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Beating Burnout – Arise the transformational IT leader

Jen Brown, Senior Director, EMEA at GoTo

Burnout and stress continue to be prevalent in the workplace, yet few industries are feeling the burn quite as intensely as IT. You just have to look at the figures to prove that new pressures and pain points just keep adding to the workloads of IT leaders. New global 2023 research targeting Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) found burnout and stress to be the most significant personal risk CISOs face in their role today, for the second consecutive year. Not only that, but the number reporting burnout and stress jumped up notably year on year. A recent GoTo study found that 65% of businesses say their IT team workloads have increased over the last year, with 92% reporting that reducing this burden is a critical consideration when choosing their IT software. 

What’s behind the burnout? 

Recent years have meant that IT Professionals have had to make hard work and agility their mission critical. As the need for tech in business keeps ramping up, IT teams have doubled down like never before to lay all the right foundations for business success and survival. The old protocols are out while ushered in are hybrid and work from anywhere teams and rapid digital transformation with more devices and infinite data to secure far beyond the secure perimeters of the office.  

The new working world has arrived with a bang and IT Professionals have never been as critical to or as synonymous with its success. But with that shift comes the white-hot heat of demanding hours and smaller teams as businesses do battle against cost of living and talent shortage challenges. IT pros have been working at pace to protect their teams at all costs but with sky high reports of elevated burnout, it’s clear these levels of stress are unworkable in the long term. The only end result will be driving good talent out of the industry completely. 

A new style of leadership  

Today, we need a total rethink and reset on how we turn the tide on the worrying burnout trend. Business demands are evolving and so too must the role of IT leaders. Once upon a time IT leaders were a siloed part of most businesses, beavering away without complaint in the background. Today they are an indispensable bridge between the C-suite and an entire organisation’s security posture, working to drive value and buy-in to IT management and security in ways that resonate with everyone at every level across a workforce. 

As the world becomes increasingly built on software, today the transformational IT leader must map out a future where consolidation and smarter more streamlined ways of working are all the name of the game. This approach must bring together the very best in both technology and people strategies. It’s essential groundwork but consolidating tech, automating workflows and embedding streamlining into the approach are all essential parts of the process. This will allow IT leaders to make smart choices that empowers teams. Today the transformational IT leader is more than ever a people manager who is charged primarily with helping workforces change their behaviours to support the working world of today. Here’s what a transformational IT leader needs to have in their roadmap right now:  

Success through streamlining  

Consolidation among SMBs has become increasingly popular as decision makers start to acknowledge its many benefits. The main advantages being increased productivity, lower costs, and ease of management.  

The recent report on IT Priorities sees 83% of businesses considering consolidation of communication and IT management and support tools an important initiative for 2023. Crucially, this consolidation helps to alleviate the burden on IT, a key goal for 92% of the report’s respondents. It can do this by providing greater oversight and control for less money whilst increasing employee productivity – a golden triangle of outcomes amid the current economic headwinds.  

Consolidation of tools is even more valuable when IT teams are provided with a comprehensive view of operations. Unifying status updates, performance insights, and more information in a single dashboard to control and monitor processes, through a remote monitoring tool, can dramatically improve workflows and enable quick resolutions without overburdening IT teams.  

Automation: paving the way for increased efficiency 

For businesses that do not have dedicated support staff to handle administrative, customer service, or other time-consuming tasks, IT automation tools can be the difference between growth or stagnation. Automating tedious tasks frees up time for teams to focus on projects that require detailed human attention and move the business forward, allowing companies to allocate resources more effectively. It can also serve as a morale boosting tactic, helping employees to tick more off their never-ending to-do list by giving them valuable time back to focus on more fulfilling tasks.  

Furthermore, automating certain business practices helps to alleviate the stress put on individuals and avoid bottlenecks at the same time. Simplifying tasks and responsibilities means that teams aren’t left in limbo if colleagues are out sick or away from their desk – knowledge and workloads can easily be shared and managed without direct management.  

For all these reasons, built-in automation features are considered absolutely critical when choosing new business solutions. Moreover, integrations with new generative AI technologies like ChatGPT are introducing even more valuable automation capabilities across applications like customer engagement, generating and running programming scripts, and more. AI chatbots can also aid in IT ticket deflection and resolution which would otherwise need to be opened and worked on by support staff. All of this means that AI tools are increasingly handling even complex tasks with minimal time and resources required from human team members.  

Collaboration and pooling resources for greater impact 

The final piece of the puzzle is complete when companies can make the most of the resources already available to them. By eliminating the limitations of a traditional in-office mindset, businesses can combine resources by region and empower transformational IT teams to offer support from anywhere, anytime.  

