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As a technology company we like to keep ourselves up to date with all the latest industry trends and as we enter 2015 Gartner have released a list of what they believe are the Top 10 strategic technology trends for this coming year. For 2015 these trends cover three emerging themes: the merging of virtual and real worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere and the technology impact of the digital business shift.

1. ‘Computing Everywhere’ Gartner suggest there will be a change in the focus on devices to HOW the user and device interact in different environments and contexts.

2. ‘Internet of Things’ On the list for a fourth year, Gartner are reemphasising what they call the four basic “usage models”: Manage, Monetise, Operate and Extend. They also stress the idea that Enterprises should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models.

3. ‘3-D Printing’ The market for relatively low-cost 3-D printing devices has grown in recent years. New applications of 3D printing including industrial, biomedical and consumer will continue to prove that 3-D printing is a viable and cost-effective means to reduce a business’s costs using improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.

4. ‘Advanced, pervasive and invisible analytics’ This is the first time we’ve seen this trend on the list and is perhaps the one most relevant to us here at Connexica. Gartner believe that the Internet of Things will add to the extortionate growth of structured and unstructured data filling the databases of companies. The amount and variety of data will require more advanced analytics than are currently available.

5. ‘Context-rich systems’ This trend links to both the Internet of Things and more advanced analytics. Gartner believe that the next step will be to ingrain intelligence into devices that will interact with the new and advanced analytics, resulting in systems that respond to environmental conditions as opposed to just report. Gartner claim that “Context-aware security is an early application of this new capability but others will emerge.”

6. ‘Smart machines’ 2015 will see prototypes of autonomous vehicles, advanced robots and the like, created, bringing the most disruptive smart-machine era in the history of I.T.

7. ‘Cloud/Client Computing’ Gartner believe that the convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of applications that can be delivered to any device. “Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style” The focus for cloud/client computing will be on synchronising content and application state across a variety of devices meaning applications will evolve in order to support simultaneous use of multiple devices.

8. ‘Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure’ Software-defined networking, storage, data centres and security are maturing. In order to deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and rapidly scale systems up or down, computing has to move away from static models to be more dynamic state Gartner.

9. ‘Web-scale IT’ Gartner believe that organisations will consider incorporating global-class computing into their company settings taking influence from companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. This will not be immediate but a process of evolution, as commercial hardware platforms embrace new models such as bringing development and operations together in a way to drive rapid, continuous and incremental development of application and services.

10. ‘Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection’ Last but not least, organisations will become increasingly aware that it is not possible to provide a 100% secured environment. Organisations will therefore begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools, leading to new models of building security directly into applications. Gartner believe that every app now needs to be self-aware and self-protecting.

We’ll be interested to see how these trends progress throughout 2015 and what we’ll be writing this time next year!

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‘Fragmented, rudimentary and not yet fit for purpose’

Procurement in the healthcare analytics industry has always been a challenge. Most NHS trusts are persisting with their legacy systems due to the number of risk factors associated with upgrading and updating their systems. However, this fear of change and assumption that tried and tested is the best solution has resulted in a lack of ambition in analytics procurement – and recent reports have shown the consequences it’s had throughout the healthcare sector.

We’ve already touched on the ‘Big Data Buzz’, but it is by no means a negative descriptor for analytics. The focus is on the wrong solution – it’s not about having the biggest data, it’s about turning said data into actionable information, efficiently and without a bureaucratic process to go through. Disparate data sources need aggregation with new technology, but new technology requires training, procurement processes, and can result in a shakeup in an already shaky NHS. So the focus has been on cost-reduction through other methods whilst NHS trusts are continuing with their legacy systems.

The rest of the world is seeing a large increase in efficiency across the board with big data analytics whilst the NHS remains trapped in the corporate bureaucracy of legacy software and arduous procurement processes.

So what are the benefits of big data analytics and why should the NHS change their priority? Look no further than the recent 2014 NHS Healthcare Report…

The report predicts the following savings if analytics is properly implemented and correctly aligned within healthcare:

There has been constant increase in alcohol related NHS admissions over the last decade, reaching almost 10 million patients during 2012-13, and costing the NHS an estimated £3.5bn a year. The population and average life expectancy has been increasing with patients now surviving illnesses that would have been a death sentence twenty years ago. There has been a sharp increase in A&E visits, with hospitals this winter nearly buckling over the constant pressure on staff. An NHS director recently slammed the current analytics setup within Healthcare labelling it as ‘fragmented, rudimentary and not yet fit for purpose’.

An upgrade in the NHS’s analytics techniques and solutions will help reduce and mitigate the ever expanding number of difficulties facing our health service.   For what is a relatively small opportunity cost, the opportunity lost is in the billions.

What the NHS needs is a solution that is both quick and easy to implement yet robust and agile, able to adapt to the challenges that lie ahead, whilst empowering non-technical analysts to self-serve within a universal platform for uniting disparate data sources in an easy to digest format…

CXAIR is a search-based analytics solution built primarily to turning disparate data sources into actionable information. By using CXAIR, users at all levels of an organisation will have an improved understanding of their function or business area and be able to make informed decisions, and take action to improve both the quality and performance of the services being provided.

CXAIR plays a major role in helping the NHS deliver the required efficiency saving but without compromising patient safety, outcomes or quality of service. Data analytics helps with risk stratification, prevention, anticipation of medical conditions and disease prevention through identification of key risk factors. CXAIR being self-service frees up IT resources to allow GPs and Consultants to do this analysis, increasing efficiency and potential for immediate patient care, whilst drastically reducing IT and administration costs.

We at Connexica are founded by healthcare analytic professionals and have built our product CXAIR from the ground-up to solve the challenges of the NHS. We dispense with OLAP cubes and extended implementation procedures in favour of simple search engine-style Business Analytics.

2014 has been a poor year for the NHS and analytics. Next year there is potential for the game to change, for there to be a new age of IT in a sector that desperately needs an upgrade. View our videos at www.connexica.com/videos to see if CXAIR can help you.

