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Is technology changing what it means to be human?

Is technology changing what it means to be human?

Consultancy firm Gartner's predictions for tech are always watched closely around this time of year. Their latest report on the trends to watch in 2020 and beyond was no different and was released recently to much fanfare.

Perhaps one of the most striking lines to emerge was that technology is changing what it means to be human. As Daryl Plummer of Gartner said: “As the digital age progresses, assumptions around the fixed nature of ‘what' humans are is beginning to be challenged”.

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Novosco's expertise and skills will live on within CANCOM

Novosco's expertise and skills will live on within CANCOM

THERE is a saying that the only impossible journey is the one you never begin. It probably feels an appropriate saying today as I reflect on my journey with Novosco over the past 12 years or so.

It doesn't seem very long ago that I was working from an industrial unit in Carryduff with a few members of staff, dreaming about growing a bigger business. Even in my wildest dreams though, I didn't envisage Novosco getting to where it is today.

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Businesses must seek every opportunity for an Edge

Businesses must seek every opportunity for an Edge

Northern Ireland's business talent was ‘bigged up' by none other than U2's The Edge last week.

He was launching a new initiative, called Endeavor Ireland, that aims to support owners of high potential start-ups.

The Edge said that Northern Ireland has incredible businesses talent and that given the right opportunity, local entrepreneurs can really compete on a global basis.

He will chair the Irish chapter of Endeavor, a global not-for-profit organisation that supports and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs by connecting them with talent and with global peer and mentor networks as well as connecting business owners to funding sources.

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Next generation of entrepreneurs will be inspired by Brian Conlon's example

Next generation of entrepreneurs will be inspired by Brian Conlon's example

Just over a week ago, the business community paid its respects to Brian Conlon, founder of tech business First Derivatives, who passed away recently.

I had long admired First Derivatives from a distance; and when I had the privilege to meet Brian, I admired him as a person - clearly ambitious, driven and committed.

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The need to attract more women into the tech industry

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I was struck by a quote I read recently from Sky's Group Chief Information Security Officer, Elaine Bucknor.

Launching the latest round of the company's Women in Tech Scholars Scheme, she claimed that boys in the UK are still more than twice as likely to be encouraged to work in tech than girls. And she said that it's little wonder half of girls Sky spoke with had ruled out working in the industry by the time they reached 18 years old.

Initially unveiled last year, Sky's scheme offers £25,000 in funding to five women in order to fund their tech idea along with support and mentorship.

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The valuable link between technology and education

The valuable link between technology and education

EDUCATION and technology are ever more closely linked.

On the one hand, there is something of a revolution happening in education as technology changes how universities operate, students are taught, and teachers teach.

Recently, the media covered the story of Beacon, an artificial intelligence (AI) education tool, and the first digital assistant of its kind to be operating at a UK university.

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Tech sector must do more to increase gender diversity

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RECRUITMENT is something that is never far from the thoughts of technology companies in Northern Ireland – and with our biggest ever contract secured last year, Novosco has been very much in hiring mode during recent months. This has given me cause to reflect closely on a long-standing challenge for the tech sector as a whole.

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Big tech companies are interested in space - and here's why

Big tech companies are interested in space - and here's why

PART of the reason Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google are sometimes collectively referred to as the FANGS is perhaps because they get their teeth into almost everything, from movies and groceries to family photos - and now the expanse that exists beyond the earth.

Going into space may have been one giant leap for mankind all those years ago, but it seems it's just another step in the ever-upward ascent of Amazon, and Facebook too.

After expanding from retail sales to cloud services, Amazon is now going higher still and into satellites.

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Dark Overlord advertises for software designers and systems engineers…

Dark Overlord advertises for software designers and systems engineers…

WE all know that hacking has become a mainstream problem for businesses and consumers. But we perhaps didn't anticipate how mainstream some hackers would become in how they run their operations.

A notorious cyber crime collective known as the Dark Overlord recently posted an online job looking for tech employees. Specifically, the Dark Overlord is seeking to hire software designers and systems engineers with at least 10 years' experience to “bring innovative approaches to operations and think outside the box”.

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Tech predictions for 2019 and beyond...

Tech predictions for 2019 and beyond...

IF you work in the tech sector, you probably love reading Gartner's predictions for the years ahead. They don't have a crystal ball, but they do come up with some thought-provoking forecasts.

So as we approach the end of 2018, here is a flavour of the things the global research and advisory consultancy is suggesting we might see in 2019 and beyond.

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Why Uber isn't Ronseal... and it has a point

Why Uber isn't Ronseal... and it has a point

Many people see Uber as a taxi firm. Uber sees itself as an urban mobility company. Is it being pretentious?

