Discus Systems PLC - IT Support Company in Birmingham West midlands
0800 880 3360
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 15th Oct 2018

Supermarket customers may soon have to get used to a new way of paying for their shopping.

Marks & Spencer has become the latest food retailer to test an app which allows people to buy their shopping without having to use a till.

Users of the app, called Mobile, Pay, Go, scan the barcodes of what they want to buy on their phone, pay via the app and then walk straight out of the shop.

Tesco, Sainsbury's and the Co-op have all launched similar trials this year.

Forty seconds

It is still very early days for the technology though.

M&S is currently testing the system in two stores and hoping to extend it to another four by Christmas with a larger, nationwide roll-out during 2019.

Jim Cruickshank, head of digital development at M&S, says the company introduced the app to try to help people avoid queues at lunchtime.

"In 40 seconds you could have done the whole thing and walked out."

Promotional literature from M&S

Image captionSeveral supermarkets are testing systems similar to the M&S app

There are limitations to the app. It can only be used to buy food. There's a limit of £30 and if you want to buy things like alcohol you still have to go to a till.

Then there's the issue of how to stop people who might want to abuse it.

"It's no different really to the self-checkout tills and our stores have a number of security measures," Mr Cruickshank says.

"Lots of our products are tagged and the alarm will sound if you walk out without purchasing them. We have security guards and our staff will be doing spot checks so normal measures really."

Bank details

However, shoppers remain divided over whether it is a good idea.

Vicky Harvey says she would be happy to use the app and doesn't have any worries about data security.

"I guess it's up to M&S to decide if they've got their security sorted," she said - and as she can see on her banking app whether she has paid for something the second she has done so, "it works for me".

"I'm not so worried about data because the stuff's already on my phone. And if I haven't protected it already I'm doomed."

But Jean, who didn't want to give her surname, isn't convinced.

"I probably wouldn't use it because I do my own self-scanning and I don't like to give my bank account details out left, right and centre."

Vicky Harvey

Image captionVicky says it's up to M&S to make sure the security on the app is robust

This type of technology is still in its very early stages. At the moment, it's being used in fewer than a dozen stores across the UK.

But retail analyst Natalie Berg says it could be a sign of things to come.

"This is essentially about levelling the playing field with online retail. So bricks-and-mortar retailers are now using technology to bring the physical store into the 21st century," she said.

It is not just British retailers who are looking to change the way we shop.

Amazon has launched five of its Amazon Go stores since January with claims they're even easier to use.

People can scan their mobile phone on the way in, pick up anything they want and walk out again.

There are reports it's now scouting for possible locations to launch the brand here in the UK.

Natalie Berg says Amazon's influence goes even further.

"When people think about the impact Amazon has had on the High Street it has a negative connotation; we think about boarding up shops and retailers going bankrupt.

"But it can be argued Amazon has been a force for good. They've forced retailers to invest in their stores to keep up, to keep a really compelling in-store experience."

You can hear more on BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme on Saturday at 12:00 BST or listen again here.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 15th Oct 2018

 

Image result for apple watch

There is a story going around that Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist missing presumed killed, recorded exactly what happened inside Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate on his Apple Watch. It strikes me as extremely unlikely.

The story was first reported in the Turkish paper Sabah and was repeated across a number of news outlets.

Sabah says Khashoggi turned on his Apple Watch's recording facility before entering the Saudi consulate. Then it says the circumstances of his "interrogation, torture and killing" were recorded and sent to his iPhone, which was with his fiancée outside the consulate, and to Apple's iCloud.

The report says Khashoggi's attackers spotted the watch and tried to access it with guesses at his passcode before using his fingerprint to unlock it. They then deleted some but not all of its files.

The journalist's iPhone was with his fiancée Hatice Cengiz waiting outside the consulate

Let's dispose of this last point first. The Apple Watch does not use the company's Touch ID system, so fingerprint access would have been impossible - unless the attackers unlocked it via the iPhone it was paired with, and that was outside.