A company with multiple offices around the country can still effectively operate with one shared IT team to look after different regions. Additionally, implementing unified problem management processes across teams and employee locations can ensure faster resolution times when incidents do occur, and significantly reduce the potential for subsequent disruptions. Sharing resources and practices in this way can save significant costs, reduce downtimes, and improve efficiency. And with 50% of businesses still using hybrid workplace models, IT management needs to reflect this flexibility. 

This is why features such as unattended access and multi-session handling are now considered essential. A remote access tool can not only minimise operational downtime and ensure continuity, but also save on travel expenses and office costs – allowing IT teams to support customers and colleagues from anywhere in the world. Additionally, when companies no longer need to worry about providing support in close physical proximity to their employees, this also means that companies can recruit and source the top talent for the job they need, regardless of their location. 

The road ahead 

In times of uncertainty, budgets are squeezed, and workloads are stretched to capacity. Ultimately, the keys to success during such times are streamlining technology and prioritising the people that make up a workforce. By looking for ways to consolidate their technology stack, automating menial tasks where possible, and pooling resources, companies can reinvest money into employees and customers instead. Let’s lean into these approaches so we beat burnout and help put people first in today’s workplace.  

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Business

Time is running out: NHS and their digital evolution journey

By Nej Gakenyi, CEO and Founder of GRM Digital

Many businesses have embarked on their digital evolution journey, transforming their technology offerings to upgrade their digital services in an effective and user-friendly way. Whilst this might be very successful for smaller and newer businesses, but for large corporations with long-standing legacy infrastructure, what does this mean? Recently the UK government pledged £6bn of new funding for the NHS, and the impact this funding and investment could have if executed properly, could revolutionise the UK public healthcare sector.

The NHS has always been a leader in terms of technology for medical purposes but where it has fallen down is in the streamlining of patient data, information and needs, which can lead to a breakdown in trust and the faith that the healthcare system is not a robust one. Therefore, the primary objective of additional funding must be to implement advanced data and digital technologies, to improve the digital health of the NHS and the overall health of the UK population, as well as revitalise both management efficiency and working practices.

Providing digital care

Digitalisation falls into two categories when it comes to the NHS – digitising traditionally ‘physical’ services like offering remote appointments and keeping electronic paper records, and a greater reliance on more innovative approaches driven by advances in technology. It is common knowledge that electronic services differ in GP practices across the country; and to have a drastically good or bad experience which is solely dependent on a geographical lottery contradicts the very purpose of offering an overarching healthcare provision to society at large.

By streamlining services and investing in proper infrastructure, a level playing field can be created which is vital when it comes to patients accessing both the care they need and their own personal history of appointments, GP interactions, diagnoses and medications. Through this approach, the NHS focus on creating world-leading care, provision of that care and potentially see waiting lists decrease due to the effective diagnosis and management enabled by slick and efficient technology.

This is especially important when looking at personalisedhealth support and developing a system that enables patients to receive care wherever they are and helps them monitor and manage long-term health conditions independently. This, alongside ensuring that technology and data collection supports improvements in both individual and population-level patient care, can only serve to streamline NHS efforts and create positive outcomes for both the patient and workforce.

Revolutionising patient experiences

A robust level of trust is critical to guaranteeing the success of any business or provision. If technology fails, so does the faith the customer or consumer has in the technology being designed to improve outcomes for them. An individual will always have some semblance of responsibility and ownership over their lives, well-being and health. Still, all of these key pillars can only stand strong when there is infrastructure in place to help drive positive results. Whilst there may be risks of excluding some groups of individuals with a digital-first approach, technology solutions can empower people to take control of their healthcare enabling the patient and NHS to work together. Tandem efforts between humans and technology

Technology must work in tandem with a workforce for it to be effective. This means the NHS workforce must be digitally savvy and have patient-centred care at the front and centre of all operations. Alongside any digital transformation the NHS adopts to improve patient outcomes, comes the need to assess current and future capability and capacity challenges, and build a workforce with the right skills to help shape an NHS that is fit for purpose.

This is just the beginning. With more invtesement and funding being allocated for the NHS this is the starting point, but for NHS decision-makers to ensure real benefits for patients, more still needs to be done. Effective digital evolution holds the key. Once the NHS has fully harnessed the poer of new and evolving technologies to change patient experiences throught the UK, with consistent communication and care, this will set the UK apart and will mark the NHS has a diriving example for accessible, digital healthcare.

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Business

Driving Business Transformation Through AI Adoption – A Roadmap for 2024

Author: Edward Funnekotter, Chief Architect and AI Officer at Solace

From the development of new products and services, to the establishment of competitive advantages, Artificial intelligence (AI) can fundamentally reshape business operations across industries. However, each organisation is unique and as such navigating the complexities of AI, while applying the technology in an efficient and effective way, can be a challenge.

