EMC picks up European Best Workplace Award

EMC has been recognised as one of Europe’s Best Multinational Workplaces in the Best Workplaces 2015 awards announced last week. Every year the Great Place to Work Institute surveys some 6,000 organisations around the world to find companies that encourage workplace cultures of high trust and engagement. Due to the success of EMC’s operations in 12 national Best Workplace rankings across Europe, the company ranked an impressive second out of a field of 25 multinationals.

Ever since EMC came 19th in the 2012 awards, its ranking in these prestigious employer awards has improved year on year. This shows the strength and quality of EMC’s people, from senior leadership setting the strategy and direction to the employees on the front line. EMC’s EMEA President, Adrian McDonald said: ‘A key factor of EMC’s success is our focus on building our strength as an employer and creating the kind of workplace that attracts and retains the best talent, talent which focuses on meeting customers’ needs by helping them optimise their existing infrastructures and build new ones.”

Head to the career page to learn more about the company and what it’s like to work for EMC.

Can today’s businesses meet the needs of our Information Generation?

In our previous blog post we looked at the needs of our ‘Information Generation’ and unearthed increasing demands on our data. But, how are businesses fairing to adapt to those needs? To find out, we asked 3,600 Director-to-C-Suite business leaders across 18 countries, how technology is changing their businesses and how they are preparing for the future.

It’s no surprise that 96% of respondents believe that technology has fundamentally changed the rules of business and 93% report that these technology advancements are resetting customer expectations. The report revealed that customer expectations are faster access to services, 24/7 and “everywhere” access and connectivity, access on more devices, and a more unique personalised experience.

Within this study, business leaders agreed that transformation is critical and identified five “make or break” business attributes, all of which have information at their core:

1. Predictively spot new opportunities in markets

2. Demonstrate transparency and trust

3. Innovate in agile ways

4. Deliver unique and personalised experiences

5. Operate in real time

While business leaders agree these attributes are a high priority, only very few address them very well. Only 9% of global businesses innovate in an agile way and only 11% deliver a personalised experience.

The challenges don’t end here. Soon, every element of life will be data-driven and we will see value shifting from products and services to the information they generate. Despite the growing importance of data, nearly 50% of respondents admit to not knowing how to get value from their data and only 24% consider themselves “very good” at turning data into useful insights and information.

The pressure facing businesses is growing and most are struggling to embrace the critical attributes that would make a difference. Take our online survey to see how you compare and find out more about our Information Generation research online.

What are the catalysts for the hybrid cloud? People, Process and Technology

Hybrid cloud continues to be a hot topic in the IT industry, but what does it actually mean for businesses?

HybridCloudchat2_Hans_410-412In the first #HybridCloudChat we spoke about what hybrid cloud actually is, and where businesses are on their journey to deploying it. Next Tuesday at noon, we’ll be expanding on this conversation and looking at the problems businesses are facing with regards to people, process and technology. We’re exploring catalysts for the hybrid cloud.

The chat will be hosted by Hans Timmerman, CTO of EMC Netherlands, along with a panelist of industry experts: Christian McMahon, CIO at Three25, Eric Debray, Business and IT Consultant and founder of Mageli, and Dinko Eror, EMC’s VP of Global Services.

We also have a professional illustrator on board who will creating sketches of the discussion as it develops – take part in the conversation and you could win a personalised illustration! If you have any questions, just tweet them at @emcuki.

Join us at 12.00PM on May 19th for #HybridCloudChat #2

For an introduction on the issue, take a look at Hans’ recent post on LinkedIn, or read more about business disruption, catalysts and catastrophes from Dinko.

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The future of digital: A deep-dive into party manifestos – the Conservatives

You’ve probably heard – you may even have begun to tire of the wall to wall coverage – but on Thursday 7th May, Britain will go to the polls to vote for the next government.

Thanks to the rise of UKIP, the SNP and the Greens, and the vagaries of the first-past-the-post voting system, the result is almost impossible to predict. The potential outcomes range from majority governments for either the Conservatives or Labour (albeit unlikely, based on current polling), to various flavours of coalition or minority government, depending on the final tally of seats for each party.

This sounds like a recipe for policy paralysis. However, when it comes to technology and digital transformation of the public sector, there is good reason to think that the work begun by the present government will largely continue.

The Conservative Government – a Digital Pledge

The Conservative-led coalition entered office pledging to be the most digital government ever. Under the leadership of Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office has driven Whitehall savings of more than £14.5 billion since 2010. Renegotiating contracts with large IT suppliers and adopting open source and cloud-based solutions have made a major contribution to this.