That makes me doubt the rest of the report but let's look at the watch's "recording function". This does not come built in to the device, but a number of third party apps allow you to record audio. It is conceivable that the journalist had installed one of these apps and started to record before entering the consulate.

But for that recording to upload to his iPhone, he would probably have had to press stop without his assailants noticing. And, crucially, his Apple Watch would have needed a Bluetooth connection to the phone in the hands of his fiancée outside.

Media captionCCTV footage shows missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Now Bluetooth has quite a limited range. I've just tested that by setting my iPhone playing a podcast in my living room and walking away listening via Bluetooth ear buds. By the time I got to the other end of my modestly sized home, the audio had disappeared. It seems very unlikely that the signal would have stretched through several walls of the Istanbul building unless Khashoggi's fiancée was standing right outside the room where the interrogation took place.

Ah, some defenders of this thesis have said, but the Saudi journalist had an Apple Watch 3 with its own cellular connection allowing it to communicate directly with the iCloud. It is true that a photo of Khashoggi appearing on a TV programme shows he did have an Apple Watch 3 with its telltale red button. He could have chosen to pay for a mobile contract for the device in the United States where he was based.

Khashoggi had been pictured with an Apple Watch 3 with its "telltale red button"

But here's the problem - you cannot roam with a cellular Apple Watch so, once he landed in Turkey, the watch would have depended on the iPhone for its data connection. He could have swapped out his phone's sim for a local one, but a year ago Apple Support responded to a query about using the watch in Turkey as a standalone device by saying this:

"There are three different regional versions of Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular), each supporting different LTE and UMTS bands, as detailed here - there are not currently any supported carriers listed for Turkey."

That situation does not appear to have changed - in other words, you can't use an Apple Watch to connect to the internet in Istanbul unless it is paired to a nearby iPhone.

Now what we don't know is whether the Turkish security services had managed to hack the Apple Watch to turn it into a remote recording device which they then supplied to Jamal Khashoggi before he entered the Saudi consulate.

But it seems far more likely that they have other means of detecting what foreign diplomats are up to and the Apple Watch story is just useful cover.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 10th Oct 2018

Business owners and managers are being advised on how to recognise and tackle low employee morale before it hinders their company’s goals.

 

Office experts reveal their six best tips for sparking positive change and boosting employee morale.

An unenthused team with high turnover rates should be a huge red flag to business owners and leaders, but a surprising number of bosses aren’t willing to go the extra mile to make sure their staff are happy and motivated.

Many managers fail to realise that low employee morale impacts individuals’ productivity, as well as the company’s ability to retain talent.

Chris Meredith, CEO of LondonOffices.com said:

“Employers who are finding that their staff are literally dragging themselves through the door every morning and can no longer recall the sound of laughter in the office should take heed – you need to tackle low morale before it hinders your business.

“Employee morale describes the overall outlook, attitude, satisfaction, and confidence that employees feel at work.

“It can quickly build or break a company’s success, so managers have a responsibility to enlist simple and creative approaches to strengthen it before it leads to poor cooperation, low productivity and increased staff turnover.

“Things like giving regular praise and letting your colleagues voice their concerns are easy to put into place, but the impact they can have is tremendous.”

 

  1. Don’t forget to have fun

With mountains of work to get through each day and deadlines constantly looming, it can be easy to fall in to the ‘All Work, No Play’ mentality – but this is only going to take its toll on your employees.

Ultimately, staff go to work to get a job done, but spending over 40 hours each week doing the same tasks day in, day out can get extremely dull.

So, whether it’s a quick round of drinks on a Friday afternoon, or a big team building day out every quarter, your staff will appreciate the break in monotony.

 

  1. Be prepared to take the bullet

When your people are facing challenges and morale is sinking, be willing to step up to the mark and tackle particularly difficult issues yourself.

Whether it’s dealing with a challenging client or handling an awkward confrontation, showing your team that you’re willing to put your neck on the line to save them hassle will undoubtedly increase morale and team spirit.

