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Manufacturing, along with virtually all other industries, is going through a significant period of change. Driven by rapid technological development, manufacturers are having to work smarter, operate more efficiently and be prepared to innovate. Over the next 12 months, these factors will be supplemented by a combination of political and economic upheaval that is likely to have far-reaching ramifications, such as fluctuating currency rates and slowing down Britain’s economy.

In order to be able to respond to these changes and remain competitive, embracing innovative technologies is now more important than ever. For manufacturers specifically, relying on outdated software when competitors are adopting Internet of Things (IoT) and embracing smart technologies, will hold them back. Procrastination will make it significantly harder for a manufacturer to thrive and grow in today’s fast-paced business environment.

As an enabler of growth, technology will play a key role in empowering businesses to innovate and embrace the opportunities that will present themselves in 2018. But where exactly are these opportunities likely to come from? Here, we identify the top trends that we believe will be central to success in the upcoming year.

The Need For Flexibility

A key factor for manufacturing growth in 2018 and beyond will be whether businesses are flexible enough to be able to deal with the amount of predictable and unpredictable change coming their way.  Chief among these changes are Brexit and incoming Global Data Protection Regulations...

A mobile shopping cart is a hub which is basically a piece of e-commerce software on a server helping visitors to choose products for their purchases. Customers can gather necessary items they are going to purchase by placing items in the shopping cart. While checking out, the shopping cart software calculates the total amount going by the order including shipping and delivery taxes as applicable.

Some of the latest trends in the mobile shopping cart are:

1. Presence Of Add-To-Cart Pop-Ups

There is a reasonable tradition around keeping clients on the PDP (Performance Designed Products) and shopping instead of taking clients straight to cart whenever they include any product. Past that, however, the tradition breaks apart; there are destinations doing basic animations to demonstrate the increasing number in the cart, strips at the base of the page and slide-ins from the side of the page. The best pattern we’ve seen of late with this is utilising a lightbox overlay on the PDP, which incorporates an up-sell format. This takes a shot at both PC and mobile with current innovation, so you can utilise it all around.

2. Save Cart Info For Later Use

This pattern is ending up being prominent and is especially obligatory for stores with a physical presence. While traffic has moved essentially towards smartphones, most destinations are still observing the heft of their income from...

Outsourcing in the IT industry is growing rapidly each year, in the past 12 months alone, over $32 billion was spent on cloud services. Deloitte identifies the market will keep growing each year and adapting to customer requirements. As the market adapts, can you afford to be behind the curve? Outsourcing is seen to be the key to innovation and understanding how the market will develop through 2018. It is essential for your company to keep ahead of the competition.

Here we will look at the 7 must have trends for software outsourcing in 2018 (source).

1. Security

The top story in outsourcing through 2018 must be security. Through 2017, there were many instances of high profile security breaches and hacks, exposing customer details and damaging reputations, not to mention the increase in ransomware attacks. Your business must ensure that, in 2018, your provider focuses on threat intelligence and security automation. They must be active and pragmatic when offering solutions to any weaknesses identified in the services they provide.

2. Virtual Employees

The increase in freelance platforms such as Upwork are allowing access to contractors from across the globe. This freedom and flexibility allows you to have increased productivity on your projects due to resources from different time zones which means that you could theoretically have people working 24 hours a day. The virtual platform also provides potential for much reduced...

Data – or at least the collection, storage, protection, transfer and processing of it – has traditionally been seen as the role of a modern data-driven technical division. However, as data continues to explode in both volume and importance, it is not enough to gather huge amounts of disparate data into a data lake and expect that it will be properly consumed.

With data becoming the defining factor of a business’s strategy, this valuable gold dust needs to be in the hands of the right business function, in the right form, at the right time, to be at its most effective. This means that traditional roles within the organisation need to adapt, as CIOs and CTOs oversee digital transformation projects across the business landscape.

The aim of digital transformation is to create an adaptive, dynamic company that is powered by digital technology – it is the perfect marriage of the business and IT function, and requires both to collaborate to successfully harness the data at a company’s disposal. This will be imperative to deliver the types of rapid growth and customer-centric developments that modern businesses are determined to achieve

In recent years, the groundwork for this has already been delivered in the increasing use of cloud within businesses – which the Cloud Industry Forum revealed earlier this year stands at 88% in the UK, with 67% of users expecting to increase their cloud usage over...