To unlock the transformational potential of AI in 2024 and integrate it into business operations in a seamless and productive way, organisations should seek to follow these five essential steps:

  • Prioritise Data Quality and Quantity

Usefulness of AI models is directly correlated to the quantity and quality of the data used to train them, necessitating effective integration solutions and strong data governance practices. Organisations should seek to implement tools that provide a wealth of clean, accessible and high-quality data that can power quality AI.

Equally, AI systems cannot be effective if an organisation has data silos. These impede the ability for AI to digest meaningful data, and then provide the insights that are needed to drive business transformation. Breaking down data silos needs to be a business priority – with investment in effective data management, and an application of effective data integration solutions.

  • Develop your own unique AI platform

The development of AI applications can be a laborious process, impacting the value that businesses are gaining from them in the immediate term. This can be expedited by platform engineering, which modernises enterprise software delivery to facilitate digital transformation, optimising developer experience and accelerating the ability to deliver customer value for product teams. The use of platform engineering offers developers pre-configured tools, pre-built components and automated infrastructure management, freeing them up to tackle their main objective; building innovative AI solutions faster.

While the development of AI applications that can help streamline infrastructure, automate tasks, and provide pre-built components for developers is the end goal, it’s only possible if the ability to design and develop is there in the first place. Gartner’s prediction that Platform Engineering will come of age in 2024 is a particularly promising update.

  • Put business objectives at the heart of AI adoption – can AI deliver?

Any significant business change needs to be managed strategically, and with a clear indication of the aims and benefits they will bring. While a degree of experimentation is always necessary to drive business growth, these shouldn’t be at the expense of operational efficiency.

Before onboarding AI technologies, look internally at the key challenges that your business is facing and question “how can AI help to address this?” You may wish to enhance the customer experience, streamline internal processes or use AI systems to optimise internal decision-making. Be sure the application of AI is going to help, not hinder you on this journey

Also remember that AI remains in its infancy, and cannot be relied upon as a silver bullet for all operational challenges. Aim to build a sufficient base knowledge of AI capabilities today, and ensure these are contextualised within your own business requirements. This ensures that AI investments aren’t made prematurely, providing an unnecessary cost.

  1. Don’t be limited by legacy systems

Owing to the complex mix of legacy and/or siloed systems that organisations employ, they may be restricted in their ability to use real-time and AI-driven operations to drive business value. For example, IDC found that only 12% of organisations connect customer data across departments.

Amidst the ‘AI data rush’ there will be a greater need for event-driven integration, however, only an enterprise architecture pattern will ensure new and legacy systems are able to work in tandem. Without this, organisations will be prevented from offering seamless, real-time digital experiences, linking events across departments, locations, on-premises systems, IoT devices, in a cloud or even multi-cloud environment.

  • Leverage real-time technology

Keeping up with the real-time demands of AI can pose a challenge for legacy data architectures used by many organisations. Event mesh technology – an approach to distributed networks that enable real-time data sharing and processing – is a proven way of reducing these issues. By applying event-driven architecture (EDA), organisations can unlock the potential of real-time AI, with automated actions and informed decision making using relevant insights and automated actions.

By applying AI in this way, businesses can offer stronger, more personalised experiences – including the delivery of specialised offers, real-time recommendations and tailored support based on customer requirements. An example of this is in predictive maintenance, in which AI is able to analyse and anticipate future problems or business-critical failures, ahead of them affecting operations, and dedicate the correct resources to fix the issue, immediately. By implementing EDA as a ‘central nervous system’ for your data, not only is real-time AI possible, but adding new AI agents becomes significantly easier.

Ultimately, AI adoption needs to be strategic, avoiding chasing trends and focusing instead on how and where the technology can deliver true business value. Following the steps above, organisations can ensure they are leveraging the full transformative benefit of AI and driving business efficiency and growth in a data driven era.

AI can be a highly effective tool. However, its success is dependent on how it is being applied by organisations, strategically,  to meet clearly defined and specific business goals.

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Auto

Preparing for the Surge: Meeting the MCS Requirements of Electric Trucks

John Granby, Director of eTruck & Van, EO Charging and Erik Kanerva, Sales Director at Kempower

Auto electrification is moving at a rapid pace, with electric vehicles (EVs) going from a passion project for early technology adopters to the mainstream – especially when you consider the need to electrify consumer and commercial vehicles ahead of the government’s 2035 Zero Emission Vehicle mandate.

