Sponsored: Free money for tech - it’s time to take advantage says Sheffield IT boss

Craig Such, founder and managing director of Azzure IT. Pic Chris Etchells.
Craig Such, founder and managing director of Azzure IT. Pic Chris Etchells.

Innovation Vouchers offer free money to help companies in Sheffield City Region use tech to get ahead - and Azzure IT is their greatest champion.

The scheme offers companies up to £12,500 - half the cost - of technology to transform their business.

Kevan Bingham on the shop floor at Mayflower Engineering.

Kevan Bingham on the shop floor at Mayflower Engineering.

And Craig Such, boss of Sheffield-based Azzure, believes everyone should be using it.

He said: “Every company in the region should take advantage of innovation vouchers to make use of tech.

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the region. I want businesses in the area to be the best run in the country, if we can help, great.”

Azzure IT, based on Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, offers end-to-end business and accounting software.

It has completed three jobs for firms paying with innovation vouchers and has six in the pipeline.

So Craig knows first hand what tech can do for a firm, including helping people make more informed business decisions, empowering employees by putting information at their fingertips, improving customer service and forecasting using historic trends - all leading to cost savings and profit improvements.

Craig added: “Regardless of the size and complexity of a business, it can use tech to do more than they might have imagined two or three years ago.

“In the last two to three years the speed at which tech is moving has accelerated tremendously.

“It is more accessible and easier to use on all devices, such as smartphones, and the costs have come down.

“A lot of people don’t realise the value it can deliver.”

Most organisations are less than “25 per cent down the road of tech,” he added.

“Almost everyone has a smartphone but fewer than a quarter get information on their business that way.

“Part of our job is trying to prove to people that this is possible and it’s mainstream now.”

Tech can also save jobs, he says.

“We help the people who already know about the business become more agile. It helps take away the manual churn and frees them up to do the valuable jobs that rarely get done such as negotiating to get better deals, products and prices.”

Founded in 2011, by Craig and Sharon Such, Azzure IT has achieved significant growth and now employs 57. The company’s growth and commitment to excellence has resulted in multiple industry awards and accreditations.

Azzure IT was one of the first UK software vendors to achieve the ISO 9001:2015 quality accreditation and is ranked 29th in the Northern Tech 100 league.

It has also been listed in the Deloitte Tech Fast500 EMEA over the past three years and was recently recognised in the Financial Times 1,000 list of the fastest growing companies in Europe, coming in at 200th place.

Applications for Superfast South Yorkshire Innovation Vouchers are open until August 4, 2018.

Call Azzure on 0345 467 9950 or go to Azzure’s website

n Azzure IT has just received £2m from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund to expand and create 12 jobs.

It will strengthen the management team and recruit sales and marketing staff.

FIRMS MOVING FAST TO BENEFIT FROM TECH GRANTS

Small firms are being urged to plug into a scheme offering grants for technology to boost productivity – like two South Yorkshire companies Mayflower Engineering and Global Print Solutions.

The SFSY Connection and Innovation Vouchers Scheme offers up to half the cost of ‘digital innovation,’ up to a total of £12,499.50 in European funding.

Mayflower Engineering, in Darnall, received half the cost of the £15,000 cost of a customer management system, CRM.

Boss Kevan Bingham said it allowed them to spend twice as much as originally planned and allowed them to buy a system that was “four times as good.”

The scheme is being backed by Azzure IT.

Managing director Craig Such said: “In today’s world, digital is key to boosting productivity, smarter business decisions, empowering employees, differentiating your service and so much more”.

“To see South Yorkshire’s productivity levels well below the national average, which is also in decline, is a concern. Growing businesses all reach a tipping-point where the tools that supported them now hold them back but they need to know the commercial opportunities are huge”.

A look at the regional and sub-regional productivity in the UK by the Office for National Statistics reveals South Yorkshire has the lowest labour productivity of the city regions at 17 per cent below the UK average.

Craig added: “Small businesses are the backbone our regional economy. We need to make the most of schemes like Superfast South Yorkshire to ensure our region has the mechanisms in place to be at the forefront of change and be a true influence in the Northern Powerhouse.”

In Barnsley, Global Print Solutions (GPS)received almost £3,000 toward a new digital communication platform to help the business continue to expand and grow.

Specialising in print, design and technology GPS needed a new solution to improve client communication. Using SFSY funding a new platform using wifi and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was developed.

The new platform has allowed GPS to present online sales pitches to clients anywhere in the world and develop an integrated Customer Retention Management (CRM) system.

Mel Revitt from GPS said: “The size of the new property and our expanding operations meant a traditional phone set up would not be enough. We needed a solution to meet the increasing demand for our products, and allow staff to work flexibly.

“The new VoIP system purchased using the voucher scheme has allowed employees to work effectively from anywhere in the building.”

Natalie Ward, programme manager for SFSY – Superfast South Yorkshire – said: “We are delighted to be offering SMEs in the Sheffield City Region the opportunity to introduce new digital innovations with vouchers up to £12,499, with the aim of improving performance and driving growth.”

SFSY also offers connection vouchers to pay for faster digital connectivity or ‘transformational tech innovations’ to improve processes, customer engagement, communication, collaboration or business insight.

Applications for Superfast South Yorkshire Innovation Vouchers can be made until August 4, 2018.

For more information on eligibility and applications for the SFSY voucher schemes, visit www.superfastsouthyorkshire.co.uk/vouchers

Call Azzure on 0345 467 9950 or go to Azzure’s website