Data volumes across businesses of all sizes are growing at an average of 40% per annum, and IDC predicts that worldwide, this will almost double every two years – between now and 2020. This trend is presenting real challenges for IT departments, as they are spending an inordinate amount of time and money on their storage infrastructures. Rather than fire fighting data growth, new approaches are required, so valuable IT resources can be liberated to develop and implement business solutions – which drive productivity and have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Influencing Factors

There are many trends, such as BYOD and the consumerisation of IT, that are driving exponential data growth, as they’re creating increased user expectations – which demand  ever-present, information availability. However, despite the best attempts of IT teams to cater for this, they can be left struggling – and frequently experience such headaches as, storage sprawl, spiralling storage costs and an un-ending cycle of capacity purchases. They face information management and governance challenges too – and due to the complexities of data protection – these tasks can quickly become unworkable and drain resources even further.

Getting storage and archiving right is also key to ensuring GDPR compliance. Our recent UK data archiving survey of IT executives, across 150 UK medium to large organisations, revealed that poor practices are creating GDPR risks. Of those questioned, 70% admitted that they don’t have...

Search engines are the greatest and the most reliable source of traffic for many business websites. One of the most SEO friendly CMS (Content Management System), WordPress, fuels millions of websites in the online market. WordPress SEO plugins take care of many aspects of a site’s search engine optimisation and help the site to rank higher in the search results.

With tons of WordPress SEO plugins available in the market, it can be difficult to choose the one that will the work the best for your website. To help you out, here are some factors to consider when looking for WordPress SEO plugins.

Precise & Efficient Code

A high-quality SEO plug-in must come with a clean and precise code that does not have any sort of unnecessary JavaScript or CSS entities, which will become an unwanted load on the website. When choosing a plug-in that you think is compatible, make certain that it is fast and efficient, and will boost your site’s speed instead of slowing it down. If you are confused with plugins and do not know how to setup your website structure, contact an SEO professional for a better understanding of the codes. Clean code is the centre of a well functioning WordPress plug-in.

Handles Multiple SEO Tasks

While selecting the best SEO plug-in for your website, make sure that it has more than one SEO...

Mobile applications have been increasing for the last few years, and their power has advanced in ways the common man couldn’t have imagined. But the trend is now shifting to a new form of technology known as chatbots. With chatbots, the world is rapidly migrating from graphical user interface to conversational user interface. Chatbots are completely changing the way we interact with applications; we can chat or talk to them as friends.

Apps Versus Chatbots

The major difference between a mobile application and a chatbot is the user interface (UI). A chatbot is a type of a conversational user experience (UX) that is set to affect our lives prominently. Chatbots use simple UX models to provide solutions to different day-to-day tasks. A chatbot development represents an interactive service that provides a conversional experience. The innovation of chatbots is one of the latest evolution points in the world of technology. There is a high likelihood that chatbot development will be replacing mobile applications in the near future. The ability to understand the use and give an instant response or perform the appropriate action by request makes chatbot development the next big thing in mobile technology. The conversational interface that is chatbots is designed to mimic real-world human conversation; it’s more human, meaning that users will be able to identify with it resulting in better customer experience quickly.

Chatbots Are Changing UX/UI

Chatbot development has really changed UX and...

Like the world of fashion, innovative work methods, HR trends and management interventions are subject to trends; hip and happening for a time, before quickly falling out of style. However, one particular hype appears to have made a lasting impression; flexible working.

What does flexible working mean? For decades, a lot of work in industrialised countries happened in office environments between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM. However, working outside office walls and hours is becoming increasingly popular. The employment conditions of around half (Possenriede and Plantenga, 2014) of the Dutch workforce includes some form of flexible working arrangement.

This means their supervisor allows them a degree of freedom to choose  the time, location and duration of their work. The employee’s personal situation is taken into account. If they live far away from the office, for example, it will save them a lot of travel time if they can work at home part or all of the week. This extra time  can be turned into increased productivity and efficiency.

Work-life balance Employees who can work flexibly report an increase in their job satisfaction as a result (Possenriede and Plantenga, 2014). This is because their work and private life (e.g. caring for children) are easier to combine.

