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July 2019
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Overcoming the Barrier of Inadequate Training: What Public Sector Tech Pros Need to Thrive

Sascha Giese, Head Geek™, SolarWinds

By: Sascha Giese, Head Geek, SolarWinds

A new study by SolarWinds suggests that U.K. public sector technology professionals are at an inflection point in their careers. They have one foot grounded in today’s IT-focused realities, while also setting their sights on technology that’s to come—often with some trepidation about their ability to manage it when it does arrive. SolarWinds’ IT Trends Report 2019[1] uncovers an ambitious and career-focused drive amongst the U.K.’s public sector tech pros. It suggests they have a growing desire to utilise their technology expertise and focus on their career-based learning in order to play a bigger, more influential role in their organisation’s innovation and strategy. With an understanding of the skillset and career development landscape, it’s important to note that not only is more training in these emerging areas needed—it’s desired.

Training priorities 

It’s clear that tech pros have an appetite to prioritise career development on a weekly basis. When it comes to their primary sources for training, tech pros turn to industry events/trade shows (21%), vendor training sessions (20%), internal training and/or coworkers (13%), industry publications (13%) and online communities/forums (13%). However, each of these options are regularly hindered by factors like time and cost. Over a quarter say their day-to-day IT tasks extend into time earmarked for career development. This is concerning, considering tech pros tell us that they enjoy technology skills training, with 49% finding it informative, 44% saying it’s engaging and interactive, and 20% reporting it’s not long enough.

Given the time and resources pressure on training, in the year ahead tech pros should think about approaching skills development strategically and prioritise necessary learning based on the needs of daily operations and IT environments, as well as skills that translate to career growth. They should evaluate their current environments; for example, asking themselves which leading technologies from last year have actually made their way into today’s IT environment. The trajectory from emerging, buzzword-laden technology and its real-world implementation should act as a guide for which technologies are best suited for the focus of training.

When the time comes to implement new technology to create efficiencies, there’s a steep learning curve that creates double the work. To combat this, tech pros should ask management to define the core competencies of the business as they relate to technology, and then monitor for gaps between importance and training. Is the organisation buying new technology purely for testing and experimentation or will it be business-critical? When there’s a gap between core competencies and skills in IT management, it becomes much easier to have a conversation about necessary training.

Charting a career development path

It’s possible that some of the country’s public sector technical professionals may feel as though their current IT environment doesn’t justify an investment in new skillsets. But tech pros on the fence about training should consider this: the less proactive the IT environment, the more proactive tech pros should be when it comes to personal development. To truly capitalise on the opportunities presented by emerging technologies—and to ultimately remain successful five years from now—tech pros must commit to the mindset of a lifelong learner by taking a more disciplined, proactive approach to skills and career development.

The most effective way to achieve this is to start small and set aside manageable, realistic amounts of time to invest in personal development. Learning can happen in short bursts of just five minutes; and five minutes twice a day adds up fast. By investing in learning as a lifestyle, common challenges such as finding time to sit down and complete a training module become easier to overcome.

Learning the language of business 

As technology becomes increasingly inseparable from business success, the IT department is more important than ever. There’s often a misperception amongst tech pros that more work can be accomplished on a command line rather than in PowerPoint, but the opposite is actually true: tech pros who can learn the language of business (and it is a language) will be able to successfully influence technology decisions and enhance their resumes.

The ability to translate the technological impact of a decision to business objectives will positively influence future innovation and decision-making. IT often gets asked to provide training, but they might need the training to provide training upfront. Tech pros should look for someone who can help teach them how to translate traditional IT jargon, whether it’s a technologist who has experience in business, or a business manager who can share insights and recommendations. 

This year’s survey builds on the results of the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance, which revealed tech professionals’ struggle to overcome the barrier of inadequate training, and echoing the convergence of IT roles from several years ago (de-siloing roles like SysAdmins, NetAdmins, DBAs, etc.). This year’s survey continues to suggest that the lines between managed services—either by cloud providers or outsourced—and tools that were formerly considered cloud, DevOps, and traditional IT tools, respectively, are becoming increasingly blurred.

