Ramadan Tips from Xalient's Imran Hussain

As the holy month of Ramadan begins, it’s a time for reflection, self-improvement, and a heightened sense of community. For Muslims worldwide, this month-long fasting and prayer is a time to strengthen their faith, connect with loved ones, and give back to those in need. At Xalient, we’re fortunate to have colleagues from diverse backgrounds. We caught up with Imran Hussain, Network Team Lead, to learn more about his experience with Ramadan and his tips for supporting colleagues observing the fast.

What do you enjoy the most about Ramadan?

Ramadan is a time to reset mentally and physically, and I like fasting to detox from all the naughty foods I’ve eaten along the way.

It’s also a chance to think about myself – it’s a spiritual event as much as it’s about fasting, so I like to take the opportunity to reflect and continue with good practices from the month into the whole year.

Xalient employee smiling at the camera

What do you find challenging?

I find caffeine withdrawal hard, as I choose to give that up as part of Ramadan and go cold turkey! It isn’t easy at first, but after Ramadan, that first sip is like liquid gold!

How do you cope with going without food or drink at work all day?

I can switch off the feeling of hunger in Ramadan as I’ve been doing it for so long; I’m used to it! But I struggle with being cold on an empty stomach – so sometimes you might find me in the office with my coat on, even if it’s a really warm and sunny day!

What’s your go-to meal and drink after a day’s fasting?

That amazing Yorkshire delicacy is a ‘Chippy tea’ with a glass of coke! Whatever it is, it’s enjoyable as we’ve fasted all day, so we’re ready!

Can you explain what a typical fasting day is like for you?

It’s traditional to wake up and have an early morning meal, usually an hour before dawn. So around 4 am this year! I have a normal breakfast and ensure I’m hydrated for the day ahead – yes, it’s true, we don’t drink anything during the sunlight hours, which can sometimes be hard, especially if it is warm. From here, it’s a normal day at work or whatever I’m doing at the weekend (minus cutting the lawn ) up to the early evening, where I like to have a light workout to help pass the time before the sun sets. It’s time for us to eat again. There are special prayers every night through the month, which all fasting people will partake in as part of Ramadan.

Could you share tips to help your colleagues support you and others participating in Ramadan?

  1. Don’t worry about eating in front of those participating in Ramadan – we’ll opt out of sitting at the lunch table if needed, so don’t feel you have to apologise about eating in front of those fasting. We enjoy the fact that we are fasting and look forward to it!

  2. It’s always better to ask about each person’s experience rather than make assumptions. Of course, it’s hard; it’s not meant to be easy! It’s a time for Muslims to reflect on their lives and privileges and think deeply about what changes we can make to improve the world.

  3. Sometimes we don’t fast – there’s no need to pry. If you notice a Muslim colleague or friend isn’t fasting, it’s best to leave them to it rather than pry. Many Muslims don’t fast for several reasons (including pregnancy, illness, old age, etc.).

  4. Where possible, be conscious of scheduling meetings and calls in the evening, as this is when the person fasting is eating and enjoying time to reflect. It’s a time to spend with families and friends and enjoy communal meals, so be mindful of this and time zones.

  5. Show solidarity – as part of Ramadan, we like to think and reflect on those who are less fortunate than us, and we do what we can to help out in our local communities and charities. You may not want to fast, but you might want to help out with charity work or support a friend or colleague this way instead.

We are thrilled to share that Innovate UK has awarded Xalient and the University of Bradford the Certificate of Excellence for our Knowledge Transfer Partnership project. This project has been a great collaboration between Xalient and the University of Bradford, made possible through the support of Innovate UK.

The teams developed MARTINA (Monitoring through Artificial Intelligence and Analytics), an innovative AIOps network already delivering value to many global businesses. With MARTINA, data from multiple sources enhance network traffic visibility, leading to faster incident detection and resolution. Using AI/ML, MARTINA also detects performance and security anomalies and indicators of potential threats and attacks, providing vital early alerts for prompt and informed action.

Head of Innovation, Stephen Amstutz, expressed his pride in the project’s success, saying “We are excited to receive this recognition from Innovate UK for our Knowledge Transfer Partnership project. This award validates the hard work and dedication that the teams at Xalient and the University of Bradford have put into developing MARTINA and the value it is already delivering to businesses worldwide.”

