I unlock my phone by looking at it in a meaningful way; it trusts me and unlocks. Despite the rumours I’ve yet to be able to unlock with a photo.
Both my face and yours has 83 data points that technology can recognise to ensure we are actually who we say we are. So if I can unlock my phone what else can I do with my face? Over the past few years computers are becoming increasingly good at recognising faces by using these data points and by measuring the distance between them.
We’re seeing solutions come to market to provide enhanced convenience to users, and also to provide surveillance capabilities to authorities. We’re already seeing developments in China around extensive use of facial recognition; walk up to the barrier at a train station and the gate opens for you, assuming your face resembles your national identity card. No worries if you’re feeling rough or having a bad hair day, there are sufficient data points to allow you through the barrier.
This negates the need for the widespread use of contactless cards that we currently see used extensively in the UK. This then has an impact on our banking regimes, as the technology advances we may see reduced demands for passwords and PIN numbers as we may just simply look at the ATM and ask for cash; ‘Alexa, can I have £60 please?’
It’s already possible to transfer money using an app and your face to authorise. Again in China 120 million people have access to a mobile payment app using their face as credentials. It’s possible to both transfer money and also get a loan simply by using your face as identification.
Ticket touts are the current scourge of getting into concerts (something close to my heart), but if your ticket is matched to your face then there is no unauthorised secondary ticket market. Getting access to sporting events could be made easier for the fan, whilst saving costs for the club.
In addition, whilst surveillance is still considered a delicate subject, tracking of movement through a venue allows for efficiencies in access areas and the targeting of relevant services to individuals. It could also allow tracking of movement through public transport systems for improved customer experiences.
We’ve heard a lot about body-worn police cameras recently. Ultimately these could be linked to central resources for the identification of known criminals making our streets a safer place.
Cars could be enabled to recognise an authorised driver, meaning no stolen cars and no lost keys. The list goes on.
Obviously this relies on a few things, one of the reasons that China is a large market for this is the large national database for identification purposes, and whilst some may not be comfortable with this in the Western world, there is a decision as to whether the benefits outweigh the use of your personal data – The Privacy Paradox applies.
It would also rely on suitably responsive infrastructure to support the use cases, but with the technology evolution you’ll soon be able to use public transport, buy goods and when you walk into Starbucks they will no longer need to ask your name, you’ll be recognised as you walk in, and this time the cup will have your correct name on it.
Now where is that false beard?
It looks like I’m last up to write the final projects practice gradate blog. Best to last I guess! Thank you to all my graduate colleagues for their previous blogs and hearing how we have all progressed and settled into the company so well. This is my first EVER blog because I don’t really do writing, I’m a talker. However before I begin here is a little about me: I studied Information Technology Management for Business at the University of Hertfordshire and graduated last year with a First Class honours. I have 3 family businesses and I like food. Anyone who wants to win me over, food is your answer! I used to Box and reached a National level, however food took over my life. After 12 months at O2 as UK audio manager and my final academic year at University, I find myself within a growing company with endless opportunities, CC.
So believe it or not, it’s been a year since we started. I think it’s fair to say, it has not felt like it. It means another 8 months of the Graduate programme remain before we “graduate”. It’s crazy thinking this time last year I was at University doing what most University students do. I’ll leave that to your imagination but I was studying!
So before I get carried away, it’s right to begin by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored and supported the programme and a farewell to Martin Jones who without, the projects grads would not be here. Furthermore a huge welcome to Zameer Kaderkutty (Zam) and the new 2017 intake of Projects Practice graduates. I wish you all the best within CC.
So this week I had the opportunity to meet the new intake of grads and ease them into the world of CC. However it was odd knowing this time last year, I was sat there all ‘suited and booted’ thinking I don’t understand any of these acronyms. And there I was bellowing, “GIO, TRG, ISP” and so on… it’s now just second nature. The best advice I suggested was that it takes time to understand a complex organisation and how everything amalgamates therefore if it takes time to grasp, it really does not matter. Everyone in CC is welcoming and is willing to help so never be shy to ask questions or for any support/advice.
As my colleagues have previously mentioned, “Rotations” are up and we are now knee deep into project work. Customer sites, the travelling, the underground and dealing with customers is all part of the job and I am relishing every moment of it. I have learnt tremendous amounts by working on fluctuating accounts and projects which vary in size, risk and category but one key aspect I’ve learnt is that projects do not always go to plan but the transparency and commitment we deliver to keep customers as happy as possible is second to none. This is one of many reasons why I love working for Computacenter.
Other than my day to day job, I have been fortunate enough to be a Brand ambassador for the University of Hertfordshire. Attending many careers fairs has been a wonderful experience and there is nothing better to share how successful the programme and company has been especially to students my age. This has recently been certified as Computacenter has been ranked in the Top 100 Graduate Employers for second year running. This is a huge achievement!!!
