Tag: technology

CBI calls for more technology

bankers-2The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for companies to splash out on technology to close the productivity gap between the UK and neighbouring countries.

In a move which can be quoted by sales teams, the CBI said that there were significant reasons for companies to adopt a more technological framework and called on the government to help out.

In a new report, with the slightly surreal title “From Ostrich to Magpie”  the business group is urging the government to make funds available for small businesses to invest in technologies such as cloud, mobile technology, e-purchasing and cybersecurity.

The report said that the UK’s productivity lags almost a decade behind that of Denmark in some areas, and is behind France and Germany.

Encouraging more businesses to behave like ‘magpies’ – by picking the best tried-and-tested technologies on the market – rather than ‘ostriches’, would help reduce inequality between UK firms’ productivity and add over £100bn to the UK economy, the report argues.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said the diffusion of technology had been a “serial blind spot” for the government in its efforts to boost productivity.

“At a time when the public purse is tight, encouraging new technology uptake is one of the most effective routes to raising productivity”,  she said.

“With the government committed to creating a Shared Prosperity Fund using funds previously allocated to EU membership, there are few better priorities than this for where to invest it.”


Everyone loses a day a month due to technology

Workers are pictured beneath clocks displaying time zones in various parts of the world at an outsourcing centre in BangaloreDespite the best efforts of IT teams, suppliers and vendors the average UK worker still loses a day a month due to technology issues.

New research released today from Managed 24/7 reports how poor IT affects the UK’s workforce productivity.

The report said that it is widely accepted that the UK is facing a productivity crisis and this report outlines, for the first time, how much of this loss is caused by poor IT systems and infrastructure.

The report suggests that IT failure could cost the UK £35 billion per year if the average amount of time lost was applied to all full-time workers, the equivalent of the entire population of Birmingham and Milton Keynes not working all year.

The average GB employee in the private sector who uses IT and has wasted any time, wastes on average 5.59 percent  of their total working time due to IT issues. This equates to 27 minutes per day, 2.5 hours per week or more than one working day per four-week month.

In addition to the underlying costs in term of productivity and the bottom line, the report also found that among employees who use IT at work:

More than 32 percent  believe that their workplace IT systems are damaging their ability to do a good job, which rises to 37 percent  for firms with more than 500 employees

Another 44 percent  believe that IT problems directly costs their business time and money

More than 40 percent  felt that they had better IT systems at home than at work

Another 24 percent  who have experienced IT issues said they have caused customers to complain, rising to 30 percent  in firms with 500 or more employees

John Pepper, CEO and Founder of Managed 24/7, said: “The UK is facing a productivity crisis. The UK currently ranks seventh in the G7 and 17th in the G20 for productivity per person, and fixing our outdated and poorly managed IT systems and infrastructure will play a significant role in closing this gap.

“It takes a German worker four days to produce what his or her UK counterpart does in five and this crisis is resulting in the UK lags well behind other developed nations. In light of recent outages such as at British Airways and the NHS, it is time for the UK to address the issue to ensure we aren’t left behind by our more agile neighbours.”

The top four issues experienced by IT users in the last year:

Slow-running systems / equipment (65 percent ); Failures in connection (54 percent ); Outdated kit or software (32 percent ); Equipment not being ready for a new starter (23 percent )

When problems do occur, more than a third (34 percent ) of all IT users do not feel that they receive sufficient IT support. This is more marked for very large organisations (firms employing 500 or more staff where 36 percent  of staff feeling dissatisfied). Large companies (those with more than 500 employees) have the worst record for resolving IT issues, with 15 percent  of respondents finding it typically takes more than a day for stuff to be resolved.

Staff attempt to fix things on their own, with 27 percent  of respondents saying they are most likely to sort IT glitches themselves, with men more likely to sort out their own problems (34 percent ) than women (20 percent ).

IT blights some industries more than others. The top four industries of those that experience problems were:

Retail (27.70 minutes lost per day)
Hospitality and leisure (25.83 minutes lost per day)
Legal (24.74 minutes lost per day)
Finance and Accounting (22.60 minutes lost per day)


PCs ruin family life

A happy family - WikimediaSlow PCs mean people in the UK are wasting hours messing around with machines rather than doing more constructive things like cooking, going on a date, or even having a nap.

Those are the results from memory company Crucial, which surveyed 1,148 people in the UK in November this year.