We congratulate everyone involved in this outstanding achievement and look forward to continuing our work to deliver innovative solutions that drive business success.

Learn more about MARTINA – Click Here.

Xalient is proud to announce that we have been named a finalist for the 2023 EMEA Inspiring Workplace Awards.

These awards recognize organizations prioritising their employees’ well-being and creating a positive working environment. Originally known as The Employee Engagement Awards, the Inspiring Workplaces Awards have evolved to acknowledge forward-thinking and people-first organizations.

This is the second time that Xalient has been recognized for this award, following our 2021 EMEA Inspiring Workplaces Award for the Inspiring Culture category (click here to read more). We are thrilled to be included in this year’s Top 50 Finalists.

Xalient’s CEO and founder, Sherry Vaswani, said, “We are delighted to be named as finalists for the 2023 EMEA Inspiring Workplace Awards. At Xalient, we pride ourselves on creating a positive working environment where our team feels supported, inspired, and motivated. We are grateful to be recognized for our efforts and look forward to promoting the inspirational work done by all finalists.”

The awards winners will be announced during the Gala Dinner at the Tottenham Stadium in London on May 11, 2023. Xalient would like to congratulate all the finalists and nominees and wish them the best of luck when the winners are announced.

At Xalient, we are committed to creating a people-first culture that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation. We are thrilled to be named a finalist for the 2023 Inspiring Workplace Awards. We will continue to prioritise our employees’ well-being as we strive to deliver exceptional customer results.

View the full finalist list here: 2023 Inspiring Workplaces Awards finalists for EMEA announced (inspiring-workplaces.com)

The past three years have been challenging in many ways for the retail industry, and this uncertain reality isn’t going anywhere. The industry continues to face challenges; the cost-of-living and energy crisis, and expected period of economic downturn, are understandably unsettling for all sectors, with retail particularly hard hit in a recessionary period.

Retailers need to adapt to smarter technology that can not only support their in-store operations and ensure an excellent customer experience and guarantee secure customer payments and business data but can also help them to transition into a truly omnichannel offering: improving customer experience and operational efficiency – all of which are crucial in these uncertain times.

Many retailers are embracing this challenge and using it as an opportunity to rethink the way in which they do business to ensure long-term survival and profitable growth. One key solution is through implementing a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN).

SD-WAN offers a more flexible approach to connectivity and can potentially provide improved network performance, along with more granular visibility and cost savings compared to traditional network technologies such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

SD-WAN can also provide central orchestration and management and, along with that, network simplification. This can help Managed Service Providers to provide an improved service reducing the time required to deploy sites (shops) and services, which can be critical for retailers who often need to respond quickly to market requirements. As SD-WAN is an overlay technology that can be positioned on top of the underlay, it can be deployed onto existing connectivity, whether that be traditional MPLS, Direct Internet or even 4G/5G. This provides retailers with real freedom of choice when it comes to procuring connectivity services.

Enhancing the in-store experience  

The use of technology in-store is rapidly growing as consumers demand a far more integrated shopping experience, with the lines increasingly blurred as to what happens in a physical retail store and what happens online. It is no longer enough to simply offer products – consumers want a shopping experience; from free charging hubs, streamed TVs, smart mirrors, video, and digital signage to the scanning of codes – the pressure on retailers to make a consumer’s experience as engaging and integrated as possible is a clear trend and one that shows no sign of slowing.

To fulfil customer expectations and utilise these technologies, retailers must fundamentally check that their networks are fit for purpose, reliable, and secure. SD-WAN solves the challenge of enhancing the in-store experience by improving network uptime, performance, and redundancy. It also provides the retailer with the ability to support modern technologies and the latest cloud-based apps whilst also prioritising business-critical applications such as payments.

SD-WAN can provide retailers with the peace of mind of not having to worry that their payment systems might be affected because of a lack of network resiliency and increased demands on bandwidth as a result of increased in-store digital features such as customer Wi-Fi or digital signage.

Brand protection 

It is more important than ever for brands to protect their reputation, as consumers expect excellent customer service each time they shop. Online review sites and social media platforms are an open source for consumers to criticise a single bad experience, no matter how big or small. Whether that be the speed of service, an issue at checkout or payment – depending on the need and ability of a competitor it could see consumers shopping elsewhere and ultimately harming the brand’s reputation.