For me there has been so many memories throughout the first 12 months but the one which comes to mind first is the Practice Wide Meeting held on the 5th May in Leicester. It was an insightful day hearing presentations from Chris Webb, Andy Moffitt and Martin Jones around key aspects of the company and how current and future progress looks. Other than being forced to dance to Mamma Mia in the competition in which Hatfield came third so well done all who participated (clearly thanks to my dance moves), it was a lovely evening to network and enjoy ‘down time’ with colleagues you spend a lot of time with day to day in a “working” environment. However, there was nothing better than seeing Martin Jones and all my colleagues on the dance door “attempting” Bhangra to Punjabi MC. I will leave it on that note.
Thank you for reading my first ever blog. It has been an amazing 12 months at the start of my career and I look forward to all the opportunities and challenges my role brings. It’s now onto the completion of the programme and hopefully promotion. For now, it’s been a pleasure!
Oh and here is me in fighting action (I’m in the black vest):
It is impossible to ignore the momentum behind the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance requirement. It stimulates many process, information governance and security related discussions as its swings between saint and sinner in the minds of legal, business and technology based personnel. May 25th 2018 is the ICO issued GDPR compliance deadline, however Gartner believes 50% of organisations affected will not be complaint by the end of 2018 (Gartner, May 2017).
GDPR cannot and should not be considered a short term fix but instead a pragmatic review and recalibration of security controls to effectively manage “EU” user centric digital assets in the 21st century. It’s time to shift GDPR to a positive, business enhancing consideration rather than a board level topic of dread based on sluggish progress and hard to quantify expense. Expanding beyond “doing the minimum required” will highlight the fundamental relationship between consumer / user trust in a digital world and secure information handling. Few data assets can be more important to a user / consumer or the organisation than PII information based on its digital representation of the persona of an individual.
The relentless rise and rise of the digital economy is underpinned by confidence, trust and uncorroborated belief in a mass of interconnected IT systems that users / consumers cannot see and often have little access to. GDPR attempts to bolster that confidence by highlighting organisations that leverage good practices and deliver certainty to user centric digital data processing and management elements to reinforce “trust” in a very fluid digital world. Now is the time to accelerate GDPR activities to realise the business and consumer benefits of compliance faster. This is unlikely to occur from hard work alone (but that is certainly required), it requires a reframed philosophical viewpoint conveyed to all involved in the GDPR working party of review and remediation.
The GDPR compliance team must be motivated and inspired to undertake their work with urgency, passionately volunteering regular stakeholder progress updates to the exec board – the importance of GDPR stakeholder information updates to convey the importance and ongoing benefits cannot be overplayed. GDPR progress bulletins will energise all involved in GDPR remediation with the knowledge that everything they do enhances the overall security posture of the organisation, delivers optimum management of user / consumer personal data assets and therefore improves both the internal and external company perception to a measurable degree.
These small changes will help to evolve the intellectual view of the GDPR from a compliance work programme to one of the most important consumer and business impacting information management activities in recent times. Serious stuff….
Until next time.
Chief Technologist: Networking, Security & Collaboration. Computacenter UK
Citation: 1 http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3701117
Every year, WorldSkills International and The United Nations recognise the 15th of July as World Youth Skills Day (WYSD). Designed to raise awareness on the importance of technical, vocational education, and training, WYSD works towards reducing unemployment and underemployment among youths across the globe.
Ahead of WYSD 2017, we spoke to Martin Pickering, Apprentice Program Manager at Computacenter, and current apprentice Zach Kirk-Gray, 1st Line Support Analyst, about the importance of promoting vocational training, and the benefits to businesses and apprentices alike.
Why should companies invest in technical and vocational education?
For businesses, vocational education is a way to invest in the company culture from the offset. “With apprentices, it really gives us the opportunity to grow grass-roots, technical staff, using the Computacenter brand. This not only gives young people a foot in the door, but at the same time allows companies to fill the gaps that they are finding in their operations” says Martin.
“Some legacy technologies are slowly becoming difficult to employ against, such as mainframes launched in the 70’s and 80’s. The 40 years of service that these technologies have are now bringing the initial starters of that generation towards the end of their careers, and businesses need to realise the value of bringing young blood back into their organisation.
“Not only this, but the youth of today are digital natives, and are also at a stage in their lives when they are really tuned into learning and are extremely flexible with their talents. It’s here that we can start to use the younger generation to really get stuck in and learn about new technologies, such as cloud adoption, and use them as the next generation in an area that can often be very expensive to train staff in, and difficult for older members of staff to be trained on.”
Zach agrees that learning on the job is one of the best things about his apprenticeship: “It’s great to learn with the technologies. Vocational training is important to me because you really have a hands-on experience all the time, and get a lot of face-time with experts in those fields.