 

  1. Give praise where praise is due

Everybody loves a bit of positive recognition every now and then, so stop overlooking staff members’ good work.

Regular positive feedback and recognition may just be the key to unlocking exceptional performance and improving employee morale – and the key word is here ‘regular’. Leaving it to yearly review meetings just won’t suffice.

 

  1. Let them speak

Meet with each of your team members one-on-one to allow them chance to vent any frustrations or voice any concerns privately. Take what they say seriously and make sure to act on anything within your power.

Employees that trust you and feel able to talk and be listened to will be more willing to put the work in, knowing their opinions are valued.

 

  1. Authentic care

Whether it’s a simple birthday card or a bunch of flowers for a staff member going on maternity leave, these relatively inexpensive demonstrations show that you genuinely listen to your employees and care about their lives – and not just within the office walls.

This can go a long way towards making employees feel connected to their team and the business, and create a happier staff body overall.

 

  1. Make work meaningful

When employee morale is taking a bit of a bashing, take the time to return to the vision on which the business was built in the first place. Ask yourself why the business exists, and how the work of employees influences this purpose.

Then, communicate this back to your staff. Emphasising the importance of their work both as individuals and teams is bound to improve morale and motivation.

Source: bbpmedia.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 10th Oct 2018

Business Insights

Running a business can be tough. There will be highs, lows and often long hours. As an SME business owner you perform many roles and time is often spent working in the business rather than on it, so taking a step back and giving thought to realising your business’s potential and maximising performance gets pushed to the back of the queue.

 

Stuart Fullerton, from White Space Management Consultancy, has some suggestions as to how you can create the right environment to ensure your business is operating at its full potential.

 

According to Fullerton, it’s all about the data.

“Both financial and non-financial data tells a story and provides a valuable insight into your business and how it operates. Being able to stop just describing data and start transforming it in to meaningful insight is what will make the difference to the future of a business,” he advises.

 

An important first step is to start analyzing the critical functions of the business so that you are fully aware of the current status of the operations at the forefront of what you do. More often than not this will shed light on some areas of your operation that require immediate change and will have a positive impact both on profitability but also the customer experience.

 

With accurate financial and non-financial data you will be better placed to make informed business decisions. This may seem obvious but too often day to day work just gets in the way of looking closely at those figures and the insight that it provides meaning the crucial detail gets missed.

 

With this information, you are then able to:

  • identify process inconsistencies and remove unnecessary financial costs
  • improve the accuracy and data in your management information reporting
  • make process improvements using methodologies such as Six Sigma and Lean to increase the effectiveness and efficiencies of your operation
  • identify potential opportunities and threats
  • develop a plan of action and considered strategies that are practical to implement

Ensure that you include timelines and milestones in your action plan, clearly communicate these to staff and build in tailored training for your staff, both to support the business in its growth, and to provide them with the tools to deliver and track performance. A motivated workforce will help to create a high performance culture where staff feel empowered to challenge the status quo and offer up suggestions that may have previously been overlooked.

 

Looking back at what has gone before, through the business KPI and financial analysis, puts you in a strong position to think about how you can apply this knowledge and insight to improve your financial and business performance for the future. It’s not solely for solving immediate issues.

 

Therefore aside from the daily managing of cashflow, keeping customers, suppliers and staff happy, it is essential to have structured and well thought out strategies and effective systems to keep everything on track. Regular data and KPI analysis puts your mind at rest and monitors the progress you’re making meaning you are able to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to tackling issues. This is especially true, of course, when things don’t quite go to plan.

 

With Brexit on the horizon and the uncertainty of a deal or no deal outcome, this would be a good time to start gathering data and undertaking a full business analysis to try to foresee and manage any impacts of the decision to your business. Do you have a strategy in place or even started thinking about how Brexit will impact your business? Is there an issue in your business causing sleepless nights?