It’s therefore crucial for retailers to build an infrastructure that is resilient and able to prevent service disruptions regardless of circuit availability. SD-WAN can provide automatic failover when a service impacting event is detected. Multiple circuits can be bonded or utilised at a single location to provide resilience and increased performance by utilising all available bandwidth. By constantly monitoring the circuits and configuring application service level agreements (SLAs), SD-WAN knows the optimal path to send business-critical traffic at any given time. We all know how frustrating it can be when the card machine doesn’t work at the till or the webpage suddenly crashes when trying to complete a checkout online – SD-WAN can help ensure that the customer’s experience, be that in-store or online, isn’t hampered by network disruption or outages.

SD-WAN is proving to be an invaluable technology, whether that be for enhancing customer experience, enabling business growth or protecting the retailer and its customers from security threats – with both new and old challenges impacting the industry, it’s time for retailers to think differently throughout 2023.

In November 2020, over £40 million was committed to transforming the UK’s rail networks. In May 2021, The Great British Railways: The Williams-Schapps Plan for Rail was presented to Parliament, outlining a thirty-year plan for improving the quality of transport across the country. Digital technology has become increasingly important in the rail industry, from high-speed internet access and mobile entertainment to mobile bookings and live train updates. Passengers want a comfortable and easy experience that improves their travel quality. With thousands of passengers using trains daily, secure and high-performance connectivity is crucial to deliver services, cope with traffic peaks, and connect remote stations.

As the Williams-Schapps Plan is rolled out, many rail providers have discovered that their legacy networks do not deliver the scalability, security, and compliance needed to ensure reliable performance across widely dispersed locations. One rail franchise operator addresses these challenges by implementing a secure Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) to connect its stations, depots, rail operations centre, and data centres.

Driving operational excellence with SD-WAN

SD-WAN provides dynamic control of every aspect of a network by decoupling the infrastructure from the service through software definition and network function virtualization. When successfully implemented, SD-WAN allows administrators to integrate multiple access technologies and manage them through a single Graphical User Interface (GUI), providing agility, resilience, and cost control. Daily operations can also benefit from SD-WAN’s capabilities, such as local internet breakout at each site and configuring suitable SLAs to voice and video traffic, improving the user experience when utilizing Microsoft 365 for collaboration.

Implementing SD-WAN can also help with mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures by overcoming the requirement for costly enterprise circuits and adopting almost any internet-based transport mechanisms. Centrally orchestrating the corporate network and utilization of features such as application-based overlays and templates can dramatically improve network management quality, allowing IT teams to react more quickly to any restructuring of the organization.

Choosing the right technology partner

While the benefits of a successful digital transformation with SD-WAN as the foundation are huge, the challenges involved in such projects should not be underestimated, especially for critical services like rail, where even minor disruptions can have serious consequences. Legacy networks are often highly complex, delivered by multiple providers and based on hardware approaching end-of-life. Engaging with a trusted technology partner with a proven track record in similar projects across the sector can help operators throughout the deployment project and beyond, ensuring expected outcomes are delivered, and passengers are provided with a fully integrated system that increases user experience, improves security posture and facilitates growth and adoption of new services.

Looking for a solution to enhance your rail operations and prepare for any challenge?

Xalient has helped national rail operators navigate obstacles with our full turnkey SD-WAN solution. Our approach combines Silver Peak technology with our consultancy, design, monitoring, and management expertise to create an agile, high-performance network. Read our case study to learn how we helped a major rail franchise operator improve performance and stability, add flexibility, and improve the customer experience.

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate women’s achievements worldwide and reflect on the ongoing struggle for gender equality. In the tech industry, women continue to be underrepresented, facing barriers to advancement and often feeling isolated in male-dominated workplaces. Despite these challenges, many talented and inspiring women are making their mark in tech, and we are proud to introduce you to some of them today.  

We spoke with six female members of the Xalient team to hear their thoughts and insights on what it’s like to be a woman in tech, and how we can work towards a more inclusive industry. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in tech, and what do you enjoy most about the work? 

