30 January 2019

Our Technology Breakfast experience

by Kayleigh Maggs


I’m what you would call a newbie; new to software and new in my workplace having joined Soitron UK in early January. As with any ambitious new starter, I combe through the internet for events. A chance to be amongst my peers with the opportunity to expand my knowledge whilst also growing my network as in any industry, it’s not always what you know and what you can offer but who you know and who you can be introduced to.


Tortworth 1The list of panel speakers sent prior to the event lessened the blow of the 5:45am alarm I had set to ensure I got to the event in timely fashion. Arriving at the venue, a delicious smell of bacon and egg rolls and coffee greeted me. Insider Media who put on the event were thoughtful in ensuring there would be no hungry belly or tired eye distracting the full room from engaging with each of its panel speakers.


One of the opening points made by David Clensy is quite an eye-opener. The technology sector in Bristol & Bath generated £8.1 billion p.a in 2018. Even more shocking though, a lot of the panels discussions highlight the problem we face with the supply of IT engineers not even coming close to meeting the high demand. At this mention, like a hunting dog hearing a deer in the woods, my ears prick with delight. I had come to learn but had no idea I’d be leaning just how valuable my current role at Soitron will be for just about every business I could come to meet. Now I understand why nearshore staffing solutions are quickly becoming popular options for companies of all sizes.


The discussions continued to dissect why are we facing this problem. In the UK, people are choosing work to suit their lifestyle and are demanding creativity and agility in the way in which they work, which doesn’t suit all employers. Additionally, the UK is experiencing a shortage of skilled IT professionals with the qualifications achieved in our Universities not fulfilling the skills required in the workplace. To grow this sector, schools and Universities need to become more engaged in helping students be more aware at an early age of the possible paths available to them; to inspire and lead them into a digital age whereby it will be essential to possess such skills.


Tortworth 3This doesn’t however help our immediate problem in sourcing experienced IT professionals. To fulfil these positions, we need to make use of the networking and meetup groups in our areas as well as the advantages technology has given us and connect with the deep pool of talent in nearshore Europe. No longer is doing business within our own locality a priority. With advantages such as multi-lingual workers, lower wage expectations and similar laws and regs across Europe, as technology has evolved, the way in which we work has too. With firms like Cardstream, (Adam Sharpe, chief executive) payment in different currencies has been made easy, bridging the gap between countries even further.
But the challenges don’t end with sourcing the right people.


Tech companies small and large are finding it’s the implementation stage most businesses struggle with. Andrew Pass, an engineering manager for MSA Safety spoke of the software they use to bring the feelings of someone dealing with heights and small spaces in the workplace to the end user using AR (Artificial Reality). In aligning the two, he’s able to create an understand of ‘why’, to help with the implementation. As with any situation in life, until we understand the why, we question the purpose. This role-out can’t be duplicated across an entire business though and without a company-wide buy in, the success of any implementation plan can vary significantly.


AR (Augmented reality) and VR (Virtual reality) will undoubtably become common use in the years to come, but there is still a lot of reluctance in firms adopting new ways of working due to concerns over security. Esther Connock, corporate marketing director of XMOS works with voice capturing. Not new to the her and her colleagues who have been developing this complicated tool for years but relatively new to the general public with the its most widely known use in the launch of the Amazon Echo in the US less than four years ago.
Though AR, VR and VC will inevitably catch on, (once upon a time people were cynical of the internet ever catching on), securing our own personal data remains paramount. Roland Emmans, head of technology sector at HSBC UK made comparison to the layers of security we now have in our homes compared to 20 years ago. As the risk increases, the layers of security increase to provide as much protection as possible to both the business and the consumer. For any hackers that do slip through, Benjamin Hosack, co-founder of Foregenix has designed an investigative tool to enhance cyber security which a analyses trends at the front edge of the technology we use.


Tortworth 5If I can be certain of anything from today’s discussions, though uncertain, the future of digital technologies is an exciting, progressive path of discovery. Chris Pockett, head of communications at Renishaw is a prime example of how progress can be made when demonstrating a disruptive business model. Challenging a culture and looking at what clients need rather than what they want. He is currently collaborating to find a cure to Parkinson’s; through all Renishaw’s current success’, that would be truly awe inspiring and set the stage for a future where the only limits are the ones, we impose on ourselves.
Overall a riveting discussion by all guest speakers, not mentioned above but worth mentioning for their insight and brilliant work are:

Mark Miles, managing director, Render
Emily Kent, director, One Big Circle
Ben Yarrow, founder, Marks out of Tenancy
Ian Risk, chief technology officer, CFMS