References

http://www.integratedcaretoday.com/2014/02/13/guest-post-is-analytics-the-key-to-nhs-savings/

http://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/The-Scalpels-Daily-Blog/hitting-the-bottle-is-hurting-the-nhs

http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/opinion/Why-physicians-performances-benefit-from-healthcare-data-analytics

http://bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/2014/may/healthcare-coalition-identifies-burning-issues-facing-nhs

 

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The so-called ‘Black Friday’ sales seemed to have the desired effect on my family and friends. Between colleagues doing their entire Christmas shopping before it’s even December and family going from no XBOX ONE for the next 2 years to XBOX ONE with 6 games and all the mod cons. I can’t really complain about that, but after installing the first few games on said XBOX ONE, there are a few things I perhaps should mention…

Back in the good old days CD’s and software would have serial numbers written on the instruction manual. This was perhaps not the most efficient method of DRM, but certainly was the easiest to manage from a consumer’s perspective. Install the software, whack the license key in, jobs a good’un. Now what do we have to do? Create a ‘U-Play’ account to access online features. Have a console that demands it check the internet every 24hours that your license key is valid. Track every game played and purchase across multiple mandatory accounts like Origin, Microsoft and Google. In combating piracy we’re headed down the path of alienating our customers and even having the opposite effect! Over so many years of ever increasing email subscriptions and accounts with different passwords it’s become such a chore to even log in to my ‘U-play’ account (purely so I can play the game I’ve already bought) that it begins to feel not worth it in the first place. Which brings us onto the next issue:

With all these disparate accounts tracking our every move it makes us all the more vulnerable to criminals and potential phishing attacks. It might have been brushed under the carpet by Sony but the PSN hacking still lingers in the mind, and with your card details and email being added to account upon account, all of which are constantly transferring your data to and from your machines, it’s hard not to start worrying that hackers could get at our data and worse so, our credit card information. At no point are Microsoft or Sony asking about whether the consumer wants to keep feeding this constant flow of information into the nether. There will come a time when this insistence on accounts for the lone sake of preventing piracy will have the complete opposite effect, and become the catalyst for a shift away from this always-online fiasco. Or even more likely, things will just get worse until a disaster of cataclysmic proportions ends up with half the country’s credit details in the hands of Joe ‘I told you so’ McHackerson…

It doesn’t matter if you’re Farmville or an analytics package – micro transactions have become another unwanted recent hallmark of modern software development. Instead of bundling major features together companies deliberately stagger content to maximise their profit margins. Innovation is shafted for incremental income. As each video game developer is getting larger they focus more on moneymaking schemes and less on the audience they’re selling to. Ubisoft in the last few years has gone from innovator to serial offender – in the latest Assassins Creed you have to pay to open chests you find, on a per chest basis! Rather than downloadable content increasing the longevity of a product, it’s now downloadable licenses for content that is packaged with the original software! And is this content revolutionary, with effort put in to making it a unique customer experience? Chances are it’s a way to get around an obstacle created by the developer in the first place. Customers are getting alienated with the lack of transparency and I for one cannot stand being prompted to pay for something I’ve already bought. There is no business school that suggests destroying your customers experience through micro transactions, always-online disparate account creation and multiple layers of DRM is a sustainable business model. Eventually, the customers are going to turn around and say no.

Our digital rights are shot. Across the pond they’re arguing about net neutrality whilst here we’re still focused on UKIP.  In the end, arguing isn’t going to solve anything – whilst we dilly dally and accept mediocrity the customer continues to get shafted and spurned. Facebook don’t even ask you to accept their terms and conditions anymore, they just tell you if you haven’t deleted your account by January 1st they’re going to take your soul whether you like it or not. We as citizens need to start fighting for our digital rights in the same vein as human rights, and stop letting ourselves be walked over by the non-taxpaying corporate overlords.

So what’s this got to do with Connexica?

Very little… we don’t do macro nor micro transactions, we don’t have always online DRM – you buy CXAIR, you use CXAIR, without any in between.

At Connexica transparency is key, and we build our security systems from what the consumer wants, without any selfish protocols that focus on benefiting ourselves. CXAIR is independently PEN tested by an independent certified organisation to protect your information and keep our users safe. We use genuine DRM with no ulterior motives but ensuring our product is licensed. Micro transactions are about as likely as us releasing our own version of Assassins Creed. When the length of terms and conditions agreements get longer the larger the business you’re dealing with, it’s refreshing to go with someone more tuned into your interests rather than our own.

We believe in digital rights, not digital wrongs (and corny conclusions).

 

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Interstellar has been out for a few weeks, so perhaps this blog is about old news. However, from my viewing of it, the intergalactic mind-bender of a movie will probably remain in the memory for years to come. The Nolanification of modern cinema can be traced back to Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of Batman, namely The Dark Knight. If we look at the successful films following the caped crusaders finest hour there is a notable jump in the focus of big cinema – towards the huge visuals, booming soundtracks, and world-encompassing plot lines. And now with Interstellar we’re breaking the dimensional barrier, leaving Earth, and constantly striving for bigger, better, huge cinema, with the soundtrack even more booming, and the visuals even larger.

But Nolanification doesn’t stop at Interstellar or Inception. It has seeped into our everyday life as well.

Television is bigger with Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. Video games are bigger with new consoles and epics like Grand Theft Auto V. Shopping is bigger, the American idea of Black Friday hitting our country by force this weekend, and the Christmas adverts starting earlier than ever before. Data is bigger, with Big Data dominating headlines across the globe, as people step up and start listening to the possibilities and potential the exponential increase of information is creating globally.

So of course, CXAIR is getting bigger as well.

This week we released our new update with Pages, the long awaited big visual analytics package. Our own version of Nolanification, we’ve taken the different disparate aspects of CXAIR and combined them with a free-form publishing package, turning your reports from graphs and tables to a visual representation of your information. You can break pages like with Flow Reports, combine limitless report elements together like with Dashboards, and layer images and content on top of each other like Photoshop. You can combine the endless visual potential of Pages with report scheduling to get a constant company branded website and social media report emailed to your marketing department’s inbox on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. CXAIR was The Dark Knight, and now we’re releasing Interstellar – leaving our ‘planet’ of basic visual reporting and jumping into the next dimension.

Before we were infinitely scalable- now we’re infinitely publishable as well. It might be later than expected, but crossing dimensions is harder than it looks. The question now on everyone’s lips – what next for Christopher Nolan? You can’t get much larger than intergalactic space travel. The same goes for CXAIR – Pages represents the culmination of years of reporting experience, and the creation of our ultimate publishing platform. Where can we go next?

Like Nolan, we know we can still go further. Try Pages out for yourself and watch our demo videos about the new functionality.  Hopefully we’ve done the Nolan and combined mind blowing functionality with incredible visuals. In the meantime, we’ll be working on Interstellar 2.

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The buzzword Big Data has gathered an increasing amount of momentum over the last few years. In fact the number of organisations who have implemented a big data or data discovery solution has increased from 58% to 73% over the last two years.