Aman Kaur (Customer Success Manager): I was always interested in technology from a young age, and it started with my Dad buying me and my sisters a desktop PC when we were very young. Through this hobby, I chose to study business computing at university, then a master’s in IT for management. I worked in Change management and service management/customer success management for telco/tech customers. My passion is for helping people and technology fits my personality and skillset. What I love most about my job is the challenge – facing a customer who isn’t happy and making them happy gives me a buzz! 

Lori Loftus (Customer Success Manager): I fell into tech almost accidentally, primarily because of curiosity about using tech to work for us and make life easier/better. It was an enjoyable puzzle to investigate and find a technical solution for a complicated process, an issue, or a workstream. The career took on a life of its own just by curiosity and interest in improving processes with tech. 

Mary (MK) Smith (Business Development Manager): I have always been good at working on computers but never thought about making it a career.  It wasn’t until I moved to Charlotte, did I land my first job in technology.  I like that it never stops changing.  New technology is always emerging, and it is fast-paced, so you must stay up to date. 

Akshayata Madan (Senior Security Engineer): I was initially drawn to tech because of video games and computers! I still remember being about 7 in my Dad’s office, fiddling with his computer and being in awe of how the machine worked. 11 years later, it led me to choose engineering. What I enjoy most about working in tech is constant learning and problem-solving. Technology constantly evolves, so there’s always something new to learn and a new challenge to tackle. I also love being part of a team passionate about creating innovative solutions and improving how people interact with the world. 

Hena Ahmad (Programme Director): I stumbled into a career in tech by chance as I grew up when computers were first introduced to the mass market. After finishing university, I applied for a business analyst role at an outsourcer and was assigned to work in the Telecoms division. This is where I found my passion for working in tech, specifically using technology to improve customers’ business processes. What excites me the most about working in tech is the technical aspects and how it can add value and improve people’s lives. 

Emma Banner (Bid Manager): If I’m being honest, I just fell into the tech industry.  It wasn’t something I ever imagined myself pursuing, and I was extremely nervous when I started nine years ago that I might struggle because I am not technical.  I wish I had told myself back then that the tech industry doesn’t mean you have to be ‘techy’ I love what I do and couldn’t imagine working in any other sector, my work is so varied, and I have the opportunity to learn, grow and work with so many different departments across the business. With so many customers from different sectors, it is perfect for me. 

What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in tech today, and how can we address them? 

Hena: Online surveys indicate three primary challenges facing today’s women in the tech industry. Firstly, there is a lack of female role models, with most famous tech company CEOs being male. To inspire the next generation of women to pursue careers in tech, we need to provide them with successful female role models. Secondly, women remain a minority in the tech industry, and gender bias can start as early as in school. Girls still shy away from STEM subjects, so we must increase awareness and encourage more women to apply for tech careers. Encouraging women to speak at tech events can provide visibility and mentoring opportunities and showcase that women can excel in what was once a male-dominated industry. Thirdly, the gender pay gap is a major concern in the tech industry, with women earning less than their male counterparts. 

Mk: There are many challenges women in technology face daily, but I believe every woman must push themselves and others daily to change the status quo.  Otherwise, we don’t grow.  Women must address these challenges face on and speak up about them and make people talk about them to progress and make changes. 

Have you faced any obstacles or biases in your career as a woman in tech, and how have you overcome them? 

Aman: Going on maternity leave and returning to work was tough; seeing people progress whilst my career was on hold was a tough pill to swallow. I returned from maternity leave on both occasions and worked hard to prove my worth.  At the time, I also had several strong female mentors who helped me stay focused and helped set out attainable goals and objectives.   

Lori: Absolutely. I’ve experienced having my ideas stolen and being underpaid compared to my direct reports. I’ve also been passed over for a promotion despite having superior customer satisfaction ratings and experience. However, I still enjoy my career in tech and find it challenging. I choose to continue doing my best and encourage other women to pursue their dreams in tech or any field without being held back by beliefs that it’s not possible. Anything is possible.

MK: I have, and sadly, it came from another woman when I started my tech career.  I live by the saying, “kill them with kindness”, and always be the bigger person in every situation.  I knew it was something lacking in her life and not necessarily something I was doing, and I chose to ignore it, work hard and prove myself along the way. 

