Agile working: does it work? Telegraph Business feature

people-woman-coffee-meetingAgile working can help boost productivity and improve staff morale, but companies need to plan their strategy carefully so that it doesn’t become a disorganised mess. That’s the conclusion of a piece I’ve written for The Telegraph here.

In the 20th century, organisations that wanted to succeed needed to make sure that all employees turned up to a place of work during designated hours, usually between 9am and 5pm.

However, with advances in technology, particularly smartphones and faster home broadband, this is no longer the case. Today, it’s often argued that flexibility helps organisations get more from their teams.

Many businesses now offer flexible working to help individual employees with their work/life balance, while some go much further, implementing ‘‘agile working’’ practices to enable all staff to work wherever and whenever they want, with the help of the latest technologies.

But does agile working really allow staff to work more smartly and collaborate on projects more easily or does it just lead to increased confusion and greater security risks? You can read the full piece here. 

Telegraph (22/11/17) – Taking on the money launderers

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Great to have a full page in yesterday’s Telegraph Business Section on money laundering. It’s such a massive topic at the moment and such a huge problem around the world – but especially in the UK because of its reputation as a financial services centre.

Although money laundering has been around since the beginning of time, it’s now estimated to cost the UK government a whopping £80 billion a year in lost revenue – obviously money that could be spent on hospitals and schools.

While technology, especially cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, may be helping money launderers hide their ill gotten gains, it’s also helping banks and governments spot suspicious transactions more easily using artificial intelligence/machine learning.

In this article I interview BAE Systems’ Rob Horton about how they are helping financial institutions to take a more proactive approach to detecting money laundering in their organisations.

You can read the full article by clicking on the link below:

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Daily Telegraph: It’s time to bridge the gender gap (19/7/17)

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According to statistics from the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) less than 10 per cent of the UK’s engineering workforce is female, the lowest anywhere in Europe. Yet at the same time, we face a massive skills shortage across the sector.

So what is being done to make engineering an attractive career option for women? And once we have got women into the industry how do we support them to return to work if they leave to have children, take a career break or care for elderly relatives?

These were just some of the questions posed to a panel of expert speakers at a recent roundtable event hosted by The Daily Telegraph and supported by BAE Systems.

You can read my full report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph by clicking on the link below.

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Samsung Futurescape – What is the ‘new normal’?

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Most people probably know Samsung best for its range of mobile phones, but it’s fair to say that the Korean giant offers a wide range of tech solutions for businesses as well as consumers.

Recently I went along to the manufacturer’s Futurescape event on behalf of The Daily Telegraph to see how Samsung is working with companies on everything from Virtual Reality to Artificial Intelligence.

For example, one of Samsung’s partners is Thomas Cook which is introducing Gear VR headsets in some of its 700 stores to help bring holidays and holiday excursions to life when people are thinking about booking them.

Other exhibits at this year’s Futurescape included a start-up estate agent that is using VR to guide people through homes and a company using wearable devices, such as Samsung’s Gear 3 smart watches, to alert retailers if a VIP walks into the building.

Says Graham Long, Vice President, Samsung Electronics, UK and Ireland: “I used to apologise to our enterprise customers about Samsung being a predominantly business to consumer brand and our lack of business heritage, but now the behaviour of the market has swung completely to our advantage.”

You can read the full article here.  Or see the content from the newspaper below.

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Daily Telegraph: Bring apprenticeships into focus

Daily Telegraph apprenticeships.JPGReally pleased with my page in The Telegraph‘s Business Section today about apprenticeships and the apprenticeship levy. Not that many companies seem to know about the 0.5 per cent levy which all companies with a pay bill of £3m will have to pay from next April.

So anything that draws attention to the issue has to be a good thing. Also, with graduates leaving University with so much debt (average is over £40,000)  it makes sense for some people to go the apprenticeship route, rather than going to college.

I think it’s time we stopped looking at people without degrees as second class citizens and started opening up more routes into careers for people with talent regardless of whether they have got a degree or not.

Of course that means offering high levels of training which is where the apprenticeship levy comes in.