More and more organisations have innovated to include a big data offering in their portfolio in an attempt to grab a slice of the proverbial pie. It can be very easy to get caught up in all of the hype surrounding big data, without actually understanding what it is. So let’s look at defining it…

Research institution Gartner explains that big data is “high-volume, -velocity and -variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.”

Unfortunately, this succinct definition can be a little vague, so let’s try to dissect the points.

High-volume data refers to the ever-increasing amount of data that an organisation holds. Organisations are constantly expanding and new technologies are being innovated and then deployed. Leading to not only more data but data unable to communicate with each other, leaving analysts frustrated as they are unable to get a holistic view of organisational data.

This makes sense when you compare it to the growth rate of data across the world over the last 5 years. A report by CSC shows that the amount of data produced globally is 10 times greater than it was in 2009 and is predicted to increase annually by 4300% by 2020.

High-velocity data is data that is created at a rapid and sometimes real-time rate. As you can imagine, due to technological innovations, computer systems have been developed that create data faster with each passing year. As an organisation grows, the number of systems required for continue growth also increases. The amount of data this generates is huge. If leveraged correctly using an analytics solution, this new information can be used for real-time insights.

An organisation’s data is high variety by nature, encompassing both structured and unstructured data sets often from multiple disparate data sources. While most organisations with an analytics solution are able to perform in-depth analysis on their structured data, their unstructured data is often left untapped… which is a big problem. You may find it surprising to know that according to a study by Forrester in 2012, “only 1 to 5 percent of all enterprise data is in a structured, modelled format that fits neatly into enterprise data warehouses.., and data marts.”

These three aspects, whilst encompassed in the now buzzword “big data”, have actually been around for a lot longer. This is a fact noted by research analyst Phillip Howard of the Bloor Research Group, in his recent article he mentioned that our solution CXAIR, created in 2006, “was a ‘big data’ product before most of us had heard about big data.”

We can learn that in a world where buzzwords are often overused, it is important to decipher the true meanings from the fuzz. Of course, buzzwords can be a great thing – after all they essentially condense a number of wider topics into one word which can certainly aid when communicating to peers. The key is to not get caught up in the hype. Pre-emptively identify your requirements appropriately and ensure that the solution has the functionality necessary to fulfil those requirements.

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It’s a shame that help and support from big businesses remains opaque. From sorting out mobile phone contracts to getting your XBOX fixed the larger the company your dealing with, the less personal the response and generally less helpful the support teams. Logistically it makes sense to have complicated switchboards and outsourced call centres for businesses with thousands and thousands of support calls a day, but it doesn’t justify the depersonalisation that has become the forefront of modern corporate-consumer interaction.

Businesses counter this with the new focus on social media. By pointing at a few of us ‘ordinary folk’ the illusion of somebody listening through retweets and Facebook posts does help alleviate the issue of depersonalisation. In actuality it remains a façade though – the social media department of Microsoft, for example, will hardly have an impact on wide-ranging software and hardware support, or bug fixing, or usability testing. It’s a trade off with going with the big names – you get the benchmark product from which everything else is compared to, but you become one of the millions of customers all begging to have a voice. And with Microsoft, it seems with releases like Windows 8 that the corporate seem to be willing to strip features away for future releases (streamlining is one word for it), whilst making the core objective be looking flashy and having the buzzword of the day – touchscreen functionality or tablets and the like.

In the end when you have close to a monopoly on something the issues of the users become less of a problem – if there is no alternative they’ll buy your products regardless of whether they are the best they can be. Smartphones are among the biggest culprits – every year the camera gets slightly better, the phone slightly thinner, the processer slightly faster, yet if we look at the levels of technology and innovation we are actually capable of the new iPhone probably should have come out five years ago. See landing a probe on a comet and compare the billion dollars that mission cost to the profit margins of Apple. If we release the perfect product how will we meet our ridiculously high turnover targets for the next year? How will we pay our thousands upon thousands of stakeholders and ensure the CEO gets his dividend? Thus the slight improvements, how every year the new iPhone is the ‘best yet’, despite being obviously outclassed by next year’s model.

There is no doubt it is alienating when the new products don’t match up to the old ones. Take Windows XP for example! Slap touchscreen functionality and the alternative Windows 8 start screen as an option onto it and bang – we have the perfect OS suitable for all devices. But we’ll have to wait till Windows thirty-two or the like before we have an OS as user friendly as XP. And of course it’s cunningly being decommissioned, forcing us back down the ‘new’ line of products with bells and whistles but only three wheels.

Small business doesn’t have these constraints. Our expectations are modest and our competitors huge, so our edge is striving for perfection with every release, rather than striving for better but not the best. Because we don’t have millions of customers we don’t have to resort to outsourced support and complicated web help. We can talk to you when you need help, send people round or share screens with the support staff, have functionality custom-coded to your specifications on the fly, and become more than a name and brand – a company of people working to make the best product they can. There is the idea that nobody gets fired for buying from IBM. With increased competition and focus on big data and analytics, we might be reaching the day when somebody does. Instead of being tired at lack of support and functionality that doesn’t meet your needs, why not discover something fresher and newer? In a fast moving world where split-second decisions can make all the difference a new approach could be the difference between being one of the crowd and being the leader of it.

Be a hipster. Stay ahead of the curve. Try out CXAIR.

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It might be a bit rich coming from an up and coming Stafford based business analytics team, but there is a gap in the market becoming apparent as Qlik unveil and update their new visual analytics package Qliksense.

Like Tableau and other solutions, Qlik are making their data analytics package more visual, easy to manipulate and pleasing to the non-technical user’s eye. True, if analytics is to be marketed to the end user rather than IT professionals a complicated pivot table with calculated fields isn’t going to set the target audiences world on fire (a feature not in Qliksense, despite being in CXAIR for years…). We of course are doing the same with our new release of Pages – with our focus on usability and visual content, taking our reporting packages capable of doing any analytics you wish and combining it with a publishing package that turns reports into fully-fledged documents.

So where is the sense lacking, and why could CXAIR be the better solution?

The key is in the shift of priorities. Qlik, Tableau, even IBM have all identified that analytics now needs to be marketed to the end user, rather than to the IT professional. As a result they are modifying their existing reporting solutions and changing their strategy, creating multiple versions of products in the process and from one look at support forums, confusing the living daylights out of those end users they are trying to market to in the first place. It’s hard when everyone is going on about ‘Big Data’ to decide how big a reporting package you need for this new wave of hype – do I get the Qlikview or Qliksense application, what are the drawbacks of one or the other, which features do I need the most, do I go Hadoop or try a cloud based solution, which pricing package is most suited to our needs, etcetera etcetera. This is where CXAIR has the edge.