“At college, I was only really studying theory, which I felt wasn’t going to help me later in my life, and I found it difficult to learn just looking at books. Going for a practical apprenticeship has been absolutely brilliant.”
Why is it important to offer this type of training to today’s youth?
“Apprenticeship programs are not just about delivering a group of young adults to a team and getting them to do low skilled work,” continues Martin. “This for me is about creating opportunity.”
“I class the apprenticeship as a golden ticket. At Computacenter, we heavily invest the time of our technology experts into developing our analyst apprentices technically, but we also look at soft skills to develop them in the business world. This is an extremely important part of offering training to today’s youth, as many come straight out of college or school without any experience of working in a formal business environment. Even those who leave university with a degree are still under-experienced in the real-world applications of their skills.
“So, not only is vocational training important for their area of expertise, but also to develop their skills outside of technical delivery so that they are transferrable to any role they might hold in the future.
“My hope is that we create the opportunity for them to look back in years to come and see that Computacenter helped them achieve their goals.
How are apprentices valuable to Computacenter?
Martin can’t help but sing their praises: “Apprentices are fantastic and come with a great attitude towards learning. We spend the first three months of the program training them, and they are able to take in all the information like sponges and can retain more than mature analysts that have been in the business world for years – it’s really amazing. Following this, they can then deliver and fill any gaps in the business with attrition at a lower cost.
“When speaking to customers, talking about investing in apprentices is always good news. My hopes are that more businesses realise the value of apprentices, and that more young people become aware of the benefits of vocational education themselves. Perhaps one day one of our apprentices will become the mentors of new programs to come.”
Finally, Zach agrees with promoting apprenticeships to young people, and why they should start considering this educational path: “Being an apprentice gives you the opportunities in life and trains you up to progress through the company, with hands-on training and mentorship. If I was to give any advice to young people deciding which path to take, I’d tell them to definitely go for an apprenticeship.
“I know people that have gone to university, but when they come out the other side they feel like they don’t have the practical knowledge or business acumen to really go out and get that foot in the door. With an apprenticeship, you’re already on your way.”
After a few silent months away from from philosophical scribbling about market, societal and technology based change, something has caused me to reach again for my pen (“what pen I hear you say”, stay with me on this one).
In the digital age, “do nothing” delivers the worst possible outcome – “nothing”. Does this mean a relentless march forward ideally at “digital” speed is the order of the day – to a degree, yes but not without thought or calibration. Harvard’s, Clayton Christensen formulated a memorable principle in his seminar book the Innovators Dilemma in 1997, “An organization’s capabilities define its disabilities”. Put simply, an organisation should rightly be validated for the actionable elements it delivers over pomp, history or rhetoric.
Surely this is obvious stuff, but changing focus, reinventing successful products or undertaking “blank sheet of paper” style development is time consuming, challenging, provides no guarantee of success and is downright risky. With the result, many crank the handle on the “same old way”, turning the handle faster as competition, market saturation and reducing income signposts the race may be close to being run. But that isn’t the only way, “do nothing” or “do the same something” whilst safe is a sure-fire way of ensuring the only future ahead is one as “yesterday’s great”. As the digital age drives our personal and business lives forward pressing reset on everything safe and known at a speed we can barely consume (much less digest), the winners will be those who manage to maintain a level of effective competitiveness within existing markets whilst guiding existing customers and new prospects to take advantage of adjacent or original innovations that unlock reliable and previous unforeseen benefits.
I was compelled to scribble this post by a recent and potentially market defining strategic announcement from Cisco. As the campus and datacentre network infrastructure market leader by some magnitude, “do nothing” for Cisco could still have some mileage. By using superior purchasing power to develop products at market prices others may struggle to match profitably or via customer loyalty plays to retain and maximise existing advocates, Cisco could continue to maintain a slightly better version of “the good old way”. Or they could flip script with a fundamental reframe of everything known, building on existing legacy value, but enhanced for the future via insight and innovation – that’s what Cisco has done. Cisco DNA (Digital Network Architecture) and SDA (Software Defined Access) is so new in the market, the ink has barely dried but initial observations point to a technical philosophy that will redefine strategic, functional, operational and technology based customer outcomes.
The ability to deliver local and in time wide area secure network connectivity, that self-configures, is rich with relevant user or network insight, is policy drive, self-heals, is adaptive, abstracts complexity, is API open, secure by design, enhanced by automation reads like a CIO wish list to Santa. But this is just a selection of announced initial release functionality inherent within the DNA and SDA footprint from Cisco. It leaves me encouraged, inspired and enthused, not because it signals a one vendor world of customer benefits as that equally delivers the fear of “lock in”, but based on the potential for a vendor and market open platform that will bring together co existing and competing vendors integrated by APIs to deliver an autonomic secure network layer to underpin digital transformation.
