February 16, 2015
The Government has launched a scheme to attract US tech firms to set up or ramp up their businesses in the UK. The tech sector is already worth around £120 billion to the UK and the Government hopes the HQ-UK programme will offer investors a chance to tap into a well-established pool of talent and a business-friendly and low tax economy. The initiative is a joint venture between Tech City, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. HQ-UK will simplify and quicken processes for visa applications and setting up UK bank accounts. The programme will also highlight the UK’s high skilled tech savvy workforce, the Government’s commitment to the development of programming skills in schools and the second largest labour market in the EU.
February 11, 2015
Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Advisor Lord Young produced a report into the key trends experienced by the UK’s small businesses over the past five years. According to the headline figures presented by the report, this is a ‘golden era’ for small businesses in the UK, with a record number of small firms in the country. The reported 5.2 million small firms represents an increase of 760,000 over the five year period covered by the study. The report concludes that the main drivers of this upsurge are the growing belief people have in their own ideas and abilities coupled with the technological wherewithal to make them a commercial reality. Lord Young also claims the Government deserves some credit for providing the business landscape for this to happen. But is it really that simple?
February 7, 2015
In this week’s issue; the UK takes a leading role in the development of the Internet of Things and the government publishes a guide to digital economy clusters; news that Europe’s commercial property market ‘sizzled’ during 2014 while a report suggests city leaders are the main obstacles to the implementation of urban infrastructure. Mark Eltringham derides more attempts to define the workplace of the future; Sara Bean warns that employers need to consider whether their workplace has an inclusive design; and as the winners of the first ever employee engagement awards are announced research reveals the cost of disengaged employees. Sign up to the newsletter via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar and follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
February 5, 2015
The UK Government has published what it says is the first comprehensive analysis of the UK’s digital economy clusters as part of an ‘interactive data project’ called Tech Nation*. The project shows the development of digital businesses by region across the UK. The project has been developed by Tech City UK, the government’s flagship organisation focused on the UK’s digital economy. The project suggests that there are now nearly 1.5 million jobs in the UK digital sector with around three quarters (74 percent) of them outside London. While the Government is keen to portray this as a nationwide success story, this still means that there are twice as many jobs per head in London’s digital sector as the national average and, as we reported earlier, the Government’s rollout of fast broadband to rural areas remains woefully inadequate.
February 5, 2015
The disjointed approach of the UK Government to the rollout of fast broadband is evident with the publication of a new report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. In true The Thick Of It fashion, the report appeared just as the head of the Cabinet Office Francis Maude was speaking at this week’s Slate 15 event praising the Government’s successes in the development of digital services. While progress is being made in many areas, it’s also clear that the patchy roll-out of fast rural broadband is holding back rural businesses and workers. The new report claims that people in rural areas are largely overlooked by the government’s £1bn Broadband Delivery UK project which aims to have broadband in all UK properties by 2017, including superfast broadband in 95 percent.
February 3, 2015
The UK government has today published new information about over 13,000 miles of publicly owned digital infrastructure and outlined steps to ensure that these networks are used to improve connectivity for users and businesses across the country. Each year the government claims to spend around £1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money on public sector networks, including signal masts, fibre optics, and cables but had no comprehensive database of the details of the current infrastructure. The Government now hopes that the publication of the details of the nation’s public digital infrastructure will allow its spare capacity to be used effectively, to minimise the chance that a lack of knowledge will lead to unnecessary duplication and to allow more parts of the UK to enjoy better digital coverage and enhance the benefits of flexible working.
February 3, 2015
Ofcom, the UK Government’s regulatory body for the telecoms industry, has published its strategy to establish the ways in which the UK can have a leading role in the development of the Internet of Things. The technology, which links objects to each other wirelessly, is already installed in some 40 million devices in the UK and Ofcom predicts this number will grow in to the hundreds of millions by 2022 with more than a billion daily transfers of information. The report is calling for a collaborative programme of work led by the private sector and government to create a regulatory and business environment that encourage the uptake of the technology and drives investment and innovation. The report lays out the key criteria needed to make this a reality and presents a range of scenarios in which the technology yields discernible benefits.
January 28, 2015
The full extent of the way digital technology is transforming British working life is apparent in new research published by Brunel University. The study – essentially a snapshot of the digital revolution in 2015 – found that 98 percent of the 830 businesses surveyed have a website, 8 in 10 manage finances online, 53 percent provide flexible working and 63 percent see innovation as a way to improve customer satisfaction. However, the study also reveals a major gulf between big business and SMEs, with larger firms significantly more digitised than their smaller contemporaries. This raises concerns over the preparedness of the SME sector at a time when the Government’s growth agenda has prioritised nurturing and supporting new and evolving enterprises – and for whom the digital battleground has broken down traditional barriers to entry.
January 23, 2015
The grassroots nature of flexible working and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices is revealed in a new study from Intel Security which found that over three quarters (78 percent) of employees use their own electronic devices to work while a similar proportion (79 percent) use their company-issued devices for their personal activities. The survey of 2,500 professionals worldwide also found that 40 percent of people are happy to work ‘wherever’. While firms continue to have concerns about the security implications of BYOD and an itinerant workforce, their employees are rather more confident with the overwhelming majority (77 percent) confident that their employers have taken all appropriate security measures to protect data, even though a third (35 percent) admit that they log onto unsecured public wireless networks.
January 22, 2015
Despite greater awareness of the potential benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), especially as a way of supporting flexible workers, a large number of European firms remain concerned about the security implications of the practice, according to a new study by HP of their attitudes to workplace technology. The study of 1,130 organisations in eight European countries found half believe that BYOD was likely to compromise their organisation and of those firms who had already implemented the practice, a fifth had experienced at least one security breach in the preceding year. In addition, fewer than half (43 percent) are confident that personal devices are properly secure, with a third (36 percent) expressing specific concerns about the contamination of networks with malware and viruses.
January 22, 2015
With all the chatter regarding BYOD and wearable tech, you’d think that the average worker must roam free. Yet worldwide, over three quarters (79 percent) of office workers still use a desktop computer; just over a third (36 percent) have devices that allow for mobility and only 39 percent of office workers can work from alternative places at least once a week. Those were just some of the results of a global survey carried out by Steelcase into levels of satisfaction amongst office workers. And far from encouraging mobile working the survey found that well over half (57 percent) of companies do not have facilities for mobile workers and external suppliers. Such low levels of mobility had led a significant proportion (41 percent) of the 7324 participants from 10 countries, to say they were “not satisfied” with their work environment.
January 21, 2015
The divides in the UK economy are not only geographical, but also technological. That is the conclusion of two new reports into the country’s economic makeup and the differences that mark out the North and South of the UK as well as its rural and urban economies. While the Centre for Cities 2015 Outlook report has focused attention on the North South divide with widespread media coverage, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) has also identified a second split between the digital economies of urban and rural areas. The former report paints a picture of a two-speed economy and a widening gap between South-East England and the rest of the UK while the latter highlights the damage done to businesses in rural areas as they struggle to cope with sub-par broadband.
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