Category: Project Management

Three quarters of SMEs struggle to innovate due to outdated technology

More than three quarters of SMEs with restrictive budgets are struggling to compete with bigger organisations due to the lack of access to innovative technology, impacting their ability to grow and enlist talent, according to new research.

The survey found some 84 per cent of small businesses say they are unable to keep up with the bigger budgets of larger organisations for technology innovation and digital transformation, with nearly half saying it is restricting growth and nearly the same number saying it has impacted their ability to recruit.

Combined with the impact of COVID-19, a lack of fit-for-purpose technology options and prohibitive costs could lead to many SMEs losing out long-term if they do not take advantage of more flexible and cost-effective solutions.

The research found Technology concerns moved way beyond operational efficiencies, however. A third of businesses surveyed said they felt they were exposed to cyber security risks by … Read the rest

Government spent over £30,000 promoting flop Pick For Britain scheme that failed to recruit British volunteers to save country’s crops

The Government spent more than £30,000 promoting the failed Pick For Britain scheme as farmers could not recruit the 60,000 British volunteers needed to save UK crops when the coronavirus pandemic stopped seasonal foreign workers from entering the last year.

Yet £29,830 was spent between April 2020 and April 2021 on the failed scheme, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told the Daily Mail in a response to a Freedom of Information request.

The figure includes £1,424 paid to Concordia Ltd, a volunteering and international work placements charity, for a film of UK farm workers ‘used to create promotional recruitment materials for the Pick for Britain campaign’, the department’s response read.

Another £2,500 was then paid to the National Union of Students (NUS) so the Government could find out what went wrong after the scheme was scrapped in April 2021.

Pick for Britain, brought in by the … Read the rest

British Airways puts thousands of workers back on furlough

British Airways is to put thousands of its staff on full-time furlough and thousands more on reduced hours — what it is calling “flexi-furlough” — in the latest setback in the opening up of aviation markets.

BA staff were briefed on the plans today, just hours after Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, was lobbied by British airlines to extend his furlough support for the crippled sector beyond the planned September cut-off date.

The decision to send many of its 30,000-strong workforce home indefinitely from Monday follows the airline’s decision to axe 10,000 workers last year during the height of the pandemic.

It is understood that the final straw for the airline was the government’s decision to take Portugal off the green list of unrestricted air travel.

One industrial source said the timing of BA’s decision would also make political capital and embarrass the government as world leaders meet in Cornwall at … Read the rest

British brand Zumo joins world-wide pledge to de-carbonise the crypto industry

Another giant move for crypto currencies as Scottish crypto currency wallet Zumo announced as signatory to the global crypto climate accord.

In cooperation with fintech and crypto industry leaders, Energy Web Foundation, the Alliance for Innovative Regulation and RMI created the Crypto Climate Accord. The Accord, inspired by the Paris Climate Agreement, is a private sector-led initiative for the entire crypto community focused on decarbonising the cryptocurrency industry.

Crypto Climate Accord Signatories are crypto market participants that make a public commitment to achieve net-zero emissions from electricity consumption associated with all of their respective crypto-related operations by 2030 and to report progress toward this net-zero emissions target using best industry practices. All Signatories also serve in the role of being a Supporter.

Zumo, a decentralised finance platform that makes regular money and cryptocurrency work seamlessly together, announced its key Signatory status of the Crypto Climate Accord (CCA), a global initiative Read the rest

Google fined €220m by French regulator over ad market abuses

Google has been fined €220 million by the French competition watchdog for abusing a dominant position in the online advertising market.

In a landmark case, the technology company also agreed to change its practices in the search for a level playing field in online advertising, the regulator said.

The settlement is binding only in France, but the changes could be implemented elsewhere as Google seeks to head off complaints over its dominant market position in other countries.

“We are committed to working proactively with regulators everywhere to make improvements to our products,” Maria Gomri, the legal director of Google France, said.

