The Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s SMS Protection Registry, which was developed and piloted in the UK, is now being launched in…

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The Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s SMS Protection Registry, which was developed and piloted in the UK, is now being launched in Ireland and Singapore.

The Registry significantly reduces the impact of smishing (SMS phishing) and spoofing by SMS.

In the UK, many major banks and government brands are currently being protected with 352 trusted SenderIDs registered to date. Over 1,500 unauthorised variants are being blocked on an ever-growing list, including 300 senderIDs relating to the government’s coronavirus campaign.

Government agencies, including HMRC and DVLA, are participating in this ecosystem wide anti-fraud solution which is supported by BT/EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, along with the UK’s leading message providers.

The cross-stakeholder working group has seen a significant drop in fraudulent messages being sent to the UK consumers of the participating merchants. Following the success in the UK, The Ireland SMS SenderID Protection Registry is being launched.

The Registry is also launching in Singapore as The Singapore SMS SenderID Protection Registry. With strong interest from numerous other territories, MEF expects new Registries will soon follow.

“There are millions of faked SMS sent by fraudsters trying to steal passwords every day,” says Dario Betti, CEO of the Mobile Ecosystem Forum “We need to help consumers and organisations fight back. Thanks to the collective efforts of the British mobile industry MEF has managed to show a way: a Registry for SMS short-code names.

“The fight against fraudsters is a relentless one, it will never stop. But we are happy to celebrate one successful tool created in the UK.”.

By Robert Hewitt, MB BS, PhD, Biosample Hub The UK has over 150 hospital-associated biobanks, and the function of these…

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By Robert Hewitt, MB BS, PhD, Biosample Hub

The UK has over 150 hospital-associated biobanks, and the function of these biobanks is to provide researchers with consented and carefully processed clinical samples. However, three years ago, the annual report of a UK agency called Medicines Discovery Catapult came up with a shocking finding. A survey conducted by the organisation found that 80% of SMEs (small-to-medium sized biotechs) found accessing samples from the NHS ‘unexpectedly difficult with the result that 75% imported samples from abroad.

This is not a problem exclusive to the UK. Biotech companies everywhere in the world have great difficulty accessing high quality patient samples to support their research and development. And at the root of the problem is the simple fact that patient samples most often originate in a healthcare setting in the public sector. Biotechnology companies are in the private sector and therefore have reduced access.

Hospital biobanks

Hospital biobanks generally exist in teaching hospitals and academic centres. They are publicly-funded and are established for the purpose of supporting research in associated universities and institutes. They require dedicated staff and expensive equipment—such as liquid nitrogen freezers—so the start-up and maintenance costs are considerable. While the start-up phase may be funded by research grants, it is harder to obtain research funding for the on-going maintenance costs of these unglamorous-yet-essential core facilities. So, many biobanks survive on funding provided by their own institution. A typical hospital biobank may have 2-3 staff working extremely hard within a very tight budget to provide professionally-curated clinical samples for in-house researchers.

One way in which biobanks can develop an independent income stream is to charge a fee for the provision of patient samples. However, this must be approached with caution as it is illegal to make a profit from the sale of human tissue in many countries. So, biobanks are allowed to charge a carefully calculated cost-recovery fee.

Access to a biobank’s samples is decided by scientific and ethical committees that are populated by various institutional members (scientists, clinicians, administrators, ethicists), with the frequent addition of a patient representative. These committees judge the merits of each application for samples, and they operate according to institutional policies.

One issue that sometimes reduces the likelihood that samples will be provided to industry is the concern that some patients may not want their samples to be used by commercial organisations that make a profit from them. Whether patients react in this way is very much dependent on how matters are presented to them and whether or not the societal value of industry research is emphasised.

In many cases these biobanks are open to applications from industry, in theory at least. Biobanks of different specialities can be found in various national and regional biobank directories, but unfortunately their level of interest in working with industry is often obscure. So, we have the problem that useful biobanks are hard to find.

Biotechs and Big Pharma are very different

Sample access problems are bigger for smaller, younger biotech companies than for established pharma companies. For one thing, these pharma companies will have had many years to develop networks of hospitals supplying samples. Additionally, the fact that pharma companies conduct clinical trials gives them access to hospitals, doctors and patients. Many large pharma companies have teams of dedicated clinical sample procurement staff and their own in-house biobanks, which often dwarf those found in typical hospital biobanks.

In contrast, a small biotech company, particularly a start-up, has none of these advantages and certainly cannot afford to have staff dedicated to sample procurement.

Looking ‘abroad’

In general, the easiest way for biotech companies to obtain samples is to get them from a commercial broker. These companies have the sole focus of providing clinical samples for industry, and naturally they are driven by the need to make a profit.

Brokers generally find it difficult to obtain their samples from hospitals and biobanks in western Europe, where ethical concerns about the sale of human tissue are prevalent. Some countries in eastern Europe and parts of Asia provide a more reliable source. The USA is one industrialised country where brokers are much more accepted, with many US hospital biobanks being willing to supply brokers. The majority of brokers are based in the USA, and many of these have sample procurement operations that extend across global networks.

Scientifically-speaking, the main disadvantage of using a broker is that sample provenance may be lacking (brokers tend not to reveal their sources for business reasons) and along with this there may be uncertainty about the quality of the samples and hence the reliability of resulting research.

Encourage some practices, discourage others

It must surely be best practice for any researcher to obtain biosamples direct from source, that is, directly from the hospital biobank that collected the sample from the patient. In this way, they can have the most confidence that samples and data have been collected professionally. So biotechs should ideally obtain their samples direct from hospital biobanks.

To encourage this, we need to make it easier for biotechs and hospital biobanks to find each other. Biotechs can search a number of biobank directories to find suitable partners, but this is often a difficult approach. Many of the biobanks listed may not be open to working with industry, or may give companies a low priority. Use of biobank directories often results in a lot of disappointing false leads.

One initiative that offers a solution is the online platform, Biosample Hub. This international platform is dedicated to bringing biotechs and academic/hospital biobanks together, and its use is restricted to these two groups. It includes a directory of biobank and biotech members, a directory of sample requests and social networking features. The only reason for biobanks to be on the platform is to supply industry, so the problem of false leads is minimised. One other key aspect of the platform is that it is not-for-profit, so this overcomes the ethical concerns of many biobanks.

Another way to encourage this is to make it more attractive for hospital biobanks to work with industry. In other words, there need to be more and bigger incentives. The problem is that for many hospital biobanks, local academic researchers get top priority, other academic researchers get second priority, leaving industry at the end of the queue. This is natural, because these biobanks are established as institutional initiatives, with the purpose of serving their own institution. The focus of academic biobanks is very much on research productivity as measured by publication impact, and unfortunately industry, for reasons of intellectual property, faces restrictions about how much work it can publish and when.

