporting our local U11’s football club, Hiltingbury Hawks. All sponsorship contributes towards the team’s expenses (insurance, match fees, pitch hire etc) and without it these local teams wouldn’t exist. And you never know, the next Peter Crouch or David Beckham may well be training right here in Chandlers Ford!

Community Matters

Volunteering isn’t just important, it’s essential. It’s unites people from different backgrounds, strengthens communities, promotes self-esteem, lowers stress and makes a difference.

Giving back is one of our core values at Ugot. Bryan, our MD, was a school governor for eight years until his children moved on to secondary school a couple of years ago and is now the photographer for a youth rugby team. Jane, our Office Manager, was actively involved in a school PTA until last year. Jason, our technical manager, is a trained search and rescue volunteer and Caz, our Marketing Manager, volunteers one day a week for The Courage Foundation UK, a local child bereavement charity.

This year we’re extending our community outreach programme to support local groups, charities and schools and each week a member of the team will be allocated some time to help with a group or project. We live in the same town as work so it makes complete sense that we should be encouraging our own community to thrive – but we need your help to do it.

Bryan Vint, Jane Vint and Caz Meech.  Some of the team at Ugot.
How could the Ugot team help you?

So, tell us, do you have something we can help you with? Our skills are varied but we could give technical advice or support for a school performance, we could contribute to a school lesson, we could attend and support a careers fayre or sponsor an event you might be holding, or even a sports kit.

If you have some suggestions for us and you’re in the Southampton/Winchester area, please get in touch! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Just email caz@ugot.co.uk and we’ll see what we can do!


Have a Jolly Holiday

Use your Smart tech to make the most of the season.

 

Christmas is almost upon us. No doubt this weekend, for most, will be spent running around finalising preparations for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It’s the time of the year when we want everything to look and feel perfect, and then spend a couple of days eating, drinking and making merry. So make the most of your home comforts and use your Smart technology to make sure it’s all that it can be.

  • Build your Christmas film list today ready to watch all your favourites in your home cinema. Download the films you’ve been waiting to watch from Kaleidescape and have them ready to play on the big day.
  • Wake up to your favourite Christmas music!  A simple ‘Good morning Alexa, play Christmas!’ and you can get into the festive spirit with music streaming through the ceiling speakers throughout your house.  There’s nothing quite like watching the kids open their stockings and listening to a bit of Last Christmas by Wham!
  • If you’re not at home on Christmas Day, make it look like you are. If you have Smart lighting installed, use your simulated occupancy settings to make it look like you’re there. Security is important all year long but especially at Christmas when many homes are left unoccupied with a whole host of brand new gifts inside.
  • If you have a Smart doorbell, like Control4’s Intercom Anywhere, have a bit of fun with it! It’s unlikely you’ll get any unexpected visitors, but if you do and you’re not inside the house, use your app to make it sound like the party’s just inside. Sing them a Christmas carol at full volume and they’ll soon leave you to it!
  • If you’ve got a long journey back home after visiting friends and family, set your ‘Welcome Home’ just the way you want it. Bring the house to life, make sure it’s warm and inviting with your favourite music ready to greet you and you can continue the celebrations when you get in.

And what if you don’t have the technology yet? It’s never to early to plan for next year. Whole house audio, a home cinema, Smart home control – whatever it is that interests you, Ugot are here to help. In the meantime, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Top tips for Smart planning your project in 2019

It’s that time of year again. Some of us love it (a new start), some of us dread it (those dreaded resolutions), but all of us should see it as an opportunity. After all, you can’t turn the clock back but you can plan more wisely as you look forward.

So, what are you planning? Are you planning a house build? A refurbishment? Or maybe you’re simply planning an update at home to embrace the new technologies that have snuck onto the market much more quickly than any of us were expecting! Whatever it is, here’s a few top tips for introducing Smart technology for more efficient and comfortable 2019:

1.     It’s never to early to think big. You might be drawing up the plans for the future home of your dreams or you may be ready to start knocking down walls but either way, think big! If you want to include any Smart technology, the sooner you plan it in, the easier, and cheaper, it will be and the more you’ll be able to include. To use technology that is robust, secure and reliable you’ll want to cable it in properly and if you can include this in any plans before you even get started, you’re making everyone’s job easier from the get-go.

2.     Think about future proofing your investment. Don’t just think about what Smart technology can do for you now – clever lighting, heating, audio – think about what could be added later. Let’s face it, we didn’t realise a year ago how fast the technology would move so we can only imagine what could be added in the future.

3.     Do your research. Don’t be tempted to grab the cheapest items on the market, or even the brand names you’ve heard of. Often, the best technology is offered by names you’ve never heard of, but the experts are well aware of. Ensure that the products you’re investing in are sturdy, intuitive and expandable. Check that they do more than you want them to. Why? Because anyone’s circumstances can change and if you have the technology in your house that can change with you, you won’t regret it.