Another key reform has been the Government Digital Service (GDS), which has revolutionised the way government delivers citizen services. By bringing in outside talent, and focusing on user needs and good design principles, GDS has been able to transform a wide range of services people use every day. Citizens can now register to vote, renew a patent, apply for carer’s allowance, and even book a prison visit, using online processes as straightforward as anything produced by the likes of Google or Amazon.

Continuing the Digital Revolution

At the Autumn Statement in December, the Government shared the first details of its plans to continue the digital revolution after the election. The use of cloud-based services and digitisation will increase, but instead of simply putting services online, the goal is to increase digital uptake of services to 90% by 2020 by developing new cross-government platforms to deliver payments, track applications (e.g. for a driving license or passport), and book appointments. To encourage private sector innovation, all new digital services will be available via an open Application Programming Interface (API) as well as a web browser, and more data sets will be opened up. Many of these ideas were first proposed by Policy Exchange’s Tech Manifesto for government, which EMC supported.

If the Conservatives intend to go further and faster on government transformation, what of the other two main parties? Watch out for our next blog post, which will look at Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and what they have in store for tech.

EMC breaks fundraising record for Prince’s Trust

As a longstanding supporter of the Prince’s Trust and proud Platinum Patrons, over the year’s EMC employees have dedicated their time and resources to raising money for a meaningful charity which offers young people in difficult circumstances practical and financial support in order to stabilise their lives.

Over the past year, EMC’s Team Transformers have been taking part in Million Makers, an entrepreneurial fundraising competition where teams from leading UK companies across the country compete to raise the most money, whilst improving their business skills.

Last week, EMC’s Team Transformers attended an awards ceremony where they were crowned the regional Million Makers fundraising champions, after raising over £160K for the cause. Samantha Cooper, EMC’s Senior Systems Engineer also won the Outstanding Individual award for her fundraising achievements.

This follows a successful Prince’s Trust and EMC Leadership Dinner last month, attended by HRH The Prince of Wales and Baroness Joanna Shields OBE – Advisor on the Digital Economy, Chairman of Tech City UK, which raised over £400,000 for the Trust.

If you would like to donate to this charitable cause or see how you can offer your support please visit the website here.

A Year of Financial Uncertainty

Said Tabet, Governance, Risk and Compliance Strategy lead at EMC asks, as we head into 2015, how can financial institutions reduce their risk?

Despite news that employment figures are still increasing, UK retail spend has bounced back and broader trends such as house sales continue to maintain a steady rhythm, so it may appear externally that the market is more stable than it has been for a number of years. Though this is true to an extent, stress tests from last month, which a number of UK institutions failed or came close to failing, along with the government targeting banks in the recent Autumn Statement, it’s safe to say that we’re not on even ground yet.

As we head into 2015, financial organisations need to get their ships in order and, in my opinion, this all centres around data and understanding risk. Here are my key themes for consideration as we go into next year:

  • Data: How much, at what cost and what quality?
    Digital pound - in textFinancial institutions of all sizes are looking to consume more and more data. While this is a general trend with ‘big data’, the use of “smart data” especially will be crucial in 2015. Essentially this takes into account that you need the right data at the right time (context) and relevant data (semantics) that is secure in order to succeed. Improving the productivity and performance of financial products will require discipline at the data level and we are moving more and more towards granular data. Financial institutions must be prepared for this and have measures in place to store, access and understand their data, in real-time.
  • Risk-based approach, still the way to go?
    Banks will continue to adopt a risk-based approach but as the markets start to improve, new innovations push the boundaries and new services emerge, we are going to see more and more of a balanced approach. This is all with the goal to satisfy shareholder requirements while being compliant. In a way, this model will help build a new view of compliance costs as an investment for the future of business. This is also emphasised by the need to develop and transform business processes. Loss of productivity can be measured through big data analytics and the ability to have near real-time relevant data and metadata will support this.
  • Risk will be managed at all levels and integrated with key data and metadata
    Risk is no longer about reporting. Risk management intelligence will be supported with better integration globally, particularly within large firms. The market as a whole is trying to better understand risk and prepare for potential pitfalls in the future, as demonstrated by recent stress tests. What’s concerning is that UK institutions are still falling short of industry expectations and measures, something which must be tackled, and quickly. There is a role for technology here, in ensuring that processes and access are allocated effectively.

2015 has the potential to be a crossroads for the UK economy. With likely changes in interest rates, along with possible changes in government, financial institutions need to be prepared for whatever the future may hold. Now is the time to put in place measures to ensure risk and data are prioritised.

 

 

Top Tech Trends in 2015

Here is our take on what will be the big tech trends for the UK in 2015.