Research conducted by Bain & Company and Chief Executive Women (CEW) in 2011 revealed that women believe that creating work models in which both men and women are supported...

The health sector is under constant pressure and faces challenges like never before. Growing numbers of patients combined with a lack of funding mean that continuing to provide a premium service puts enormous strain on the individuals who are on the frontline. There may, however, be some light at the end of the tunnel for the health sector and here we examine how innovative technology is helping it shine.

How Patients Access The Service

The way the public access healthcare is starting to change dramatically and this is down to the way the health sector is beginning to use the internet and other communication technology such as mobile phones. For example, the National Health Service (NHS) now has an app library that can be accessed by anyone. The library holds a catalogue of “digital tools” that individuals can use to help improve and manage their health and wellbeing.

Patients also now have more opportunity to access services using their phones and in many instances can be diagnosed or offered advice regarding health issues without leaving their homes. This eases the pressure that hospitals and general practice centres are put under, particularly, by patients who have no real need to see a doctor or nurse face to face.

Digital Hospitals

In terms of primary care, there are a number of NHS hospitals that are leading the way when it comes to adopting digital technology in order to...

The success of Periscope as a live streaming app, together with other applications introducing the live broadcasting function (Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube, etc.) prove: first, custom video broadcasting has grabbed the attention of the users across the globe; second, it is only enforcing its position on the market. With massive amounts of people turning to live streaming both for entertaining and business, creating a live streaming app is getting more and more attractive as an idea.  

Live Video Apps: State Of The Market

Though the first live video streaming apps date back to mid-2000s (, Ustream, Qik), they didn’t gain much popularity: both mobile manufacturers and Internet connection were not ready to give these applications a full swing. Now the situation has changed dramatically: thanks to advances in mobile technologies, video streaming works smoothly and seamlessly for the user, whereas in many parts of the world Internet connection has become omnipresent.

The success of Periscope has benefited from the boost of technologies: bought in 2015 by Twitter, the application (previously called Bounty) was significantly revisited by the Twitter technology team and was released in March 2015 under its by now world-known name of Periscope. The number of users it quickly gained signifies the demand for live and easily accessible streaming apps which existed at the moment: by August 2015 the app had already surpassed 10 million accounts.

This gave way to further development in the sphere,...

Even in these tumultuous times of omnipresent DDoS threats, you may have found a way to convince yourself that your website is immune. You might think you don’t have many competitors, certainly not the kind who would launch a DDoS attack for a marketplace advantage. You might know that if you receive a DDoS ransom note the best thing to do is ignore it and then ride out any tiny DDoS-for-hire attack that could follow. You might not be on anyone’s political radar for hacktivism, and you might be too small for script kiddies to target you in the hopes of watching the ensuing downtime backlash on social media.

Yes, you think, my tiny online store selling pillows cross-stitched with obscenities is perfectly safe. However, did you know that one of the most significant DDoS threats is accidental attacks, either from outside influence or due to your own code? Truly, no one is immune.

Business As Usual

When you think of DDoS or distributed denial of service attacks, you tend to think of the instances where malicious actors direct a huge amount of traffic at a target website or service using a network of compromised devices, either stuffing the network full of these junk requests so legitimate requests can’t get through, or consuming server resources so there’s none left for actual users.

This thought process is understandable since DDoS attacks are called DDoS attacks,...

The constant reliance on technology may not always be obvious to end users, who see applications and online services as an extension of themselves, but businesses in all fields need stable systems in order to operate. No matter how advanced your tech might be, something can always go wrong, from a crashed server to a buggy system update. When that happens, your entire operations can be affected and the danger is even higher for small businesses, which don’t have the staff, budget and expertise of Fortune 500 companies.

Although the first solution that comes to mind when dealing with these cases is having a dedicated internal IT department, this is not the most cost-effective idea for small businesses. At the same time, not including IT support on your list of priorities is a huge mistake and can set back your business. The right balance comes from managed IT support services, which not only can maintain and fix your infrastructure when needed, but also contributes to the growth of your business in the long run. Here’s how:

Outsourcing IT Support Reduces Costs

Small business owners often have to make tough decisions when drafting their annual budget. Limited funds imply sacrifices, so paying a monthly fee for managed IT support may sound like more than you can afford. However, looking at the big picture, outsourced IT support is much more convenient than hiring...