The incentive of funding is certainly the most viable option for getting hospital biobanks to work with industry. Biobanks need funding and often operate on shoestring budgets. Much has been written on the subject of biobank sustainability, especially financial sustainability. One approach is for biobanks to charge industry a cost-recovery fee for its samples and also to charge a fee from additional sample processing services, such as cutting sections and extracting DNA. This approach seems to be especially well understood by French biobanks, who use the term valorisation for the process of adding and yielding value from their samples. Almost half of the biobanks that have joined Biosample Hub are French and most offer additional sample processing services. All French hospital biobanks are certified according to the French norm NF S96-900 which must also make them more attractive to industry.

Another approach is to make external grant funding of biobanks conditional on service to industry. This could be aided by making it mandatory for funded biobanks to make their sample access policies public, by requiring annual reports on sample distribution and perhaps even having industry representatives on sample access committees. Patient representatives are well accepted, so why not industry representatives?

Samples that lack provenance

New regulations are likely to have a major impact on how biotech companies source their clinical samples. An example is provided by the new European regulation governing manufacture of in vitro diagnostic devices, which comes into force on the 26th May 2022. To demonstrate conformity, makers of IVDs must show that the biospecimens used to validate their devices have undergone acceptable pre-analytic processing. This will require the sourcing of samples from biobanks that are certified to meet specific quality management standards. As a result, diagnostics companies will need to obtain samples from known sources that provide full provenance information.

This need for provenance information will put pressure on commercial brokers to change their business practices and reveal the source of their samples. One way in which brokers may mitigate this is by using binding contracts with both the provider and the requestor of samples, to prevent them from interacting independently of the broker. Of course, not all companies or biobanks will be comfortable with such restrictions.

There are technological solutions that can be used to ensure the reliability of provenance information of samples and use of these will be beneficial. The use of blockchain is one example. This digital technology allows tracking of the transfer of biospecimens from the patient donor to the researcher in a secure, transparent and ethical manner, with all transactions documented in an incorruptible shared digital ledger.

What do patients want?

In order to speed up development of new therapies, diagnostics and vaccines, do we want to allow biotech companies to have access to the best quality patient samples? Or do we want this access to be blocked for a variety of possibly short-sighted reasons? The time seems ripe for a major change in the way clinical samples are sourced by industry and by smaller biotech companies in particular. Now more than ever, as a result of the pandemic, the general public understands the importance of biotech and pharma companies.

Ericsson organised a dedicated virtual event, Ericsson Digital Unboxed 2021, for Jazz Pakistan, to share its thoughts on industry leadership…

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Ericsson organised a dedicated virtual event, Ericsson Digital Unboxed 2021, for Jazz Pakistan, to share its thoughts on industry leadership and discuss digital infrastructure.

Ericsson’s global and regional experts and thought leaders showcased the latest insights, use cases and technologies tailored to Jazz Pakistan.

During the virtual event, Ericsson shared its technology vision and updates, and also discussed the possibilities for consumer and enterprise segments. It delved into several topics revolving around creating a differentiated user experience for sports, spectrum strategies, and dedicated networks with a focus on B2B segments.

As part of the event, the latest Ericsson ConsumerLab reports were also presented and discussed. Several demos were also part of the event like Edge Compute Gaming, where low latency access can enable a better gaming experience, and Ericsson Industry Connect, a channel-ready cellular network for factories and warehouses, built to streamline ordering, installation, and management for Enterprise IT.

Abdul R. Usmani, VP of Network, Jazz said: “Digitalisation is everywhere and is now part of our daily lives. At Jazz, we aim to provide state-of-the-art end-to-end services to our customers, focused on data-driven networks as well as the need to accelerate technology advancements in the areas of AI, FinTech and digital content.

“The Ericsson Unboxed event showcased several valuable insights which will accelerate the next phase to meet the evolving demands of connectivity. We are looking forward to more insights and are confident in the next step of the digitalisation journey.”

Ekow Nelson, Vice President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa and Head of Ericsson Pakistan added: “Ericsson’s partnership with Jazz spans over many years with several recent wins and shared successes in the areas of network rollout and digital services. Our world is witnessing challenging times due to COVID-19 and connectivity has never been more critical than ever.

“At Ericsson, we endeavor to automate and accelerate our networks and technology to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. We are working closely with Jazz to provide the best possible connectivity, ensuring that Jazz networks run optimally as demand grows and the need for digitalization expedites.”

Spike in investments in medical testing, healthcare and children’s entertainment and education businesses in last three months

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Tech-led businesses, whose models have been further validated by the Covid-19 crisis, have seen unprecedented demand from investors in the last three months, according to tax-efficient platform Wealth Club. Companies which have enjoyed particularly strong demand range from those involved in medical testing and healthcare, to those focused on education and entertainment for children.

Between 6th April and the end of June, £10.8 million was invested into young innovative, EIS qualifying businesses, through Wealth Club’s platform, compared with £4.9 million in the same period last year, an increase of 110%.

EIS deals which have seen strong demand since April through Wealth Club include:

  • Bond Healthcare – a digital platform for the medical testing industry. A £400,000 EIS fundraising round sold out in less than a minute after going live
  • Acamar – the production company behind the children’s series, Bing, successful both in the UK and abroad. As well as  being a global TV success, broadcast in over 120 territories, Bing is also an online phenomenon with 2.2 billion YouTube views and during lockdown were adding around 40 million a week. Acamar has raised £9.4 million through the Wealth Club platform. £1.8 million of this has been raised during the Covid crisis.
  • Azoomee – a global media company focusing on kids educational content that has 60 million users worldwide saw its subscriber numbers rise by 40% in March.
  • Gobsmack – a company delivering digital wallet technology to allow its blue-chip clients to engage and reward their customers. 
  • Visionable – a video collaboration platform for healthcare teams, billed as the ‘Zoom for medics’, now reportedly mulling a £100 million raise to help support growth in the UK and overseas.
  • Sofant – Edinburgh university spinout Sofant Technologies Limited is at an advanced stage of development of a patented 5G-ready smart antenna.

Alex Davies, CEO at Wealth Club, comments: “Covid has turned even the staunchest technology luddites into online shoppers, viewers and users, meaning demand for innovative businesses, where technology is at the heart of what they do, has rocketed.

“Current demand is largely for technology-led companies whose business models have been further validated by the crisis – such as those in healthcare, online education and entertainment, and e-commerce.

“Many of these businesses were growing rapidly before the crisis. The impact of the pandemic has simply turbocharged their business models. People are being forced to learn online, have meetings online, treat patients virtually and so on. The partial adopters and the uninitiated suddenly see this as a good experience, perhaps even better than face to face. As a result, investment opportunities in businesses that facilitate these things are much sought-after.

“Unlike in the US, where there are numerous listed technology businesses for investors to get their hands on, the UK indices are very under-exposed. The FTSE 100 for instance has just 0.26% exposure to the technology sector.

“However, for experienced investors who are prepared to take more risk and invest in earlier stage unquoted businesses, there are a plethora of fantastic opportunities and the chance to potentially find the next big thing.

“The good news is that many of these opportunities qualify for EIS relief. This magnifies returns when things go well and reduces the downside when they don’t. It also keeps any gains you make out of the taxman’s hands. And with taxes likely to increase, this will be a very important consideration for many.”

