Do you take enough time away from the office and your phone?
The argument about BYOD has moved on from its starting point, where enterprises were at first tempted to lock everything down and refuse to allow devices other than those it had approved and purchased itself to access the network and corporate data.
Instead, some 95% of organisations now encourage mobility and support BYOD, according to research by Evolve IP. With managers and executives now working remotely for over 10 hours a week, and an extra half-hour added to their working day by the ability to connect during the commute, BYOD-enabling organisations are reaping the benefits of their mobility programmes, including increased productivity. And most employees told researchers that they valued the ability to stay in touch anytime, anywhere.
But is it a good thing that the line between work and home lives should be so blurred? Researchers have found that people end up working for up to 13 hours a day – not because they necessarily want to but because they feel compelled to do so. Some might argue that a visit to HR is required in such circumstances but the pressure of colleagues as much as managers can mean that there is little that they can do. Instead, it may require a change in corporate culture, where holidays are allowed.
That said, in a tough economic environment, many people feel that they need to work harder to keep their jobs, to stay in touch – even overnight or on holiday. Yet everyone knows that downtime is essential to recharge the batteries, to pursue hobbies, and spend quality time with friends and family.
Finding a middle way
There may be a middle way between switching off entirely and being a slave to the technology. According to the Harvard Business Review (https://hbr.org/2014/07/the-right-way-to-unplug-when-youre-on-vacation/), it may be question of figuring out the minimum amount of time you can get away with being disconnected from the grid.
In practical terms, it may be as simple as being particular about the times you connect – say once or twice a day at specific times, with email downloads being triggered manually so you won’t be tempted to respond to notifications. Then once you have a clear plan, you need to share with family and colleagues so they know when you will be available for work – and when you won’t.
You could also set up a holiday auto-reply that will minimise the email pile when you get back. And try not to think about work while you’re away.
Technology is not the boss
What’s key to recognise is that you should not feel compelled to stay in touch. Just because the technology exists to keep you in touch pretty much anywhere, it doesn’t follow that you should be expected to do so. And if that doesn’t work, take at least part of your holiday somewhere the mobile networks won’t reach you, so you have an entirely legitimate reason not to respond to emails or calls.
Productivity need not suffer: research shows that people feel less stressed and have higher energy levels after they return from holiday – which is better for both their health and their productivity.
Technology is undoubtedly changing the way we teach and learn. It started with desktops and interactive whiteboards – now we are seeing an influx of smart devices and their various apps and programmes. Better internet and connectivity has also contributed to a huge change in school environments. The consequences of all of these changes have been both positive and negative. While both sides of the coin are often discussed on separate forums; if you’re looking to upgrade the technology in your school, it’s worth comparing both sides as you form your plan. It’s always essential to keep in mind any potential drawbacks to integrating something new into an environment, but it’s possible to find that the advantages make it well worth it.
Easy access to information – Books still have their place in the classroom, but students and schools can both save a lot of money and space now that information can be so easily accessed on the internet and online school resources. Students in particular don’t have the burden of heavy or bulky backpacks because of textbooks.
Independent learning – Students have always been able to study outside of the classroom, but this is easier than ever now. Mobile technology means that learning has no restrictions when it comes to place or time. With the intimate digital knowledge that has become innate in the current generation of students, technology will help them take their learning to the next level.
New ways to learn – Learning isn’t limited to note making and perusing textbooks any more. Students can enjoy a diverse range of material that is possible entirely because of technology. Images, videos, graphics, websites; these can all contribute to renewing students’ interest in their respective subjects.
Shallow studying – Smart devices and computers make it so easy to find answers that it takes almost no effort. This shortcut method of studying is tempting for a lot of young pupils but it can create a sort of study lethargy. Students can develop poor study habits like not fact-checking or not looking into their sources, which could potentially lead to miseducation.
Forgetting the basics – There are many methods of study that are just as relevant now as they were twenty years ago, but students are becoming so accustomed to using computers for every aspect of their studying that they’re forgetting these older and sometimes more effective methods. For instance, some students are now finding themselves confused by libraries.
Beware the web – As fantastic a resource as the internet is, it’s well documented in having an underbelly that ranges from unproductive to downright strange, even with parental controls on. Not everything that students find on the internet will be conducive to their studies, so it’s important to properly guide them at school and encourage their parents to guide them at home.
Technology now plays an integral role in education. As long as students’ computer usage and study is guided in and out of school, the long term benefits of having access to technology are well worth integrating it into the learning process. With such easy access to a wealth of information – and so many new ways to digest said information – the potential for more efficient learning is limitless as long as it is accompanied by a steady hand.