As a result, it’s more important than ever for tech pros to embrace collaboration and feel empowered to work with other teams as needed. This holds true when it comes to knowledge sharing as well. A portion of tech pros around the world prefer to receive training primarily from colleagues, and so it’s important to remember that knowledge gained could and should be knowledge shared with peers for the greater good.

[1] The statistics quoted in this article are taken from SolarWinds’ UK Tech Pro Survey, A Look at the IT Upskilling Needs of Tech Pros Today that Will Help Transition Them into the Tech Pros of Tomorrow. The survey was conducted in December 2018 by C White Consulting. It yielded responses from 61 technology practitioners, managers, and directors in the United Kingdom from public sector small, mid-size, and enterprise companies.

Promotion for Joe after exam success

Joe Strafford

A leading building surveyor has been promoted to head the building control team at Telford-based consultancy apT just weeks after gaining a prestigious new qualification.

Joe Strafford has been appointed to lead the seven-strong building control team at apT, the Midlands’ first public sector commercial planning, development and environmental consultancy.

Joe’s promotion comes just two months after he became the first surveyor in the county to be independently accredited by Local Authority Building Control (LABC) and the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) to offer advice on fire regulations for complex buildings over 18 metres high.

Joe passed a five-hour exam introduced in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy to become an associate member of the IFE. It means he can now advise on fire safety in tall and complex buildings anywhere in England and Wales and joins a select group of specialists with the qualification.

“I am delighted by the promotion and the chance to lead such a strong building control team at apT,” said 36-year-old Joe.

“This is a really exciting time for apT. There is a huge amount of work going on around Telford as the town continues to develop in a really exciting way and we also now have the opportunity to use our expertise further afield on a consultancy basis.

“There are plenty of opportunities for the team at apT – and some challenges as well – but we know that we have the expertise and experience here to meet all of them.

“And the fact that my promotion comes so soon after gaining the IFE qualification is the icing on the cake.

“The qualification shows that we have the knowledge and know-how within apT to deal with building issues of the most complex nature to ensure that our clients achieve compliance with all regulations.

“It is an independent recognition that we have the experience, depth and breadth of knowledge to deal with any project and also an indication that Local Authority Building Control teams can often offer a much more comprehensive service than private sector competitors.”

apT, which is part of Telford & Wrekin Council, specialises in professional help and guidance for planning, highway design and building regulations.

For further information on apT Group please visit or follow @apTgroupuk on Twitter.

To contact telephone 01952 384555 or email

Gloucestershire Hospitals to deliver EPR with Allscripts

Reporter: Selena Darke

NHS Foundation Trust will retain its PAS and use the ‘clinical wrap’ approach to deploy Allscripts Sunrise™, with an ambition to achieve HIMSS EMRAM level seven within five-years.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is moving to a ‘clinical wrap’ strategy to deliver an electronic patient record (EPR) and achieve the highest levels of digital maturity within five-years.

The trust, which delivers a wide range of hospital services from Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Cheltenham General Hospital and Stroud Maternity Hospital, will implement Allscripts Sunrise Acute Care integrating with the existing patient administration system.

Mark Hutchinson, the trust’s chief digital and information officer, told GPSJ the approach would enable it to work collaboratively with its suppliers to deliver new, digital services for clinicians and patients: starting with nursing documentation, paperless outpatients, order communications and e-prescribing.

The trust’s ambition is to reach level six on the HIMSS EMRAM digital maturity model within two-years, and level seven within five-years. “In doing that, we have the intent to make a really significant improvement in terms of releasing time to care,” Hutchinson said.

“For clinicians, that will mean less time with a pen and paper in their hands, and more time working with information at their fingertips. And for patients, that will mean an improvement in the quality of the care that they receive. This is not an IT project: it is a reliability of care and safety project.”

Allscripts Sunrise Acute Care is an integrated EPR that can be deployed as a series of highly configurable modules to meet trusts’ needs.

It is already in use at high-profile NHS organisations, including Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, a global digital exemplar, and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, which is leading development of the clinical wrap approach.

Hutchinson said the system’s UK reference sites along with its flexibility and configurability had been key to his trust’s decision to deploy the system. “When this trust started its digital journey, the promise was that it would have an EPR,” he said.

