Patrick McAliskey - Novosco Blog | Novosco
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We can't turn back the clock and have our lives like they were

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DIVISIVE topics are never far away it seems (anyone from Northern Ireland will tell you that). And in recent times, we ‘ve had Brexit, face masks and the issue of working from home to add to the list.

You’ll be glad to hear that I’m not going to focus on Brexit, nor the historical local stuff. But I think the issue of working from home deserves a bit of exploring.

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In challenging times, look for inspiration...

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N challenging times, it is important that we all look for inspiration. And this has perhaps never been as important as it has been in recent months.

One person I’ve often looked to for inspiration is Mark Pollock.

For those who don’t know Mark, he became an adventure athlete in 1998 competing in ultra-endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole.

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Why green issues matter for your business

Why green issues matter for your business

Usually I write in this column about tech sector issues. But this month I'm going to talk about climate change.

Perhaps more accurately, I'm going to focus on climate change, but inevitably, given that climate change is a matter which touches on just about every aspect of our lives, and so is technology, tech will also come into it.

And I recognise that it's perhaps not that unexpected any more for a business person to talk about climate change in the era of ‘responsible capitalism'. Indeed, during my entire time with Novosco, we've tried to be a purpose-led organisation. We maybe didn't articulate it that way in the past, but it has always been part of our DNA.

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Business community plays its part

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AMIDST the many harrowing things happening during the pandemic, there have been some inspiring stories. The dedication of health and other frontline workers and the public's appreciation of their commitment has been uplifting to say the least.

And despite the dire situation facing the economy, we've seen companies and businesspeople rise to the challenge too. The story of the production line that has been operating in Mid Ulster District Council's Meadowbank Sports Arena through an initiative by Bloc Blinds to create protective visors for health workers has been well covered in the media, but is very much worth reiterating.

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Does tech hold key to lockdown exit?

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You can't solve all problems with technology. But could tech hold the answer to the coronavirus lockdown and provide us with something of an ‘exit strategy'?

At the very least, tech has a real role to play in this; something that was acknowledged by the European Commission last week.

It has recommended steps and measures to develop a common EU approach for the use of mobile applications and mobile data in response to the coronavirus pandemic. They note that digital technologies, mobile applications and mobility data have enormous potential to help understand how the virus spreads and to respond effectively. They say that digital tools can play a very important role in the gradual lifting of containment measures, when the time is right, if they are well coordinated.

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Is the sharing economy reshaping capitalism?

Is the sharing economy reshaping capitalism?

The so-called sharing economy appears to be booming. Companies like Uber and Airbnb have shown the way, and many start-ups are following suit, with no shortage of venture capital money supporting them in their mission to help revolutionise how people shop, travel and live.

The sharing economy is a way of distributing goods and services that differs from the traditional model of companies hiring employees and selling products to consumers. In the sharing economy, individuals rent or share things like their cars, homes and time, often in a peer-to-peer fashion.

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Is technology changing what it means to be human?

Is technology changing what it means to be human?

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

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

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Novosco's expertise and skills will live on within CANCOM

Novosco's expertise and skills will live on within CANCOM

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

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

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Businesses must seek every opportunity for an Edge

Businesses must seek every opportunity for an Edge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The need to attract more women into the tech industry

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

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

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

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The valuable link between technology and education

The valuable link between technology and education

EDUCATION and technology are ever more closely linked.

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

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

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Tech sector must do more to increase gender diversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dark Overlord advertises for software designers and systems engineers…

Dark Overlord advertises for software designers and systems engineers…

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

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

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Tech predictions for 2019 and beyond...

Tech predictions for 2019 and beyond...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Developing IT skills with Cloud Camp

Developing IT skills with Cloud Camp

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

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

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