Monday, 26 December 2011

That's Christmas: Don't Yell for Yodel!

That's Christmas: Don't Yell for Yodel!: Don't yell for Yodel! That's the message that many customers are sending to mail order firms like Amazon, Littlewoods, Early Learning Centre...

Saturday, 24 December 2011

That's Christmas: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

That's Christmas: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the team behind the That's Team of online magazines! We hope that you are able to get and to giv...

Friday, 23 December 2011

Retail Deals Site Breaks Through 6 Million Subscriber Barrie

Money-saving website reports massive leap in registered users through previous three months

With over 6 million registered subscribers, this week announces that it has enjoyed a spike in sign-ups throughout the past three months. The dedicated money saving website reports that it has achieved the figure thanks to 10,000 new registered users every day.

Gerard Doyle, CEO of, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to announce these new numbers, reaching 6 million users is a terrific achievement. It is also a real endorsement of our recently-launched daily deals service. People can look forward to saving more money at hundreds of top stores with us in 2012.”

For further information please see:

Santa Comes to Reward Event Holders at Rockliffe Hall

Will Santa fit down chimney?In the spirit of the festive season Rockliffe Hall has launched a short term incentive for businesses booking their event or conference to be held in January or February at the five star facility.
Anyone booking an event to be held before 28th February 2012, will receive a team away day for up to 10 people, an ipad2 or an iphone4.

Offering up nine hotel meeting rooms of differing sizes, a championship golf course, award winning spa and 61 stunning hotel rooms, Rockliffe Hall is just minutes from Darlington train station and the resort offers peace and tranquility ideal to concentrate on the important matters in hand.

Katie Scott, Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator, said: “We all know how stressful it can be being the person booking an event or a conference, so Rockliffe Hall has decided to reward anyone taking on that responsibility. We have a choice of three fabulous gifts, for anyone booking an event worth more than £5,600 that takes place in January or February.

“The team away day options include Nordic walking, clay pigeon shooting, a golf clinic, or white water rafting for up to 10 people and a cost of £450. The choice between an away day or an ipad2 or iphone4 means that as an added bonus, there is something that will suit everyone.”

While the resort is popular with local businesses, large and small, it has also attracted many high profile and influential visitors from around the world. The Premier League recently hosted their summer summit at the beautiful venue with top club executives, following on from last year’s visit from FIFA officials in the region to inspect its credentials as part of the England World Cup 2018 bid.

The resort is well known for its five star service and meeting facilities in County Durham, recently having picked up the prestigious Conde Nast MICE award (2011) as well as winning multiple North East awards. The resort has also won the Business Tourism in the North East award, two silver awards for Outstanding Customer Service and Taste of the North East for the Kenny Atkinson at the Orangery restaurant. Spa Director Liz Holmes also recently was named Spa Professional of the Year at The Hotel Catey’s.

To find out more about Rockliffe Hall’s outstanding facilities or to make a booking please call the Events Team on 01325 729977 or visit


Rockliffe Hall is the newest and most exciting hotel resort to open in the North of England. Set on a magnificent restored 18th century estate on the banks of the River Tees, it is a destination in itself and a five star home-from-home.

Titanic Centenary Promotions Announced

Arthur Price of England and Royal Crown Derby are two historic British companies that were selected to provide premium quality cutlery and tableware for the first class dining accommodation onboard RMS Titanic, which departed for New York from Southampton on 10th April 1912.

The interest and intrigue that surrounds the Titanic story has never diminished, in part fuelled by the long awaited discovery of the ship's final resting place in 1985. The subsequent release of James Cameron’s eponymous, multi-Oscar winning film in 1997 has only added to our ongoing fascination. April 2012 will undoubtedly see the climax of Titanimania.

To commemorate the centenary of the luxury liner’s fateful maiden voyage, these original suppliers are planning a number of events including:

Online auction of limited edition souvenirs

Specialist travel company, Deep Ocean Expeditions, is making a series of centenary dives to the wreck site. During one of these extraordinary voyages, if conditions allow, a limited edition of 100 specially engraved Arthur Price of England ‘Panel Reed’ teaspoons and Royal Crown Derby tableware will be taken 12,500 feet below the surface inside a deep sea diving submersible to the Titanic wreck. These unique pieces will then rise from the depths to be auctioned by sealed bids online at The closing date for bids will be midnight 16th April.

The online auction will also feature other Titanic related memorabilia including an original Daily Sketch newspaper and a selection of silver antiques all hallmarked in the year 1912. A donation from the auction of these highly collectable items of silverware and tableware will be made to support the invaluable work of the RNLI; the charity that saves lives at sea.

Celebratory dinner at 5 star landmark London hotel

Plans are underway to hold a very special banquet to honour this historic anniversary. The ship's menu will be recreated and served using the cutlery and plates from Arthur Price of England and Royal Crown Derby.

Visit the dedicated website where details of all these exciting promotions and more will be featured and updated in the coming months.

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Monday, 19 December 2011

That's Technology: MDSL Predicts for 2012

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hybris launches hy:market to give its customers maximum business impact from its Commerce solutions

hybris, a leading provider of eCommerce and multichannel communication software, today announced the availability of hy:market to showcase the range of partner applications and value-added services available to hybris customers. The marketplace allows customers to configure add-on solutions, so-called hy:apps, that best suit their needs and vertical industries and to discover additional features and functions hybris’ partners can bring to their businesses.

Speaking about the launch of hy:market, Ariel Luedi, CEO of hybris, said; “hy:market is an important development for our customers, partners and ourselves. This marketplace brings to our customers unique integration opportunities by being able to access our partners’ hy:apps. hy:market adds value beyond our usual ISV partner program because it provides direct access to these recommended partner solutions. With all this information now available in one place, our customers can see the full scope of options available and are able to select any additional applications that are best suited to gain even more value from our hybris solutions.

"This will also enable our partners to maximise the benefits of their relationship with hybris.”
Using hy:market, customers can search from a list of recommended partners which are leading players in their markets. Selecting specific partners enables users to see details of integrations and applications, or common integration experience. These can help reduce project costs to meet the best fit to address individual customer needs.

"They further help to tune and optimize hybris solutions in order to increase revenue, customer experience and to support multichannel commerce and communication. hy:market covers applications in areas such as commerce, customer service, data management, payment, print, marketing, rich media, search, social media and many more.

hy:market can be accessed online at:

2012 Could be the Year for Umbrella Companies, Say Umbrella Company Tarpon

The recent news of an extra boost for the umbrella company industry, in the form of a £1 billion grant, could support half a million jobs.

The new year could be the year for umbrella companies as the industry is boosted by an extra £1 billion injection in the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), assigned to help 500,000 people find jobs in 2012. The decision to award the RGF with an extra £1 billion is not only going to be beneficial for workers, but also those in the umbrella company industry.

A spokesperson for Tarpon explains:  “The news that the RGF is going to benefit from extra money really is fantastic, because it'll help give the employment market a really great boost in time for 2012. The RGF is a two year fund that's designed to support a number of projects and programmes that create economic growth and sustainable employment. So getting this extra money means that half a million people could potentially get a new job that could last them a very long time.”

The news of the extra money, which was delivered by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, during a visit to the north-west of England earlier this month, has been welcomed by a number of industry insiders and job seekers alike. The focus of the fund will not only help get people into work, but also encourage private investment in the public sector. This is the second piece of good news for the umbrella company industry in as many months, as new figures from last month show that the demand for contractors has continued to rise.