Hello and welcome to another packed edition of Interface magazine. This month’s issue features exclusive articles on Swisscom, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity post-Covid-19…

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Our exclusive cover story this month centres around Sven Friedli, EVP, Head of Enterprise and Architecture at Swisscom, who discusses how Swisscom is implementing agile architecture to provide a richer customer experience.

Read the latest issue here!

As the leading provider of telecom services and one of the leading IT companies in Switzerland, Swisscom has a duty to ensure that the way in which its customers can access those same services and products is simple, pain-free and personal. This is a challenge for all major telcos today in that they must satisfy the modern-day telco customer, who expects the same level of seamlessness and freedom in their shopping experience as they do in their own day-to-day lives. 

“The modern customer can use their services wherever they want. He or she can sit outside and do all of their daily work with a wireless device on a seamless online experience. If they want to buy a new service from Swisscom where they don’t wish to go to the shop, they can do it online or via the app,” explains Sven Friedli.

Elsewhere, we speak to Ranjit Rajan, a thought leader on the impact of digital transformation on economies, business, and the tech industry with a specialisation in the emerging markets of the Middle East and Africa. And we also hear the thought-provoking insights of Jim Logan who ponders the fear factor of AI. Plus, we list 5 top cybersecurity principles of a post-Covid world…

Enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods

Digital transformation is laid bare with an insightful trilogy of podcasts from Dr. Paul J. Bailo…

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“I don’t see how any organisation in this current world could survive without a true digital leadership model.” Dr Paul J. Bailo, Executive – Digital Strategy, Data & Innovation

Dr Paul J. Bailo, a digital thought leader par excellence, takes us through the importance of leadership to a successful digital transformation programme

The end of the Wild West of digital advertising is nigh: data is the new black gold, and advertising has been mining it recklessly. That can’t go on.

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While the glory days of data harvesting were great for ad-tech, they were less great for advertising. Data-breaches, Cambridge Analytica, and “stalker ads” that overuse targeting have all helped to undermine consumers’ trust. Back in April 2019, Kantar’s ‘Dimension’ study showed 54% of UK consumers objected to being targeted based on their past online activity (a figure I suspect their 2020 iteration of the report will demonstrate has gone up, given consumers’ growing awareness of the implications of online targeting), 70% of consumers said they see the same ads over and over again and only 11% said they actually enjoy advertising. Wow. Those findings, and many others like them since, underline the crisis of trust digital advertising is facing.

Private – Keep Out

There is a complacent view held by some in the ad-industry, that privacy concerns can be ignored as “this year’s storm in a teacup”. Pay lip-service to the law, and carry-on as before.
But that’s of course missing the point – long-term trust erosion – and hiding the real cost to the industry.

I agree that most of the public don’t care deeply about privacy. Joe Public is unlikely to switch off Facebook or use the Tor browser. But that doesn’t mean they’re happy.
People don’t like feeling powerless or taken advantage of. Today, that’s exactly how they feel, and they’re becoming more vocal – with those voices starting to carry weight. In Ipsos-Mori’s survey last month (commissioned by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and Sciencewise, and forming the basis of the UK Government’s official Review of Online Targeting), almost all participants felt that change was required to the way in which online targeting, in particular, currently operates, with many saying that they were sufficiently concerned about aspects of the process, or about the potential harms that could occur, that they remained unsure whether the benefits outweigh the harms.

But it’s not all bad…

That said, the same study revealed that the majority of people also felt that if steps could be taken to resolve these concerns, they would likely advocate that overall online targeting makes a positive contribution to society. So, there we have it – a window of opportunity, a second chance for adtech, for advertising as a whole, and for brands willing to make integrity a core part of how they advertise specifically, and operate more broadly.

Remember, that same Kantar study also demonstrated the power of targeting when it
is done right, with 44% of respondents saying they do enjoy ads that are directly relevant, 45% agreeing that the ads tailored to them are more interesting than other ads, and 61%
saying they prefer to see ads relevant to their interests. It is not relevant ads that people dislike — it’s the surreptitious targeting. So as an industry, we need to change the model from treating people as “targets”, to treating them as partners.

Time for a reset

First off, we have to begin with a commitment to genuine transparency about what customer data is held and how it is used. The bombardment of consent checkboxes may help to provide legal cover, but it is harmful to the deeper purpose of building trust and a brand-customer relationship. Asking “what is legal?” is the wrong approach. Instead, we should start with respect for the customer, and put them at the centre of engagement design. Other parts of the B2C world of course already understand that the customer is at the centre of everything – creative agencies being one obvious example. That understanding and acceptance now needs to extend to the infrastructure of advertising.

Policy change and tech advancement must go hand in hand
Positive change here requires both policy and technical development. We do need new tools. Tools for users to easily manage their profile data — to make it easy for them to both block and allow data-use, without fighting through a swarm of in-human checkboxes.

Part of that will be establishing standards for users (via their browsers and phones), publishers (via the SSPs), and brands (via the DSPs, and their own data) to work together.
The key piece will be making it easy for users to setup an enforceable data policy that reflects their attitudes. A data policy would say what you reveal, and how and to whom. A good tool would make it easy for people to manage that, and stay informed and in control without spending much time at all. That will in turn need a data ecosystem, where data can be used without losing privacy.

Enabling personalization, gaining trust

With a better data ecosystem, there is still untapped and valuable data — for example the CRM and other customer-history data that brands hold — which could be brought in.

For the public, a trustworthy data ecosystem would unlock many benefits. Consumers find personalization useful. Whilst they are somewhat concerned about their privacy, as Gartner’s study showed, 62% of consumers said personalized attention is important when it helps them get a better deal, and nearly half said they valued it for saving time and making the purchase process easier. Findings which pretty much match those from the Ipsos study last month.

The end of the Wild West could ultimately be good for the industry. If brands are fair and transparent when they connect with the public – through all touchpoints, online ads included – there is certainly an opportunity to build more valuable engagement.

After all, the Wild West of gunslingers was not nearly as productive as the modern California that today makes movies about gunslingers.

By Daniel Winterstein, CTO & co-founder at Good-Loop

Airport chaos, banking glitches, cancelled surgeries, data loss; the potential consequences of IT faults are well known, far-reaching and the…

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Airport chaos, banking glitches, cancelled surgeries, data loss; the potential consequences of IT faults are well known, far-reaching and the subject of frequent headlines. Still, fewer than half of the UK’s SMEs are prepared to cope adequately in the event of IT disruption. This is according to the latest research* commissioned by full-service IT consultancy ILUX.

The survey, which canvassed the opinions of over 500 UK-based SMEs, revealed that just two fifths (42%) of those polled had an IT disaster recovery plan in place. This is despite the fact that a significant proportion (24%) had already experienced damage or loss due to an IT fault.

Of the proportion who have experienced damage and / or loss:

•          43% experienced the loss of important data

•          40% experienced a drop in staff productivity

•          29% suffered a loss of sales / transactions

•          24% experienced data breach / GDPR implications.

Data loss can potentially have very serious consequences for companies, especially if the loss involves personal data protected under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)[1], as was the case for almost a quarter of respondents. Failure to comply with GDPR can lead to significant financial penalties, as the recent heavy fines issued to airline British Airways and hotel chain Marriot bear out.