CXAIR has been designed for the end user from the start.

Our search engine based solution doesn’t require you to upgrade multiple plugins and modify your existing installs every time you need a new feature. Anything requested and needed by customers is handled by our support team in intimate fashion – personalised phone calls and constant support from consultants, rather than impersonal and unreliable support forums where your question can get lost in the nether of unanswered questions, or skimmed over and replied to with a generic pre-canned reply that could well have been from a robot. With a smaller business the customers mean so much more, and identifying the problems actual users have with your product is the quickest and best way to improve – not by jumping onto the latest bandwagon idea, or providing endless plugins that may or may not solve your problem whilst cluttering up your install in the process. Whilst we might have jumped on the free-form publishing package bandwagon so to speak, the big boys are trying to incorporate an ad hoc reporting package for end users.

If your requirement for your package is ease of use we’ve been working on our usability since our inception.

And now, with Pages, we bridge the gap between an easy to use reporting package and a highly visual publishing package. No new application required, no folders to manipulate, no separate license fee or red tape. Our usability only improves, and our ability to bolt-on to almost any other solution remains. We still provide a unique package boasting Venn Diagrams and the unique business analytics search engine. We even scan and index unstructured data and turn it into structured information that can then be reported on, all in the same program, at the same time. Each limit we find is something to improve upon instantly, not to be shelved off to some potential future release to maximise our licensing and profit margins.

Whilst Qlik and other similar products in the “Gartner Magic Quadrant” might claim to be the sensible – or even obvious – option at first glance, perhaps something a little closer to home actually works better. CXAIR is designed for the end user from the start, whilst supporting the customer till the end. And our reports look fancy too!

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Recently Connexica welcomed Philip Howard of the Bloor Research Group as a guest speaker at our annual CXAIR Conference, and off the back of this he published a blog post discussing the growth of Connexica and CXAIR in some more detail.

See his article below:

“Both I and my colleague David Norris have previously written about Connexica and its CXAIR product. This is how I described it in the former article: “this is a BI tool specifically designed to support queries that span both structured and unstructured data, though it can equally well handle either one on its own.

It uses indexing (as in search-based indexing not database indexing) to extract structure from text, spreadsheets and so on and to support queries against that structure”. I wrote that in 2011. Had I been writing it today I would have included mention of semi-structured, machine generated data (as in smart meters).

Writing today I would also have to describe it more broadly as a BI/analytics tool because it can do things like overlay results onto maps, as well as support conventional graphics. And I would also have to mention self-service, because it is very much targeted at end users.

In other words, this was a ‘big data’ product before most of us had heard about big data. As a matter of fact it wasn’t alone in taking this approach or at least something similar. In particular, Endeca and Neutrino BI were direct competitors. However, Endeca was acquired by Oracle and this element of its product line has been dropped. Rumour has it that Neutrino BI has gone bust.

My company searches have not actually confirmed this but net assets are in the red by over six million pounds, it doesn’t have much cash and it has significant liabilities. So, if it isn’t actually bust it looks close to it. Which leaves Connexica as a stand-alone success: it has doubled in size over the last 18 months and doubled revenues during the same period. It has some 150 users. So, how has Connexica managed to succeed where others have not?

I think the simple answer is that Connexica has focused on partners as much as on direct sales. It has also targeted particular verticals (notably healthcare and government) where it has gained traction, with a typical approach of implementing one application in one department and then expanding to provide additional solutions elsewhere.

Notable partners include Capita and PhlexGlobal, where the latter is the leading provider (worldwide) of trial master files for pharmaceutical companies. It utilises CXAIR in its PhlexGobal Emetrics service. This is a multi-tenanted cloud-based solution which is currently being used by some 26 clients. The company re-builds over 100 indexes every night with some more mission-critical indexes being re-built every hour.

At its recent user conference the company talked about its product roadmap. I won’t go into detail but there will be a new report building platform, mobile device support, story-telling (infographic) capabilities, semantic discovery, increased used of semantics for governance purposes and usability enhancements, amongst other new features.

Both David and I lauded Connexica when we wrote first wrote about the company back in 2011. It is pleasing to know that we were right to do so: the company looks well placed to continue to grow, especially given its support for machine generated (such as smart meters) data.”

Click here for a link to the original article

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Sometimes it boggles the mind what people can submit as finished work.

Reddit, a global content aggregation website, has a section for everything. One of the sections, the aptly named ‘CrappyDesign’, showcases thousands of examples of work, logos and advertising slogans that either have not been proof-read, or read by people with no knowledge of language or design. From hospital logos with what looks like a family hanging to a pink banner bearing “You are not alone”, with the ‘not’ in the same shade of pink, the consistency of inconsistency is astounding.

Is it a case of people not thinking or something more deep rooted in modern-day business?
People are so willing to make a product or advert flashy and visually appealing they often seem to forget what the original message was supposed to be. Functionality and detail is substituted for an interesting font or wonky-word alignments. Grammar is ignored in favour of capitalising every verb or noun something to do with IT. Full stops and commas seem to becoming extinct. Pepsi seem to be one of the main culprits – a billboard proclaiming “Packed With Taste Less Sugar”, the product of hundreds of advertising executives, none of which thinking a comma after the word ‘Taste’ would be a good idea.

Apple are a fine example of style over usability. Since the release of the iPhone 3G the volume up/down icon obscures the screen when changed during a video. The power keys on some Macs are placed next to the delete key – a nightmare for any software developer. The new ‘Shift’ on the iPhone looks like it is off when it is on, and vice versa. Once again, thought, usability and quality control goes out of the window, in favour of flashy images and pointless features.

Functionality and consistency is key, rather than flashy design and pointless releases of software slightly different to the previous update. It isn’t hard to get someone to proof-read work and ensure there are no typos and the grammar is consistent. When corporations as large as Pepsi and Apple can’t find the line between, it makes you wander where all the money goes.