How big companies are preparing for next year’s #Apprenticeship levy

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Maybe it’s appropriate that on the day when a former host of reality TV show The Apprentice becomes America’s 45th President that I should be writing about Apprenticeships. But that’s what I have been doing recently.

Coming out next week in The Telegraph is a piece I’ve written about how large companies are preparing for The Apprenticeship Levy – a 0.5 per cent tax that all companies with a turnover of £3 million per year will have to pay from April 2017 to invest in apprenticeships and training.

As part of the feature I attended a roundtable sponsored by BAE Systems to discuss how big companies like the BBC, Network Rail and Airbus are gearing up towards the changes by aligning their apprenticeships to government approved schemes.

Once the levy is paid and the apprenticeships approved, companies will then be eligible to ‘draw down’ the funding from their digital accounts within 18 months. They will also be entitled to a further 10% top up payment from the Government.

I think it’s generally a good idea and might well encourage talented people to go straight into industry who may otherwise have been put off by the thought of having to go to University and accumulating massive debts in the process (average graduate debt is now over £45,000).

However, I suspect that the levy might well come as a bit of a shock to smaller companies with around a £3 million turnover who aren’t even aware of the levy yet, let alone have begun to think how they might invest in apprenticeships over the coming months and years.

Whatever, it will certainly represent a change of focus so that going to University won’t be the only option for young people who want to get on in their chosen career.

 

 

Daily Telegraph: Digital Leaders conference

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Today I went to the Daily Telegraph Digital Leaders conference in London’s Bishopsgate. I had to get there super early (7.30am!!) to report on a breakfast roundtable which was really interesting (and the breakfast was really good especially the danish pastries and yoghurt).

Essentially it was a breakfast intended for larger companies who are trying to get to grips with the digital revolution and new ways of thinking and acting more quickly. There were two main speakers: Accenture’s Narry Singh and Alberto Prado, Vice President Head of Digital Accelerator at Royal Philips.

Narry talked about ‘Chapter 1 thinking’ and about how many big companies have only really made the first steps towards becoming fully digital organisations. They also both talked about some of the recruitment challenges that companies face hiring some of the best digital talent, many of whom are tempted to work for start-ups or as contractors for a short period of time.

Anyway, you can also read my previous interview with Narry which appeared in The Daily Telegraph today. My report on the digital breakfast will be in a few days time (when I’ve written it!)

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Daily Telegraph: Cloud computing and job opportunities

CloudcomputingThere’s no doubt that cloud computing, combined with the internet of things, are the future for IT globally.

In this piece for The Daily Telegraph, published in conjunction with online courses company The Learning People, I talk about the opportunities that exist in the cloud computing market.

“Anybody who has experience in cloud computing will go straight to the head of the queue when it comes to IT job interviews,” says IT consultant Nick Bown.

See the full story here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/education/online-learning-courses/12037480/cloud-computing-skills.html

Daily Telegraph: Agile thinking in project management

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It’s not only the IT industry that lives in ‘beta’, constantly iterating their latest products. The construction industry is also using agile techniques to deliver projects on time and on budget.

In this feature for The Telegraph, in conjunction with online courses company The Learning People, I look at how Agile Thinking – formalised on a US ski slope in Utah over 10 years ago – is sweeping across other industries.

You can read the article here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/education/online-learning-courses/12037477/benefits-of-agile-thinking.html

Panasonic launches new Toughbook at Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard

Panasonic-CF20I’ve been to the top of the Shard a couple of times now. But I’ve never been to the Shangri-La hotel before (and I’ve still not visited the infinity pool on Floor 52, darn it) so the launch of the new Panasonic Toughbook seemed like a good opportunity to check out the views.

Despite the initial embarrassment of having a drink at the wrong press reception (a nice lady from some US insurance firm came over and told me I needed to head down the corridor) eventually I got my hands on the new Toughbook. It looks like a great, versatile product for those who need computing power out in the field – though we wouldn’t recommend dropping it off the 34th Floor where the hotel reception is.

You can see my interview with the Toughbook product guy on YouTube below – needless to say it was very noisy there (I blame all those people from the insurance firms down the corridor). And next time I really want to sneak in with my towel and trunks to visit the pool!