James Tilbury, Founder of ILUX, comments: “Although a significant proportion of UK SMEs have experienced serious problems as a result of IT disruption, it seems that the majority are still failing to take adequate steps to prevent or mitigate faults.

“This suggests that preparing for the risk of IT disruption is still treated as more of an afterthought than an essential aspect of business planning by the majority of SMEs. I would urge caution to any firms thinking in this way. Businesses today tend to be critically reliant on technology to power their everyday processes and keep operations running smoothly, securely and efficiently. Not only that, the right technology-driven processes can also set them apart, delivering innovation, improved customer experiences, a competitive edge – and ultimately growth.”

These findings are explored in more detail in the ILUX Whitepaper “Business Worries Keeping You Up At Night?” which can be downloaded here https://www.ilux.co.uk/just-relax.

For more information about ILUX, visit www.ilux.co.uk

Coeus Consulting, an award-winning independent IT advisory, today announced new research into the approaches organisations are using to drive value…

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Coeus Consulting, an award-winning independent IT advisory, today announced new research into the approaches organisations are using to drive value from their data. The report – Beyond Technology: How can Organisations drive Sustainable Value from Their Data Investments? – highlights that many organisations are potentially failing to realise the potential value of, or monetise their data, despite 74% acknowledging it as a key priority.

The research found that 80% of the large organisations surveyed, believe accountability for data strategy rests with technology leaders such as IT Directors, CIOs or CTOs. Additionally, only a quarter of organisations currently elect to have a Chief Data Officer, with even less placing accountability with others in the C-suite. Emphasis is being placed on speed (32%), cost (28%), and competition (30%), but less so on more fundamental underlying value, the insights it offers, or decision-makers’ ability to develop new products and services from those learnings.

According to one source, DATAVLT, only one per cent of the data companies collect is currently analysed, and they expect as many as 96% of businesses that exist today to fail in 10 years.

“Many investments in data and analytics have been started from a technology perspective with little alignment to business value or desired outcomes that can be measured against a business strategy. Businesses need a change of mind-set and approach right across the organisation, and the challenge is more than simply collecting data and making it available”, commented Richard Graham, Associate Director, Coeus.

However, the survey did find that 66% of respondents are actively trialling the use of machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP) and automation capabilities. Yet, only 39% admit to widely using data lakes and warehousing, suggesting that organisations have either not completed these activities or are not placing enough importance on them.

“Being data-driven is an imperative for most organisations and there is a growing trend to incubate and deploy advanced analytics, but organisations need to ensure they have certain fundamental capabilities in place before trying to achieve digital transformation.

There seems to be a motivation to be ‘AI first’, perhaps driven by the perception that most organisations are already ahead in using these capabilities, rather than getting to grips with untapped value in existing data, and how best to make use of it” noted Graham. 

The survey results highlight that there are many obstacles to overcome before companies can begin to see meaningful benefits from the data available through technology-led investments such as AI. Of the top five enterprise data bugbears, the majority are business-related: the scale and complexity of data sets (27%); governance and ownership (24%); the lack of a data operating model (19%); regulatory compliance issues (19%); and difficulty in integrating new technologies.

Organisations are facing tougher regulatory environments and when asked to express their concerns about data regulations, compliance with ethical and moral requirements was the biggest, cited by 49% of respondents. This has obvious implications for data management, analysis, and technology buying decisions, and the potential reputational and financial repercussions.

Sixteen per cent of respondents also stated that a lack of expertise and skills is a major obstacle. Whilst companies are investing in foundational skills, moving skills in-house and introducing new roles, third parties and external contractors play a key role in enabling and supplementing these organisations, and will continue to do so.

When asked where organisations are seeing the biggest benefits from their data initiatives, 43% of respondents said they are in ‘improved customer insights’, while 41% identified an improved ability to take proactive, predictive decisions. Improved reporting’ also scored highly, along with better management of risk and regulatory compliance (37%). However, only 24% cited an increased ability to meet customer needs, with 20% citing a greater ability to spot future business opportunities.

In contrast, just 12% identified attracting new customers as a core motivation – the least favoured option on the list, this is despite the realisation that improved customer insight could be the biggest benefit.

“This is surprising given it’s so important in markets that are becoming hyper-competitive. Nearly every type of business is being disrupted by new players and a lack of customer loyalty, especially on new digital channels. Investing in customer insights and new product development ought to be a high strategic priority alongside consolidating market position”, said Graham.

“Being able to seamlessly integrate data and analytics into standard business and IT operations should be the goal of all organisations, to unlock value in your data and information. Businesses need to create an aligned data and business strategy that positions data as a strategic asset, and prioritises resources to integrate data management and analytics effectively”, Graham concluded.

You can view the full report – How can Organisations drive Sustainable Value from Their Data Investments? here.

Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, today reveals the 30 companies joining its prestigious Upscale programme for…

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Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, today reveals the 30 companies joining its prestigious Upscale programme for the UK’s most exciting and fastest growing scaleup tech companies. 

Now in its fifth year, the Upscale 5.0 cohort reflects the maturity of the tech landscape in the UK with considerable growth in key company statistics. Most of the companies on the programme have already raised a Series A round, and the average raise has increased from £4.2m in 2017, to £7.2m in 2020. Average revenues have also increased by 64% from £1.1m to £1.8m over three years, while the average number of employees when joining the cohort has grown by 48% from 31 to 46. 

Some of the biggest success stories of UK tech, such as Monzo, Bulb, Improbable and Bloom & Wild, have been through the programme, and the 30 new companies represent the next generation of digital household names. 

This cohort reflects just a small part of the UK tech scaleup ecosystem – in total, there are almost 5,000 UK tech scaleups which add £17.2bn to the UK economy and employs almost 200,000 people. UK scaleups outperformed their peers in 2019, with companies raising £10.1bn, more than France (£3.8bn) and Germany (£5.4bn) combined, and are spread right across the UK.  

The Upscale programme is designed to support the UK’s leading scaleups by tackling the leadership challenge in UK tech. A recent report by Zenger/Folkman found that management and leadership skills are lacking in just over half of all leadership teams, and organisations that invest in developing leaders are 2.4 times more likely to hit their performance targets and almost double their profits. 

Upscale sessions include addressing how to scale yourself as a leader, and how to scale internationally. The programme aims to create a peer-to-peer network of companies on their scaleup journey, and includes sessions led by tech entrepreneurs from some of the UK’s most successful companies, including Nilan Peiris, the VP of Growth at Transferwise and Will McInnes the CMO at Brandwatch. Companies are selected through a judging process of tech entrepreneurs and established VCs, including Anthony Fletcher, CEO of Graze and Cherry Freeman, CEO, Lovecrafts as well as entrepreneurs who have gone through the programme themselves, such as Aron Gelbard, CEO of London-based Bloom & Wild. 

