Monday, 20 March 2017

Swept into the techno-embrace

You've heard the stories that our devices could be used to launch a cyber attack.  Seminars on cyber attacks are a new growth industry.  This week companies such as McDonalds, M&S, BBC etc are taking their advertising away from Google and You-tube because they're being associated with terrorists or other 'unsuitable' organisations.  Is this the end of the glory age of technology?

Anecdotally some intelligence agencies are using old fashioned typewriters for their ultra-sensitive material because it can't be hacked.  I so hope that isn't an urban myth!  The reality is though that we've had two generations now who have been brought up using digital platforms and technology. Our manufacturing systems are becoming reliant on robotics, our cars are run by electronics, our supermarkets have stocks supplied using data information streams.

No, our first world is entrapped in technology, cling-filmed, vacuum packed, irradiated, and destined to be so for eternity. And the third world is coming into the age of smart phones super-fast. It won't be long before they too are swept into the techno-embrace.

It's not all bad though.  Yes there's the ever pressing issue of hacking and if you want to protect yourself change your passwords on a regular basis or use tools such as Dashlane4, 1Password, LastPass, Roboform or Keeper to make it easier).  Yes, there's the danger that your business or organisation becomes the modern version of a ship in the Bermuda triangle if your IT fails (ensure you have a robust disaster strategy in place).  Yes, demand for IT savvy employees will be huge and the salary bill will rise as supply will be short (train your own). There's positives too. The Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reckons SMEs could save up to £8.9billion in energy costs by using smart tech.  Central government is pushing  the second round of grants available for a £15m pot of money for emerging technologies, you can get R&D tax relief if you're involved in any new development (and by the way that's not just restricted to programing).

So no, it's not the end of the glory age of technology.  Let's just say it's now moving into it's maturing stage.  There'll still be stumbles along the way such as Google's algorithms that place adverts alongside hate videos that are the antithesis of the advertiser's values.  There'll be the odd huge leap of a new product or service but generally speaking the technology revolution is now a way of life. We'll settle into the rhythm of it all, the outbursts of this month will quieten down - until the next outburst and thus runs our lives in this technological age.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Are Corporates the new Government?

You can't have failed to have noticed that there's a new PROTUS and he's 'Big in business'.  So big in fact that all of his inner circle have also been 'Big in Business'.  It appears that the socialist-light policies enacted by the previous PROTUS are being quickly dismantled so that businesses can get back to doing business.

Is this a good or a bad thing?  The headlines certainly indicate that it's anything BUT a good thing as job security, employee rights, environmental safeguards are reportedly whittled away.

Big mergers, according to Simon Caulkin writing in Professional Manager are merely an investment in political power and influence.  According to The Guardian Corporates are utilising the 'dark arts' to rule governments.  

Is this a moral panic as the hard-fought gains (according to one section of society) are being destroyed in the stroke of a pen and we return to the days of corporate greed.  I'd argue that corporate greed has always been with us and the dystopian future of businesses running the world  has come one step closer to actually being recognised as such.  The reality is that since trade began, since manufacturing transformed the world's economy, since technology revolutionised working practices, big business has always ruled.  

It's taken a small number of influential, highly regarded people, the philanthropists of the Victorian Age, the Al Gores, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates of today to hold them in check, ex-corporate heads and political high achievers with the values required to put checks and balances in place. Through dint of sheer energy or legislation they've have the chance to temper the testosterone fuelled, power hungry CEOs - and their shareholders.

Unfortunately it also only takes one person who can galvanise the energies of those who have been left behind by these revolutions, who are not equipped to take up new roles or the resources to move to different parts of their own country or further afield and that look for someone to 'make it right'. That one person with the wave behind them can similarly step in like the fox in the hen-house and enable the corporate greed to resurface again.

So what do we do about the Corporates that are blatently taking over the world?  The FSB say that SMEs are the engine of economic growth so how do we nurture them and enable them to act as a balance to the mega-companies that have so much power and influence?  Because if we don't then we might as well forget about political elections for truly the Corporates will rule the world.