The spokesperson for continued:  “For every £1 of public money put into the RGF, the private sector will put in £5, which will help jump start growth across the UK. This, coupled with the news that the number of employers that have taken on contractors has grown for the 28th consecutive month in November, means that we anticipate that 2012 is the year for the umbrella company.”
Tarpon is an umbrella company specialising in contractor tax efficiency, enabling contractors to maximise their income and streamline their admin.

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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Idiot SEO. Why it doesn't work

Whenever I, as a reader, do a search on a particular subject, I generally click on the top several results.

However, should the top result/s be a badly-written article chock-full of totally unnecessary key words jammed into the copy in a really ugly way, then my reaction is to curse, hit the back button and look for another site.

Recently I searched for a hotel in a particular city and the first result looked like it should have been ideal, but when I was faced with nonsense phrases that ruined the flow of the article (complete with the all-important SEO hyperlinks!) like: "Hotels,London,England" I immediately used the back button on my browser and found the information I required on a different site.

What did this mean? From the Idiot SEO point of view it was a success (the website had gamed the search engine, after all) but from the marketing department point of view? It had been a total and unmitigated disaster!

It had alienated me, the visitor and sent me off to the arms of another site which will get my business.

And I will almost uncertainly not bother to visit their website, again.

So, should you use SEO? Yes. Certainly. But you would be advised to avoid using Idiot SEO. Unless you want to send business to your rivals.

Unknown number of Christmas parcels stolen

An unknown number of Christmas deliveries has gone missing, some before they were entered into the computer systems of the parcel delivery firms, making them untraceable.

One disgusted driver said: "It's a similar story with many delivery firms. My firm (EDITOR: A large, national concern) did not bother to install proper security, so an organised gang was allowed to have free range at one of the firm's hubs, taking many parcels before they had been entered into our systems. The result is the firm lost an unknown number of parcels. They then decided to improve security, but that was far too late, as the damage had already been done."

An industry insider said: "There have been other firms who have decided to take extra temporary staff on, but who have not even done any security checks on them. For all they know they could have employed people with convictions for theft, dishonesty or sexual offences or perhaps even drink driving. But because they chose to cut corners, they would never know."

Vulnerable parcels and packages targeted by greedy thieves  have included high value electronic goods, foodstuffs, DVDs, books, etc. The industry insider added: "Nothing has been safe. One of the problems is that if someone in -for example, Devon, entrusts their parcel to a major national carrier for delivery in the Midlands or the North, they expect that major, national carrier, to deliver the parcel. What the major national carrier do not tell their customers is that the final delivery (or more accurately in some cases, lack of delivery) is put into the hands of a somewhat dodgy and shady local delivery firm who have a cavalier attitude to bothering with CRB checks on their drivers.

"And some of their drivers look upon Christmas as a special bonus time, keeping their eyes open for certain packages that they will divert to either a fence or (and in many cases they genuinely do not see anything wrong in this) in the case of foodstuffs and frozen or chilled deliveries, take them home for their families to consume.

"The result is great losses to small, specialist retailers who rely on Christmas orders for the vast majority of their income and disappointed families who have had their Christmas goods diverted by thieves."

What can be done about this?

"If you are in business and need to make deliveries always insist that the delivery firms that you use only employ properly CRB checked drivers and depot staff. If they can't, do not use them. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that there is less danger of you use the parcel delivery services of the Royal Mail. The Post Office or Parcel Force. Yes, they might be a little more expensive, but perhaps there's a good reason for that?

"If you experience problems with deliveries of parcels and their seems to be a pattern do not be reticent in involving the police. Obviously, firms who have no proper policy with employing honest, verifiable staff, or who deliberately flout their own rules for the sake of expediency or cutting corners and therefore, their costs, would not welcome the involvement of the police. Well, that's too bad. You might also need to check on their business insurance. A few claims against them might serve to remind them of their responsibilities to their clients and the customers of their clients."

Saturday, 17 December 2011

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Boost for shopping on Facebook?

Shopcade is a new social shopping experience on Facebook and it is helping worldwide brands and retailers expand their social media strategy, reach and sales, while empowering consumers to create a relevant shopping experience for themselves and their friends.

With its recent launch, Shopcade offers brands and retailers a new avenue to increase their visibility within social media, in a relevant and controlled way, convert Facebook fans into active advocates and develop unique social offers to drive sales. Consumers can now shop what is trending among their friends and people they trust by visiting each other’s Shopcades - dynamic lists of great products they discovered.

Through its integration and close partnership with leading affiliate solution providers, Shopcade offers consumers personalised access to millions of products from more than 20,000 brands across all key shopping categories including; fashion & accessories, electronics, apps & downloads, hobbies & toys, cultural goods and more. Currently, brands offered on Shopcade include big names such as Clarins, Hamleys, Mulberry and Ray-Ban*.

Prompted by the draw of higher conversion rates on social media and the fact that most of the social traffic this Christmas will come from Facebook (it accounted for 90% of social traffic to retailers in October, according to IBM’s Online Benchmark Study published on November 15th,, it’s clear brands and retailers need a social strategy to ensure engagement with Facebook fans. By integrating with Shopcade via their existing affiliate programs, they can easily engage with Facebook shoppers this holiday season.

Through Shopcade, they can increase their exposure effectively, improve the engagement of their fan community and monetise their social media strategy. With Shopcade, retailers can continue the Black Friday and Cyber Monday momentum within Facebook by creating a social shopping buzz around their brand throughout the holiday season:

• The “Wish & Win” holiday shopping campaign is the first of many promotional opportunities where brands can directly engage with shoppers on Shopcade by offering prizes and cash rewards. Every week until December 27th, Shopcade users can enter to win items on their holiday wish list from more than £1,600 in prizes, sponsored by Shopcade and partner retailers, including The Body Shop, Reiss, Uniqlo,, Totally Funky and Homebase. Each partner will give away gifts and vouchers of £100 or more each week.

• To increase their products’ exposure within Shopcade, brands and retailers can also choose from a wide spectrum of partnership opportunities, including Shopcade exclusive promotions, vouchers, coupons, and branded weekly contests. Shopcade offers brands and retailers the possibility to reward their most active ambassadors in social media with a range of incentives, ranging from real to virtual rewards or special recognition.

Nathalie Gaveau, founder and CEO of “Shopcade makes it easier for brands and retailers to reach and engage with the social shopper. Our unique app within Facebook increases a brand’s chance of being relevant and ensures the best product is placed in front of the potential buyer by people he/she trust. The viral nature of Facebook combined with the personalised power of Shopcade creates a perfect environment for their social shopping marketing and sales efforts.”

Why Shopcade is the perfect partner for brands and retailers:

For brands and retailers, adding their products to the Shopcade catalogue is free and only requires acceptance of Shopcade as an affiliate and providing a reliable product feed. Shopcade does the rest and makes sure that the product information is always up to date and includes any ongoing promotions. To get in touch with Shopcade about our brand and retailer program, please visit

What do the retailers say?

Hildy Fine,
“Shopcade is a great new way to leverage affiliate marketing to engage with our Facebook fans and monetise our social media strategy.”

Daryl Bowers, Director, Totally Funky

“We think that Shopcade is a groundbreaking way to combine affiliate marketing and social media, to drive additional online sales, and leverage our fan base into active promoters of our products.”

Emmanuel Ogidan, Publisher Director at Commission Junction

“As an affiliate network, we always look for innovative new publishers to work with our brand partners and Shopcade is an exciting and fun way to buy and sell products by utilising social media. The fusion of affiliate & social means the user effectively becomes the ‘brand’s ambassador’ on social channels.”

Tasnia Wahid, Network Development Manager at LinkShare

“Shopcade is an innovative way to combine affiliate marketing and social media to drive sales and activate the retailers' fan base on social networks to become active promoters of their products."