The survey estimates that the average time a person finds herself or himself waiting for a slow device each day is 6.5 minutes, adding up to 45 minutes a week or 39.4 hours a year.

Crucial comes to the conclusion that given a population of over 55.5 million people here, that adds up to a total figure for the country of 2.13 billion hours.

Twenty seven percent of people in the UK don’t think they have a good tech-life balance, with half saying they spend mre time using technology at home compared to a year ago.

More than one in 10 people spend more time at home with tech than they do with their partner.

Roddy McClean, who works at Crucial, said: “A simple computer memory upgrade is quick and easy to complete and will speed up a slow laptop or PC.”  That, he thinks, will give people more time to keep their partner happy.

NSA boss had cash stashed in tech companies

KeithAlexanderFormer top spook Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms

It seems that he did not think that when he warned the American public that it was at “greater risk” from a terrorist attack in the wake of the Snowden disclosures the companies he was investing in would make more money.

Alexander was very honest about it. Each year he had reported his investments, but he also ticked the checked box next to this statement: “Reported financial interests or affiliations are unrelated to assigned or prospective duties, and no conflicts appear to exist.”

The documents were obtained and published Friday by Vice News as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent lawsuit against the NSA brought by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold.

From 2008 through 2013, document that as of 2008, Alexander had as much as $50,000 invested in Synchronoss, a cloud storage firm. Synchronoss provides services to major mobile phone providers, including AT&T, Verizon and others.

He had cash in  Datascension, a “data gathering and research company.” Public trades in the firm were suspended by the Securities and Exchange Commission in August 2014 due to “a lack of current and accurate information” about it.

Pericom, a semiconductor company makes hardware for “DVR solutions for the CCTV security and surveillance markets,” also appears in his portfolio, with investments up to $15,000 appearing as of 2008.

Until 2013 he had money squirreled away in RF Micro Devices, a company that makes “high-performance semiconductor components” for “aerospace and defence markets,” among others. RF Micro Devices has done $10.5 million worth of business with the government, including $9.5 million of the Department of Defence.

Alexander has been a little controversial since leaving the NSA. He founded a company called IronNet Cybersecurity, which offers protection services to banks for up to $1 million per month. This has led some cynics to suggest he is advising companies how to avoid the sort of snooping he set up while working at the NSA.


It is a Luddite world, claims PayPal co-founder

LudditePeter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, said that we live in a world where science is hated and real technological progress has stalled.

Thiel told the Gartner Symposium/IT this week that there is little innovation out there and he blames the fact that we are living in a financial, capitalistic age.

He said that this is a period in history when  people generally dislike science and technology. Movies “all show technology that doesn’t work, that … kills people, that it is bad for the world.”

Terminator, The Matrix, Avatar, Elysium and Gravity. The message of Gravity is that “you never want to go into outer space”. The movie industry is reflecting and feeding a public bias against science, he said.

Thiel added that technology has a much different meaning today than it did in the 1950s or 1960s. During that period, it meant computers and rockets, underwater cities, new forms of energy and all sorts of supersonic airplanes. Since then, there “has been this narrowing” view that technology is mostly information technology, he said.

While advances today may be enough to dramatically improve business efficiencies and create great new companies, “it’s not clear it’s always enough to take our civilization to the next level,” said Thiel.

Thiel thinks that there is a lack of any conviction. If you have conviction around getting certain things done, a very short list of things, that’s how you really push for progress,” whether in a corporation or government.

He said that the Manhattan project, which built a nuclear bomb in 3.5 years, and led to the moon landing in the 1960s was a complex coordination around a well-defined plan, which is very out of fashion.

DVLA website crashes

Wikimedia CommonsWorried UK motorists have bombarded the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website causing it to crush as they rushed to pay their car tax online..

From this Wednesday, drivers don’t have to display the paper discs familiar to all in the windscreen.

But that means that motorists trying to renew their car tax by Wednesday have been frustrated because the DVLA technology can’t cope with the demand.

According to the BBC, the DVLA said 30,000 people visited its web site compared to the same day in 2013.  It said that if motorists can’t get online, they should renew their car tax at UK Post Offices.

The RAC has claimed that the digital system will mean tax dodging costing £167 million a year, a claim that the DVLA rebuts.