30% of companies joining the programme are from outside of London, and are based in: Manchester, Cardiff, Cambridge, Leeds, Brighton, Belfast and Newcastle. Companies hail from all different tech sub-sectors – showing the depth and breadth of technology in the UK today. 17% of companies on the programme this year are in the healthtech sector, 17% are in SaaS and 17% are in E-commerce. Cloud computing, fintech, legaltech, AI, edtech, proptech, tech for good and adtech are also represented on the programme. While E-commerce and SaaS are evidently still pivotal to UK tech, the makeup of the programme also represents the rise of companies applying technology to societal issues, including healthtech, which has seen an increase in scaling companies of over 473% over the last decade in the UK.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of UK IT companies believe their customers are less happy in January than any other month,…

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Nearly a quarter (24%) of UK IT companies believe their customers are less happy in January than any other month, according to new research.

The survey, by quality assurance and improvement platform, EvaluAgent, also found that 24% of IT businesses reported their lowest levels of customer service in January. 

This reflected the responses from tech sector customer service employees themselves, with 43% confessing that their standard of service tends to drop around the New Year and into January.

Worryingly, the survey also revealed that 39% of customers have come to expect the customer service they receive from companies to drop throughout December and January. This annual slump in customer satisfaction can be directly linked to employee engagement, which also falls in January.

According to the report, 35% of IT businesses find their customer service employees are unhappiest in January, while more than two fifths (43%) believe employees are at their least engaged.

While 75% of customer service employees said they struggled to stay motivated throughout the year, 40% admitted to January being their least productive month, pointing to a huge opportunity for businesses to increase employee motivation and customer service levels.

When asked whether they thought their business could do more to increase staff motivation during January, 91% of those surveyed agreed. This shows there’s scope for employee engagement and motivation to be dramatically improved during this crucial period, in turn driving higher-quality customer service.

Jaime Scott, CEO and co-founder of EvaluAgent, commented: “It’s very clear from the research that employee engagement takes a severe hit throughout January.

“This can have a really damaging impact on employee performance and explains the low levels of customer satisfaction reported by both businesses and their customers.

“With so many customers now having come to expect poor customer service levels in January, there is a huge opportunity for businesses to break the mold and properly motivate teams, improving customer service and gaining an advantage over their competitors.”

For more information or to read the full report on beating the winter blues, visit https://www.evaluagent.com/resources/winter-blues-employee-engagement-report

New research suggests the UK is at risk of widespread ‘digital amnesia’, as it revealed 23 per cent of UK…

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New research suggests the UK is at risk of widespread ‘digital amnesia’, as it revealed 23 per cent of UK employees don’t know their own mobile phone number.

The research1 by CRM specialist Capsule found more than two thirds (69 per cent) of workers don’t know their partner’s number off by heart, whilst 63 per cent don’t know their best friend’s birthday, and 73 per cent don’t know their booked holiday dates without using tech to check.

Dependence on modern technology to carry out everyday tasks in employees’ personal lives was further highlighted in the survey, with two thirds (64 per cent) saying they rely on tech for directions, 45 per cent for shopping, 39 per cent to access transport, and 38 per cent for times and dates of events. 

“In an increasingly digital age, many people are using technology to store and access information instead of memorising it,” said Duncan Stockdill, Capsule CEO.

“Those surveyed admitted that they reach for their devices to carry out simple, basic tasks, such as maths calculations and spelling. 

“As technology has become more connected, accessible and easy-to-use, we have become progressively more reliant on it to help organise our lives and remember for us – giving rise to ‘digital amnesia’.  Essentially, we are storing more information and memories in the ‘cloud’, not our brains.

“With this in mind, it’s essential to trust the software you use and ensure it keeps your data secure like enabling two step login and using strong, unique passwords. We know passwords are easily forgotten though – around eight per cent of our users reset their password each month. Tools like 1password are useful as they’ll remember them all for you.”

According to the survey, almost one in three (31 per cent) workers describe themselves as disorganised – and 29 per cent said this has negatively impacted their performance at work, such as missing deadlines and arriving late to meetings.

One in four (24 per cent) have been late for appointments in the past 12 months, 23 per cent have missed birthdays, 21 per cent have forgotten to pay bills, and 15 per cent double booked or missed social events, respectively. 

The link between technology and being organised was clear from the research, with two-thirds (64 per cent) of all respondents saying they use technology, such as online calendars, digital to-do lists and reminders, to keep their lives in order. 

Stockdill added: “There has been a significant shift in how we function and operate, and the gulf between the past and the future is set to become more pronounced as technology becomes even more advanced.

“Reliance on tech is showing no signs of slowing down and the business world needs to adapt to these changes in order to stay ahead of the curve and help their employees reach their full potential. 

“Companies should consider taking steps to ensure that their employees have the tools they need to support well-organised and effective working practices.”

Capsule is a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software platform.  The system helps businesses stay organised, in control of their sales process and build strong customer relationships through its simple but powerful integrated solution.  

1Research conducted among 2,000 permanently employed respondents

Welcome to the Winter edition of INTERFACE Magazine, our biggest yet! Our cover story this month centres around Lutz Beck,…

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Welcome to the Winter edition of INTERFACE Magazine, our biggest yet!

Our cover story this month centres around Lutz Beck, CIO of Daimler Trucks North America, who reveals its massive digital transformation into a totally connected company… Read the latest issue here!

Beck transformed Daimler Trucks Asia – with its brands Mitsubishi Fuso and BharatBenz – into a truly connected company, moving the IT function front and center of its operations. This work paved the way for Beck’s move to head up transformational change in the US.

 “I was given an open field to do a lot of these innovations here within the Daimler Trucks North America Group because they had started certain elements but there were still a few things lacking. That’s the reason why there is a clear task: to push innovation and transform IT into a business value adding and future oriented organization.” 

Elsewhere in the mag we also speak exclusively to c-level executives at BT, AXA Partners, SSE, ACC and KPN in a bumper issue of B2B insight! We also feature interviews with Lisa Moyle from VC Innovations and Digital Banking Report’s Jim Marous and Sonia Wedrychowitz. Plus, we list all the top events and conferences from around the globe.

Enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods

Borislav Tadic, Vice President BMS & Transformation DRC, explores how a major digital transformation of Deutsche Telekom has enabled greater…

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Borislav Tadic, Vice President BMS & Transformation DRC, explores how a major digital transformation of Deutsche Telekom has enabled greater customer experience and significant technological advancements.

This interview featured in August’s issue of Interface Magazine – read now!

Tell us what your role is and how it fits into the wider Deutsche Telekom strategy?

I’m Vice President at Deutsche Telekom, responsible for board member support and transformation of the board area, data privacy, compliance and legal, working here in the Bonn headquarters of Deutsche Telekom Group. We as Deutsche Telekom Group are present in 50 countries and I would say are definitely a leading European telecommunications brand. We hope, after our mergers and acquisitions in the United States that we’ll become an even bigger player on a global level.

How important is it in your position to continue to learn?

That’s a fantastic point. One thing I try to do is constantly improve on an individual level. That includes formal education. I have at least 10 internationally recognised certifications and I’m currently working on my PhD in parallel to my work and I use numerous non-formal opportunities to expand my knowledge, both in the formats offered in the company and outside as well as through reading and keeping up to date with the latest developments every day, every morning.