Akshayata: I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by exceptional leaders, mentors, and colleagues throughout my career. I have been fortunate to have not experienced any significant hindrances to my growth due to gender biases. However, there have been moments when I sensed a shadow of disappointment among customers upon learning that a woman had joined their Severity 1 network down call to resolve their issue. Nevertheless, I take pride in quickly resolving their issues and providing a solution within a shorter time than the average resolution time. Ultimately, my achievements speak for themselves, and any lingering doubts or biases are swiftly forgotten. 

Hena: As the only woman in the room, I faced age differences and imposter syndrome in the early days. However, I learned to stand up for what’s right and not be afraid to speak up. Although I didn’t know everything, I gained the confidence to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Working in the Middle East as a woman was also challenging, but I proved myself through professionalism and adaptability. Balancing work and motherhood was tough, but I persevered and earned respect from my peers and clients. Juggling responsibilities is a common struggle, and it’s important to understand and adapt to cross-cultural ways of working while staying true to yourself.

Emma: Yes, I especially struggled when I was pregnant with my first child. I felt that people stereotype women who have children, want flexible working arrangements, or want to come back part-time only and that they can’t work and have children. It isn’t easy because, as a mother, you want to do what is best for your children, but at the same time, a career to me is essential, it feels as if people think you can’t have both.   

I am now lucky enough to work for a company that allows me to work full time but also be a mother to two little ones, giving me the flexibility to do the school run, work from home, or work in the office to suit me. 

How do you think the tech industry can become more inclusive and diverse, and what role do you see women playing in this? 

Lori: Despite various experiments and regulations to increase diversity, the percentages of women and minorities in leadership positions still show otherwise. President Biden is trying to create a diverse cabinet and set of advisors. Still, there are concerns that preference given to gender or race qualifiers may prevent the most qualified person from getting the job. However, great accomplishments by women have shown that passion and opportunity are critical elements of success outside of traditional qualifications. We need to create and protect opportunities for women, disrupt the standard system, and encourage them to take non-traditional positions. Despite women making up nearly 50% of the population, less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. 

Hena: Look at how you advertise tech roles. Create gender-neutral job descriptions and avoid buzzwords that can be seen as aggressive, as this is likely to dissuade women from applying. Once applicants are through the doors, foster a sense of belonging in your teams and encourage opportunities for promotion within the organisation.  

A lot of organisations have done work to create women in tech support groups so women can support, brainstorm and uplift each other. Whilst I think this is a great idea, many women would be liked to be recognised for who they are and the skills they have not the sex they are.   

Emma: Being adaptive and flexible will encourage more inclusivity and diversity in the tech industry. I think having a general understanding of other people’s needs is important, everyone is different, and a set of rules for ones doesn’t mean they will work for others.   

What advice would you give young women interested in pursuing a career in tech but may feel discouraged or intimidated by the lack of gender diversity in the industry? 

Lori: Believe! If you are passionate about working in tech, believe in yourself first. Believe in change, and be a change maker. Get experience wherever and whenever you can, and network with other women who will also lift you and connect you with opportunities for learning and career advancement.  Above all, do not be discouraged – if you are disrespected and cannot change the tone where you are, change where you are, and you will be effecting a retroactive change that will help those that come after.  Accept the hand and advice of women who are on the journey, and then extend your hand to those who come after you.  Encourage young women and girls to believe in themselves and to pursue as much technical experience and training as they enjoy.  Enjoying what you do is half the battle.  Believing that you belong to the other half. 

MK: Reach out to other women in tech and ask them for advice.  Ask what things that have worked for them but also what things didn’t work.  People are like google- a wealth of knowledge.  Take what they say to heart and continue using it while you build your career.  Don’t be afraid to ask for something.  The worst answer you will get is no, which usually means speaking to the wrong person.  Don’t settle for no.  Find someone willing to help you.    