At Connexica we keep it simple. As the content editor, it is my own personal mission to reclaim grammar from the butchering of IT professionals, prevent the constant capitalisation of nouns and verbs, break up sentences that run for lines and lines and make sure the t’s are crossed and I’s dotted. Moreover, we ensure the design of our documentation and product remains consistent, usable and sends the message we want to send, rather than the style over substance that dominates modern software and analytics. With more content being produced by the hour it is more and more difficult to police – emphasising the need for that human filter to keep everything in check.
With keen editing and multiple proof-reading sessions, there should be no excuse for any self-respecting business to let such huge issues fall through the cracks. Connexica remains an example of consistent inconsistencies, but with hard work and multiple edits, we hope to set the standard. Now it’s up to Pepsi and Apple to follow our lead…

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Being a technology company we are constantly on the lookout for the next big Tech trends and inventions.

Recently I came across a Slideshare by Big Data specialist and author (among other things) Bernard Marr, in which he listed the “21 Coolest ‘Internet of Things’ Gadgets you will want today”, after having a read through and being suitably impressed by some of the amazing sounding gadgets I decided to narrow them down to what I think are the Top Ten most interesting internet gadgets currently or soon to be available.

Sen.se Mother
Sensors known as motion cookies can be given to every family member so everyone knows where everyone else is. This may be useful for protective parents who want to know when the kids have arrived home, or where they are at all times. (Perhaps not as great for the kids!)

Delphi Connect vehicle diagnostics
This device plugs into any car with an On-board diagnostic 2 port and sends alerts and updates on its condition to the mobile app. The functionality includes remotely locking and unlocking doors, starting the engine and also setting “geofences” which send alerts if the car is driven across boundaries set by the owner, great for if you want to keep a tabs on anyone borrowing your car or in the unfortunate event that your car is stolen.

Wifi Scales
There are probably few people who class scales as one of their favourite gadgets however these particular ones recognise you as soon as you step onto them. As well as measuring weight and BMI, Wifi equipped scales sync data to smart phone apps which allows targets for weight loss/gain and monitors progress and they even keep you extra healthy by analysing the air quality that they have been placed in.

Trakdot
As someone who has the constant fear of missing luggage when travelling this gadget is quite a novelty. Trakdot aims to offer travellers peace of mind, by letting them track the location of their luggage. Patented technology switches off transmitters and receivers while they are in luggage hold when the bags are unloaded they automatically switch on and alert the owners to their whereabouts.

Jawbone Up Band
For those who suffer when sleep deprived this may be the perfect gift. The Jawbone Up Band is a wristband designed to track and record data about our lifestyles, to help make informed decisions on improving eat, sleep and move. Data is synced to smartphone and presented as visualisations. After syncing the data you can set a Smart alarm that wakes you up when it is best and calculates the ideal time for power napping.

SkyBell Wifi Doorbell
The epitome of modern technology this video doorbell lets you see and talk to whoever comes to your door, whether you are at home or not. The gadget allows you to see and hear anyone who comes to the door even if they don’t interact with the doorbell, by sending the information to a smartphone.

Ice cubes to control alcohol intake
An MIT researcher has created ice cubes that not only pulse colourfully in time to music but using an in built timer and accelerometer they can see how much and how quickly you are drinking. If they can tell you are drinking too much the cubes will turn red and can even be programmed to alert your friends as to when enough is enough and they need to take you home!

Smart Nappies
Another one for the parents, these nappies contain sensors that can send an alert to either a wristband or smart phone when they need changing. This project is a working progress however it has received media interest as it is thought this could be an invention for hospitals and care homes as well as parents. It has been suggested that ‘smart diapers’ will not only be able to alert you to the fact a baby needs changing but also provide a full analysis to check for signs of infection on a baby.

iKettle
The iKettle is the ultimate lazy persons gadget (or anyone who has to force themselves off the sofa to make a cup of coffee) This device makes it possible to switch your kettle on remotely so that you have boiling water ready by the time you get to the kitchen. The app is able to sync with alarms and can be kept warm after it reaches boiling point if you are unable to use it straight away.

SmarThings
If you took a fancy to a few of these internet based gadgets then this final one may be the most useful! The ‘SmarThings’ software acts as the equivalent of a universal remote control for all your apps, allowing you to control everything using ONE app on your smartphone.

Find out more information about these gadgets and discover more here www.slideshare.net/BernardMarr/the-21-coolest-internet-of-things-gadgets

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Isn’t that so true!!!!

When a developer says to me something’s fixed, I don’t believe them. It’s an easy way of buying time, starting the con, sourcing the wool to pull over my suspicious eyes…

Away from work, what are we all seeing? Andy Murray playing great until that last game when he played like an Englishman. The ”Tour de France” where our greatest keep falling off their bikes, the cricket (which I don’t want to talk about) and then there’s the World Cup…

Watching the footy and seeing the way the players dive to try to buy free kicks and get people sent off… seeing truly is believing. The World’s gone mad. Everyone thinks we’re stupid. I don’t buy it, won’t buy it and will turn over to avoid trying it…

We are constantly seeing the good and the bad.
The bites, the knees in the back, the wake at the airport when the England team landed and were met with a man with a sign saying “losers”.

Seeing truly is believing. We are so reliant on our core senses; sight, smell hearing, touch and taste…

In the World Cup as an avid England fan, I saw a team of people who couldn’t see where the goal was, couldn’t sniff out the opposition, couldn’t hear the crowd trying to get them to man up, couldn’t touch the ball and definitely couldn’t even get close to tasting success.

In my little world of IT, the visual side of things is extremely important. When I think of the olden days when I had to write an editor because no software existed that could edit my code, or tried to Poke and Peek to store and retrieve the most simple of calculations, where we are today is a million miles ahead of where we were when I started off.

The technology we use today is incredible – in fact it’s ineffable.

Children no longer chew on plastic Lego and stickle bricks but gnaw away on iPads and Androids.

Children don’t lug around arms full of books but take 170 gram eReaders and Kindles in their bags and pockets.

Children expect to be able to swipe their TV’s, expand the screen, blue tooth this that and everything onto their sound system.
3G, 4G and whatever G wherever they are, whenever they like.

I’ve seen it! I believe it!

Expectations are high. The bar has been raised. Everything needs to be obvious.

If you need training to use stuff these days forget it.

It’s all about visualisation, making things so obvious that what you’re trying to show smacks you in the face – irrespective of age…

… So what do we do?

… We write clever reporting stuff.

… Stuff that does incredibly complex things.

… Things that other people don’t do because it’s too difficult.

Our team of geeks love it.

So what’s our biggest challenge?

Making difficult things easy…

Making our geeky developers appreciate that not everyone has 12 fingers and 15 toes.

Seeing is believing and this is the mantra we have to try to make difficult, simple.

