Blackberry to iPhone in the corporate world

Posted on : 20-05-2010 | By : richard.gale | In : Innovation

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Recent headline from Reuters (http://tinyurl.com/37nqspo) is that “Standard Chartered ditches BlackBerry for iPhone” an interesting development and could potentially be worrying for RIM

There will probably be a stampede to get hold of the fruity little devices to show how hip a banker can be and to show off the kids….

One of the many issues that could cut this short is the usability – iPhones are great for many things but typing emails is not one of them (at least not for someone with f4t fingers). It takes significantly longer to sort out and reply to the multitude of important emails your average banker gets each day using an iPhone compared with a Blackberry. Another important aspect is the Blackberry is excellent for one handed operation – essential when you’re ‘strap hanging’ on the way home – try that with an iPhone and you’ll soon be sitting on someone’s lap (and that’s another story…).

Walking round various trading floors (well – the more relaxed ones where phones are tolerated) shows a large number of ‘doubled up’ Smartphones. A blackberry for business use and an iPhone for personal – in fact I’ve heard the iPhone termed ‘weekend phone’ – it has the functions, looks and apps to enhance your leisure life but without the seriousness of the Crackberry.

Although there could be another explanation for it – currently many people have the blackberry for work and the iPhone for play – if iPhone becomes corporate then there is another way that employers have a hold over their staff and the data they keep on it. In addition – as happened with Minis and Real Estate Agents in London – will proliferation reduce desirability for others?

Doing more with less?

Posted on : 13-05-2010 | By : richard.gale | In : General News

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Recently, whilst assisting a children’s charity with their IT Strategy we spent a period of time analysing the organisation, functions and delivery capabilities. What struck us was the huge amount of diverse work successfully delivered by what, in Financial Services terms, was a very small team.

How was this achieved? A number of factors contributed but the strongest elements were:

– Structure – defined, understandable way of tackling problems that was flexible enough to deal with the constantly changing landscape

– Focus – indentifying what were the most important elements and concentrating efforts on their delivery

– Teamwork – hierarchical and departmental politics were eliminated and multi-disciplined  groups worked and seemed to thrive together

– Outcomes – knowing the outcome from the beginning

– The Knowledge – that every pound spent is important and could be utilised elsewhere for the improvement of children’s lives

The business of IT delivery in FS may not have the same moral underpinning… but many of those ideas and behaviours can be transferred to improve the way we work – knowing what you want to achieve when you start something is one of the key factors to success.

This is just another positive where providing services free or ‘pro bono’ reaps unexpected rewards beyond the usual satisfaction of feeling (slightly) better about yourself.

The organisation in question –  The Children’s Society (http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk) – has an even bigger portfolio of change to carry out this year to help and improve the lives of the most deprived and poorest children in the UK. Please feel free to help them by contributing.

Contract Market – Time for growth ?

Posted on : 11-05-2010 | By : jo.rose | In : General News

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The last 2 years have brought difficult times for the IT contractors in financial markets.  The combination of rate cuts of up to 50% for certain roles and the systematic culling of resource as part of cost reduction measures, has made for a pretty miserable time.  But things are clearly changing.

One of the main ( and arguably good ) side effects of the downturn has been a rebalancing of quality within the resource supply.  The IT market over the last 10-15 years, whilst punctuated with the odd “blip”, has been a rich picking ground for contractors.  High quality staff have continued to remain employed, and rightly so.  But there have also been those that would have struggled to survive in other industries where a) the demand to supply gap was not as great and b) the speed of execution was not as tight.  The prolonged nature of the downturn has seen many of these staff leave the industry, move to different market sectors or retrain.

So what does the current situation look and feel like ?  Well, firstly demand from financial services is clearly up.  Belts can only be tightened for so long.  In order to remain competitive, and in some cases more importantly compliant, investment in systems has increased with many companies firmly back in the hiring market.  However, the landscape is very different.

Firstly, individuals are more reticent to just jump ship.  Many have had their “tin hats” on for a while now and, although some would see contractors as predominantly a mercenary lot, the role offered is now more likely to be or greater importance before making a move.

Secondly, employers are looking to get a much closer fit to the role before taking a contractor on, whereas before many staff were engaged having “the majority” of skills required.  Any gaps could easily be filled through bringing on more staff, particularly on a project basis.  Now however, employers are more selective in committing unless the person is absolutely right.

A final important point is flexibility.  Letting permanent staff go through a downturn is both time consuming and emotionally difficult.  The current economic situation is still very much in the balance with predictions of a second recession along with the problems in Greece and possible knock on to other European countries.   No company wants to increase their fixed costs too much in the short term in the event that further cost reductions are required.

All of this has meant that finding the right person for roles is becoming an increasing challenge.  Recruitment firms have also struggled and had to up their game. The future looks bright for quality, experienced consultants as demand for the right people starts to outstrip supply in 2010-05-10