Hena: I recall the wise words of my daughter’s headmistress, who encouraged the girls in their early years always to strive to do their best, regardless of gender. This is a lesson that applies to all aspects of life. Here are some tips for professional growth and success: 

  • Find a mentor who you respect, and you can bounce ideas off 
  • Always look for ways to enhance your professional development, both doing tasks you need to do and also things you are passionate about. IT is always changing, so keep your skills fresh, which will help you stay ahead. 
  • Confidence is key to any role. You are just as good as anyone else in the room, so go ahead and command the room where required but also sit back and watch and learn from those you admire and also those you don’t admire 
  • Work for a company that aligns with your values. You will enjoy going to work and feel proud to represent your company. 
  • Learn to build strong connections with both your colleagues and your customers. 
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. As women, we often feel we need to be seen as doing more but learn to work smart, not hard, all the time. 

Emma: I think some people see the word Tech and do not understand what roles are included as part of the ‘tech industry’.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you must be a technical expert in a certain field to work in IT.  Please don’t be discouraged. So many roles within the industry aren’t as technical as others. Also, find a company willing to support your growth as an individual that sees your talent first. 

Who are some women in tech that you admire, and why? 

Aman: Anne Sheehan was one woman who wowed me whilst I worked at Vodafone UK.  When she was the CEO of Vodafone UK, she was presenting an All Hands at the Vodafone Head Office, and she set the stage on fire – she captivated her audience and left me feeling proud and proud and valued. She captured people’s attention by walking into a room; her presence and aura is what I strive to have.  

Lori: I will start with one of the reasons I joined Xalient, our own Sherry Vaswani’s passion, focus, heart and encouragement for other women to “never stop learning and challenging”, and she is a model for all women in tech.  I also admire other women I work with, Emilee Khalil, for her tireless dedication, always putting the customer first, and always with kindness, genuine interest and concern for those she works with. Liz Wright for her amazing technical knowledge combined with a rare sense of humour and ability to put people at ease, support her team and take care of challenging customers all in one fell swoop.  For her lightning-fast mind and technical skills, Lucy Price is always ready to help her team and answer questions. Hazel DePippa for her incredible organization and attention to detail and process.  All the women I’ve met at Xalient are my heroes, and I’m so lucky to work with them.  Outside of Xalient, several women have blazed new trails as leaders in tech, like Jennifer Morgan, former CEO at SAP; Ruth Porat, the CFO of Alphabet; Meg Whitman, former CEO of Hewlett Packard and others who have stayed the course and made a mark in the tech industry.  But my truest heroes are honestly the ones at Xalient who make my work life the best I’ve found yet!  

Akshayata: I admire so many women in tech; it’s hard to choose just a few! Of course, some big names in the industry immediately come to mind, but I also have the privilege of knowing and learning from some amazing women leaders right in my backyard. 

Donna Moor, for example, has been an incredible mentor to me since I joined Xalient. Her leadership style is inspiring, and I strive to follow in her footsteps. And then, of course, there is our CEO Sherry, whose work significantly contributes to the tech industry and positively impacts the field. I have a great deal of respect for the work that she’s doing and the example that she’s setting for women in tech everywhere. 

Hena: Throughout my career, I have looked at mentors, customers and suppliers and attributes I wanted to emulate as I had learnt a lot from them, which helped enhance me. 

Saying that, within Xalient, we are fortunate to be led by a forward-thinking woman CEO Sherry Vaswani, who is also supported by a number of amazing women on her board. Sherry has created and fostered the Xalient ethos, where we genuinely care about making a difference. We stand on our merits to ensure that our company culture is always about inclusion and diversity, no matter what race, religion or sex you are.  

Secure network transformation specialists Xalient today announced it is accelerating its international growth strategy by naming IT industry veteran Simon Church as its new chair.

Simon brings over 30 years of global experience in the IT industry, the last 20 years specializing in cyber security services and solutions, most recently serving as CEO at Maxive Cyber Security, which was newly acquired by Thales, the French aerospace, defense, infrastructure and security company. He has previously held executive leadership positions at NTT Security, Vodafone, Optiv, Verisign, and NetIQ; he also serves on the Advisory Boards of Glasswall and Persefoni.

Simon comments, “I’m pleased to be joining the team at a time when businesses are increasingly seeking innovation, customer service and speed to results from specialists like Xalient. Their approach, focused on securely and efficiently connecting users and devices to applications and data, sees them challenging much larger global competitors and positions the company incredibly well to meet the digital transformation needs of large enterprises. I’m really excited to help guide them through this next chapter”.