Additional Resources:

o Join the Shopcade community on Facebook
o View this video to see how easy and fun it is to shop and share on Shopcade
o Read this blog post from founder Nathalie Gaveau explaining why the thrill of the hunt is more fun together
o Learn more about the Shopcade team
o Like Shopcade on Facebook and follow @MyShopcade on Twitter


Shopcade is a new social shopping experience on Facebook, where you can discover and shop what is trending among your friends and people you follow. Users create their own Shopcade - a dynamic list of favourite products, and by doing so, share their latest discoveries with their friends and followers. And when this discovery is genuinely helpful and leads to a purchase- Shopcade rewards both sides with real cash.

Brands can enjoy high consumer engagement with their products and increased sales and promotion opportunities. Shopcade offers more than 40 million products from 20,000 brands in one socially-connected shopping app on Facebook.

For more information, visit

Anti-Fraud Organisations Predict Fraud Surge In 2012

Research by ( of over 50 UK and European Fraud consultants reveals an expectation from over 80% of those polled, that fraud will increase dramatically across the UK and the rest of Europe in 2012.

The areas likely to be most affected include: insurance, merchants and retailers, telecoms, government departments and local authorities.

The most common fraud activities are expected to be cybercrime, internal fraud, supply chain and procurement fraud. The only area where fraud is expected to remain stable or to fall is the credit card sector where recent aggressive anti-fraud measures have forced fraud levels to fall.

Unsurprisingly, the leading cause of the increase, highlighted by the research, is the current global economic outlook, as austerity bites deep into most European states alongside rising taxes and increasing unemployment.

One of the more specific concerns in the UK, is the pressure on budgets of the state anti-fraud organisation the National Fraud Authority (NFA). Their own current estimate of UK fraud runs at GBP38bn, which is more than double the £13bn projection in 2008. Many commentators expect an even bigger rise in the new year, when the latest figures are announced. It has also become a major concern to some respondents that the NFA has had to fight for their budget since being brought under the wing of the Home Office.

And whilst some feel that government departments lack the commercial anti-fraud expertise to drive the fight against fraud forwards, the research suggests that the existence of the NFA means that the UK is seen by some as conceptually ‘ahead of the game’ across Europe.

One of the fastest growth areas of fraud is expected to be internal fraud, as employees are put on notice of potential redundancy or those disgruntled long term members of staff whose career advancement is placed on hold by budget cuts. The other major growth area is expected to be global cybercrime, not least as the UK government is seen as attempting to tackle this recently with the launch of the UK Cyber-Crime Strategy last month.

Commenting on the research, one of those surveyed Malcolm Gardner, Managing Director of Visionary Network said, “Quite simply the unusual combination of circumstances has created the ideal environment for a ‘perfect storm’ for global fraud growth. 2012 could well be remembered as the year of fraud and corruption”.

Bill Trueman, CEO of was keen to stress that there are options for the more adaptive organisations to avoid the impact of fraud. He commented “At the moment the international and domestic picture of increasing fraud most closely resembles a tidal surge. It is likely that despite all the organisation and effort to combat fraud, that the currently unprecedented frequency and scale will brand 2012 as the year when fraud risk was at its most pernicious. Rather than waiting for macro-economic or pan-European policy to take effect, individual and organisations are best to prepare and strengthen their own individual defences quickly and increasingly more comprehensively.”

To help organisations prepare believes that the most useful steps that can be taken include:

1. Ensure that your IT people understand the technical risks and they know how to protect your business from attacks, theft of customer information and infiltration. Customer details and payment details are the most ‘at risk’ data; and that access security is the most important to the police.

2. Remember though that with the best systems in the world, one of the weakest points of vulnerability is always the people using the systems, as they can easily be mis-led or conned. Ensure that customers have strong advice and warnings of the dangers. Also make sure that staff cannot access sensitive areas of your systems without proper controls and whatever they do is stored and available for audit. Make sure, when recruiting, that the bad-eggs that can get into the fabric of organisations are properly screened out before you are at risk by employing them.

3. Look at your processes for weaknesses. These include: paper that need not be used, access to unnecessary customer data, who can access what and why people may need to access such details. Ensure that people have what they need to do their jobs, but no more.

4. Make sure that your anti-fraud efforts are not just ‘after the event’ investigation-led. Ensure that you set deterrents and prevention. You should consider deploying early detection processes, systems, solutions and technology and that when you see a problem you take action to fix it properly and permanently.

5. And finally, if you employ a fraud specialist, make sure that they have the ability to take action and change the business for the better.

Those seeking more in-depth advice on fraud can write to’s helpdesk at

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Thursday, 15 December 2011

The City of London thinks that bartering presents an untapped opportunity during a recession

It’s one of the oldest systems known to man and now, according to new research by The City of London Corporation, bartering could be a useful tool for UK businesses in a market where cash is sometimes hard to come by.

The report released by the City of London Corporation together with the United Kingdom Economic and Social Research Council explores existing and potential applications of multilateral reciprocal trade, including countertrade and corporate and retail barter.

According to the authors of the report: “Reciprocal trade constitutes an estimated 20% (over US$100 billion) of global trade but contracts and negotiations tend to be lengthy and complex. The emerging multilateral reciprocal trade sector offers the potential to eliminate the inefficiencies of bilateral capacity exchange through the mechanism of common tender – an alternative means of exchange to sovereign currency which is not convertible to cash, earns no interest and can only be redeemed for goods and services within the capacity exchange.”

The report highlights how businesses with spare capacity in their own goods, services or infrastructure (often the case in economic downturns) could utilise their surplus via an exchange to ‘finance’ the purchase of other goods and services that they need. The report goes on to suggest that the development of a global capacity exchange hub in London could improve productivity by reducing surplus stocks and providing an alternative to conventional credit.

“The UK has a long history of responding quickly to the competitive challenges of new technologies and forms of commerce,” said Stuart Fraser, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation. “In a fast-changing world, now more than ever our future depends on meeting these challenges.”

Direct Barter vs Modern Day Barter
Direct bartering requires what economists call a double coincidence of wants, which means that unless two people have exactly that which the other wants (not to mention in comparable amounts and at the same time), then there is no deal. In that sense barter is particularly inefficient.

Fortunately, new forms of barter have emerged over the last few decades with multilateral barter exchanges operating more along the lines of an interest-free bank account rather than requiring a direct exchange of goods and services.

In such a system trades are recorded in a centralised ledger operated by a barter exchange operator. Whenever a business sells using barter their account is credited and when they buy their account is debited. This eliminates the need for direct trade between barter network members and allows for an increased amount of transactions to occur within the exchange.

As this is multilateral trade, sellers are not obligated to purchase from who they sold to, and vice-versa.

Jake Mesina, a consultant with the Ormita Commerce Network, an international barter service with offices in 17 counties and whose network was mentioned extensively in the City of London report, says that “bartering for goods and services can help many companies conserve cash flow, which is a useful strategy during this credit crunch.”

Smaller, more local networks, also exist across Europe such as the Chiemgauer system operating in Southern Germany. Last years turnover reached €5.1m, and the Chiemgauer is now accepted by more than 600 businesses in the Rosenheim-Traunstein area where it operates.

“Everyone wants to conserve cash and generate more wealth and in a highly competitive market every business is on the look-out for something that will give them a competitive edge. The barter industry represents an amazing opportunity for participants – allowing them to “trade what they have – for what they want,” says Mr Mesina.

As one of the worlds largest barter network operators, Ormita is currently exploring options for market entry into the United Kingdom and is on the look out for potential operating partners and/or licensees there. Interested parties may contact Mr Eduardo Resonable via email or telephone: +852 5808 2722 extension 3315.