Everything mobile

An ongoing trend is that of the mobile consumer. The expanding computing environment involving smartphones, tablets and wearables is making it vital for businesses to focus increasingly on adapting their services to the requirements of the mobile user. Consumers are always available, always online, and businesses that adapt and take their services to mobile devices will be able to create a direct relationship with them, with the potential to reach them as they are making their purchase decisions.

Doing this requires vast streams of data to be processed in real time, driving a massive increase in the adoption of technologies such as in-memory databases and flash storage. An industry that can benefit especially from this is the retail sector, however there is still work to be done for businesses to be able to process such large quantities of data in real-time as outlined in our recent Big Data League post on the retail sector. 2015 will be a year where we expect and hope to see this progressing much further.

Software defined

In the next decade, almost every industry will be re-defined by software, with much of that software being surfaced on mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, but also in cars, aircraft engines, running shoes and human beings!  Think about Tesla – an electric car, AND a software-defined car. Tesla has done to the driving experience what Apple did to the mobile phone experience – your car is now a software platform to innovate on top of. Companies that don’t innovate in this way won’t last long. Storage arrays, servers, networks and entire data centers will be run and managed by smart software in the future. It is crucial for businesses to move away from static to dynamic models in order to deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business.

Big Data Analytics

In the world of big data analytics, it is the analytics part that will be the decisive factor for success in the future. It is this that enables businesses to filter the huge amounts of data coming from the ever-growing world of smart machines and the Internet of Things (IoT), a growth which won’t be slowing down anytime soon either. Further, analytics combined with embedded intelligence will increase the prevalence and further the development of context-rich systems, which can be alert to their surroundings and respond to them – such as context-aware security.

The above are three of the key trends that will affect businesses in the UK, but there are many more developments we expect to see in 2015. For example, 2015 may signal the beginning of the end of lectures, as the education sector is moving increasingly online and leading to better results.  Another influence will be the growing influx of millennials into the workforce, which is likely to affect the way businesses and IT departments operate.

What do you predict to be the big trends in 2015? Tweet the EMC team at @EMCUKI.

IT as an enabler for business change – EMC Forum Survey

The trends of cloud, mobile, social and big data have fundamentally changed the expectations of consumers and end-users, affecting what is required and expected of IT departments. This much has become clear from our recent survey findings*, questioning IT decision makers in the UK for their perspective on IT’s role as an enabler of business change during the rise of these industry mega trends.

Jeremy Burton, President Products and Marketing, EMC Corporation, explains: “To remain relevant and competitive, businesses across every industry are reinventing their business models to handle unprecedented levels of access, interaction and scale. For this reason, IT finds itself back in the driver’s seat, morphing from cost center to a true catalyst for change through the use of cloud and big data technologies.”

Our survey results reflect this, as although creating efficiencies and reducing cost is still a priority for 60% of businesses, 70% of respondents see IT as a strategic business driver and 78% agree their organisation sees the increasing role of automation as critical to business growth.

Customer experience is a key factor, with 54% of respondents using cloud, mobile, social and big data technologies to improve customer experiences, and 53% seeing it as a top business priority. Organisations are making use of the technologies available to get their IT into shape by building new products and services (43%) and streamlining business functions and improving efficiencies (42%).

However, barriers will need to be overcome to achieve IT’s full potential, as 73% of respondents don’t believe IT has the skills to keep up in the next couple of years.

Take a look at more results from the survey below, and get in touch with any questions or comments on @emcuki.

 

IT is a Business Enabler

  • 70% of respondents in the UK report that their CXOs consider IT as a strategic lever to grow the business, now more than ever before.
  • The top three business priorities when implementing new technologies in organisations from the UK are: delivering savings and finding efficiencies (60%), enhancing the customer experience (53%) and automating processes (49%).
  • 78% of respondents in the UK agree that their organisation sees the increasing role of automation – such as software defined storage – as critical to business growth.

Taking advantage of the Mega Trends

  • 77% of respondents in the UK expect next-generation technologies such as mobile, social, cloud and big data to give their organisation a competitive advantage.
  • UK respondents say these new technologies will impact key aspects of the business, including: improving customer experience (54%), building new products and services (43%) and streamlining business functions and improving efficiencies (42%).
  • As businesses operate increasingly online today, 71% of respondents identified a need for joint public and private cloud services – hybrid cloud – as a means for greater agility and security.