“We are thrilled to welcome Simon’s exceptional business and leadership skills, as well as his deep cybersecurity industry knowledge, to Xalient,” said Sherry Vaswani, founder and chief executive officer at Xalient. “His energy and experience will be vital in building on our growth story so far, steering us through the next phase of our journey and ensuring our sustained success.”

Xalient, a rapidly growing, global specialist in networking and cybersecurity, announces the appointment of two new business directors to its senior leadership team. The addition of David Bowes as Chief People Officer and Dorota Gibiino as Director of Marketing demonstrates the company’s commitment to driving growth and strengthening its global brand.

David Bowes brings over 20 years of experience in high-growth IT businesses to his new role as Chief People Officer, having previously worked as CPO at Phlexglobal, TalentFit, and WDS.

“Xalient’s focus on employee well-being and development is what attracted me to join the team,” said David. “I’m excited to lead the people strategy and ensure Xalient continues to be a great place to work.”

Dorota Gibiino, based in the UK, joins Xalient as Director of Marketing to support the company’s ambitious expansion plans and global growth, especially in the USA. She brings a wealth of experience, having held senior marketing positions at Node4, Centiq, and Primenet Ltd.

“I’m thrilled to join Xalient and help build on the company’s success in delivering innovative and reliable IT services to clients around the world,” said Dorota. “My focus will be on leveraging Xalient’s unique value proposition and expanding its reach in key markets, ensuring our customers receive the best possible experience and outcomes.”

“We are thrilled to welcome David and Dorota to our senior leadership team,” said Sherry Vaswani, CEO of Xalient. “Their extensive experience and expertise will be invaluable in driving Xalient’s growth strategy forward. We are confident that their leadership will help us continue to focus on our employees’ well-being and development and strengthen our global brand, making Xalient the go-to provider for managed IT services.”

Xalient has experienced rapid growth in recent years, receiving recognition from both the Sunday Times Hundred 2022 list of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies and the FEBE Growth 100 list, which champions Britain’s fastest-growing, founder-led private companies. This success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Xalient team. As Xalient looks to the future, they are committed to continued growth and success, building on their achievements and striving to be at the forefront of their industry.

Xalient has been awarded the ISO 20000 certification in IT Service Management for its commitment to providing the highest-quality IT services to its customers, following a rigorous review of its processes and procedures.

As an internationally recognized mark of quality and excellence, the certification awarded by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) demonstrates an organization’s ability to efficiently and effectively align its service management processes in accordance with international best practices. This certification establishes credibility and trust among customers, stakeholders and other business partners by guaranteeing that the entity meets extremely high global standards of service and quality.

By achieving this accreditation, Xalient has demonstrated that its Managed and Professional Services business units are aligned with all requirements for the ISO 20000 standards. This further adds to Xalient’s international standards credentials, including its continued certification to Information Security Management (ISO27001), which was successfully obtained in December 2022.

Craig Ingham, Head of Governance & Compliance at Xalient, said: “For the last three years, Xalient has been committed to maturing its service management framework, which has involved aligning comprehensive controls, policies, documentation and processes, as well as constant assessment of performance and continual improvement; all to industry best practice. We believe this certification is a testament to Xalient being a world-class service provider, always striving to give our customers the best level and quality of service. This achievement would not have been possible without the contributions, support and dedication of the Xalient team. We all look forward to continuing to meet the needs of our global customer base, now and in the future.”

Further commenting on the certification, Sherry Vaswani, Group Chief Executive Officer at Xalient, adds: “We are proud to join a select group of companies worldwide that has taken the bold step to assure our customers that we have defined and implemented the best practices for IT service management. This ISO 20000 certification will be a distinguishing factor for us, highlighting Xalient’s commitment to our customers by demonstrating our vigilance in ensuring the IT services we provide are of the highest calibre and are measured against the only existing internationally recognized standard.”

A year of extremes

2022 was a year of extreme complexities. With the post-pandemic and Brexit fallout, cost of living rises and inflationary pressures, geo-political issues, ongoing climate crisis, supply chain shortages and growing cybersecurity and data security threats, it was undoubtedly another unprecedented year. In fact, ransomware set annual records again, with new ransomware strains emerging. Additionally, cloud adoption continued to grow, while the IT jobs market experienced significant skills shortages. As we look forward to the start of a new year, what trends are on the horizon in 2023 and what issues will organisations be grappling with?