Ormita Commerce Network Website:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Almost half of PR agencies confident of winning new public sector clients in 2012 despite continued cuts

Industry optimism is rising with 48% of PR agencies confident of winning new public sector clients in the next 12 months despite continued cuts, according to new research by DWPub.

Media communications company DWPub surveyed 52 PR agencies in November to find out what impact public sector cuts are having on the PR industry.

A similar survey was carried out a year ago and revealed that in contrast, 100% of PR agencies questioned were not confident of winning new clients. This followed the Comprehensive Spending Review which saw Chancellor George Osborne announce heavy public sector spending cuts.

2011’s research found that although 83% said their public sector clients had cut budgets in the last year, 39% were confident of being able to hold on to the accounts.

However, while 48% of PR agencies surveyed had public sector clients, almost two thirds (62%) of these said they had lost some in the last 12 months.

The number of PR agencies saying public sector clients made up 40% or more of their business has more than halved over the last 12 months – 17% this year compared to 40% in 2010.

“{{Despite continued cuts our results show that PR agencies are upbeat in contrast to the same time last year when not one agency felt they would win new public sector clients}},” said Daryl Willcox, chairman and founder of DWPub. “Although numbers are leaner, PR agencies have indicated there are still accounts to be won. However, the impact of lost business over the last 12 months has meant some agencies have had to adapt, refocusing on new sectors or accelerating adoption of new skills such as social media.”

DWPub has recently released a new whitepaper called Social media in the public sector. It aims to help organisations facing increasingly tight budgets learn how best to use social media channels to reach their audience. The whitepaper can be downloaded here.

The government’s Autumn Statement 2011, declaring further cuts, was announced on 29 November.


DWPub ( helps PR professionals, organisations and the media connect, collaborate and tell stories more effectively every day. Launched in 1997, the company connects journalists and public relations professionals to create opportunities for timely, relevant press coverage. The DWPub Media Suite includes the FeaturesExec Media Database, ResponseSource Enquiry Service, SourceWire News Distribution and the JournalistDirectory Freelance Database. Over 2,500 companies use DWPub’s media relations services, including around 120 of the top 150 PR Companies. DWPub - making media communications easy.

Unique REACH 2013 Support Programme for SMEs

Industry leaders Chemical Watch, ReachCentrum and REACH Delivery combine to provide comprehensive and cost effective REACH support programme for chemical suppliers, distributors, resellers and end users worldwide

In line with the “REACH 2013 – Act Now!” campaign launched by the European Chemicals Agency to raise awareness of REACH with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), a unique industry initiative has been launched to provide SMEs with a series of high quality REACH support products and services from well-known providers, in a single, low-cost promotional ‘bundle’.

The REACH 2013 Support Bundle is a worldwide initiative from chemSIX, supported by industry leaders Chemical Watch, ReachCentrum and Reach Delivery and is designed to make it very easy and attractive for companies to get access to the best information, knowledge and support on a small budget. In addition, it stimulates SMEs to (re)start their projects early in 2012 which is necessary given the tight REACH deadlines of 2013.

The European Chemicals Agency recently launched its “REACH 2013 – Act Now!” campaign in September. As part of the campaign, ECHA strives to point SME to the requirements and tools that are available to help them comply with REACH.

Joost Dekker of chemSIX explains, "Because the first registration phase focused on substances produced or imported in high volumes, smaller companies have not been as heavily involved in the REACH process as the larger companies. In 2012-2013 this will radically change. Along the chemical supply chain, smaller companies (SMEs) will have to become more involved in REACH. Most of these companies have little experience in the REACH process and many might even be unaware of any risks to their business."

He added "Implementing REACH and CLP is a challenge, especially for smaller companies without staff departments and with limited resources. These companies typically have less time and money to spend on getting training and support. Our intention is to make more high quality support easily available online so that more companies can get better support at a lower cost."

The initiative comprises a series of products and services which have been packaged together in a one-time promotional ‘bundle’ to create a comprehensive, distance learning, support package for SMEs in the industry. The one-time price for the whole package is €1155 and is available to companies worldwide for a limited time only, expiring in mid-February 2012.

The unique package (the ‘Bundle’) is described in detail at and includes:

• Online learning material – four eLearning modules from ReachCentrum to build up your knowledge about relevant aspects of REACH. Each company can learn at their own pace, whenever it suits them, from anywhere in the world.

• Up to date industry news & regulatory updates (a 12-month subscription to Chemical Watch) about REACH, CLP and related regulations, how regulations are developing inside and outside the EU, how industry is responding, how companies are implementing, how authorities are enforcing.

• Live webinars – three webinars from those available from ReachCentrum in 2012 with topics ranging from Basic Knowledge to Advanced Tool Support. These are provided from one of the industry's most knowledgeable sources and may be chosen according to each company’s needs.

• 12 months access to a web-based solution for REACH compliant MSDS delivery. Unlimited usage of REACH Delivery, an industry leading supply chain communication platform, throughout your company. This is provided with training, support and upgrades

• Expert Answers to your Questions – provided throughout the year by independent REACH experts. Timely advice is provided by trusted experts so that questions, about the implementation of REACH in each company’s specific situation, do not slow down their project.

Organisations can register for the one-time promotional ‘bundle’ immediately by visiting The bundle must be purchased before February 15, 2012; the components of the bundle will be provided during the 12 months from February 2012.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Fallout from the EU summit? Can the Euro survive?

After days of talks, the EU Summit failed to make clear whether the euro will survive the crisis. The only transparent outcome was that it changed the UK’s affiliation with Europe for the long term. David Cameron maintains that the decision to veto the changes to the Lisbon Treaty was to protect UK interests and especially protect the City of London from unwarranted intervention from Europe.

Dan Reed from HB Markets said, “The FTSE 100 fell by 0.82% today as the decisions in Europe have proved to be economically inadequate and politically troublesome. Domestically the decision to veto the treaty has revealed cracks within the coalition and within the EU it may squeeze the UK in the single market.”

Dan concludes “It could be difficult to defend the UK’s national interests if the UK is looking in from the outside. Overall details are still not apparent of what the instant tools would be to fight the crisis in Europe. In the days ahead the markets could face some uncertainty as the silver bullet that can sit behind any of the political decisions is still missing. Even if European leaders do overcome the political hurdles and agree on a resolution of the crisis, the question still remains if this will be enough to eventually curtail the continued contagion.”

Financial literacy essential for future business leaders

The Financial Skills Partnership is encouraged by the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People report ‘Financial Education and the Curriculum’.

The report, published today, recommends the Government promote the provision of high quality financial education in schools in England by making personal finance a compulsory part of the National Curriculum and schools utilising resources and visits from outside sources.

Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said, “High quality financial education to promote competent personal finance is an important first step. But these skills, taught alongside further maths and the PSHE syllabus, must be the solid foundation for young people to better their career prospects.

“Our young people are the business leaders of the future. The more they are equipped with the skills and confidence to use finance, the more young people can apply these skills to run, build and grow successful British enterprises of the future.”

House of Colour Awarded Investor in People Gold Standard

UK based franchise organisation, House of Colour has been presented with an award to reflect its long-standing commitment to staff development and training. As an established provider of training and products to consultants offering Colour Analysis and Personal Style workshops, House of Colour has held the prestigious IIP standard for 16 years.

This year however the new leadership team decided to go for Gold. The evidence requirements to achieve this rise from 39 for the basic standard to 126 and House of Colour were delighted to achieve 136. House of Colour is one of only 277 ambitious organisations in the UK to have achieved the Gold standard.