That attitude is something I try to include in our transformation programs. For example, during the past two years, we’ve up-skilled more than 1000 employees off this board area, both in Germany and internationally, in several ways. First, offering them online learning content on our intranet platform, creating awareness about the different digital courses we have in the context of Deutsche Telekom, which are focused on their profession. We also continue to learn about global technological developments, so they can understand the new trends and developments in the industry so that they can better advise and/or support their customers.

From there we went a step forward and decided not only to offer them in a digital format, which is easy to implement and easy to offer and cost-efficient but also to enable a knowledge transfer. This is through our Digital Future Campuses in Athens and here in Germany. Several hundred people and experts from different functions of our board area were brought together and we educated them in areas such as broadband development, 5G, agile working, international collaboration, diversity and many other topics which directly or indirectly contribute to their performance and to their daily jobs. Satisfaction rate on the company level was one of the best in the recent history of Deutsche Telekom, with 96 to 99% participant satisfaction with the program.

Deutsche Telekom AG

A transformation of any kind breeds challenge, what are some of the challenges you have faced?

It is a challenge indeed. The first aspect of the challenge is that you have to give or convey as much knowledge as possible in a relatively short time and of course to make the knowledge current because if you prepare a course around blockchain and you prepared it two years ago, today you would need a completely different base. The pace of change with regards to the content, which you create to educate someone, is very high. It’s important that you stay up to date in the preparation and delivery of these courses.

Even that aside, you have a limited budget and this limited budget has to be approved and/or aligned with our human resources area. We are working with them closely because of course they have way more transparency about the needs of every individual employee and we have of course our professional view and vision where we want to be as a group. We basically worked with our colleagues from HR and with our expert groups in identifying which areas we need to focus on because you have hundreds of areas, especially in our fast-changing, fast-paced business around digitisation and technology.

After we finalised that, we created a program and then the next challenge was how to get the best possible lecturers and best possible experts to share the knowledge, because of course, their time is limited. There are of course budget limitations and numerous other restrictions including language barriers. We tackle that by trying to find the best in-house experts in some areas and external partners for others. They have more experience in some domains that are relevant to us. Then there is the delivery.

Even if you organise a format that consists of online courses as well as the physical presence of a course for several hundred people, that’s not an easy task. It sounds like an easy task; it’s just an event with a couple of hundred people but no, this is multi-partner, multi-party interactive session with numerous choice options because not everyone gets the same program. The people choose the modules and you have to fit all of that together. These are some of the challenges we’ve hopefully successfully tackled.

How do you ensure that your transformation is done so with the customer experience in mind?

That was the essence of our program and it’s a great question. First, we understood that we cannot only assume what the customer wants, we need to know what the customer wants and the only way to do that is to talk to the customer. As a governance function, we went and talked to the customers. We went out and spoke with actual private customers and business customers of Deutsche Telekom and asked them: what can we, from security, from privacy, from legal, from compliance, do differently in order to make your life better and easier?

We got our feedback. It was extremely good feedback, in the sense of many concrete, actionable points we can implement. For example, one of them was to simplify terms and conditions. When you sign a contract anywhere, for any mobile service, TV service or anything else we offer, you need to read through the pages of the contract documentation. This document is written mostly with the small letters, small font, explaining what will happen in case of some emergency escalation or conflict etc. It’s written in a language that no one understands but it was always the intention of Deutsche Telekom to make it fully understandable to our customers. We were doing our own efforts but when you speak directly to the customers, he can explain to you, which paragraphs are not easily understood or interpreted.

We used that feedback to simplify the terms and conditions for our major products. We did that within a couple of months and now we have one of the best, if not the best terms and conditions document, which is now standard. This raised the trust with our customers because they know that Telekom is fully transparent and wants them to understand what they are signing and what they are changing with their contract situation. This is only one example of numerous changes we did to the direct discussions with external customers.

How important is transparency to a company like DT?

When you look at how you can make it more transparent and when you simplify the processes and the policies, the documents, when you’re directly communicating your goals and why you are doing certain things, this raises the trust of the customers. But of course, many digital tools can also help you to raise that transparency. For example, you can do it for ethical reasons. We have been very successful in advancing customer demands through a chatbot. It became so good that some of the customers didn’t even know that they were being served by the chatbot. Because it answered all their questions in the manner that they would expect from a live person, but we still, from an ethical perspective, decided to include the sign notification saying: “You’re speaking with our digital assistant, not with a real person.”

We’ve also introduced specialised tools both internally and externally. As an example, we have a data privacy cockpit that enables you to log in as a customer of Deutsche Telekom and basically see which data you have approved or are sharing with both Deutsche Telekom and you can also click and approve or disapprove with us sharing that data with other parties. We are very strict with that. This is one of the parts of our unique selling proposition; we’re extremely careful with the data of our customers. What we want to achieve is for customers to no longer need to call or send an email to understand which data of theirs is in the system and which can be shared, but they also can log in with their mobile or fixed device and look and choose and change the categories at any time, through a very useful and user friendly interface.

Around 10 years ago, through internal experiences, we realised that this could become something we are known and recognised for, and so we decided to really invest internally into data privacy, security, compliance to strengthen our legal functions, to strengthen our audit functions. We did this in order to create a system that not only gives assurance to our shareholders but also to all of our customers. We don’t do it because we must; we believe that there is clear value in data being handled in an ethical and responsible manner for our customers.

How difficult is this with regards to DT’s presence across 50 countries?

First is that we look at all of our footprints holistically where, if we have a high standard which is not producing a significant change in the product pricing or service pricing, we look to apply it throughout the whole footprint. In the area of compliance, security, privacy and risk management, we are applying the highest standards worldwide.

The challenge here is that you have certain local changes which happen and which of course demand us to stay on the ball in that we are always in contact with our local counterparts which are responsible for these areas where the board area is active and not only upscale them, not only to make them aware of the customer demands both locally and internationally, but also to always make sure that they’re applying the latest, leanest standard and the process to keep the high levels of these services.

How will you continue to grow and transform? Can a transformational journey ever really end?

There is no endpoint. You’re absolutely right; the transformation will never stop and should never stop. It’s a process of continuous improvement of the organisations and individuals and customers’ demands, markets. Everything is changing, so we need to keep changing constantly. I think it’s very important to say in the sense of the role you mentioned is that you also lead by example, not only me but also my colleagues and other senior executives. They need to be aware that if we are promoting a tool to be used or a process to be simplified, we have to start with ourselves.

They’re extremely important, these change processes, because it’s not sufficient only to upscale, to implement the customer demands and to digitise and introduce digital tools. If you want the whole organisation to have a sane and a good mix of agile projects and waterfall projects, I need to show that some of my projects in the digitization context are being run agile.

What do the next 12 months look like for DT?

We’re going to focus on new skills. Let’s say that we are going to further explore what the blockchain is bringing. We are going to further explore what the changes are, not only technologically, but also the social changes related to 5G. In addition to that, we want to further explore AI and also further explore digital ethics. We are going to be active in the corporate digital responsibility domain where we, as Deutsche Telekom, are very much pioneering some of the elements here in Europe, so this is definitely going to happen.