So if you’re under 10 and want to do some kick ass BI and put your parents into a spin check out CXAIR. Seeing truly is believing!!!

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It will probably come as no surprise that the most followed twitter accounts in the world belong to Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and perhaps more reassuringly, Barack Obama. What do all these people have in common? Other than all being from the USA, it would seem that the world of twitter is extremely interested in what they’ve got to say.

It is probably safe to assume that these individuals haven’t paid digital marketing companies to increase their followers or plan a strategic content marketing campaign in order to capture the most followers possible and to engage followers with the right message. Of course in this case twitter is still being used as a marketing tool, Obama needs votes and artists need to sell albums, but some may say the whole process is easier for celebrities and influential people in comparison with a B2B Software company?

If you are part of a technology company who hasn’t yet jumped onto the twitter bandwagon, you’re being left behind! Whilst it may not seem like an obvious move (surely we don’t have as many interesting things to say as Barack Obama?) As Technology companies we must embrace social media as technically it is one of the many great brainchild’s of our industry.

Recently Twitter conducted a survey in association with marketing company Compete (@Compete) to understand how Tweeting can influence the B2B Tech audience. The study comprised of a group of Twitter users and a group who represented the average internet user. Some of the findings from the study showed that Twitter users who see Tweets from B2B Tech brands are more likely to visit the sites of the brands in question. When surveying Twitter users they were 19% more likely to visit the brand website than the average internet users, proving that having a presence on twitter pays off in terms of website traffic.

The study also showed evidence that brands with a presence on Twitter are able to catch better quality leads as twitter users visit websites with a higher likelihood to convert.

Tech companies may use Twitter for a variety of purposes, here at Connexica we think it is a great way of being able to educate and inform the world about not only our software CXAIR, but also the industry we’re in and the industries we sell into. Social media also gives a great opportunity to show your partners/customers and the general public any changes or developments at the company and show the human side of the business by communicating in a more informal way.

Since the beginning of the year we have been putting our Search Powered Business Analytics software CXAIR to good use in our marketing office. CXAIR allows us to index the followers of any twitter accounts that are of relevance to us and then use filters to narrow down, target and follow those people or companies who we wish to follow and who we wish to follow us. By using this strategy we have increased our followers by over 100% in only 6 months which we think is a great achievement!

If you want to help us in our quest for more twitter followers and are interested in reading insightful and informative content relating to the Business Intelligence and Technology industry then follow us at @ConnexicaUK

For more information on our Search Powered Business Analytics Solution CXAIR visit www.connexixa.com/technology

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It’s widely known that ‘Big Data’ is changing healthcare as a whole and analytics can now be used to predict outbreaks of disease, or identify people at risk of certain illnesses, but here at Connexica we are currently focusing on how individual healthcare organisations can make use of analytic solutions for their own data which does not necessarily fall into the category of ‘Big Data’ but is just as important.

Traditionally Business Intelligence or Analytics solutions have not been a major priority for smaller health or social care organisations, yet these organisations often have large amounts of data that need in-depth analysis and reporting.

A recent study discovered that 95% of healthcare CEO’s asked were looking at exploring better ways to harness and manage Big Data; however we are of the opinion that it’s not necessarily the amount of data that’s important but how you deal with it in order to gain the most insight.

Our search powered business analytics solution CXAIR has recently been implemented in an independent non-profit organisation CIC offering publicly funded health and social care services. CXAIR has aided the organisation in various ways, including reporting on bed occupancy, which allows users to identify any patterns or issues and reduce the likelihood of bed shortages due to detailed analysis.

Another area where CXAIR has made a difference is with the admissions and discharges data, now the organisation has a much clearer understanding of this data which makes a big difference when predicting future patient numbers and on average how long patients are requiring care for.

By acquiring knowledge and insight through this type of data, those in the health and social care sector will not only be able to improve patient experience in ways such as reducing waiting times, ensuring there are enough beds etc. but also in terms of cost savings.

One of the most significant cost savings can be measured in terms of time. The time saved when using CXAIR is often due to the fact that users who require data no longer have to wait on specialist technically skilled individuals to produce reports as the software is designed with the business user in mind. CXAIR can bring data together from various disparate systems meaning users are only required to use a single solution for data analysis therefore saving time on training and maintenance.

Of course all business sectors look at ways in which they can save money and cut costs but potentially none more so than the health and care sector. With the challenges of maintaining patient care ever present, implementing an analytics solution should be at the top of every health and social care organisations to do list!

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The manufacturing industry is constantly facing competition not only on a national level but also internationally, with many customers choosing to either have products made abroad or importing products from other countries. For many manufacturers, dropping the quality of a product is out of the question and as a nation of historically recognised manufacturers how is it possible to compete with other markets yet still produce the same great quality products, build on a brand, increase footprint and maintain a positive reputation?

 

Our office in Staffordshire is not too far from Iron Bridge which in 1709 laid claim to the title of the world’s first Iron Foundry and for more than 100 years Britain was seen as the world’s leading industrial nation, with ‘new technology’ being developed through innovation, imagination and finance, this saw British innovators leading the way and influencing many countries around the world.

 

In recent years we have heard that the British Manufacturing industry is in dire straights and that it is at an all-time low, and yes in part this is true we are no longer No.1 in the league tables but we sit at around No.11.
British manufacturing makes up 11% of UK GVA* (Gross value added), 54% of UK exports and directly employs 2.6 million people. The UK-based auto industry exported a record-breaking 84% of its production in 2011 and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries add £20m per day to the UK balance of trade. Underpinning these important statistics is an average annual productivity increase of 3.6% – two and a half times greater than the UK economy as a whole.

The UK manufacturing industry is based on great service, innovation and quality products with company slogans like ‘A product of hard work’ and ‘Grace, space and pace’ backing up these theories and best practice.

The 1990’s saw the explosion and revised working practices which would again drastically change the way in which the manufacturing industry worked; it was to be called lean manufacturing with the core idea to maximize customer value while minimizing waste, in turn more output with less input. By and large this theory is used within all manufacturing sectors. But the manufacturing industry still hasn’t quite embraced digital compared to other industries. Many companies do have ERP systems, financial, stock & inventory management solutions, supply chain analysis and HR systems but how many of these systems communicate and report as a single output? The manufacturing industry practices lean manufacturing when it comes to its outputs but not when it comes to back office operations.