Forget dilemmas, it’s time for the “innovation imperative”. As Cisco reinvents itself to guide both customers and the industry forward, the game changes for everyone. Competitors will be compelled to respond fuelled by their own innovation imperative, partners inspired to retool and reskill to service & support the new normal and lastly customers whilst initially confused will soon be engulfed by a wave of excitement that old problems may soon be eliminated by new solutions.
I’m not just a Cisco fan, I’m also seeing mind blowing innovation from the top ten networking & security industry leaders and the next ten UK, San Jose or Israel based emerging technology startups as they paint the new picture for business enabled IT. What a fantastic transformational journey we have ahead as we march towards that spiritual IT milestone date of 2020.
Who knows, as digitisation becomes the DNA of societal and business existence, a flawed something may far outweigh a perfect something. Time to get involved.
Until next time.
Chief Technologist – Computacenter UK, Networking, Security and Collaboration.
Are you a UK tech start-up? Win a place at TechUK’s Annual Dinner & connect with tech industry movers & shakers!
Computacenter and Dell-EMC are sponsoring this year’s TechUK’s Annual Dinner, which will take place on the evening of Wednesday 19th July 2017.
Senior figures from across the UK tech industry, including government and civil services, will gather to network and celebrate the achievements of our industry. Attendees will hear thought-provoking speeches from the likes of Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Laura Kuenssberg, Political Editor, BBC, before enjoying an open discussion over a three-course meal.
Leading tech executives across the industry were in attendance last year, with three quarters of attendees at either Managing Director level, or above. Media attendees from the Daily Telegraph, Bloomberg and Computer Weekly were also out in full force.
Computacenter is offering one lucky UK tech start-up the opportunity to attend this prestigious event, and get in front of some of the UK’s most senior tech leaders.
To win your place at the event, all you have to do is tweet @Computacenter, using the hashtag #techUKAD17 describing your UK tech start-up in four words, beginning with T, E, C and H.
The winner will be chosen at random.
The competition is open from Monday 26th June 2017 – Friday 7th July 2017, so get your thinking caps on before it’s too late.
Please see below for the full Terms & Conditions.
Terms and conditions
- The promoter is: Computacenter plc whose registered office is at Computacenter House, Blackfriars Rd, London SE1 8HL.
- The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom that are employed by a UK based technology start-up company, except employees of Computacenter plc and their close relatives, and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
- There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
- Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.
- Closing date for entry will be 7th July 2017. After this date no further entries to the competition will be permitted or accepted.
- No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
- The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows:
Tweet @Computacenter, using the hashtag #techUKAD17, describing your UK tech start-up in four words, beginning with T, E, C and H
- The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe outside of its control, or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
- The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
- The prize is as follows: One ticket for the techUK 2017 annual dinner
- The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable.
- Winners will be chosen by random.
- The winner will be notified by DM on Twitter within 7 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 7 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
- The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected/is delivered.
- The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
- The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
- The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
- Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
How did you find Computacenter Hungary?
I found Computacenter Hungary from social media advertising and also at the same time via a recruitment agency. I started work here in January this year.
When was your interview, and how did it go?
I had two rounds of interview, and the first one was a Telepresence inteview with my line manager, who is in the United Kingdome. The interview was thorough and I gained a good impression about the company, and the department. My second round interview was with the group Finance Director, who came here to conduct personal interviews and I seem to remember the interview was long and in some depth, but a great conversation and helped me develop a more complete picture of the company and the role. I think the job offer then come quite soon after – in fact it was just before Christmas, so great timing in fact!
What is your opininon about the recruitment process? Would you recommend anything to improve?
Thinking about the first round, I was rejected first for the first role I have applied for, the Head of GSD, and the second one was the Head of Shared Services. I gained a positive insight to Computacenter from the first interview that prompted me to persist when the second role came along. I was happy with the recruitment process and I was introduced to the Recruitment Manager at a pre-Christmas event to talk briefly about the roles on offer. As a candidate, I felt the feedback was good and its always helpful to hear feedback whether the application is successful or not which the company did well.
How did you manage to fit in? And how do you feel yourself at Computacenter now?
I think the culture of the company is a empowering and delegating culture, and this is an environment where I work well. I think the people are very friendly, which is helped me to get estabilished. And that helps a lot.
What do you like in your current position? What are your challanges?
I think there are many opportunities for the function to develop and improve, and I think I can help to achieve that. There is a very capable and enthusiastic team, who are great to work with and an inspiration. I think the challange of developing this SSC is very interesting to work with.
What are the differences between your previous and current workplace?
I was leading an SSC before as well in Hungary. Computacenter Hungary is more recently estabilished, which gives a lot of opportunity to shape it and to make the organisation meet stakeholder expectations and grow and develop as we deliver operational results and drive business enablement. It is a fast growing company with many career opportunities, meaning there is no better time like the present to join the team at Computacenter!