What makes a successful CTO?

I would say surround yourself with extremely diverse people because diversity is not only diversity in the context of having different people with different backgrounds around yourself or different religions, different genders, different ages, etc., but also diversity in the opinion context, and the context of thoughts. And when you’re surrounded by such people, try to be like a sponge.

Try to take as much input as you can to process this and put it into the context and to continue changing because if I would apply what I learned at let’s say in the university or what I’m learning now for my PhD, that might be okay for a certain period of time, but the world, technology and the market is changing with extreme pace. So, you have to be fully aware that this will continue changing so your adaptability is the key. Your curiosity is the key and if you keep that, I’m sure that you’re basically ensuring that you’ll be successful today and tomorrow.

Welcome to a packed August issue of Interface Magazine! This month’s exclusive cover story is with a telecommunications giant. We…

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Welcome to a packed August issue of Interface Magazine!

This month’s exclusive cover story is with a telecommunications giant. We caught up with Verizon Consumer Group’s Executive Director of Sales Experience John Walker to discuss the telco’s transformation of its customer journey…

Read the latest issue!

The largest wireless provider in the US, Verizon, with its 4G LTE network, covers approximately 98% of the States. The company has transformed its customer journey, while boosting revenue in the process, in an omni-channel offering that has reshaped its sales strategy.

Verizon Consumer Group’s Executive Director of Sales Experience across those channels is John Walker and it’s his job to examine the shopping path and the process of shopping in a bid to provide a greater experience for both the customer and the sales team. “We’re moving on,” Walker explains, “from having a channel-focused distribution strategy to a customer-journey focused one. It’s a big change…”

We also speak to Neil Williams, Director of IT and Digital Transformation at the University of Derby, who has overseen massive changes at this progressive tech powerhouse. Plus, we have an exclusive interview with Frank Konieczny, CTO at the US Air Force and Borislav Tadic, Vice President BMS & Transformation DRC at Deutsche Telekom.

All the best tech events and conferences are also listed, as are the Top 5 companies deploying blockchain.

Enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods

Welcome to July’s packed issue of Interface Magazine. Read the latest issue, here! This month’s cover centres around Staffordshire University,…

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Welcome to July’s packed issue of Interface Magazine.

Read the latest issue, here!

This month’s cover centres around Staffordshire University, one of the UK’s emerging tech powerhouses. We talk to Andrew Proctor, Director of Digital Services, at the university who talks about the massive digital transformation he has overseen there.

For a sector steeped in tradition, it’s perhaps not surprising that higher education has taken longer than most industries to wake up to the digitisation of operations and offerings that have disrupted virtually every other market. However, with rising customer expectation linked to increased fees, and a battle to establish points of differentiation in a highly competitive marketplace, higher education has had to respond to the changing needs of the client, and nowhere is that more evident than at Staffordshire University.

Andrew Proctor, is the man who has spearheaded a massive digital revolution in an attempt to truly harness digital. “If you compare higher education to a lot of the modern digital era organisations or companies, universities can be obsessed with physical assets such as buildings; a new building being a sign of a healthy university,” he explains. “Now, I’m not saying that buildings aren’t a part of that future, they absolutely are, but we are developing what we call a ‘clicks and mortar’ strategy that delivers the best of the physical and the digital. It’s that harmony between your physical infrastructure and your online presence.”

Elsewhere, there is a highly revealing interview with EnterSolar’s Edgar Lim, Vice President of Technology and Procurement, who explores how a sound procurement philosophy achieves growth in a “solar-coaster” market.

We also hear from Craig Stewart, Vice President of Product Management at SnapLogic, who addresses how tech can provide some of the solutions to the global skills gap. We also look at the advent of automated data centres and reveal the most influential blogs and resources for CIOs.

Plus, lots, lots more, including our guide to the world’s best events and conferences.

I hope you enjoy the issue!

Andrew Woods

Digital transformation is making it easier for procurement organisations to “do more with less,” according to newly-released Procurement Key Issues research from  The Hackett…

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Digital transformation is making it easier for procurement organisations to “do more with less,” according to newly-released Procurement Key Issues research from  The Hackett Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: HCKT). But there is still significant need for procurement to address its critical development priorities for 2019, including: improving analytical capabilities, aligning skills and talent with business needs, leveraging supplier relationships, enhancing agility, and achieving true customer-centricity.

Digital transformation is beginning to have a significant impact on procurement organisations, The Hackett Group’s research found, with 30-40 percent saying it has had a high impact in achieving enterprise objectives, enhancing performance, optimising the service delivery model, and addressing roles, skills profiles, and needs. Over the next two to three years, procurement organisations expect the impact of digital transformation to dramatically increase, with key areas like robotic process automation and advanced analytics seeing particularly high adoption growth rates (2.3x and 60 percent, respectively). Broad adoption of e-procurement technologies is also expected to grow by nearly 2x.

Procurement expects its budget to grow at a much slower pace this year than in 2018 (1.3 percent, versus 2.7 percent last year). Procurement staffing shows a similar trend, with 0.9 percent growth expected, versus 2.8 percent in 2018. With revenue growth expected to increase from 5 percent in 2018 to 5.7 percent for 2019, this creates significant productivity and efficiency gaps that procurement organizations must overcome.

A complimentary version of the research is available for download, following registration, at this link:http://go.poweredbyhackett.com/keyissuespro1902sm. Note – The full research piece includes 7 charts containing more than 60 complete metrics.

Procurement has aggressive plans to increase its use of digital tools and procurement-specific technologies over the next two years, the research found. Procurement will invest heavily in cloud-based business applications along with several data management technologies: data visualization (where adoption rates will rise by 24 percent), master data management (57 percent adoption growth), and advanced analytics (60 percent adoption growth). Spend optimization analytics and dashboarding adoption rates are expected to grow by 61 percent. Broad-based adoption of e-procurement technology is expected to grow by nearly 2x.

Use of mobile computing and robotic process automation (RPA) are also expected to rise dramatically, indicating a focus on more efficient, agile processes across the procurement lifecycle. RPA sees the highest adoption growth rate among digital technologies, at 2.3x. While RPA is primarily being used for procure-to-pay processes at present, there are a range of other procurement areas that can benefit from automation of repetitive work, including updating of vendor master files and electronic auction setup.

Procurement-specific technologies are expected to become far more broadly adopted over the next two years, with nearly universal adoption of e-procurement, spend optimization analytics, and supplier relationship management systems, and just slightly lower adoption rates for e-invoicing and contract lifecycle management. This represents a major shift toward customer-centricity, designed to enable organizations to simplify and streamline processes, and improve agility.

The research found that procurement’s 2019 actual transformation focus is poorly aligned with what should be its critical development priorities; i.e. areas identified as of critical importance, but with very limited ability to address. Among those, development of analytical capabilities is a transformation focus for about half of procurement organisations. Modernising application platforms is another top transformation focus, and is a key way to achieve simplification due to the complexity of many legacy environments. Consolidating multiple legacy systems is also a critical step towards to improving data management and analytics.