Electrification is also starting to play a vital role in public policy and commercial plans, leading to vehicle availability and a variety of improvements and increasing interest among commercial fleets’ prospective customers. As a result, all of the main car and van manufacturers have a respectable EV offering, and the eBus industry is well on its way to proposing a similarly credible offering for citizens.

Heavy-duty vehicle electrification has progressed slowly, but the pace has picked up over the last year, with several of the major truck manufacturers testing completely electric heavy trucks that are now near-ready to enter the general market.

This is a critical shift in the move towards net zero, given that heavy commercial vehicles account for around 25% of CO2 emissions from road transport emissions in the EU and approximately 6% of the region’s overall emissions. It’s a similar situation in the US, where medium and heavy-duty trucks account for around 29% of total road transport emissions or approximately 7% of the country’s total but make up fewer than 5% of all vehicles on the road.

Having clear goals and objectives in place for fleet electrification will be vital to ensuring the transport sector is on track. For example, Scania’s goal is that 50% of all vehicles it sells annually by 2030 will be electric. Despite Scania being the slowest into the market with battery electric vehicles, other vehicle manufacturers are following the same target, with Volvo Trucks setting itself a target for 50% fully electric vehicles by 2030 and the same with Renault, for example.

Meeting this ambitious goal will require the appropriate charging infrastructure in place so customers have the confidence to invest in the large-scale electrification of their fleets. That is one of the reasons why charging system manufacturer Kempower expects the commercial vehicle DC charging market in Europe and North America to have a 37% compound annual growth rate until 2030.

Trucks require substantial battery packs to provide a similar range as traditional engines, and having the right infrastructure in place to keep them regularly charged is certainly a key factor to consider when electrifying truck fleets. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), trucks will require up to 279,000 charging outlets by 2030, with 84% located in fleet hubs. By 2030, buses will require up to 56,000 charging outlets, with fleet hubs accounting for 92% of the total.

The Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN) is a global organisation that has been working on a standard for the rapid charging of trucks for several years. CharIN developed the Megawatt Charging System (MCS) concept, which serves as the foundation for the ISO and IEC standards which govern the design, installation, and operation of truck fast charging infrastructures.

The MCS is intended to standardise the quick delivery of enormous amounts of charging power to vehicles and provide stronger communication, which minimises downtime caused by unsuccessful charging events.

Customers who drive commercial vehicles follow particular driving habits. By taking advantage of the required break time from the hours-of-service restrictions governing their drivers, customers can travel further each day thanks to the increased charge rate that MCS offers. Better electrification of commercial cars is made possible by legislation that mandates that drivers take rest breaks. As a result, shorter charging durations to accommodate these breaks are beneficial.

The MCS will operate at up to 3,000A and 1,25 KV at its final development stage, delivering up to 3,75 MW of power when charging. With the backing of a significant segment of the industry, MCS is founded on an international consensus on technical standards. An internationally recognised standard is essential to promote harmonised solutions that reduce costs and boost interoperability without sacrificing safety and uptime.

Trucks on the highway are a key focus of the MCS, not only depot pricing. Large truck units operating long-haul routes and some smaller rigid trucks operating cross-border short-haul deliveries—such as logistics organisations operating deliveries between the United Kingdom and continental Europe—pay particular attention to this issue.

Most MCS charging occurs while drivers take breaks from their routes, but some depots may have a single MCS charger on site to do a flash charge if a truck needs to be turned around quickly. In order to balance this unit’s demand against other chargers on site, load management is crucial because it will require a power supply of at least 1 MW+.

Fleet operators should look to consider incorporating MCS into their whole charging ecosystem and solutions, regardless of whether they are thinking about how electrification will affect their fleet of vehicles on the road or how their depots will operate.

Adopting cutting-edge energy management technology solutions will enable effective fleet electrification, particularly at depots. Investing in effective load management technologies will be critical to maximising existing grid infrastructure capacity while decreasing the need for additional investments in generation or distribution capacity.

Investing in and deploying effective energy management technologies is the key to a smoother, more efficient shift for commercial fleet operators. They are critical in lowering energy expenses, both economically and environmentally.

Energy management solutions for charging electric fleets will also help maximise existing grid capacity, reducing the need to invest in new generation or distribution capacity. This will be an essential factor for fleet managers to consider as eTruck fleets expand and other commercial vehicle fleets, such as buses, increase demands on infrastructure.

With unprecedented energy and investment going into electrification, 2024 looks to be a pivotal year for picking up the momentum of progress around MCS in the logistics sector. If done right, it will create a shift of optimism in the market to accelerate the electrification of commercial fleets and promises to positively impact other sectors, such as marine and aviation, contributing significantly to reducing carbon emissions.

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