There are almost no industries that remain untouched by technology. Whole sectors are transforming daily, and one of those is the education sector. There have been many discussions about the changes wrought by technology when it comes to the classroom – specifically about schools teaching children ages 3-18. The changes seem more obvious in this evolved environment of classic chalkboards and textbooks; classrooms around the world are now more interactive and technology-driven than ever. But the world of Higher Education has been altering just as much. Each technological change brought to Higher Education brings with it a ripple effect of culture changes that will have a lasting effect on how we teach our young adults. Here are some of the ways in which Higher Education has been evolving.
New Learning Environments
Many physical elements of universities are changing to adapt to the ever evolving technological climate. In extreme cases, entire classes can be conducted over the internet, eradicating the need for actual rooms. More common changes include installations of screens and interactive boards that enable easier collaboration and project work. University portals are becoming more sophisticated, to the point that most learning material can be delivered online, eliminating the need for real life resources like lecture notes. Computer areas are growing, transforming libraries and other university buildings as rooms are converted to suites.
New teaching methods have developed as the need to connect to digitally native students while delivering quality lessons has become a priority. Blended learning has been incorporated into universities for some time, but now universities are taking it to the next level. The idea of blending used to be simpler; teachers would integrate videos into their presentations or allow students to use computers in class. Now students can attend lectures online, opting for webinars and video conferences and making the most of connectivity to stay in constant contact with tutors.
Universities are joining forces now more than ever. Their reasons are varied, from wanting to create innovative new programmes to needing to double up on resources to achieve research goals. These alliances are often concerning technology, research or shared values. Whatever their reasons, it is cutting-edge technology that enables these unions. Connectivity and communication are vital to effective collaboration, so many of the universities wanting to go this route are overhauling their old IT infrastructures and investing in the latest in communication technology.
These are a few of the physical and cultural changes that are becoming common in Higher Education institutions. Some of the changes are more obvious to the naked eye – for instance the way lecture theatres and libraries are renovating to accommodate new technology. Other areas of change, such as new teaching techniques and collaboration projects, aren’t as obvious to those who aren’t experiencing them, but nonetheless those changes are happening. Universities need to keep up the pace of evolving technology so that they can stay current and effective as educators and innovators.
Data – or so-called ‘big data’ – is critical to the successful implementation of any sort of intelligent transport system. From operations and planning, through to safety and enhanced customer experience, the potential applications of big data, when done properly, are as numerous as they are exciting.
In 2012, the Department for Transport set up the Transport Sector Transparency Board to oversee the opening up of transport data, hoping to encourage the transport industry to embrace the ‘Open Data’ revolution. Five years later, there are currently 777 data sets on data.gov.uk, both published and unpublished, of which nearly half (364) relate to transport. But while this proliferation in open data, combined with increasingly advanced algorithms, availability of real-time processing capability, and advances in data storage, is revolutionising sectors such as online advertising and e-commerce, is the transport industry really keeping up?
Operational transport data (e.g. real-time train/bus arrival times) is becoming increasingly commoditised, with a relatively mature eco-system of suppliers and developers creating a huge range of useful solutions to improve the customer experience. However, the data may not be always easily accessible, and can often be incomplete and inaccurate thanks to a fragmented industry approach to the sharing of data across multiple operators and service providers. Additionally, there remains huge potential in the sharing of additional datasets around detailed historical and predicted performance, more accurate live positioning, vehicle loading and ticket barrier data, especially if this data can be made available in real-time. Clearly, despite the relative maturity in terms of the availability of data, the transport industry has valuable lessons to learn from other sectors around maximising the value of both the data itself, and the arguably even more valuable ‘meta data’ generated through the deployment, and use of big data.
Transport data provides its own set of unique challenges (and opportunities), but the incumbent technology providers in the transport sector do not have the right skills to exploit many of these opportunities. We have had conversations with large global engineering firms about how often we have to delete our data, or with legacy technology providers about how we structure our data in a way that allows systems to scale. The idea of deleting data or using traditional relational database technology (such as SQL Server or Oracle) would be laughable in other sectors working with ‘big data’. With a lack of experience and understanding of cloud computing, open-source NoSQL databases and real-time stream processing technology, these large, slow moving suppliers are simply incapable of creating the technology platforms required to deliver a modern big data processing capability.