We are currently experiencing a data explosion and data growth is estimated to reach 650% over the next 5 years. Whether you call it big data, extra work or an opportunity, it’s here and it’s only growing. In order to take control of the data explosion it is essential that you have a data strategy, it could be as complex and expensive as employing an extra 50 people and cutting down a small rain forest in order to deal with all of the printing you’re going to have to do, or you could look at adding a business analytics solution to give you complete clarity and analysis over all of your disparate systems.

CXAIR by Connexica allows you, the manufacturer to have full access to your data. With its simple and easy to use interface, CXAIR allows you the user to quickly and easily interpret your data and turn data into meaningful and actionable information. You will be able to see patterns emerging in data and understand where you can improve practices, reduce cost and improve on output plus many more benefits. CXAIR takes all of your disparate systems and places the data into indexes meaning all of your data in is one central place, indexes are much quicker to search than a traditional data warehouse meaning real time analysis can be performed.

German company Resmed recently turned to Connexica for help. The company had implemented a customised version of Microsoft’s ERP solution ‘Dynamics NAV’ in their German office and needed to access up-to-date financial information reports without impacting the front end ERP system.

To read more about Resmeds experience with CXAIR please click here.

To find out how Connexica’s CXAIR can improve your practices and give your clarity over your disparate systems contact us today info@connexica.com.

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Did you know that one of the most influential people alive today is Justin Bieber?

According to Klout he has a popularity score of 95 out of 100.

So if you need helping out, someone to help you get that contract, get that planning permission, get you that job at the BBC or on the next flight into space, Bieber is your man.

 

Apparently I have a popularity score of 13… to be honest, in my household at the moment that’s bordering on generous. If you need any help whatsoever, don’t ask me I’m a nobody.

So how do we come up with this ludicrous rating system? Some people take this extremely seriously…
It’s a rating system based on how much you’re into Social media…How many Twitter Followers you have, how many Facebook friends you have, how many posts and status updates you make…

I must be socially inept.

My Facebook friends are my friends. I have no fans (that I know of) but I did setup my own private Twitter account during the riots in 2011 and posted a couple of sarcastic tweets after too many glasses of Shiraz. 50 friends and 2 Tweets and I get a score of 13?

Of course I have a corporate Twitter account @ConnexicaUK but that’s business, so can this be classed as social? Similarly my Linkedin connections are for business not pleasure (although some business is pleasurable…)
So why the obsession with followers, friends and Klout scores?

Is it down to social inadequacies or am I missing the point. Is the number of followers you have going to be the new Bitcoin, the new e-Currency by which you can be valued? Perhaps it’s the new Andy Warhol fame game thing?
Nothing would surprise me, which is why, despite me being a nobody according to Klout, I’m trying to boost our corporate followers on Twitter.

 

The irony of Social media is that I’m gaining followers through software, not through social interaction. Automatically following people that are interested in our kind of thing and triggering their software into following us back.
So Bieber has over 50 million followers and ConnexicaUK has just under 2000.

 

Come on everyone, don’t be a Belieber, be a disciple of ConnexicaUK.

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Well that time of year is upon us again and I’m sure anybody reading this who is from the U.K is aware today is St. Georges Day, the day we celebrate the patron saint of England and all the great things about our country! In all honesty, myself and my colleagues in the sales and marketing office at Connexica only realised this week that St Georges day was even coming up which made me question the lack of celebration around our patron saint.

We’re all well aware when St. Patricks day is approaching and even St. David’s day you see people pinning daffodils to their coats but unfortunately St. Georges day gets a little overlooked, although Connexica is a business expanding internationally with partners stretching from the UAE, Europe and the USA, we are first and foremost an English company, which we like to think of as a positive USP for us as the majority of our competitors are based overseas.

Obviously in our opinions one of the best things to come out of our country is Connexica and CXAIR! But this led us to consider what we think are the best businesses and innovations to come out of England?

Some of the businesses that could be described as stalwarts of England are those who have been born and bred here, such as J. Sainsburys who now have over 1000 stores throughout the U.K and revenue of over £23 Billion. The company started as one shop in London in 1869 and have experienced extraordinary growth since, although there have been challenges along the way.

Another one in this category is Cadburys, up until 2012 they were a standalone British business who have been established in Birmingham since 1824 and even developed a whole area of Birmingham known as Bournville so their workers could live in better conditions. In 2011 (before they were bought out by Kraft) Cadburys revenue was over £11 Billion and as a major chocoholic I would definitely argue that Cadbury chocolate is one of the greatest products to be produced in England.

Here at Connexica we are all about innovation so it’s only fair to list what we believe to be some of the best English innovations. One that sprung to mind quickly was the famous Dyson vacuum cleaner, designed in the late 1970’s and originally sold in Japan the Dyson is now a permanent fixture in many households throughout England and the U.K, inventor and designer James Dyson who was born in Norfolk is now worth an estimated £3 billion.

A second innovator we can’t fail to mention is Sir Richard Branson who was born in London and is the founder of the Virgin group. The company’s portfolio includes the creation of the world’s first Mobile Virtual Network Operator in 1999; the company now has approximately 50,000 employees and revenue of over £15 billion with a huge variety of different industries and products under their belt.

Of course there are many other great things to come out of England including more great businesses and innovations, so here is an opportunity to say England, we admire you, as we probably don’t say it enough.

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Big Data, Big Data, Big Data etc… We hear it all the time. There are more and more analysts talking about it, more and more conferences debating it…

It’s true, data is getting bigger.

Look at social media; Tweets, Instagram’s, Facebook posts, Selfies (or as I once embarrassingly labelled them when talking to some of my daughter’s teenage friends, Facies….)

Look at what’s going into the cloud; our documents, music, videos, photographs in fact anything that can be rendered digitally that is either taking too much room on our shelves or too big to fit on our latest 2 zillion petabyte £30 memory stick.

From a technology perspective it’s “look at this we can store oglobytes of data across quad zillions of servers so that we can put all of that data that you might be interested on disk for £50 per month…” and “We can out compute ‘Deep Thought’ on a chip the size of a pin head… which is about the power needed to do a simple search over this massive data bin we’ve created…”

So there’s loads of data, but as I keep telling myself, surely size isn’t everything?

Isn’t all that data making it harder for me to find things rather than easier?

Is finding something relevant becoming more and more like finding a needle in a haystack or part of a plane in the Indian Ocean?

 

As the MD of a software company, I remember a few tales about “size isn’t everything…”

I remember asking about reporting over SAP…

“Have you many reports available over SAP?” I once enquired.