 

Analyzing the numbers is not just about forecasts and budgets, it’s about good management practice and setting the right path for the future of your business. Use the data in your business to drive insight and use the insight in your business to drive performance so that you, your business and your staff can flourish and stay ahead of the game.

 

For more advice or help with improving your business data and performance, visit www.whitespaceconsultancy.co.uk

Source: bbpmedia.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 8th Oct 2018

A teenage girl who called 999 to report she was in an unknown location with a man who had just raped her was found by police using a drone.

The 16-year-old contacted police in the early hours of Saturday to say she was on land in Boston with her attacker.

Police recognised the description given as a levelled factory site and officers used a drone with a thermal imaging camera to track them both down.

A man in his 30s has been arrested on suspicion of rape.

Insp Ed Delderfield, of Lincolnshire Police, said the officers had the drone with the thermal camera in their car.

It picked up two heat sources and guided officers to the girl and the suspected attacker at the location near Brown's Road.

Police said the girl was being supported by specially-trained officers.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 3rd Oct 2018

Image result for smartphone user

Adverts for a smartphone GP service that promised NHS doctor appointments "in minutes" have been ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The service offers a symptom-checker and free GP consultations via videolink on smartphones.

The ASA received complaints that the ads did not say users would first have to leave their GP, and registration could take up to three weeks.

GP at Hand said it thought the process was "self-evident".

Another criticism upheld was that the ads did not state that potential users must live within 40 minutes of one of five surgery catchment areas in London in order to see a GP in person.

The ads were displayed on the London Underground transport network as well as online between November 2017 and February 2018.

Babylon Healthcare Services, which runs GP at Hand with a group of London GPs, said the sign-up process and eligibility criteria were clearly displayed on both the GP at Hand app and website.

"We think the process of 'registering' is self-evident and clearly understood by the public," said a spokesman.

The ads have now been tweaked to make that process more visible, he added.

The smartphone service has since changed the wording on its website

However, the ASA ruled that people would have to make a "transactional decision" to seek out the website or app - and only then would they find out out whether they were eligible.

The free service was launched in 2017 and claims to have 32,000 users.

It has the backing of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has said he uses the service.

The ASA said it had received complaints from eight people about the adverts, one of whom was a GP.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 2nd Oct 2018

Amazon workerImage copyrightAMAZON

Online retailing giant Amazon is raising pay for hundreds of thousands of workers in the US and the UK.

Workers in the US will be paid $15 an hour, compared to the minimum wage of $7.25.

Those in the UK will be paid £9.50, or £10.50 in London, compared to the minimum UK wage rate of £7.83 for over 25s and £7.38 for those aged 21 to 24.

The move will benefit 250,000 workers in the US, and 17,000 in the UK, and an estimated 20,000 seasonal workers.

The increase will apply from 1 November to all staff, full and part-time, as well as temporary and seasonal workers.

The company also said it would press for a change to the US minimum wage level.

Amazon spokesman Jay Carney said: "We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 2nd Oct 2018

Image result for kim kardashian

If you're looking up the latest on Kim Kardashian-West's drama with her sisters or her response to Kanye West's Twitter rants then beware.

The reality TV star is the most dangerous celebrity to search for online in the UK in 2018, according to a cyber-security firm.

McAfee measured how many search results featuring a celebrity name contain links to potentially malicious sites.

Last year the top spot went to Craig David.

Naomi Campbell is the second most dangerous celebrity according to McAfee

Supermodel Naomi Campbell was second on the UK list while Kim's sister Kourtney Kardashian came third.

Singer Adele and Love Island host Caroline Flack completed the top five most dangerous celebrities to look up online.

Orange Is The New Black actress Ruby Rose topped a US version of the listRuby Rose topped the US version of the list

McAfee says cyber criminals are known to use popular celebrities to try and trick you into clicking on links that go through to malicious sites.

The sites are used to install malware or steal personal information and passwords.

