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Tech trends: ICT in the UK today

Through a glass brightly In their quest for a durable, affordable, ‘cloud-scale’ storage medium capable of storing archival data for hundreds of years, Microsoft Azure and Warner Bros. have succeeded in storing the entire 1978 film Superman film on a piece of glass about the size of a drinks coaster (75 x 75 x 2mm). Researchers on Microsoft’s Project Silica encoded the film in quartz glass, through a combination of ultra fast laser optics, which they used to create layers of three-dimensional
nanoscale gratings and deformations in the glass, and artificial intelligence, which successfully retrieved the data by decoding images and patterns created when polarized light was shone through the glass. Find out more at

AI puts premium on EI

The emergence of new technologies like AI and machine learning is placing a premium on employees with emotional intelligence (EI), reveals a new study by the Capgemini Research Institute. More than four out of five executives surveyed by the research company (83%) believe that EI skills, such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, will become a must-have in the years to come. At the same time, the proportion of employees who believe automation and AI will make their skills redundant in the next one to three years has increased from 30% to 39%. Faced with greater automation of white-collar jobs, 76% of executives said employees will need to develop EI skills so that they can adapt to more client/person-facing roles and take on tasks involving empathy, influence and teamwork that can’t be automated.

5G? Yes, please

Two thirds of SMEs plan to upgrade to 5G within six months of it becoming available to them, reveals a new survey from Onecom. Three quarters (72%) of SMEs believe 5G will make them more efficient and successful, through a better customer experience (cited by 38%), improved productivity (36%), easier flexible and remote working (36%), cost savings (30%) and the ability to launch new services (22%). Just one in 10 (11%) believes 5G will bring no benefits.

Email bans counter-productive

Businesses that seek to improve staff well-being by restricting access to email outside office hours may be doing more harm than good, warns a new study led by the University of Sussex. Personality differences as predictors of action-goal relationships in work-email activity, published in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal, reveals that while a blanket ban on email use outside office hours can help some workers achieve their goals, it can be counter-productive for others, especially those with high levels of anxiety and neuroticism. Such people, suggest the authors, require the ability to control their response to a growing accumulation of email, which can cause stress and feelings of being overloaded with work. Lead author Dr Emma Russell, a senior lecturer in management at the University of Sussex, says that instead of blanket bans on email, organisations should personalise recommendations according to each individual’s particular goals. For work email, these are typically either to show concern to others, to carry out their work effectively, to preserve their well-being or to have control over their workload. She said: “A solution designed to optimise well-being, such as instructing all employees to switch off their emails outside work hours, is unlikely to be welcomed by employees who prioritise work performance goals and prefer to attend to work outside hours if it helps them complete tasks. People need to deal with email in the way that suits their personality and goal priorities.”

In the dark about cyber-attacks

UK businesses are unaware and unprepared when it comes to protecting themselves against cyber-attacks, new research has revealed. A survey of 1,032 IT workers carried out by technology services provider Probrand found that almost half (43%) don’t know how to defend their company from a cyber-attack; 21% aren’t even sure what constitutes a ‘cyber-attack’. Only one in ten IT workers (12%) knows what their company’s business continuity plan entails.

3D first

The UK’s first 3D-printed, made-to-order vitamin supplement has been launched by Nourish. Combining seven active ingredients, out of a choice of 28, the chewable vitamin stack is tailored to each person’s nutritional needs. Customers complete a short online questionnaire, from which Nourished creates a bespoke blend of vitamins, which it 3D prints and encapsulates in a sugar-free, vegan gel.

Sustainability a minor consideration

Despite the best efforts of everyone from Prince Charles to Extinction Rebellion, sustainability still sits at the bottom of consumer purchasing criteria, behind cost and convenience. In a survey of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by IBM, only one third of consumers said they consider sustainability when making purchasing decisions.



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