So how is the DVLA spot the tax dodgers?  It is relying on cameras that use number plate recognition cameras.

IT geeks safe as jobs rise

Jobcentre-plus-IT job vacancies are on the rise.

According to he latest data from CWJobs.co.uk, the sector looks set to be on track to rise back to pre-recession levels.

The company cited first quarter data, which showed that the volume of permanent vacancies had risen for the fourth year in a row. It also showed that  IT jobs were  only 15 percent below where they were, pre-recession, in the first quarter of 2008, compared to 41 percent just three years ago.

As Britain’s economic outlook finally shows signs of stabilising, the company added it was likely that businesses were taking on additional staff as they anticipate expanding, or try to trigger growth.

Alongside the industry’s positive performance, maintaining steady growth is SQL, which has remained the most in demand skill over the last five years. In the last year however, new data shows that demand for C# has overtaken C as a desired skill for employees, as employers look beyond the older programming language.

As a continued result of business outsourcing functions and consumer technology development, software houses and consultancies lead the way in industry growth with vacancy rises of over 1.4 percent last year.

Other sectors are also showing signs of steady growth, such as finance and retail, have increased 0.7 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.

The only area showing less sign of prosperity is the public sector, as permanent roles decreased 0.4 percent.

Not enough women work in IT: official

old schoolWomen are still falling behind in the information technology and computing job front, which could have an impact on innovation IEEE has said.

According to the organisation, in 2009 only 18 percent of all computer and information science undergraduate degrees were awarded to women in the US.

It added that research by the National Committee of Women in Information Technology had also suggested things weren’t set to change with predictions that US universities would only produce only 52 percent of the computer science bachelor’s degrees needed to fill the 1.4 million available jobs by 2018.

IEEE pointed out that the lack of diverse perspectives could inhibit innovation, productivity, and competitiveness, and result in the US not having the professional workforce required to meet future needs.

In the current issue of  its Computer Society’s Computer magazine, the organisation  addresses the important challenge of building gender diversity in computing through guest writers in the academic space.

Jane Chu Prey a programme director at the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education, said: “We face a great challenge, but one that can be conquered if we all work together. We need to recognise that to be successful, we must have a diverse workforce, and we all need to help build it.”

Alfred C Weaver, director of the University of Virginia’s Applied Research Institute, and a professor of computer science, also pointed out that the problem started from reception age and extended through undergraduate education and on to graduate school and industry.

“There is no easy solution or quick fix. All segments of the pipeline need attention,” he said.

The organisation hopes that by highlighting the problem it will encourage more women to join the technology ranks in the future.

Insurance companies don’t know who their customers are

insuranceResellers trying to peddle insurance along with hardware packages might find themselves in hot water because the insurance industry has a problem identifying its customers.

Analyst outfit Ovum said that insurance companies are badly informed when it comes to working out who their customers are as the whole industry is getting turned on its head by new technology.

New research from the analysts highlights how the insurance sector is trying to adapt to new models of commerce and some are falling behind.

An Ovum spokesperson said that insurance is moving from a model where one-to-many messaging works, particularly in mass media, to a framework where consumers are gaining more power in the business transaction.

This means that insurance companies are designing packages which do not meet the needs of consumers and if they are being sold as part of a reseller, or warranty package, then it will the IT company that gets hit by the backlash.

Ovum believes that until insurers understand who the customer is, they will be unable to shape, deliver, and strengthen the experience each customer expects. It thinks that insurers, and those who are peddling it, must ensure that marketing is tailored to each individual customer as closely as possible.

Barry Rabkin, principal analyst, Insurance Technology warned that the insurance industry was headed towards a competitive myopia.

He said that customer experiences were becoming the basis of competition in the insurance industry and companies need to encompass customer needs, expectations, and satisfaction into their customer experience management (CEM) strategy.

Bad experiences were also more likely to be communicated thanks to the spread of mobile technology and users who are more informed and interconnected people who are seeking advice from each other.

If a reseller does not closely monitor their insurance packages to make sure they are what their customers think they are getting, it could be their brand that suffers. Customers are more likely to blame the company they bought the package from, before they moan about the insurance.

Resellers have to offer more personalised insurance packages rather than hoping that one size will fit all.

Insurers and the companies that repackage their products must quickly weave in the importance of customer experience into the company strategy at each touch point in order to succeed or fail to meet their expectations, Rabkin said.