Other celebrities on the UK list were actress Rose Byrne, Love Island contestant Kem Cetinay, Britney Spears, actress Emma Roberts and reality star Ferne McCann.

Kem Cetinay was the only male celebrity to make the UK list

McAfee's chief scientist Raj Samani says we live in a "fast-paced world that's heavily influenced by pop culture and social media".

"There's endless opportunities to pick and choose which entertainment options we prefer to enjoy from a variety of connected devices.

"With Kim Kardashian's influence and business ventures, people will go to extreme lengths to be a little more like Kim."

The cyber-security firm has offered advice on how to stay safe online.

It says only stream video from reliable, paid-for sources and only click on news stories from sources the user trusts.

It also advises people to keep apps and anti-virus software up-to-date.

Follow Newsbeat on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra - if you miss us you can listen back here.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 1st Oct 2018

Image result for tesco

Tesco Bank has been fined £16.4m by the UK financial regulator for failings surrounding a cyber-attack on its customers in November 2016.

The Financial Conduct Authority said the bank had failed to exercise due skill, care and diligence in protecting its personal current account holders.

The fraudsters got away with £2.26m. Tesco Bank said all the money had been refunded to account holders.

It added it was "very sorry" for the impact the attack had had on customers.

'Too little, too late'

The FCA said that the attack had been largely avoidable and that Tesco had not responded to it with sufficient rigour, skill nor urgency.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said the regulator would not put up with such behaviour.

"The fine the FCA imposed on Tesco Bank today reflects the fact that the FCA has no tolerance for banks that fail to protect customers from foreseeable risks," he said.

"In this case, the attack was the subject of a very specific warning that Tesco Bank did not properly address until after the attack started. This was too little, too late. Customers should not have been exposed to the risk at all."

The FCA said cyber attackers had exploited deficiencies in Tesco Bank's design of its debit card, its financial crime controls and in its financial crime operations team.

Apology

Tesco Bank said it been the victim of a "sophisticated criminal fraud".

While it did not lead to the theft or loss of any customers' data, there were 34 transactions where funds were debited from customers' accounts. The bank added that other customers had their normal service disrupted.

Gerry Mallon, Tesco Bank's chief executive, said:-"We are very sorry for the impact that this fraud attack had on our customers. Our priority is always the safety and security of our customers' accounts and we fully accept the FCA's notice.

"We have significantly enhanced our security measures to ensure that our customers' accounts have the highest levels of protection. I apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused in 2016."

Tesco Bank's co-operation with the FCA's inquiry, and its agreement to an early settlement, meant the fine was reduced from £33.6m.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
 


Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 1st Oct 2018

 

Ben Francis is still only 26 but his business is expected to see turnover hit £100m this year

The BBC's weekly The Boss series profiles a different business leader from around the world. This week we speak to Ben Francis, founder of UK sportswear brand Gymshark.

It is hard to know how a then 19-year-old Ben Francis had the time or the energy to get Gymshark up and running.

While many young entrepreneurs have to juggle running their start-up with holding down a nine to five job, back in 2012 Ben was a full-time student by day, and a pizza delivery man by night.

"I'd wake up and go to Aston University [in Birmingham], then finish uni early afternoon, and work at Pizza Hut from 5pm till 10pm," he says.

"I could answer emails [about Gymshark] in between deliveries. Then I'd go home and sort out the website, and design new products."

After two exhausting years of this - with annual revenues of his nascent business hitting an impressive £250,000 - Ben quit both university and the world of pizzas to focus on his company.

Fast-forward to today, and Gymshark expects turnover this year to reach £100m.

A key to Ben's success has been giving freebies to key "influencers", such as bodybuilders like Lex Griffin (right) who have large numbers of social media followers

Before Ben set up the business in 2012 it is fair to say that the entrepreneurial fire was already burning in his belly.

As a young teenager he set up a website that sold car licence plates. A keen gym-goer, he then built and launched two iPhone fitness tracking apps, one of which earned him around £8,000.

