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“But everyone says it’s about the end-user…”

Nine23 specialises in cyber security solutions delivering secure technology to end-users. We passionately believe that the end-user should be put first and be empowered to use technology securely.

“But everyone says it’s about the end-user…”

Enabling the end-user is at the heart of everything we do, however the harsh reality of marketing is that any organisation can claim this. Therefore, it’s our role to prove that we really do put the end-user first when delivering complete, cyber security solutions.

In many cases, putting the end-user first is an obvious statement and one that you would assume everyone does. However, there are many examples where lack of regard of the user or a failure to include them in the process can cause frustration, pain and confusion for them.  Sometimes there is perhaps scant consideration for the user who is firstly, and foremostly, the main reason for Cyber Security considerations. Focussing more on the technical function of the service, invariably, can lead to issues further in the lifetime of the solution.

As a SME we see examples of this frequently, much to our own frustration as we know things can be and should be better.

The Emergency Services Network (ESN) stated during a public hearing last year that; “We have had a reset and that reset is not just about technology, it’s also about mindset, and the mindset reset is to put the users at the heart of this and you know that does take a little bit longer, but I think it is time well spent.”

To be fair, we also have seen the other side of users requirements, the user who wants everything !

  • “We want the ability to turn the “always-on” VPN off”
  • “We don’t want to use our phones to authenticate
  • “Why do I need to enter my password multiple times”
  • “We’ve always done it this way…”
  • “I bought my own as the one we’re given just doesn’t work”
  • “It’s all on the cloud so it’s secure, right?”
  • “Can’t I just back it up to my USB Stick?”

The key for us at Nine23 is to enable the end-user and put them first. At the same time be aware of the security risk appetite, the budget available and the organisation’s needs.

It’s a tried and tested Axiom, Human nature is such that if you secure something which makes it difficult to use then people find a way around it.

To paraphrase a slightly older film, “Users will find a way…”

 This is why, we believe, users should be first and foremost and involved in the process of design and change. A senior user representing the views of users is the most common approach, which can work well.

Here are just a few examples of how we put the end-user first:

1. Durham Tees Valley (DTV)

Community Rehabilitation Company’s (CRCs) were established as part of the Ministry of Justices (MOJ) transforming rehabilitation.

The organisation had a requirement for an IT Managed Service that was secure and enabled a remote mobile working solution as part of the implementation of the CRC. Nine23 worked with them to identify the specific IT challenges facing the CRC “old style” operating model – Restrictive IT would not allow them to be close to the offenders and that needed to change to allow the CRC staff to be mobile and operate in an agile way.

We focussed on developing the end-user experience and tailoring the desired remote access solution. We created a secure environment that allowed them to access the resources they needed and, more importantly, where they needed – turning the probation service to a positive stance to enable the end-user to work from anywhere.

Our managed service enables DTV staff (the end-users) to focus on what they are achieving within the community. Secure access to MOJ data, when and where needed.

“I would recommend Nine23 in their ability to understand the end-user requirements and balance real-world solutions with an increasing requirement for cyber security.” – David Rippley, Director of Resources, DTV CRC 

2. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recognised its current Public Services Network (PSN) gateway service was becoming no longer fit for purpose, using older technology and relatively expensive for the service being provided. This was unproductive and frustrating for the teams (the end-users) using the PSN and a model that the FCA wished to change.

A key requirement of the service was identified at the very first project meeting. People using the service were invited to discuss what they wanted. It became very clear immediately that they wanted “a better service for the users”. We worked with the them along with the business  to understand what was frustrating them and what they thought a “Great” service looked like and how we could make things better.

Any replacement service would also need to include added mobility to outside the office, reduce costs and could scale as needed whilst maintaining accreditation need to gain access to the PSN.

By understanding the user needs we enabled remote working as a default and ensured that the service we offered was built around the requirements.

“The service received has been phenomenal.” – FCA Project Manager

3. Food Standards Agency (FSA)

In 2020, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) approached Nine23 via The Digital Marketplace G-Cloud framework for support in improving its current Public Services Network (PSN) access solution.

They had a requirement to move their PSN access to a cloud-based solution to remove reliance with on-premise equipment, complications with networking and routing, reduce costs, improve the service and allow access without the need for a corporate VPN solution.

Nine23 were involved with their project to do so and working with the users, the FSA and their networking providers – created a solution which enabled the users to access the services they needed from their corporate devices.

Rather than connecting and disconnecting VPNs, the users are now able to click a single link to access “portals” as and when they need to, all from their corporate devices and network – a single sign on solution all transparent to the end user – who can just work as they need.

“Nine23’s gateway service has enabled us to provide continuing access to PSN services without a dependency on office-based working – which has been essential over the last 12 months. It also means we can respond to government networking strategy without having to re-engineer our internal infrastructure” – Tim Lewis, Solutions Architect of FSA 

At Nine23 we pride ourselves on being a trusted partner and truly end-user focused.

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