There is currently an enormous amount of excitement around the use of Machine Learning (ML) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) across industry as a whole. For the transport sector, ML and AI is already being used to identify patterns in existing operational data sets – predicting when trains will be delayed, the impact of disruption, or even to predict infrastructure failure. The real impact of these technologies though is being felt in other sectors through its application of human behavioural ‘big-data’. Personalisation, customer sentiment analysis and targeted messaging are just some of the areas in which giants such as Amazon.com and Facebook are leading the way.
The transport sector has historically been relatively unsophisticated in their (digital) interactions with their customers – with the communication of operational data such as delays, cancellations and other disruption seen as an obligation rather than an opportunity. The data generated through how customers interact with information, when they interact, and even how long they take to make a decision based on the information presented to them, is incredibly valuable, if somewhat unstructured, data. This sort of data has been used in online advertising technology for many years (we are all familiar with those adverts that follow us around the Internet!), and underpins the ability to both understand and engage more meaningfully with your customer.
For the transport sector, this human behavioural ‘big-data’ has incredible value. For example, data on when individuals plan a journey, or check a train/bus time prior to travelling, can be used to predict aggregated demand on services over the next few hours. At an individual level, these sorts of interactions can help to build a unique profile for each and every customer, and ultimately deliver an enhanced, personalised customer experience. More importantly, aggregating this data at a network level, with potentially 100’s of millions of interactions every day, provides a unique opportunity for the transport sector to optimise capacity and to influence behaviour across the network as a whole.
Current technology trends are already changing the way healthcare is managed and delivered. From wearables to cloud storage, healthcare institutions are adopting more and more technological trends that improve their efficiency and care delivery while empowering patients. These current and near future technologies are being rolled out daily. But there are many more branches of technology that will be able to influence and transform healthcare that are still in the early days of development. Some of them have not been approved by governing bodies in the health sector, as approval can take years. But research continues in the meantime and the potential they have to impact the health sector is huge. From patients to professionals, everyone involved in healthcare will be affected by these emerging technologies in the next few decades.
Technology is making healthcare more accessible every day. A very real problem is people not being able to actually make appointments due to being incapacitated, so researchers are working hard on solutions that will enable these people to undergo tests in the comfort of their own home. Software is being developed to detect and diagnose a range of illnesses including Alzheimer’s and various cancers. These programmes can do a range of things like analyse parts of the brain based on eye movements or calculate likely illnesses based on inputted symptoms. The reliability of these developing technologies will only increase with funding and time, perhaps to eventually become permanent additions to patients’ homes.
Right now 3D printing is becoming common in a lot of areas in medicine; it can manufacture equipment and even some drugs. Logically, the next step is human matter. Experiments with tissue, bone, cartilage and a range of other biological components have been underway since the turn of the 21st century. “Bio printing”, as it’s often referred to, has developed to the point where whole organs are being printed. Where it was once entirely experimental and costly, it is now being used all over the world and it’s becoming increasingly affordable. The implications of this are both vast and beneficial as it could eliminate the organ shortage that affects so many patients.
Prosthetic limbs are becoming more intricate and powerful every day. Key elements such as motor control and precision – once impossible for robotic limbs to achieve – are almost lifelike now. This is most obvious in prosthetic hands, but other areas of mechanical medicine, such as exoskeleton suits for partially paralysed patients are also maturing. One day, prosthetic limbs will be able to fully connect and communicate with the human brain. For now, innovators are perfecting their human mimicry.
These three areas of medical tech are rich in possibilities and research, with new developments propelling them forward each day. Ideas that once existed only in science fiction are now at the forefront of technological innovation. These ideas, now physical conceptions, have the power to transform the way healthcare is delivered when they become more widely used and affordable. Patients will be able to receive a better and more consistent standard of care in the future when these technologies become commonplace in our society.
Borlänge Kommun is a local authority situated in Dalarna, Sweden. It’s responsible for a lot of the area’s services, including education and healthcare. These critical services are delivered to 48,000 residents. The authority wanted to deliver a greater level of service to its residents, but this was going to be a challenge due to fixed and decreasing budgets in various areas. Birgit Jusola, IT Administrator at Borlänge Kommun, says: “To support an IT infrastructure that delivers great services and value to residents, we need a cost-effective way of maintaining our IT infrastructure.”
Dell Financial Services (DFS) have been working with Borlänge Kommun to deliver improved services within a designated budget. The local authority has rolled out new desktops and laptops across its schools and office buildings over recent years. It’s also virtualised its central data centre with a combination of Dell servers and VMware® server virtualisation software. Jusola says: “Dell means many things to Borlänge Kommun. It means reliability and high performance in terms of IT solutions, and responsive services. We’re improving our services year-on-year with the support of Dell.” The residents of Borlänge are getting greater value from the authority because its IT systems can deliver services that are efficient and cost-effective.