“That’s why, as part of an overall resolution of the [French] investigation, we have agreed on a set of commitments to make it easier for publishers to make use of data and use our tools with other ad technologies. We will be testing and developing these changes over the … Read the rest

Regus owner IWG says new Covid variants will push profits lower

IWG, the world’s largest flexible space provider, has said lockdowns and new Covid variants will push profits this year “well below” 2020 levels.

The company, formerly known as Regus, reported a £620m annual loss for 2020, when its finances were hit by social distancing rules, and working from home resulted in empty offices.

The UK-listed company, which is headquartered in Switzerland, reported strong recovery in some markets including the US. However, occupancy levels across the whole group were lower than expected because of “the prolonged impact of Covid-19, including continuing lockdown restrictions and the emergence of new variants of the virus in some markets”.

“Accordingly, this will delay the anticipated recovery in our business and, given the operational gearing of the group, is expected to have a significant impact on the group’s results for 2021,” IWG said, adding that underlying earnings would come in “well below the level in 2020”.… Read the rest

UK announces trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

The UK has signed a post-Brexit trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the government has announced.

The agreement will be a major boost for trade between the four non-EU nations, which is already worth £21.6bn, UK minister Liz Truss said.

She claimed it would boost sectors such as digital and cut tariffs on UK farm products such as cheese and meat.

Britain is Norway’s top trading partner outside the European Union (EU).

The UK government said reduced import tariffs on shrimps, prawns and haddock would cut costs for UK fish processing, helping to support jobs in Scotland, East Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

British beef

As Britain is no longer part of the European Common Fisheries Policy, it must deal directly with Norway and UK fleets are keen to have access to the country’s sub-Arctic seas.

However, many Norwegian farmers have expressed concerns at opening up the domestic market to … Read the rest

Facebook investigated by UK and EU competition watchdogs

Facebook is being investigated by UK and European competition watchdogs over concerns it uses advertising data to gain an unfair advantage over rivals.

The Competition and Markets Authority is looking into whether it uses information to benefit its own services, such as Facebook Marketplace.

The European Commission is examining if Facebook violated EU rules by gathering data from advertisers to compete with them in providing classified ads.
Facebook said it would cooperate fully.

It said it will demonstrate that both the UK and EU investigations are “without merit”.

The CMA said Facebook collects data through its digital advertising service as well as its single sign-on option. This allows people to sign-in to other websites, services and apps using their Facebook log-in details.

The watchdog said it is examining whether the company has unfairly used the data to compete with people and businesses who use Facebook Marketplace, where firms and users … Read the rest

Drop June 21 obsession or we risk losing gains, says scientist

Moving too quickly to reopen society risks losing the gains made so far, experts have said, urging caution about the easing of restrictions on June 21.

Professor Robin Shattock, of Imperial College London, said he was concerned that not enough people were vaccinated, particularly in areas that have high levels of the Indian variant.

“We just need to be careful we don’t unlock too quickly and lose those gains that we’ve got,” he said yesterday at a Royal Society of Medicine webinar.

“If we are talking about a delay, we’re talking about a delay of weeks, not months any more. That could be very significant. I’m not so sure why everybody is absolutely obsessed by fixing it to a date and not fixing it to the data.”

He said that within a few weeks we would be “able to see real data, whether the vaccines we’ve rolled out have prevented … Read the rest

SME manufacturers are upskilling 1,800 workers to create the teams of tomorrow

The Made Smarter Adoption programme in the North West has worked with more than 1,200 businesses since 2019, supporting them to introduce digital tools and technologies to help boost productivity and growth, and navigate the impact of Covid-19.

Among these, 160 businesses have secured matched funding to develop projects using technologies which enable them to integrate systems, capture and analyse data, and even create simulations of their plants and processes. Others are using 3D-printing, automation, and robotics to solve business challenges and meet increased demand.

These manufacturers are upskilling 1,822 roles to meet the demands of these emerging technologies and ensure successful digital transformation.

But SME leaders are also navigating the cultural challenges of digitalisation: good digital leadership; bringing the team along on the journey; effective communication of the benefits of change; capturing the technical skills and know-how of older workers before they leave the industry; attracting new digital talent … Read the rest