Might a lack of joined-up thinking undermine UK high-tech ambitions?

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Old Street: the UK's tech epicentre

Old Street: the UK’s tech epicentre

Over the past week both Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson have offered up visions of economic success founded on new technology. Yet, as the CBI points out in a new report pinpointing the dearth of talent needed to  make such dreams a reality, politicians often appear to ignore the realities of a situation. In its new report, Engineering our Future,  the CBI calls for significant action to make a career in the key disciplines of science, technology, engineering and maths more attractive and easier to pursue. The report points out that these are the skills needed to underpin the Government’s stated focus on the tech, environmental, engineering and manufacturing industries that will shape the country’s future and is calling for a cut in tuition fees, new courses and inter-disciplinary qualifications to allow those skills to flourish.

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Employees have spent average of £500 on BYOD, claims European survey

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Iphone-5It’s not so long ago that companies were looking to ban employees from using social media and their own phones during work hours, or at least introducing policies to make it a disciplinary issue. Oh, we can LOL about it now but at the time it was routinely compared to the smoking ban, forcing educated adults to huddle outside fire escapes for a quick Facebook fix while their old-school colleagues sat in the warmth, offline but manning the phones. Of course, all this was before firms worked out they could actually get employees to pay for their own stuff and save themselves the expense. All they had to do was label it BYOD and talk about empowerment and people would cheerfully fork out what turns out to be a reasonable amount of money so the firm doesn’t have to.

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The workplace of the future is one founded on uncertainty

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workplace of the futureWe now know for a fact that the good people at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills take heed of what they read on Workplace Insight. After Simon Heath recently eviscerated the idea of the year 2020 as a useful marker for the ‘future’, a new report from the UKCES draws its line in the sand a bit further on in 2030. It means they can’t have a ‘2020 Vision’ and for that we should be very thankful.  Yet the report still falls into the same traps that are always liable to ensnare any prognosis about the workplace of the future, notably that some of the things of which they talk have happened or are happening already. Then there’s the whole messy business of deciding what will emerge from the chaos; a bit like predicting the flavour of the soup you are making when a hundred other cooks are secretly adding their own ingredients.

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Business continuity report confirms technology still biggest threat to firms

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Lock backgroundForget the recent UK floods. When it comes to risks to their businesses, it’s still tech that keeps business leaders awake at night, according to the latest annual Business Continuity Institute Horizon Scan report. Technology related threats continue to rank higher than natural disasters, security and industrial action according to the report which gauges the threats that organisations consider to be their biggest concerns. Nearly four-fifths of business leaders fear that an unplanned technological event, cyber attack or data breach will harm their business. Nearly three quarters (73 percent) consider malicious attacks through the Internet a major threat that needs to be managed closely, while nearly two-thirds (63 percent) think that social media remains a challenge. Meanwhile, one of last year’s threats – supply chain resilience – dropped out of the top ten completely.

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By 2030 your colleagues could be old enough to be your great-grandparents

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By 2030 your colleagues could be old enough to be your great-grandparentsBy 2030 four-generation or “4G” workplaces – will become increasingly common as people delay retiring, even into their 80s. Although the role of women in the workplace will strengthen, an increasing divide will mean that while highly-skilled, highly-paid professionals will push for a better work-life balance, others will experience job and income insecurity. Technology will continue to evolve, pervading work environments everywhere, with many routine tasks becoming the domain of the smart algorithm. Multi media “virtual” work presences will become the norm, and as businesses seek additional flexibility, they will decrease the size of their core workforces, instead relying on networks of project-based workers. This is all according to the Future of Work, published this week by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). More →

‘Big Data’ is shaping the human experience within buildings

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Empire State Building

As the cost of implementation comes down, the same “Smart” technology that is harnessing the predictive power of “Big Data” to help solve congestion problems in cities is being more routinely deployed in buildings. The Changing Face of Smart Buildings: The Op-Ex Advantage, published by Jones Lang LaSalle, explains how bringing a Big Data analytics-based approach to facilities management can increase employee comfort, engagement and productivity; whether helping organisations adapt more readily to supporting flexible workplace practises or using sustainability as a hook for engaging employees. In one notable example; by adding smart building components to a major Empire State Building energy refit, real-time energy displays enable tenants to better monitor and control their energy consumption, and even compete with other tenants in the landmark building to achieve energy savings. More →