The directors were presented with their award on behalf of the company at a ceremony held at The Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London.

IIP was set up to help businesses recover after the recession in the 1980’s and in our current economic climate the national quality Standard is equally relevant. Every business needs to focus on their service, delivery and creating their unique brand. Research shows that organisations of any type and size that adopt a comprehensive approach to people development perform better than those without, indicated by higher gross profits per employee, higher profit margins and higher productivity. Companies that have achieved the Investors in People Standard also have higher levels of trust, co-operation and commitment than their competitors.

Awarded to well-run organisations which demonstrate good management practice with a high emphasis on best practice people management and development, the Standard encourages growth, profitability and efficiency.The award reflects best practice throughout House of Colour from the Head Office and training division to each individual franchisee and the company continues to build on this success with ongoing development and review. House of Colour has also been offered Champion status by IIP.

House of Colour not only works with individuals seeking to present themselves both authentically and congruently but also provides services to business eg Waitrose, IBM, Lighterlife, Saunderson House.

Helen Venables, Director, commented ‘We are delighted that the changes we have made in the last couple of years at House of Colour have been recognised as having a really positive impact within the organisation. We know we offer the highest standard of training in our industry to our consultants and that they deliver an exceptional level of customer experience. It’s great for us all to have this acknowledged. Going through the more exacting Gold standard Investors in People assessment was really beneficial to us all. We learned a lot about what is working and what isn’t and have been able to augment our business plan to improve even further in the future.’

Established in 1985: House of Colour are an organisation with over 140 consultants around the world. The only company in its field to hold the prestigious ‘Investors in People’ award highlights its cultural focus on empowering the individual making it the leading British colour and image consultancy.

House of Colour consultants follow the most intensive, thorough and ongoing training available to operate exclusive franchise areas; with vacancies in the UK and globally, many franchisees are looking for additional consultants to work with them.

Charitable Donation - RJL Smith & Associates in Association with Graphics and Print

RJL Smith & Associates in association with Graphics & Print, recently showcased the launch of their association at the Cathedral and Church Shops Association trade fair. The event took place at St Andrew’s Hall Norwich on the 2nd November and was attended by a number of churches and cathedrals from around the UK. The event also provided the new association with the opportunity to showcase its new range of “Qwerky Cards”.

As a celebration of RJL Smith & Associates having been in business for 50 years this year and additionally to celebrate the launch of the new association with commercial printers Graphics and Print, attendees were given the chance to win a £100 donation to the charity or well deserving cause of their choice. The Reverend Stuart Munns, who organised the event, drew the award towards the end of the day and we are delighted to announce that the winner was Mrs Chris Haigh from Wakefield Cathedral. This was a timely donation because Wakefield Cathedral are due to commence some extensive renovation work in February 2012, including the whole of the nave, a new bookshop, a new sound system, lighting, a new labyrinth, single level flooring and even under floor heating amongst other work. The work will continue right through to February 2013 and the £100.00 award has therefore been donated to the Wakefield Cathedral Development Fund.

Graphics and Print were formed in 1980 and have been successfully providing printing services for over 30 years. Graphics and Print boast a loyal customer base that’s grown year on year, offering quality, value and flexibility at every stage of the print journey.

m-hance enhances management team

m-hance, one of the fastest growing suppliers of business software solutions to mid-sized organisations, today announces that Amanda Grant is joining its senior management team as Market Development Director.

Amanda joins m-hance after 13 years with a large software author where she was Market Development Manager and will report to CEO Mark Thompson.

Amanda’s key responsibility will be to drive m-hance’s innovative approach to product development and expand its range of intellectual property (IP) solutions within its vertical market sectors.

Mark Thompson, CEO of m-hance, comments, " This is a significant appointment which underpins our vertical market strategy. Amanda will be the key interface between our market research and new product development teams to drive an expanding range of m-hance’s own IP solutions to meet specific organisational need. "With her wealth of business software experience and excellent pre-sales and training skills, we are delighted that Amanda is joining us" at an especially exciting time for the company. "

Thompson adds, “This appointment reaffirms our intention to establish m-hance as a leading innovator of business software and work closely in partnership with our existing and new customers to develop solutions tailored to their exact requirements.”

m-hance recently unified seven UK business software companies under a single brand to form a supplier dedicated to meeting the requirements of mid-sized organisations. The company operates from offices in Manchester, London, Loughborough, Dublin and Glasgow and has a 25-year pedigree of supplying innovative IT solutions in a variety of vertical markets including distribution, not-for-profit and professional services.

m-hance’s new unified senior management team comprises Mark Thompson (CEO), Andrew Hayward (Managing Director), Tom Behan (Finance Director), Claire Carter (Marketing Director), Tony Hewitt (Operations Director), Amanda Grant (Market Development Director) and Lucy Mediratta (HR Manager).

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Fasthosts reveals 1 in 3 consumers has posted a negative review of a firm online

Fasthosts, a top UK web hosting provider, has revealed that one third of British consumers has posted negative material online relating to a company or product.

The survey of 1300 UK consumers, commissioned by the web hosting company, found that it is now common place for Britons to express their gripes openly online, most commonly on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as online forums. Over half of young adults have published negative online reviews.  Encouragingly for firms, the vast majority of consumers are willing to give a company a second chance if it responds well to their online complaints.

Whilst willingness to share frustrations online is equal across both genders, the issue ranges in frequency according to age.  Younger Britons are far more likely to publish their grievances.  Some 52 per cent of under 24 year olds have turned to the web in this way.  39 per cent aged 25-34, and 38 per cent of adults aged between 45-54 years have done so. 1 in 4 of those older (28 per cent) vented their concerns online.  Geographical location also appears to be a driver, with the issue most common in the south east (38 per cent) and far north of England, such as North East (37 per cent). 

However, some 84 per cent of consumers would forgive a company for mistakes and be willing to use it again if the firm engaged with their negative online review and discussed the issues with them. 

It appears that few British companies are seeing the benefits of getting to grips with the issue of negative online material.  Data from 400 UK small businesses reveals that few UK companies choose to interact with customers who publish negative material about them. Despite the prevalence of online complaints, only 12 per cent of small firms have ever engaged with an online complaint. 

Stephen Holford, Marketing Director, Fasthosts Internet, commented: "It is understandable that many business owners' first instinct may be to shy away from their customers' online complaints.  However, addressing negative online material enables a company to learn about their customer experience as well as improve their customer retention and online reputation."

Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist, added: "People who want to complain about a company are getting a sense of freedom and power as a result of social networks and feel encouraged to make such complaints.  As a result, this is a growing problem for companies and is something they must do as a matter of routine.  Interestingly, several studies show that when people have their complaints positively responded to they are more supportive of the business than they were before the complaint was made.  Psychological research shows this is linked to the fact that when the complaint is responded to well, people feel as though they are being cared for, which produces positive emotional responses."

(EDITOR: With many firms not even bothering to reply to emails asking for details of the services they provide, is this any wonder?) 

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Synovate reports early Christmas cheer on the high street

Latest data released by Synovate Retail Performance show that retail footfall in the UK is rallying. For the month of November, the number of shoppers entering non-food stores fell by just -1.7% in the month against November 2010, according to Synovate's Retail Traffic Index (RTI), the industry's barometer of shopper numbers. This marks an improvement on October, when the year-on-year comparison stood at -2.8%, itself a significant improvement on the months before.

Better news still is that shoppers have hit the high street in force during the first week of December. For w/c 27th November, Synovate's RTI recorded a 9.3% increase on the same week of 2010, when heavy snowfall crippled the country, but, perhaps more importantly an 11.1% rise on the week before.