Right-sizing multi-cloud for your environment

In the year ahead, moving to the cloud and undergoing digital transformation initiatives will continue to be of the utmost importance to remain agile, modern and competitive. As workforces utilise hybrid working for the long term, environment modernisation will continue to be a priority. However, a challenge many organisations are still working through is how to deal with legacy networks and technologies, and how best to right-size their cloud or multi-cloud environment for their requirements. Some organisations have found themselves dealing with large and unpredictable cloud egress bills and consequently having to look at how best to right-size their cloud infrastructure to combat this.

A shortage in skills means organisations will look to automate

The IT skills shortage has prompted companies to adopt more outsourcing of services as staff attrition continues to be a challenge. Hybrid working means employees have more choice when it comes to who they work for, while the general skills shortage is exerting upward pressure on wages. While Forrester predicts that global tech spending will rise, hitting $4.8 trillion in 2023, the current skills shortage might impact some of those IT programmes being deployed, which is why talent is a top challenge facing CIOs. This chronic talent shortage is pulling the profession into a wave of change. CIOs must lead their organisations to adopt innovative methods for attracting, hiring, retaining, and developing employees. Organisations will look at how they can best employ automation to drive maximum efficiencies and alleviate pressures.  Today automation is already resolving various daily issues for organisations in a faster way than traditional manual approaches. There are many mundane tasks that require manual inputs and take up a lot of time for IT teams.  Automation can cut through these, speeding up and streamlining the process, bringing in efficiencies and releasing precious resources for higher value tasks so that skills are better utilised, and employees feel challenged.

IT budgets are likely to feel the squeeze.

IT budgets are likely to come under a squeeze as businesses look to tighten their belts amid continuing rising costs. IT leaders will need to put forward strong business cases to ensure the value of crucial infrastructure modernisation is heard across the business, and that budget constraints don’t hold such initiatives back. IT leaders will need to look at how projects can help drive efficiencies, competitive advantage, and cost savings. However, network security budgets are likely to see the opposite and be expanded. Therefore, budget squeezes will not be at the expense of network security as organisations recognise the criticality of ensuring their networks are secure.

Accelerated adoption of Zero Trust technologies and services.

Adopting a zero-trust approach to networks and security will continue to be a priority in the year ahead. It will be especially relevant to organisations tackling critical projects such as M&A and divestitures as they grapple with the challenges of economic recession. In these environments, zero-trust can be used as a catalyst to accelerate the benefits of separation or merger so that organisations can get a head start on modernisation and ensure compliance, while also ensuring their security posture is strong. According to Gartner, zero-trust network access security is forecast to grow by 31% in 2023 — up from less than 10% at the end of 2021. However, adversaries will deploy new technologies to overcome zero-trust defences and increase their success rate in future attacks.

According to IBM’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average costs increased to USD 4.35 million in 2022, climbing 12.7% from USD 3.86 million in the 2020 report. Additionally, a stunning 83% of organisations surveyed reported having incurred more than one data breach. This means there will be a need for comprehensive threat intelligence, monitoring and alert detection solutions in place, including endpoint device security.  There will also be a need for a holistic approach to zero trust with identity at its core, with an end-to-end framework to ensure integration, efficiency, and a strong network to withstand cyberattacks.

Observability will become the watchword in 2023

AI, ML and observability solutions that take AI to the next level, so that organisations are getting more actionable insights and predictions out of their data for improved reporting and analytical purposes, will be paramount. This is where we will see true AI solutions shine – ones that bring in intelligence and richer observability instead of simple monitoring. Observability is more about the correlation of multiple aspects, context gathering and behavioural analysis. Observability correlation enables applications to operate more efficiently and identify when a site’s operations are sub-optimal, with this context delivered to the right person at the right time. This means a high volume of alerts is transformed into a small volume of actionable insights.

Without a doubt, 2023 will be a challenging year, but there will also be opportunities for innovation and growth in certain sectors.  This is where working with a cost-effective partner will be critical; a trusted partner that can rapidly pivot, innovate and adapt as requirements and market conditions evolve.