The main project for the development of IT at Borlänge Kommun was virtualising its biggest data centre. “We’ve virtualised our IT systems on Dell technology by working with DFS. Through virtualisation, we’ve been able to maximise availability, ensuring a better service to taxpayers,” says Jusola. One example of this is the improvement of the authority’s disaster recovery. If the physical host servers have any issues, the virtual machines can be moved to other hosts with ease and without downtime. Jusola says: “People visiting our offices and using our website will find that their inquiries are answered promptly because of the constant availability of our virtualised Dell solution.”
IT personnel have constant support from Dell consultants and technicians to help plan and deploy solutions quickly and efficiently. Examples include rollouts of more than 1,000 client devices in a single project. Jusola says: “We make sure that our plans stay on schedule and within budget by working with Dell Services. We’ve worked with Dell Project Managers a number of times to coordinate the activities of multiple teams on large projects. It helps us keep down costs and deliver greater value to residents.”
As well as serving the local community, Borlänge Kommun is contributing to the growing movement towards greener practice. The authority continues to improve its technology safe in the knowledge that old desktops and laptops are disposed of in accordance with European environmental standards. The authority uses Dell Asset Resale and Recycling Services, in this case IT Asset Lease Return-Offsite Wipe and Processing. This service offers a secure way to dispose of old equipment that is both convenient and environmentally friendly. Jusola says: “We make sure that all data is wiped from the machines and then Dell and DFS take them away to be recycled. It’s a really cost effective way of meeting our sustainable working goals.”
Dell and its partners can deliver tailored solutions for effective IT improvements in any organisation. Read more customer success stories here, and find your own Dell technology provider by visiting the Find a Partner page here.
Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) was formed by the unification of Scotland’s previous fire and rescue services. It was seen as the best option to protect and improve necessary services in the face of financial pressures. The unification meant a lot of changes, one of these changes being the existing IT systems supporting Scotland’s fire and rescue services. The newly formed SFRS lacked a wide area network infrastructure to connect all of the fire and rescue services with a Technology One finance system. It also didn’t have the datacentre space or resources for the servers and storage to house the necessary software. The best option, then, was to use cloud technology to connect its 9000 staff with the finance system. Stuart Chalmers, ICT Business Services Manager at Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS), says: “The cloud offered us a solution. The challenge was that we needed to get everything running reliably in around 12 weeks.”
SFRS set out looking for providers. Paul McGovern, Business Services Project Manager at Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS), says: “We soon realised that only Dell was willing to offer the resources and services to make our cloud project happen. A few of the providers were stuck on some of our requirements, but Dell had a completely different attitude. This gave us confidence.” SFRS worked with Dell to deploy the cloud solution. The infrastructure was delivered by Six Degrees Group, whose data centres are spread all over the UK. This meant SFRS could meet its licensing requirements and gain the necessary level of redundancy to deliver the service reliably. Chalmers says: “It was clear that the Dell Cloud Dedicated Service offered SFRS the performance and stability for such a critical business application as our finance system.”
The IT team worked towards the deadline and met it with ease thanks to the support of Dell and Six Degrees Group. With the infrastructure already in place at the Six Degrees Group data centre, the main task was to install the software and configure the solution. “We used our resources, including our own database administrator, to complete the installation,” says McGovern. Chalmers says: “We had our new finance system up and running in the cloud in just six weeks. It was great work by everybody involved, and testament to the efforts of Dell and Six Degrees Group, which did everything to make the project a success.”
As soon as the cloud solution was up and running employees were seeing the benefits from the reliable finance system. SFRS avoided any payroll issues or problems with payments for day-to-day operations across the entire service using the Dell cloud-based Technology One system. Chalmers says: “The response throughout SFRS has been great for our Dell cloud solution. We set up multiple virtual private network connections for our finance personnel across Scotland, and they had no trouble accessing the finance system.”
One of the biggest long term benefits will be the savings that SFRS will make now that they have a cloud. SFRS doesn’t need to invest in physical IT infrastructure, so servers and storage costs have become null. “By choosing the Dell private cloud solution, we didn’t have to find the funds to build a new infrastructure for our finance system or provide support. There are definite savings to be made from moving to the Dell cloud. We expect to run other administrative applications from the cloud in the future,” says Chalmers.
Dell and its partners can deliver tailored solutions for effective IT improvements in any organisation. Read more customer success stories here, and find your own Dell technology provider by visiting the Find a Partner page here.