"With so much bad news associated with the state of the British economy at the moment, it is heartening to report some good news from the high street," comments Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Synovate. "Over the past couple of months we have seen the gap narrowing between the number of people out shopping compared to the same months in 2010. What will be even more encouraging to retailers and others is that we are forecasting a year-on-year growth of +1.3% in December. If realised, this will be the first time since October 2009 that the RTI change has been positive."

"Of course in itself, footfall does not equate to sales, but what it does equate to is buying opportunities. Footfall is the key driver of retail sales and retailers will be thankful to see these latest figures,” argues Denison.

"What we are seeing in our data and I'm hearing from around the country, is that shoppers are giving more thought and expending more care and effort in deciding what to buy their relatives and friends for Christmas this year. Times are unquestionably tough, but Christmas spirit is not being stifled it seems. People are visiting more shops, highly aware of the continuous waves of promotions and conscious too that every visit results in new promotions and bargain opportunities," reflects Denison.

"For the retailers' part, great credit should be given not just to the energy and pace of the changing promotional campaigns, but to the look and feel of their stores this Christmastide. All over the country, the standard of window displays and in-store merchandising is the best I can remember for years, and justice will be done if the extra effort made is suitably rewarded this year." Denison concludes that "December has started strongly and there is every opportunity that Christmas 2011 will be better than many expect, despite the battery of gloomy statistics being reported."

Synovate is scheduled to release its next set of RTI figures on Wednesday 14th December.


Synovate, part of IPSOS Market Research, generates insights to help clients drive competitive brand, product and customer experience strategies. A truly borderless company with offices in over 80 countries, our approach combines best in class global research capabilities with personalised service, local knowledge and the flexibility to create teams and processes that meet clients' specific requirements. At Synovate, our clients sit at the top of our organisational chart, driving us to continually develop more innovative research solutions that predict actual business outcomes.

Learn more about Synovate at

About Synovate Retail Performance

Synovate Retail Performance provides footfall monitoring solutions, shopper tracking systems and in-store behavioural research to retailers worldwide. Its core products - Shopper Count, Shopper Interact and Shopper Engage - scientifically measure all aspects of a shopper experience from store entry to exit. It supplies national and international retailers with essential business metrics to drive accountability and performance improvement.

Synovate Retail Performance is home to the Retail Traffic Index series, which for over 10 years has been the industry's leading tracker of national, regional and sector retail footfall trends. It is also co-founder of the KPMG/Synovate Retail Think Tank, offering thought leadership on the state of retail health and the future of retailing.

More information on Synovate Retail Performance can be found at

Plusnet announces business relocation into the heart of Sheffield

Plusnet, the Sheffield-based broadband and home phone supplier, has announced plans to occupy a centrally-based location in the heart of the City next year.

During the spring of 2012, Plusnet will begin moving all operations into grade-A office space at 'The Balance' on Pinfold Street, S1. The occupancy will be the biggest office let within Sheffield for the last five years, taking over 53,000 square feet.

Jamie Ford, CEO at Plusnet said: "This is an incredibly exciting time for our business and signals another milestone in our amazing story. With such rapid expansion over the last two years this move will enable all business operations including our customer services, to remain together under one roof. This is something incredibly unique for a telecoms provider in the UK.

"At the same time, the move gives us the space to necessitate further expansion as we continue to grow at pace and cements our commitment to Sheffield for the foreseeable future."

Plusnet, set to celebrate its 15th birthday in February 2012, currently employs close to 700 staff. Throughout its history it has been based in Sheffield and in 2010 took the decision to move off-shore service teams in South Africa back to the city. Since this time, Plusnet has been one of few business broadband) service providers to operate a UK based 24/7 customer service team and in 2011 alone won six awards and has been highly commended 13 times across the broadband industry. In September, 2011 Plusnet also became officially Which? Recommended.

Jamie Ford continued: "Our staff have worked incredibly hard to achieve this success and I am delighted that we are in a position to reward them with a state-of-the-art working environment. As we continue to grow, I hope the new building acts as another factor to attract local talent to our business."

Tim Bottrill, partner at Knight Frank and Plusnet's Adviser and procurer for this deal said: "This is the biggest office let within Sheffield for the last five years and something that we are proud of at our office in Sheffield.  The Balance provides Plusnet with an excellent, new HQ facility in the heart of Sheffield.  The building benefits from air-conditioned offices which include better meeting facilities; reception area; 24 hour security; landscaped recreational space; staff restaurant; cafe bar and parking. The building also provides excellent access to Sheffield's extensive network of public transport trams and buses."

Plusnet is refurbishing four floors in the building and will neighbour current occupants including HSBC and Hill Dickinson. Currently operating from two sites in the city in Tenter Street and Victoria Quays, Plusnet anticipates the move to be complete by the end of May 2012.
Plusnet offers broadband and phone packages, including Plusnet Value and Plusnet Extra broadband, both available to purchase with home phone, fibre optic broadband and a prioritisation service, Plusnet Pro.

Plusnet Value offers speeds of up to 20Mb with a monthly usage limit of 10GB. Plusnet Extra offers speeds of up to 20Mb with a monthly usage limit of 60GB and free McAfee security.

Despite usage limits on its broadband products, Plusnet offers unlimited downloads between midnight and 8am every day. This does not count towards a customer's monthly usage allowance.

Plusnet helps fix problems and talk about pretty much anything related to broadband over on its community site, blogs and forums.

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UK’s mediation experts to host National Mediation Summit

• UK companies invited to breakfast briefing to hear about Government’s proposals for improving workplace disputes resolution

• Biggest shakeup of dispute resolution in 20 years to be discussed at major UK dispute resolution summit

The TCM Group invites partners and clients to attend its Breakfast Briefing Seminar

On the 19th of January, The TCM Group will be hosting a breakfast briefing seminar on the Government’s response to the ‘Resolving workplace disputes’ consultation. Key speakers will include: Gail Davis, Assistant Director in Dispute Resolution for BIS, representatives from the Department for Business, the legal profession and HR and mediation expert David Liddle.

The Government response to the consultation is part of the Employment Law Review instigated by the Coalition. On the 30th of November the Coalition Government announced one of the most radical shake-ups of employment law in twenty years. The announcements have received far reaching media coverage, however the government’s increased focus on mediation has gone broadly unmentioned.

It is clear that the Government is serious about mediation and about encouraging companies to resolve disputes without the need for legal remedies. "The government has declared it will continue to work with the mediation industry to embed mediation in the resolution of workplace disputes." and is now even more convinced about the role that mediation can play, as one of the forms of early dispute resolution.

As stated in the Government Response to Consultation:

“Our vision is for an employment dispute resolution system that promotes the use of early dispute resolution as a means of dealing with workplace problems. The consultation “Resolving Workplace Disputes” set out our ideas, which focused on the need to tackle problems early, before they got to the tribunal stage.”

The Government is planning to explore whether and how big organisations might be able to share their mediation expertise with smaller businesses in their supply chain, and will pilot the creation of regional mediation networks through the provision of mediation training to a number of representatives from local SMEs.

Event details:

• Date: Thursday, 19th of January 2012
• Time: 09:00am - 11:30 am
• Location: Central London , Venue - TBA
• Breakfast & Refreshments included (buffet style)
• Cost: Free Event

David Liddle, The TCM Group’s founder and President of the Professional Mediators’ Association commented: “I embrace the Governments’ drive towards encouraging mediation and better dispute resolution. For many of TCM’s clients, introducing mediation has delivered real benefits in terms of reduced costs, reduced stress and increased productivity.