But of the other critical development areas, less than a third of all procurement organizations have a major initiative in place to improve skills and talent with business needs, and even fewer said they intend to work on agility or focus on improving customer-centricity and supplier relationship management capabilities.

Procurement is also focused on its role enabling the enterprise in 2019, with an array of priorities that include elevating their role as a trusted advisor, continuing to reduce purchase costs, improving stakeholder satisfaction, and enhancing agility.

“Procurement organizations are clearly making investments in digital transformation and are seeing real benefits. The focus on improving analytics for 2019 is particularly encouraging. But the laundry list of critical areas where they have very limited ability to make improvements is very disconcerting,” said The Hackett Group Principal & Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader Chris Sawchuk. “Despite the fact that procurement knows what it needs to do, it’s simply not fully translating into an effective plan of action. Procurement must become fully dedicated to advancing its capabilities in analytics, customer-centricity, agility and more, while also investing in the right talent to help lead those changes.”

According to The Hackett Group Research Director Laura Gibbons, “Failing to address the five critical development areas poses a significant risk. For example, we see skills & talent as a particularly critical risk factor. Procurement has begun to truly invest in digital transformation, but if it doesn’t have the right people in place, digital tools could end up being misused or wasted. You need the right people, with the right skills in place, to take full advantage of what digital transformation can offer.”

This same issue holds true in several other of these critical development areas,” explained Gibbons. “Agility is critical if procurement is to be able to respond to market changes. Without a focus on customer-centricity, procurement can miss significant opportunities for improving efficiency, simply because they don’t effectively know what the business needs. And without supplier relationship management, opportunities for innovation can be missed.”

Sawchuk explained that the potential impact of digital transformation in procurement is powerful. “Advanced analytics can enable companies to become less reactive and more predictive, more quickly and accurately identifying and avoiding risks. It can drive dashboards where anyone can log in and get real-time data.  Dynamic discounting is another area that can be very challenging for many companies, but can be easily enabled by digital transformation.”

“Smart automation can reduce operating costs, and eliminate transactional work, freeing up staff time for more value-added efforts,” said Sawchuk. “Even if procurement can simply focus on a larger percentage of the spend base, the value is very significant.  And digital tools can streamline and improve the experience of internal customers and suppliers.”

The Hackett Group’s 2019 Procurement Key Issues research, “2019 CPO Agenda: Building Next-Generation Capabilities,” is based on results gathered from about 150 executives in the US and abroad, most at large companies with annual revenue of $1 billion or greater.

Digital skills shortages blight UK jobs market for 20 years A lack of technical expertise has fuelled skills shortages across…

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Digital skills shortages blight UK jobs market for 20 years

A lack of technical expertise has fuelled skills shortages across the UK for the last two decades. That is according to comparative analysis of the professional jobs market by The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year.

According to a 1999 report from University College London, almost half (47%) of all ‘skill-shortage vacancies’ that year could be attributed to a lack of technical expertise. For ‘associate professional and technical’ roles, the need for ‘advanced IT’ skills was responsible for 31% of vacancies, while a lack of ‘other technical and practical skills’ were responsible for a further 49% of all open roles.      

A separate report published the same year by Computer Weekly revealed that C++ developers were the most in-demand professionals with Java the second most sought-after skill in the IT recruitment market.

Today, research from The Edge Foundation suggests that around half of all employers (51%) have been forced to leave a role open because there are no suitable candidates available, and that tech job vacancies are costing the UK economy £63 billion a year. LinkedIn data indicates that cloud and distributed computing is the most valued skill among employers, with user interface design, SEO/SEM marketing and mobile development also featuring in the top 10.  

Commenting on the analysis, Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, said:

“While the specific skills that employers are seeking have changed dramatically over the past two decades, the fact that talent gaps continue to be aligned with technical competencies suggests that we need to do more to boost Britain’s digital capabilities.

“Our members have long reported shortages of talent across the IT and digital fields. For this reason, it is crucial that we ensure that we retain access to the STEM professionals that businesses need in the short term – through maintaining access to global talent and retaining our flexible labour market. However, perhaps more importantly, we must pipeline the calibre and volume of skills we need for the future so that we break free from this perpetual skills shortage. As this data indicates, for the past 20 years we have been playing catch-up – and we must break the cycle if individual businesses, and the wider UK economy, are to fulfil their full potential.”

“One answer to the skills gap in UK tech? Women.” This week, the Digital Insight is joined by Rachel McElroy,…

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“One answer to the skills gap in UK tech? Women.” This week, the Digital Insight is joined by Rachel McElroy, Sales and Marketing Director at cloud specialists Cranford Group, who discusses how women could provide the answer to the skills shortage in the UK’s technology sector.

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IT service provider Getronics has formed a technology partnership with HeleCloud, a leading AWS Consulting and Managed Services partner for…

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IT service provider Getronics has formed a technology partnership with HeleCloud, a leading AWS Consulting and Managed Services partner for UK and EMEA , to enable the design, delivery and management of leading-edge AWS-based solutions for Getronics customers through a ‘centre of excellence’. While adoption of cloud services is growing rapidly among businesses across Europe, associated cloud skills are scarce.

HeleCloud, one of the UK’s fastest growing start-ups, provides businesses with the skills, knowledge and experience they need on-tap. Initially the partnership will focus on Europe, with Getronics’ sizeable presence in European enterprise and midmarket businesses affording access to customers through existing relationships, while targeting the following industry sectors: retail, travel and transportation, financial services, and healthcare. Leveraging HeleCloud’s AWS technical knowledge and experience, the two companies will create solutions designed specifically for each vertical sector, augmenting Getronics’ existing portfolio of services by enabling their delivery on AWS.

Solutions will include Technology Consulting, Managed Services, and Technology Training. Getronics Group Vice Chairman, Mark Cook, commented: “There is significant customer interest in and momentum towards public cloud services on the AWS platform. In adding AWS capabilities we are adding choice for our customers, which is absolutely the right response to their interest and public cloud’s current momentum.” Technology offerings will be delivered from the new Cloud Centre of Excellence, organised into seven areas of competence: Cloud Roadmap & Migration Cloud Security, Compliance & Governance Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Big Data & Analytics Managed Infrastructure Managed Security & Compliance Cloud Technical Design Authority.

Steve Rosa, Getronics Vice President for Cloud, Infrastructure and Security, added: “Getronics provides genuinely end-to-end cloud-based solutions: we advise our customers on the best locations for their workloads, we run the transformation projects including application modernization, and we deliver the management of the full stack – all wrapped up in our security and compliance services.”

Dob Todorov, CEO and Chief Cloud Officer of HeleCloud said: “We are excited to establish this partnership with Getronics – one of the most successful and fast growing global IT business of our time, with impressive capabilities across a range of platforms. Together, we are much more than the sum of the parts, and we’ll innovate and build AWS capabilities to the benefit of Getronics customers.” While adding AWS capabilities, Getronics remains a Microsoft Azure partner, serving customers committed to Microsoft technologies or intent on establishing multi-vendor presence. Getronics also delivers private and hybrid cloud solutions from its own hosted private cloud platforms in 19 data centres across Europe coupled with investments running across North America.