The high street is the quintessential British shopping experience. Almost every town has one, making it the most common street name in the UK. It’s the centre of commercial life; a place where you can buy, sell, or trade almost anything. Yet, in the past ten years, high street shopping has been on the decline. It’s a perfect storm of a struggling economy and cheaper e-commerce options, leading to a 2.2% decline in high street footfall between 2008 and 2015, according to Springboard data.

It’s estimated that nearly half of all high street shops will close between 2020 and 2030, with e-commerce accounting for 40% of all UK retail sales, according to ParcelHero. The takeover of e-commerce may happen even quicker than predicted. According to ONS statistics, high street retail figures for December (usually the highest) have been declining for the past five years, yet online sales have been rapidly rising by around 20% each year.

With one in seven shops currently boarded up and 15 more closing every day, is the high street finally dead? No – at least not all of it. Some sectors are not struggling. In fact, while many shops have closed their doors, the high street is growing for some outlets like coffee shops, takeaway food, and other leisure-related shops.

Here are four reasons why I believe the high street is not dead:

1. Helps...

There is much uncertainty around how the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect in May, 2018 will work alongside Brexit. Both UK and EU based companies must anticipate tremendous changes to policy and politics. Many questions are being put on the table for debate. Will GDPR be as easily enforceable in the UK after Brexit? Will the terms of leaving the EU have an impact on GDPR? On the whole, there is natural concern that the combined impact of Brexit and GDPR will put a strain on UK businesses. There is also the question of how the new regulations will apply to international companies setting up offices in the EU.

Gartner research indicates that Brexit will have a massive impact on how IT budgets will be spent in 2018. Organisations will want greater flexibility, and as such will be spending more on software and cloud-based services rather than making long-term, upfront investments. Brexit will accelerate the adoption of cloud-based services as companies prepare for an uncertain economic environment. Cloud Services have been proven to help control IT spend by moving IT CAPEX to OPEX, which will be increasingly important. In short, businesses will be more cautious with IT spend, and this will drive them towards cloud services.

In pursuit of greater flexibility and controlled IT spending in the pre-Brexit environment, companies will want to avoid lock-in with any one cloud provider....

We’ve all got used to the idea of factoring in the total cost of ownership (TCO) for any investment. However, it’s worth considering a couple of other numbers – one is the total value that the investment will deliver and the other is the negative cost of not taking action. This can help you allocate the appropriate budget in a way that delivers long term benefits to the business and doesn’t prove to be either a financial or logistical burden.

How Do You Calculate TCO?

The first step is to establish the TCO. Let’s take the example of colocating some new servers. The initial cost is the hardware and this will require maintenance and potentially a series of upgrades. Colocation requires an investment in space, including maintenance and support charges. In addition, you need to look at the extra costs such as the possible changes to processes, the training of staff, additional software or cloud platforms. Many businesses also add further, less obvious costs – for example, the cost of sending staff for a major repair or upgrade so aspects such as the location and ease of access to the data centre can have a demonstrable impact on the total cost.

What Is The Total Value Of The Investment?

When projecting into the future for costs, it’s worth also calculating the future value because it’s the only way to get a clear picture of whether you’re going...

Is technology a friend or a foe? That’s what a lot of workers are asking these days. Some people fear the push towards automation will kill jobs. Meanwhile, others are hopeful it will increase productivity, reduce costs for consumers and transform the job market (without killing it).

The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle of the debate; and is admittedly dependent upon the industries in which people are working. That being said, one industry is very excited about technological advances in artificial intelligence – ecommerce.

Virtual shopping has already surpassed brick-and-mortar retail, with over half of all sales occurring online. But while physical retailers are reimagining how to recapture customer interest, e-stores are faced with their own challenges. One of which is figuring out how to deliver the best customer service.

Below we will discuss how AI is transforming ecommerce customer service and whether or not chatbots will replace human customer service representatives.

Are These The Bots You Are Looking for?

One of the benefits of ecommerce is e-stores are open 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Consumers can make a quick purchase during their lunch break or at midnight after a few hours of searching. But this presents problems too. If a midnight shopper has a question about a product, who will be there to answer their query? Sure, a human representative...