"I am pleased that My Davey and the coalition Government are now promoting mediation more widely and we look forward to working with Ministers and other government officials over the coming months.”

TCM is a top UK provider of business, workplace and consumer mediation services. We work with organisations across the UK and Europe to develop constructive, effective and sustainable remedies for conflicts and disputes.
TCM delivers mediation services to an unrivalled list of some of the world’s leading brands including: Lloyds Banking Group, BT, The Arcadia Group, Marks & Spencer, Vodafone, HSBC and The co-operative
Other Important Information:

• The TCM Group regularly comments on mediation, dispute resolution and labour relations issues in the media including Sky News, BBC News 24, Daybreak, BBC Radio and various trade press.
• TCM has created and sponsors the first UK award for Innovation in Dispute Resolution in conjunction with Personnel Today.
• TCM was invited by the CBI to take the lead on the production of an innovative mediation film, distributed to over 20,000 CBI members. The film’s aim was to improve the way disputes are managed across UKPLC.
• The company trains over 1000 individuals in the art of mediation each year. This includes HR professionals and business leaders. Plus other employees who are committed to improving the way that they resolve workplace and business disputes.

Keep in touch with them online

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Thursday, 8 December 2011

A CAST of Millions? What nasty IT costs are hidden at YOUR company?

Results of the new CAST Report on Application Software Health (CRASH) released today by CAST, the world leader in software analysis and measurement, reveals businesses are exposed to millions of dollars to fix technical debt – the cost to fix hidden problems that remain damaging risks in applications after they are operational – yet they are not budgeting for these costs.

“The number of software glitches, outages and security breaches reported in the press this year, and the damage they have done to the reputations of organizations like Toyota, Sony and RIM, not to mention the U.S. Government and a multitude of banks and stock exchanges around the world, have made problems with structural quality in application software a boardroom issue,” said Dr. Bill Curtis, CAST’s chief scientist, senior vice president of the CAST Research Labs and director of the Consortium for IT Software Quality.

“The purpose of the 2011 Worldwide Applications Software Quality Study is to provide an objective, empirical foundation for discussing the structural quality of IT applications and the extent to which they suffer from structural flaws. What we found were numerous problems that should have been addressed prior to deployment. It’s little different from ignoring termites that are destroying the structure of your home.”

The study is the largest ever conducted and used automated analysis to measure the structural quality of 365 million lines of code within 745 IT applications used by 160 companies throughout 10 industries. Five application software “health factors” were examined in determining structural soundness: security, performance, robustness (i.e., uptime) and the ease of software transferability and changeability. Using data drawn from the automated structural analysis, CAST made a conservative estimate of what should be fixed, focusing only on those issues critical to business cost and risk.

“Our findings, although conservative, revealed an average technical debt of $3.61 per line of code,” said Curtis. “A significant number of applications examined in the study – nearly 15% – had over a million lines of code which means even the smallest of those contains over $3.6 million in technical debt.”

"The pace of application development, innovation and modernization is increasing exponentially, based on Agile practices, Cloud, Consumerization, Mobile," said David Norton, an analyst at Gartner. "With every release cycle we run the very real risk of adding Technical Debt that we must pay back, it’s just a question of when. This is the ticking time bomb for the 21st century.”

Curtis explained that over one-third (35%) of the violations discovered in the study result in damage to business by adversely affecting the security, performance and uptime of application software.

“That means that while two-thirds of the violations found were destined to have a dramatic effect on IT costs and a company’s bottom line, the other one-third is even more critical as it has a direct negative impact on business performance.” said Curtis. “Technical debt creates a double dose of trouble because it siphons money from IT innovation to pay for software repairs. The consequence is fewer dollars left to develop new applications capable of providing a competitive edge to an organization and increased risk embedded in the new applications designed to create that edge. It certainly makes technical debt something that should be critically important to both CIOs and CEOs.”

Some of the more surprising findings in the study included the discovery that government applications carried 50% more technical debt than the private sector. “There are many plausible explanations for these results,” Curtis said, “Such as multiple contractors working on different parts of an application, and contractual disincentives for delivering high quality software. There definitely needs to be better software acquisition practices and management.”

Other notable findings from the study included:

· Despite assumptions to the contrary, outsourced and in-house developed applications didn’t show any difference in structure quality. The same was true for onshore and offshore applications.

· Java EE applications were the most prevalent among those studied and received significantly lower performance scores as well as carrying greater technical debt than other languages

· Established development methods such as agile and waterfall scored significantly better in structural quality than custom methods, while waterfall scored the highest in transferability and changeability.

· COBOL applications scored the highest in security, while .NET applications received the lowest security scores

To obtain the Executive Summary of the 2011 CRASH Study visit CAST Research Labs at


CAST is a pioneer and world leader in Software Analysis and Measurement, with unique technology resulting from more than $90 million in R&D investment. CAST provides IT and business executives with precise analytics and automated software measurement to transform application development into a management discipline. More than 650 companies across all industry sectors and geographies rely on CAST to prevent business disruption while reducing hard IT costs.

CAST is an integral part of software delivery and maintenance at the world's leading IT service providers such as IBM and Capgemini.

Founded in 1990, CAST is listed on NYSE-Euronext (Euronext: CAS) and serves IT intensive enterprises worldwide with a network of offices in North America, Europe and India. For more information, visit

Web site:

Hays and CIPS get together to provide CIPS members with dediated recruitment service

Hays Procurement, the leading recruiting expert, has signed a new partnership with the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) to provide CIPS members with a dedicated recruitment service, providing specialist procurement and supply management career support for CIPS' UK members and those overseas

CIPS members will benefit from Hays Procurement's regional network of offices and have access to the latest job opportunities. Hays Procurement will offer members a priority service, which will include essential information about the procurement market and careers advice from expert recruiters.

Pat Law, Director at Hays Procurement comments: "Recruitment issues have risen to the fore since the economic downturn and procurement professionals want expert career advice. Our partnership with CIPS will enable us to keep its members up-to-date with the latest information about the procurement market. We look forward to working even more closely with CIPS to raise the profile of the profession and encourage young people to consider it as a career."

David Noble, Chief Executive at CIPS said: "The combined strength of our preferred partners, who have been chosen following a rigorous selection process, means a huge boost for candidates seeking career opportunities in the procurement and supply chain profession. We must support the next generation of professionals and make this a career of choice for younger audiences and those in mid-career. I believe this combination of experts in the recruitment industry will provide the best mix and the best opportunities."

For further information or to access current procurement jobs please visit the Hays website.

For more information on CIPS please visit:

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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

How gaming technology brings insight to modern data centre operations

Former Computer Weekly and Financial Times IT journalist, Dave Madden interviews Silicon Valley’s Rich Miller on Real Status’ Hyperglance.

For Rich Miller, Hyperglance works like an adrenaline shot.

He is clearly exhausted – that numbing cocktail of jet lag and non-stop presentations that is the lot of the global technology consultant is taking its toll. There is another daunting round of evening meetings to come. But get him onto Hyperglance, the innovative modelling software from Cambridge start-up Real Status and he recovers with an infectious rush of enthusiasm.

Miller is in Europe in his capacity as adviser and consultant to Real Status – and as evangelist for a very different way of managing complex networks.

Rich Miller is President of Telematica, Inc. a consulting firm and holding company with a practice in product strategy and business development for utility computing and networked services.

He recently served as CEO for Replicate Technologies, Inc. a provider of management technology for the networks that support virtual machine environments (VMEs). In fact for the bulk of his career, he has focused on emerging messaging technologies and innovative distributed applications, first as a technologist and product strategist, and then as a business strategist and operating executive.