The idea for Gymshark followed; an online retail business aimed at fitness fanatics that originally sold health supplements.

"I was going to the gym and basically was interested in, and wanted to be involved in, the fitness industry," he says. "I wanted to combine that with making a transactional website."

When Ben found that the profit margins from selling the supplements were too low, he dived into another area - clothing.

"I remember looking around, and I couldn't find any clothing I wanted to wear," he says. "So I said, 'let's make it ourselves.'"

The company produces both male and female ranges of clothes

Enlisting the help of his brother, and a group of friends, Ben bought a sewing machine and screen printer, and started to make gym vests and t-shirts in his parents' garage.

"My nan made curtains, so she taught me how to sew," he says. "I remember thinking we had 10 orders to do, and to make 12-15 products it would take most of the day. But it was so much fun learning."

Now 26, Ben admits that after Gymshark first moved into clothing there was no immediate grand plan regarding growing the business. "It was more a case of 'I really want to wear this,' so I made it," he says.

And so the company started to make body builder vests that fitted slim teenagers, because most on the market were designed for older men who had already built up their muscle bulk.

Ben adds that he would also guess on how much to price items. "It was literally a case of what would we want to pay for something," he says.

"There was no considered approach. We were like, 'we would pay £20.'"

Gymshark now makes a wider range of fashion clothing

Six years later, Gymshark now has more than 1.2 million customers, and 215 employees at its Solihull headquarters in the West Midlands.

So how has the firm been able to grow so quickly? In short, it has been a very savvy user of social media.

More specifically Gymshark decided it would send free clothing to key "influencers", prominent body-builders and other fitness fanatics - such as Lex Griffin and Nikki Blackketter.

The hope was that such stars would talk positively about the products to their followers on YouTube and Instagram.

The idea worked better than Gymshark could have dreamed, and sales soon skyrocketed.

At the same time it worked hard to ensure its own social media accounts were as interesting and visual as possible. Today it has 2.4 million followers on Instagram and 1.5 million on Facebook.

More recently the firm has held events around the world, inviting fans of the brand to meet some of its influencers. Hundreds of people typically attend.

Another key factor in the continuing success of Gymshark is bringing in a more experienced pair of hands to help Ben run the business. Sportswear industry veteran Steve Hewitt joined as managing director in 2015, before being given the chief executive title in April last year.

Ben remains the majority owner, with Mr Hewitt and chief strategic officer Paul Richardson also having substantial stakes. Another shareholder is Ben's friend Lewis Morgan who helped to launch Gymshark, but left the business a few years ago.

Hundreds of fans typically attend Gymshark's events where people can meet some of its influencers

Emily Sutherland, a features writer at trade magazine Drapers, says Gymshark's use of social media influencers has been key to its success.

"The influencers give shoppers a reason to buy into Gymshark over other brands, because they feel a personal connection," she says.

Ms Sutherland adds that because Gymshark is an online-only and direct-to-consumer brand, it is "able to remain nimble, react quickly to market changes, and isn't weighed down by expensive store costs".

As for the future, the plan is to expand Gymshark's overseas sales. Already 40% of its sales come from the US, and it aims to have 25 international country-specific online stores by 2020, up from 11 at present.

The company may also open its first bricks-and-mortar store.

"I don't go shopping very often, but I'm thinking of the best way to do a permanent location somewhere," says Ben. "I'm not sure, we'd need a lot of space. I want to do a cool destination."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
corner spacer corner
Page 1 of 248
12>Last Page >

Veeam Specialist Microsoft Small Business Specialists Birmingham Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Birmingham Siemens Solution 1 Reseller Birmingham Sonicwall Specialists Birmingham Business Link Approved Birmingham Fujitsu Primergy Certified Partner Birmingham Facebook Follow us on Twitter ESET NOD32 VMWare
IT Support
IT Services
IT Solutions
Get Support Now
Sitemap
© 2018 Discus Systems plc. All rights reserved. Content Management by Verve Digital