Future of IT

  • 59% of respondents in the UK believe their organisation has the right level of skills and knowledge to complete business priorities successfully.
  • 73% believe it will be a challenge to have these skills keep up with the pace of IT innovation over the next 1-2 years
  • 70% of companies see IT as a business enabler, yet 43% of companies believe that spending for technology was outside IT’s control – indicating there is still work to do in gaining trust from decision makers.
  • 77% believe that the model IT department of the future will act as the in-house provider of on-demand services, including platform-as-a-service and public and private cloud.

*Collected during a non-mandatory questionnaire after completion of registration for the EMC Forum held in London on October 21, 2014. This research polled a total of 664 business and IT management and executives, technical architects, data scientists and storage/infrastructure managers from a range of UK businesses

Secretary of State for Scotland visits EMC Scottish HQ

Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael MP visited EMC’s offices in Almondvale Business Park, Livingston this week, taking the opportunity to meet staff and find out more about their work Scotland-wide with leading clients in sectors including retail, engineering, finance and oil and gas.

Hosting the visit was Martin Brown, EMC’s Scotland Country Manager. He says: “We were delighted to be able to welcome Mr Carmichael to our offices here in Livingston and all the team thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet him.”

Martin and Alistair spoke together at length, with the Scottish Secretary commenting on the phenomenal speed of technological change, and the extent to which technology is changing everything from medical intervention to the way we communicate with our children.

Martin outlined EMC’s successful operation in the Scottish marketplace, which has seen the company grow significantly over the last two years both in terms of staff and business. The wide-ranging discussion also covered financial support for ‘stage 2’ start-up companies, including potentially successful spin off businesses.

Martin added: “I also took the opportunity to articulate our views on future aspirations and the support EMC and others in the technology sector need from government to ensure that we keep pace with developments in the rest of the world moving forward.”

Restoring confidence in UK data protection technology is vital

Last week, EMC launched its UK findings of their global Data Protection Index study at a media roundtable event on the 38th floor of the Gherkin. It was revealed that in the UK, £10.5 billion was lost per year due to downtime and data loss. In addition, 67% of organisations reported they had suffered disruption, up from 78% since the last study in 2011, while the average disruption causes 700GB of data loss – a significant amount that cannot be ignored.

Whilst up in the clouds, Chris Ratcliffe, SVP EMC Advanced Software Division, EMC and Kelly Brown, Senior Director DPAD Marketing Global, EMC discussed the effect on businesses of not having a secure data protection strategy in place. The study found that although, 25 hours was lost on average in the last year due to unplanned downtime, organisations are still spending less of their budget on recovery and data protection.

Data Protection Index

“If you don’t have a protection strategy in place, you may find that you don’t have the data you want to run things like analytics, business intelligence and Big Data”, says Kelly Brown. “IT can’t always be ‘sexy’; sometimes it has to focus on the slightly more practical side of what technology can do, in order to support the business, protect it from data loss and open up new revenue opportunities.”

The study looked at 24 different countries around the world and ranked them in order of their maturity with regards to data protection capabilities. The UK features very much in the middle of the rank, lagging behind the USA, China and the Netherlands.

John Bland, MD UK Sales at SCC concluded by looking at the emotional effect and executive behavior patterns behind data protection. He focused on the CIO agenda and explained that because data protection has become so integrated with other elements on the board agenda, the question becomes how you roll it into one business conversation.  “The CIO is becoming increasingly marginalized in the organisation as few people want to take the responsibility of ‘owning’ the company’s data” said Bland. “It won’t be long before Chief Digital Officers and the marketing teams are spending more on IT than their own IT department, without understanding the need to protect the data they are trying to work with.”

The rise in popularity of the cloud as a storage device and the use of mobile devices by company employees, mean data protection and back up is as big of an issue today as it ever was. The risk becomes greater as companies generate and store more and more data, and without a backup solution in place, businesses could be in real trouble should problems arise.

The audience heard how UK businesses need to increase their confidence in their own systems, but this can be tricky if there are delays to hardware upgrades, resulting in infrastructure that is more likely to fail. It’s startling that in this era, 78% of UK organisations are not confident that they can fully recover after a disruption. As budgets become tighter and tighter, delays in refreshing technology both at a hardware and software layer, only serves to further expose the risk of data loss.

Barely a day goes by without hacking and cybercrime filling the news agenda, so businesses are starting to invest in strategies and perimeters that can be put in place for protection. The same emphasis needs to be put into backup solutions so that if an attack were to break the perimeter, the company would have the effective data protection technologies in position to avoid too much loose of data or information.

Unfortunately the reality is probably more extreme than the results suggest, and whilst the number of data loss incidents is decreasing overall from 2011, the volume of data loss is growing exponentially and action needs to be taken quickly before the situation gets out of control.