HS2 is a project for today projected into an uncertain future

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Back to the futureBarely a day passes in the media without some new battleground opening up in the debate about the UK’s plan to develop HS2, the high speed line connecting London with Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and, for some reason, a place nobody’s heard of halfway between Derby and Nottingham called Toton (pop. 7,298). While the debate rages about the cost, the economic benefits, regional rebalancing, environmental impact, route and why the Scots and others are paying for a project that may leave them with worse train services,  one of the fundamental flaws with the case for HS2 goes largely disregarded. It is that this is clearly a project designed for today, but that won’t be complete for another twenty years. The world then will be very different and, unfortunately, time isn’t quite as malleable as the movies would have us believe.

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European cities vie to wear Tech Hub crown

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© Walt Disney Productions

© Walt Disney Productions

You may not realise it, but apparently there is a close fought race being run between European cities for the title of European Tech Hub. According to a new report from Colliers International the front runners are London, Berlin, Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich and, in a Eurovision-like extension of Europe’s borders, Tel Aviv. London is currently in pole position but Berlin and Dublin are hot on its heels as they vie for the title of Europe’s ‘Silicon Valley’, according to latest research from Colliers International, global real estate advisors. According to the report, London needs to stay on its toes if it is to fend off the upstarts from Germany and Ireland.  Berlin, in particular, is expected to add some 100,000 jobs to its tech sector within the next seven years.

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Virgin Atlantic first airline to apply Google Glass to customer service

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VirginGoogleGLass2

It’s already been predicted that Smart Glasses will be a boon to technicians, engineers and healthcare workers, as well as useful interactive, hands-free devices for office staff. Another obvious application for wearable technology is in customer services. Virgin Atlantic is applying the technology to deliver the airline industry’s most high tech and personalised customer service yet. Working with air-transport specialist SITA, it’s the first airline to test how the technology can best be used to enhance customers’ travel experiences and improve efficiency. During a six week pilot scheme, concierge staff in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing at London Heathrow airport will use wearable technology to greet customers by name and begin the check in process. The benefits to consumers and the business will be evaluated ahead of a potential wider roll-out in the future. More →

Guidance from GCHQ suggests that Windows XP is no longer secure

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Open lockWorking from home to avoid the tube strike or weather-related travel chaos? Well, the perils associated with working from home may be more complex than contending with poor time management, feelings of isolation and a propensity to gain weight and neglect personal hygiene. The UK’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) is advising that all public sector staff who are still using Windows XP at home should be denied access to networks. By extension we can conclude that it’s not safe for anybody to be running the old yet still commonplace operating system after Microsoft announced it was withdrawing support from  the 8th April despite the fact that over a third of all PCs worldwide still use Windows XP.

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Economic recovery may be constrained by lack of skills and office space

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Supply and demandThere are signs that the nascent recovery in the UK economy is already starting to put pressure on the availability of skilled employees and appropriate commercial property for the most rapidly growing sectors. While the Government has announced that the UK’s economy has been growing at its fastest rate since 2007, a new survey published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES ) has claimed that nearly a quarter of vacancies in the UK have gone unfilled because of a shortage of much-needed skills. At the same time, claims a new report from DTZ, demand for commercial property is strengthening with take-up growing across the country while the availability of Grade A office space is declining rapidly.

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BIM learning opportunities expand in new RICS and Salford University agreement

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BIM learning opportunities expand in new RICS and Salford University agreementA distance learning version of a Certificate in BIM Implementation and Management, available online to professionals across the world is being offered by the University of Salford’s School of the Built Environment.  The Certificate is designed to offer those working within the built environment the fundamental knowledge and understanding of BIM principles, terminologies, tools and techniques, including the technology, process and people needs for the successful adoption of BIM on construction projects. A range of new Continuous Professional Development programmes have been agreed with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which includes a one-day Introduction to BIM Implementation and Management and a five-day Certificate in BIM Implementation and Management. More →

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