The tech machine moves from one segment to another, endlessly churning out products, white papers, hype cycles and fluffy press pieces to suggest businesses should add just one more thing to their IT shopping list. In reality, there are millions of companies around the world getting by with a collection of dusty old desktop tower PCs a few spreadsheets and Gmail accounts. If they can survive without the latest cloud service, an array of high-end tablets and an Internet of Somethings, then why should every other business yell “how high?” just because Microsoft, Apple, Salesforce or Cisco says “Jump!”

What Happened To Keep It Simple, Stupid?

Our suspicion is that most businesses can get by with whatever IT basics they need. But as they grow and develop, they hire people whose job it is to spend money, and those managers are really good at their jobs. Even better are the people whose role is to “scale” a business, which is MBA-speak for “make things more complicated.”

Between the two of them, CxOs or whatever they are called, their sales patter is generally the same. “Spend x thousand/million now, and we can save 5% over three years.” or “Invest in this and we can create a new business model generating huge profit!” And they pull the same trick year after year, moving from company to company.

So, each business adds more...

Developing a mobile app is a big step for any business, no matter the size. However, it is extra important for small businesses or startups because they have more relying on it and more to gain from it.

A mobile app can make all the difference with a small business, in terms of generating more sales or improving the brand’s recognition in the market. When you develop your own app, it means taking the business to the next level in the game. Why does it matter so much? Everyone, people of all ages, get almost everything done on their phones today. Whether your target is a CEO, college student, or a busy housewife, their phone is significant in their daily routines.

Statistics show that by the end of 2020, mobile app revenues will reach 189 billion and it’s only on the rise. Offering the customer the product or service through an app on their phone not only increases customer engagement but the convenience is a boost that helps the customer purchase your product easier. Now that we know what a mobile app can do for your business, what’s next? You know you want to develop an app but you’re no developer or IT expert, so do you hire in-house developers or do you outsource the app development?

In-House Developers Or Outsourcing Development?

Many business owners believe that hiring developers to get the job done...

Is your workforce in the office? More and more firms are offering staff the opportunity to work remotely, whether from a home office or from co-working spaces and cafes between client appointments. This trend is often attributed to the Millennial generation demanding more flexible and agile working.

In fact, the remote working trend is driven across many sectors by advances in technology, as well as changes in society and the economy. Why not reduce office overheads by having a remote workforce? After all there is no reason why your team can’t check emails, share documents, make voice and video calls and use video or teleconferencing systems if they can connect to the cloud and / or your firm’s VPN.

Offering flexible and remote working has many benefits for firms. There may be cost savings when you no longer need to accommodate all employees in one space, and it can also help a business attract talent – giving a firm a competitive advantage over other businesses that don’t offer working from home.

The myth that remote workers spend their days watching TV and ignoring their inbox has also been firmly debunked. Many studies show that remote workers increase productivity levels when allowed to work in a flexible way. Moreover, most firms have systems in place that ensure some level of accountability; from timesheets to deadlines, employees get the work down regardless of whether they’re in the office or...

Managing multiple challenges in a multi-cloud world can undermine organisations’ confidence to withstand a cyber-attack. The explosive proliferation of applications in the cloud has created a vast new playing field for cyber-criminals. Today, the fear of attack is constant.

According to F5 Networks’ fourth annual State of Application Delivery (SOAD) report, security confidence tends to fall as moves to the cloud increase. 75% of EMEA respondents in the global customer study revealed they now embrace multi-cloud deployment scenarios. Digital transformation and competitive differentiation are the endgame, but there are plenty of pitfalls on the way.

Applying consistent security policies across all company applications was deemed to be the “most challenging or frustrating” aspect of managing multi-cloud environments (42% of surveyed EMEA businesses). In addition, 39% believe the biggest challenge lies in protecting applications from existing and emerging threats. Across the board, security remains the top concern for application deployment (44% respondents, compared to 39% globally).

Barrage Of Botnets

Malicious botnet activity accounts for a huge proportion of breaches, ranging from the headline-grabbing Mirai botnet DDoS attacks to web-scraping, spam, scalper and credential-stuffing bots. The challenge is further accentuated by malware (i.e. trojans and viruses to adware and rootkits). These are typically installed via malicious e-mail attachments for disruptive and reputationally damaging activities, such as financial gain, botnet device enrolment, spam propagation or account takeovers.

Today, apps can be deployed from anywhere, including data centres, private and public...