4.     Make your life easier. Let’s face it, if you’re investing properly in Smart technology, don’t just make it work for you, make it work with you. You might have thought about voice controlled devices around the home, but have you thought about how your home could be ready and waiting for you before you’ve even stepped through the front door? Smart technology can even look after your home whilst your away! Do it properly and your home will be more secure and more comfortable for years to come.

5.     Get recommendations. Find a trustworthy company for your installations. And if you can’t get a recommendation, trust your gut, if you gel with the people dealing with your enquiry it’s generally a good sign. Scientific research has shown that if you combine your fact finding with trusting your intuition, the better your decision-making can be.

If nothing else, this will at least help you think about what you want. Plan well, do it right first time and you can look forward to a Smart future for you, your family and your home.

 

Assistive Innovation In Action

After my blog post last week, Assistive technology in care – money saving or life changing I was contacted by an inventor, Tony Ellis, who dedicates his time to creating advanced assistive care products.  It has really struck me over the past few days how easy it is to be unaware of the challenges that others face in every day life.

If you know about Smart technology then you know about the Echo dot and how Amazon Alexa is transforming lives.  For those with mobility issues, speaking commands are enabling increased independence, but what if you have difficulty speaking?  This is where Tony has stepped in and developed a device that allows Alexa to be controlled using breath only! Have a watch of the device being demonstrated here.

The Altarez Robot can transform lives

It hadn’t even occurred to me that some people would need this, and I guess that’s the point isn’t it?  People like Tony, who has also invented an AT robot, are here to make us aware and through their ingenuity they make the world more accessible for more people.  It shows the importance of how we can, and should, continue to learn, to understand and become less ignorant to the needs of others.

So have a look at what Tony has to offer and when you see it available to buy, when someone is ready to invest in his brilliant ideas, you can say you saw it here first!

Assistive Technology in Care – Money saving or life changing?

There was a great news article on BBC South Today last week about how Smart technology is changing the lives of those with disabilities.  The feature showed a man using  Amazon Alexa to control his lights and was raving about the benefits of finally not having to rely on a care provider for basic tasks.  It also featured an elderly lady with mobility issues who felt that having her Amazon Alexa made her feel less lonely.  She was able to interact with it and play music through home speakers, this meant her husband felt more comfortable leaving her alone when he needed to leave her alone for short periods of time.

Inevitably there’s been some backlash from those who say that it’s an excuse for local authorities to reduce spending on care provision.  But what’s better?  If there is an opportunity to extend independent living through the use of technology surely that’s a good use of technological advancement?

Innovation empowers

In November 2017 the Innovate Trust, a welsh charity, began a £15,000 trial testing Smart speaker technology with five people with learning disabilities.  Smart technology was installed in their homes and has enabled them to live more independently over the past year.  In addition to this, they operate a Supported Living premises featuring a range of Smart technology with the aim of increasing the independence of residents and therefore enabling them to redirect staff resources more creatively.  The direct result is the empowerment of vulnerable people who would otherwise rely heavily on care givers.

Smart budgeting

It seems then, that this is an argument for argument’s sake.  So long as there’s continued monitoring to ensure complete safety for vulnerable individuals and emergency care, reducing cost and increasing independence is not only a good thing, it’s a great thing!  If Smart technology opens doors (literally and figuratively) and minds for local authorities to think about how best they can use voice technology, sensors, Smart lighting, Smart heating, Smart blinds, Smart door entry…the list goes on…in turn they will be better placed to use care staff  more effectively.  In turn they will become more efficient in delivering personal care where it’s needed most.

Freedom of choice

Ultimately, local authorities should offer choice.  Because a person is deemed as vulnerable – be that due to learning disabilities, physical or mental disabilities – it doesn’t mean they can’t have a choice, but the beauty of Smart technology is that is provides choice.  There’s a whole range of products to make life simpler, let’s embrace it where we can!

To find out how Ugot can help you live more independently call us on 02380 253399 or email sales@ugot.co.uk

 

How do we replace Opus systems?

It’s no secret that Opus multi-room systems, having been around for quite a while now, are coming to the end of their natural lives.  Our repair visits are becoming more and more frequent and we’re replacing a large number of MCUs and amps across the country.  Often our clients are putting off the replacement of  their systems because they assume it will be expensive, time consuming and messy, instead opting to repair time and time again.

Here at Ugot we’ve listened to our clients and after hearing the biggest concern “Will you have to pull my walls apart to replace the cables?” we’ve developed an innovative way of reusing the existing cables with new systems such as Control4 and Elan g!  On the whole this means we don’t need to make a mess or damage your walls, it is more cost-effective to replace and can be done much more quickly than a full strip-down.

So, we’ve put together a short video that dispels the myths and puts your mind at rest…Enjoy!

Call us on 02380 253399 or email sales@ugot.co.uk to discuss your Opus replacement.