So the mere fact that Miller is working with Real Status, sits on its advisory board, and has a small stake in the firm, is a real vote of confidence in its management team and its approach. Real Status’ chosen patch is Miller’s specialist subject.

“I first came across Real Status in California – they were on a trade mission to Silicon Valley organised by UKTI. The attraction was immediate and obvious.

“I have a long standing interest in managing complex data communications networks, data centre infrastructures and the like – and a strong belief in data visualisation. I found Real Status’s way of tackling this incredibly inventive and stimulating,” he says.

Real Status’s flagship product, launched earlier this year, is Hyperglance.

Hyperglance is the world’s first real-time IT modelling and visualisation software that automatically builds three dimensional models showing the dependencies between IT applications and infrastructure.

This 3D modelling approach enables customers to see their entire IT infrastructure on a single pane of glass, including physical, virtual and cloud-based devices, applications and services and their relationships to each other. It complements other management tools by aggregating and visualising their data on the model. The obvious benefits are faster, more accurate and informed operational decisions. In addition, Hyperglance will help with security and compliance, and better capacity planning and utilisation - and because the software overlays performance and business metrics, IT managers can take informed and business-led decisions in context.

“Hyperglance is seriously innovative. At its core is something like a 3D gaming engine. And just like a 3D game it allows an operator to view the network from different angles, to get different perspectives.

“So Hyperglance did appeal to the inner gamer in me – but it turns out that this approach is a far better way of getting a sense of complex systems. The endless grids and tables of conventional network management systems are actually quite poor at showing patterns – Hyperglance is a very superior way of getting the big picture.”

The other attraction of Real Status for Miller was timing. Hyperglance offers a solution to a problem that is getting exponentially more difficult to solve.

“Managing complex networks has always been difficult. But in an environment of cloud computing, of server virtualisation, the problem is getting far harder.

“This new environment is wonderful for the developer in terms of cost and flexibility, but almost by definition it is very difficult to manage; the documentation describing the network is always out of date.

“But it is this virtual environment, with hundreds of times more points on a network that is always in motion, that the data centre now has to manage.

“If you try to apply conventional management systems to this virtual data centre it looks as if everything is out of control. The complexity and plasticity of the environment demands a different perspective – and that’s what Hyperglance offers.”

As well as helping to model this intrinsic complexity, Hyperglance also gives administrators a handle on systems security.

“There is nothing magic about this. Security issues in the cloud are not difficult in themselves – it is just that the more points you have on the network, so the more vectors you have for potential security breaches. Anything you can do to monitor these exposed interfaces in an orderly manner is obviously good.

“This whole area of security in a virtual computing world has become a conversation in the executive suite. CFO’s (Chief Financial Officers) are particularly sensitive to the issues. In many industries – banking, insurance, health care - wherever you are maintaining personal identification data about your customers, you are under regulatory obligations, and should you fail an audit in this area there are immediate financial consequences. There is a serious cost to non-compliance here.”

Miller professes great confidence in Real Status’s business model, as well as its technical approach.

“The long term effects of cloud computing on IT infrastructure are still to be realised.

“The issue is how to operate a data centre in these circumstances. How can IT and systems development organisations make best use of the miraculous resources now available to them, how to exploit the flexibility and costs of virtual computing without getting into security and reliability trouble.”

In the short term that means Real Status has to talk to business operations and IT executives, and to build a series of partnerships in its focus markets. Further out, Miller speculates that the firm’s modelling approach could find application in other areas – social networks, economics - wherever the visualisation of relationships, the interactions and flows of data, can be represented as a network.

“Real Status has a compelling story. Hyperglance gives IT managers a way of determining what is happening in their virtual data centres – and why. And, when used in conjunction with predictive systems management products, can be effectively used to represent answers to the ‘what-if ?’ questions that continually face data centre managers.

“This is a tool set that enhances visibility where it is very difficult to see what is going on. Literally, it allows you to change your point of view. It removes the clutter. It really is quite magic when you use it.

“In quite a profound way this technology re-empowers people. It allows a human view of complex systems; it allows human intuition to function. Hyperglance really is a human and computer symbiosis - and in a philosophical sense that is very encouraging.”

Encouraging – and invigorating. Game on.


Dave Madden

Former editor of Computer Weekly, freelance feature writer for the Financial Times, and founder and editor of, a forum for Europe’s management consultants, Dave Madden is a freelance writer who specialises in consulting, business and technology issues and education.

About Real Status

Real Status is an IT infrastructure modelling and data visualisation software company, and our flagship product is Hyperglance. Hyperglance automatically builds three dimensional models showing the dependencies between IT applications and infrastructure. It aggregates and visualises performance and security data from existing IT management tools on the model in real time.

Hyperglance enables CIOs, IT managers and their teams to see their management data and key dependencies in one place and at one time for thousands of connected devices. Their priorities and decisions are based on understanding the business impact of problems and proposed IT changes, which reduces risks, lowers costs, and improves capacity utilisation.

Real Status’ market is enterprises and managed service providers with virtualized and distributed computing environments. Real Status is based in Cambridge, UK and San Jose, California, USA. For more information visit:

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The newly enhanced Dinamiks ensures businesses and organisations comply with The Bribery Act 2010, which came into effect this year

Dinamiks Ltd has announced that its newly enhanced online compliance and employee performance management tool Dinamiks - - is capable of handling all Bribery Act 2010 compliance requirements.

The act came into effect on July 1st 2011 and amends and reforms UK criminal law while providing a legal framework from which to combat bribery, or attempted bribery, in the UK and internationally.

Dinamiks allows a business to ensure that all staff and management - including the board and, optionally, suppliers and external partners - are aware of the requirements of the act, provided the business inputs basic user information.

The act covers business kickbacks, corrupt commissions and other forms of illicit business payments that are used secure business or government contracts. The act also prohibits payments made to obtain a business advantage, such as expediting goods through customs, attempting to receive a more favourable tax treatment and influencing legislation.

"We have deepened the compliance capabilities of Dinamiks so that it can be used in complete confidence for Bribery Act 2010 compliance," says Shirley Barnes, Client Relationship Director, Dinamiks Ltd.

"Specifically, Dinamiks can be used to implement compliance awareness objectives and development processes - and create proper records and an audit trail."

Under the new offence of failure to prevent bribery, businesses are criminally responsible for bribes on their behalf by "Associated Persons" whether they know about them or not. There is a defence, that the business has in place "Adequate Policies" to prevent bribery.

What can a business do? It must do something, because all businesses operating in the UK are covered by the act.

The law can be summarised into four key crimes (i) bribing (ii) receiving a bribe (iii) bribing a foreign public official (iv) failing to prevent bribery.

Barnes says that compliance awareness objectives and development processes form one of the planks of an "Adequate Policies" approach that fits all businesses:

*Drive the initiative from the top
*Conduct risk assessment for your business
*Develop a plan to close gaps
*Review existing related polices and create new ones
*Include agents and other service providers in the awareness
*Implement compliance awareness objectives and development processes
*Seek external support

"It is critical for businesses, government departments and other types of organisation to maintain proper books and records and ensure total transparency of payments made, corporate hospitality given and to whom," says Barnes, "and in addition that on a predetermined calendar cycle, all employees read and understand all the policies associated with good practices, to prevent bribery."

For further advice and information contact or phone (+44) (0)1243 538835


Available 24/7 via secure web access, Dinamiks reduces costs and inefficiencies, develops and motivates staff, aligns employees with business goals, helps deliver up to the minute appraisals, improves HR processes, shows where training or coaching is required - and helps with compliance and employment law across sectors.

Learn more about Dinamiks at