In an era when people generally want more companies to take the Ronseal approach to how they describe their businesses, Uber may actually have a point in its resistance to being plain in its description of itself.

How the San Francisco-based firm articulates its business model says much about its approach to innovation and its understanding of its strengths. In effect, it is a logistics and technology company rather than a taxi firm.

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Innovative IT and tech firms can build on north's enterprising history

Innovative IT and tech firms can build on north's enterprising history

MOST people accept that Northern Ireland has an impressive history of invention and enterprise. They may not know much about Hans Sloane or Sir James Martin. But Harry Ferguson, who invented the modern tractor, and John Dunlop, whose pneumatic tyre is one of transport's greatest inventions, should be familiar names.

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70-year-old NHS's future will include AI and 'robo docs'

70-year-old NHS's future will include AI and 'robo docs'

The National Health Service (NHS) is never far from the headlines. Often, it's about the pressures the service faces, the length of waiting lists, and the need for more funding.

Earlier this month, it was the NHS's 70th anniversary and the various events and initiatives to celebrate its history and impact. And of late, we've had two contrasting reports about the NHS's use of technology.

One of these, published last week, focused on the NHS's apparent reliance on fax machines, with the report suggesting that thousands of the ‘archaic' devices are still in use in hospitals in England. This follows a report last year by artificial intelligence company DeepMind Health which concluded that the NHS is the world's largest purchaser of fax machines. (Another report highlighted that pagers are still prevalent as well.)

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Developing IT skills with Cloud Camp

Developing IT skills with Cloud Camp

One of the challenges all business face is to make sure that we are developing the skills that we will need in the future, as well as the skills that we need today. It is vitally important that companies, like Novosco, take an active role in helping our young people develop and grow their interest in IT.

For that reason, we run Novosco Cloud Camp, a week-long summer camp for students aged 16-17. The aim is to give students the opportunity to get more hands on practical experience in the world of IT, and hopefully help them to choose a career in IT in the future.

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Chinese tech sector provides food for thought

Chinese tech sector provides food for thought

I've had some enlightening conversations about China of late. One related to a meeting with a Chinese tech entrepreneur who was working hard to develop a pipeline of skills for his corporation.

His solution was the creation of a dedicated university of 25,000 students, owned by the business. That's 25,000 students - and I had never even heard of the company.

This anecdote gives some insight into the scale of the Chinese economy and its tech sector but also the attitude that is driving its remarkable growth.

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Dealing with demand in a growing IT sector

Dealing with demand in a growing IT sector

THERE has been much talk about the Northern Ireland jobs market of late. Last week, the term ‘full employment’ was raised and debated – with many suggesting that whilst we might not quite be at full employment in Northern Ireland, we certainly have some significant skills shortages and some sectors where there are real challenges to recruit.

In the IT sector, there is certainly big demand for skilled people and a lot of opportunity. According to the latest NIJobs Report, there was a surge in demand for IT workers in the first quarter of this year. IT vacancies rose by 37 percent quarter-on-quarter according to the report and represented the most listings in three years. One in 10 of all their listings are IT jobs.

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‘Move fast and break things' culture coming back to haunt?

‘Move fast and break things' culture coming back to haunt?

Facebook's mantra for developers used to be 'Move Fast and Break Things'. It meant that new tools and features on the platform might not be perfect at the start, but creation speed was key, even if there were some mistakes along the way.

That mantra changed a few years ago when the company's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg indicated he wanted to be a little more careful in getting it right the first time. He said that Facebook was now embracing the motto 'Move Fast with Stable Infra'. The motto changed, but did the culture?

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Fending off retail apocalypse with digital transformation

Fending off retail apocalypse with digital transformation

In the United States there has been much talk of a retail apocalypse, with a large number of retail stores closing as American consumers change their purchasing habits, notably with a move to e-commerce. Sears, for example, now has fewer than a third the number of retail stores it had 10 years ago. Of the 1,200 shopping malls across the US, some experts have predicted that half of them will close by 2023, and that more than 12,000 stores will close in 2018.

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The Challenge for Big Tech

The Challenge for Big Tech

It has become abundantly clear that one of the more interesting stories of 2018 is going to be how ‘big tech' responds to the crisis it is facing.

Some would say that it has monopoly power, an ability to affect election outcomes and a big hold on our brain space… and there is the evidence mounting that big tech has become something of an existential threat, in terms of politics, the economy, and culturally.

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IT trends for 2018 that your business should know about

IT trends for 2018 that your business should know about

If the past few years have taught us anything, it is perhaps that every company is now a technology company, no matter what product or service it provides. You can’t make, deliver or market a product or service without using technology. Companies that know the coming technology trends and adapt quickly are the ones that get ahead. So here are some of the key IT trends that we are likely to see in 2018.

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