“Yes… we have over 4000 reports” was the reply…

Hmmm, I thought, can’t be too easy finding a relevant report to run when there is so much irrelevance available…

To me, I accept there is a lot of data but we don’t need to store it, we need to sift it and find out the small pieces of relevance that mean something to me and my business.

The biggest challenge is making sense of an ever increasing and diverse set of information and pulling items of relevance and joining it all together. Creating a web of connections that allow us to build a 360 degree picture across all of the different contact points and turn that into insight that can be used to improve sales, reduce cost and improve customer satisfaction and retention.

Perhaps it’s more about the breadth and quality of the data you bring into your organisations not the size.

Perhaps it’s not about size, it’s about girth?

I’ll leave it that… sometimes less is more.

Relevance beats irrelevance every time.

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We’ve ALL heard the phrase Big Data being thrown around in the past few years (if you haven’t, I’m assuming you’ve been on a desert island) but it could be argued that Big Data is merely a buzzword that is pushed onto businesses and actually has little relevance to most of the SME’s who make up our economy here in the U.K and around the world.

However, even though Big Data may not play a part in your day to day business activities or decision making processes, much of the gigantic volumes of data collected every day, could actually be benefitting you in other ways.
One thing we all have in common is our health, some people’s health may be poorer than others but the chances are we will all need some form of healthcare at some point in our lives and this treatment can be greatly developed and improved with the use of Big Data.

For example, centuries or even decades ago the ability to predict epidemics of illness would be non-existent and once an outbreak occurred, the monitoring would be in much less depth. Nowadays by using sources as simple as social media in which people are voicing how they’re feeling, (let’s be honest we all love to moan from time to time) analytic solutions are able to provide meaningful insight and predictions to combat and control illness and disease.

A great example of the benefits Social Media data can bring, occurred in New York recently where researchers from Johns Hopkins and George Washington Universities embarked on a project which scanned through hundreds of millions of tweets to attempt to spot patterns and trends of the spread of flu throughout the area.

Researchers used many clever methods to filter tweets from certain locations and even used keyword analysis to track whether the individual was suffering from the flu or merely tweeting about the subject e.g. “worried about catching the flu”. This indication can help with precautions to attempt the reduce the spread of infection as well as handle unexpected demand for A&E Services and estimate drug supply and demand.

Whilst still in the early stages and with many sceptics, this could signal the start of new methods of controlling and preventing infection. In the future we could benefit hugely from healthcare organisations taking control of this type of intelligence and gaining the ability to predict health issues as well as prescribe preventive measures.

So in conclusion, Big Data solutions and strategies may be important for almost every business, but if you’re not in the data mind-set just yet, remember it could be helping you in more ways than you think. .

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So, that time has come around again here in the U.K, when our Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivers the nation’s budget for the next year. This has an effect on our everyday lives in a variety of ways depending on one’s circumstance (Bingo anyone?!) After the budget was announced I was doing the usual internet research to see the proposals that had been put forward and thought it may be interesting to review the effects this budget may have on SME’s like Connexica and on the I.T industry as a whole.

One potential boost to the industry is with the aid of a tax relief on investment in machinery. It has not yet been made clear whether I.T spend falls into this category but according to an article on the Computer Weekly website, it may mean tax breaks for smaller firms investing in I.T spending. These businesses will be able to implement I.T at a lower cost and can reap the benefits from investing in business enhancing products such as Business Intelligence solutions.

Another promising suggestion is the government’s plan to take control of energy costs not only for individuals, but also for tech companies who have higher energy costs. Some of those businesses that would benefit from this change are Data Centres, where there is a constant use of electricity which means higher spend on energy and therefore less investment and development.

Sticking with the subject of Data, there will also be £42 million of funding provided to a national institute who specialise in one of our favourite topics, Big Data. The money will go towards new research and ways of collecting, organising and analysing large sets of data – great news for those of us who specialise in helping businesses with all that lovely data.

International growth is a major part of our development here at Connexica as we recruit more partners and customers around the world. Interestingly, the Government have pledged to double the amount they provide for export finance, making the new figure £3 Billion and also slashing the interest charged on international exports.

Finally, what are the implications of the budget for SME’S? The budget has proposed a tax credit rise from 11% to 14.5% for Research and Development. This is especially beneficial to many SME’s who make a loss in their early years of business and let’s be honest, better research and development = better businesses and a stronger economy.

No budget will ever be perfect or please everyone; we have a long way to go before our economy recovers, however so far, these appear to be positive steps in the right direction to enhance an exciting and innovative industry and the businesses that form it.

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This week marks the 25th anniversary of what could be described as one of the most influential and life changing inventions ever created, the internet.

This led me to reflect on life before the web…

As I am nearing the age of 21, the internet has been available to the general public for the whole of my life, but remember the time when dial-up was the only affordable option, when it took 10 minutes of annoying dialling noises to get online and you could only browse the web when no phone calls needed to be made or received? (Turns out it’s quite difficult to predict the time of every incoming phone call!) This was at the time when the novelty of making a phone call on a mobile from anywhere you wanted was still big, and the game Snake was a revelation in itself.

When it first began, the internet was actually only available to a small number of people at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, and not until 1993 did CERN declare that the web technology would then be usable by anyone. It only took 7 years for a quarter of the American population to have access to the internet. You may think 7 years seems like a long time but if you compare this to other major inventions, it took 46 years for electricity, 35 years for the phone and 26 years for television – to reach this many people.

It dawned on me yesterday how much I rely on the internet, as a member of my family went to look up a word in the dictionary I found myself saying that classic line “Why don’t you just Google it?!”. As well as potentially making us quite lazy (does anybody remember the yellow pages?) the internet has created new businesses, new trends, new ways of communication and much more. Nowadays we don’t just have internet access on our desktop computers but on laptops, mobile phones, tablets, e-readers and mp3 players. We no longer have to dial up or even plug in, with Wi-Fi or 3/4G internet readily available almost everywhere you turn, it has never been easier or quicker to get online.

Whilst I could probably just about cope without Google, Facebook and Twitter, the biggest difference having no internet would make to my life is within my career. Our Business Analytics Solution CXAIR is based upon Search Engine Technology, would this exist without the internet?! How would customers view CXAIR? Not through a browser, and there would be no such thing as the cloud.

Regardless of what industry I work in, my job as a marketer would be dramatically different without the use of the internet. No website design or content, no email campaigns, no social media, no blogs – the internet underpins all of the fundamental aspects of my job and I it’s a job I enjoy, so this is a chance to say Thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and co. for giving us the internet so I don’t have to spend my days licking stamps and sending out direct mail!

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