Search Results for: automation

The pressing need for more women to forge careers in STEM disciplines

????????????????????One of the most pressing economic challenges facing the UK is producing enough qualified professionals in the key science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines. And, as a number of new reports make clear, the problem is compounded by the failure of enough women to develop careers in those areas that will define the country’s economic future. It was a point raised in a recent Government report into the UK’s digital future. Writing for the BBC earlier this month Dame Prof Ann Dowling the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering laid out the scale of the problem; by 2022 the UK will need at least 1.82 million new engineering, science and technology professionals. What is also becoming clear is that, while many women are keen to develop STEM careers, they face a series of obstacles at every step.

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Smart city systems will substantially reduce CO2 emissions, claims report

London trafficA new report from Juniper Research claims that traffic management and parking systems in the new generation of smart cities will reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by some 164 million metric tonnes (MMT) over the next five years, equivalent to the emissions of 35 million vehicles annually. The report also claims that this will transform the lives of those who live and work in cities as it manages the 700 million vehicles that will travel around the world’s cities in 2019. The report, Smart Cities: Strategies, Energy, Emissions & Cost Savings 2014-2019, claims that high levels of city traffic congestion combined with advancements in ‘Internet of Things’ sensors and software solutions has driven plans to reduce high traffic levels through smart initiatives.

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Market for smart cities set to triple worldwide over next five years

According to a new report, the global market for smart cities will grow by nearly a factor of three from $411.31 billion in 2014 to $1,135 billion by 2019. The not so snappily titled report, “Smart Cities Market by Smart Home, Intelligent Building Automation, Energy Management, Smart Healthcare, Smart Education, Smart Water, Smart Transportation, Smart Security, & by Services – Worldwide Market Forecasts and Analysis (2014 – 2019)”, has been published by MarketsandMarkets, and claims to define and segment smart cities into various sub-segments of technologies, solutions, services and regions with in-depth analysis and forecasting of revenues. The authors also claim that the report identifies drivers and restraints of this market with insights on trends, opportunities, and challenges.

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Rise in staff social media profiling will transform the workplace

Digital monitoring of staff will transform the workplace claims surveyWhether or not the younger generation are in fact more technically astute is still open to debate, but one thing is clear, they’re far less perturbed at the idea of being digitally monitored than the older generation. New research reveals that the younger generation are more open to sharing their personal data with their employees, with 36 per cent of Generation Y workers saying they would be happy to do so. Nearly a third of people would be happy for their employer to have access to their personal data, such as social media profiles and this kind of data monitoring of employees will rise over the next decade as Generation Y enters the workforce. Given the fact that by 2020 this generation will form half of the global workforce – they’re set to bring with them their different attitudes to technology and personal data. More →

Virtually Uninspiring, Cautiously Aspirational – award winning offices for the VUCA world.

award winning officesWorld-of-work watchers will be more than aware that we are increasingly being informed that we are living in the VUCA age, which under normal circumstances is an acronym for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous but in the context of these RIBA Award Winners for 2014 might be taken in a number of other ways. Commentators and self-styled thought leaders are warning businesses to prepare for seismic changes to the way work gets done, where, how and by whom (or by what, if proponents of automation and robotics have anything to do with it). How lovely then, that RIBA have made awards to seven offices that hark back to more comforting, more halcyon, times. The text of the accompanying feature in Architects Journal is at pains to point out that offices are hard to design and that RIBA awards are hard won. I wouldn’t disagree on the former point but, from the evidence on show, it’s a bit more of a challenge to agree with the later. So I won’t.

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The Wall Street Journal (and others) are wrong about human resources

original_dustpan-and-brushEverybody ready? Great. Then it’s time for another round of HR bashing and a tipping point for more existential navel-gazing for everyone’s favourite corporate pantomime villain – the human resources department. Or is it? You can choose your own particular moment at which the crowd boos and hisses at the bad guys in HR, but hot on the heels of the Lucy Adams debacle at the Beeb and a report that finds human resources to be the profession with the most “can’t do” attitude comes an article from, of all places, the Wall Street Journal that looks at what it means to do away with your HR function altogether. The restrictions of the word count being what they are, coupled with the way sweeping generalisations provide the quickest way to guarantee a bump in readership, the WSJ takes the broadest of brushes to add another coat to the painting of HR as an ancillary function that, far from oiling the wheels of commerce, is often a distraction at best and, at worst, an active obstruction.

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The enduring need to put a bit more of the M into facilities management

Shutterstock's new offices, Empire State Building

Shutterstock’s new offices, Empire State Building

It may well be a statement of the obvious, but it’s worth reminding ourselves sometimes that the term facilities management consists of two words. There is often a bit too much emphasis on the facilities and a bit too little on the management and sometimes we look for design and product solutions to problems that would be better managed in some way. You can put this down to a number of things but to some extent at least it’s down the idea that when you are determined to use a hammer, every job looks like a nail. Obviously the media takes some of the blame for this mindset because it often earns income from businesses who want to sell their stuff to solve particular problems rather than focus on the idea that many of them can be addressed either as a management issue or in combination with products and design.

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The workplace should be designed for (and by) people, not robots

Omnicorp logoFrom existential and dystopian fears expressed through books and films, we have long had an uneasy relationship with the idea of automatons and artificial intelligence. The UKCES saw robotics and automation as significant enough to include in it’s recent report on the future of work and the risks to jobs are very real based even on the more widespread adoption of the technologies already available to us. The possibility that many people may cease to have any economic value is a challenge we seem ill-equipped to meet. As ever, the web giants are leading the charge with Amazon prototyping delivery of packages by the kind of drones more commonly used over the tribal badlands of Afghanistan, as well as Google’s recent purchase of Boston Dynamics, makers of military-spec robots. The people behind the algorithms that gave us the unintentional hilarity of Google Suggest are now branching to create the sort of killer robots produced by OmniCorp in the Robocop movies.

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The workplace of the future is one founded on uncertainty

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

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 →

The future belongs to those who leave themselves choices of how to deal with it

unknown-futureEverybody likes to talk and read about the future. It’s one of the reasons we see so many reports about what the ‘office of the future’ will look like. Often these attempts at workplace prognosis are overwhelmingly  rooted in the present which might betray either a degree of timidity or lack of awareness of just how far along their standard list of trends we really are. Even when such reports appear to be bang on the money, they tend to disregard one of the most important factors we need to consider when trying to get a handle on the future, which is the need to leave ourselves choices. This is important because not only will the future be stranger than we think, but stranger than we can imagine, to paraphrase J B S Haldane.

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