“Deploying Sunrise Acute Care will deliver on that promise, because the Allscripts clinical wrap approach allows you to get straight into improving the safety and quality of care, by improving processes and removing cumbersome, potentially unsafe paper.”

Another factor in the decision was Allscripts’ open architecture and the ease with which Sunrise can interoperate with other systems.

This will enable the Gloucestershire Hospitals to feed information into Gloucestershire’s JUYI (Joining Up Your Information) portal, and to give clinicians secure access to the information it holds via a tab in the EPR; in line with the national imperative to develop IT to support joined-up, integrated care.

“We believe Sunrise is the right EPR to support the trust to deliver agile digital maturity and to deliver outstanding staff and patient experience,” said Deborah Lee, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“Along with improvements in patient outcomes and operational performance, we’re confident that our investment in the Allscripts solution, alongside our existing partnership with InterSystems who supply the Trust’s Patient Administration System, will rapidly improve the trust’s digital maturity and support our strategic ambitions”

Allscripts offers a patient administration system, the Sunrise EPR, and the dbMotion shared care record/population health management system to the UK, where nine trusts are using or deploying the EPR.

Richard Strong, Allscripts UK managing director, said: “Implementing EPRs that are open and interoperable is critical to efficient sharing of information between Gloucestershire’s main hospitals.

“Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s decision to select the Sunrise solution will position the trust to communicate effectively, improve health outcomes and drive efficiencies.”

Nearly a Fifth of U.K. Public Sector Organisations Reported Over 1,000 Cyberattacks in 2018 despite using protection

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

Nearly a Fifth of U.K. Public Sector Organisations Reported Over 1,000 Cyberattacks in 2018, Despite Over 95 Percent of Respondents Using Firewalls, Antivirus, and Malware Protection.

  • Freedom of Information request conducted by SolarWinds examines cyberattack preparedness among NHS, central government, and defence public sector organisations
  • Over a third (38 percent) of respondents experienced no cyberattacks in 2018, with the mean reported annual budget for cybersecurity being over £350,000
  • Prominent obstacles in maintaining and improving cybersecurity centred on competing priorities, budget constraints, and a lack of manpower 

SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI), a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software, today released the findings of its latest Freedom of Information (FOI) request investigating cybersecurity challenges and preparations in U.K. public sector organisations. While over a third (38 percent) of respondents claimed to have experienced no cyberattacks in 2018, compared to 30 percent who said the same for 2017, there was also an increase in the number of organisations reporting in excess of 1,000 cyberattacks. Eighteen percent of respondents said this was the case in 2018, up from 14 percent in 2017, despite the Minimum Cyber Security Standard being published in June 2018, a guideline that 98 percent of respondents were aware of.

Sascha Giese, Head Geek™, SolarWinds

Among respondents who shared the types of attacks their organisation had experienced, the most common were phishing (95 percent) and malware (86 percent), with a large step down to third place, ransomware (54 percent). Malicious targeted attacks either from an insider or from a foreign government were the least common type of attack experienced, with just three percent of respondents affected. This may explain why the most common defences in place were firewalls (98 percent), antivirus software (98 percent), and malware protection (96 percent). However, other critical parts of cybersecurity infrastructure were less pervasive. Under three-quarters of respondents used log management (73 percent) or network traffic analysis (74 percent), both tools which can be useful for monitoring unexpected activity that could be a sign of a cybersecurity weakness.

“While preparation is generally high throughout the public sector, the growth in large numbers of attacks shows that there is still significant risk,” said Sascha Giese, Head Geek, SolarWinds. “These results highlight the importance of finding simple-to-use, affordable, and scalable security solutions that can work across the varied IT environments like those in the NHS and central government, to ensure the most comprehensive protection available for these vital services.”

Finally, when asked what the biggest roadblocks to maintaining and improving cybersecurity were, the most-cited issues were competing priorities (71 percent), budget constraints (67 percent), and a lack of manpower (59 percent).

In total, 28 central government organisations, 164 NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), and the MOD responded to the Freedom of Information request. All percentages are based on the number of respondents per question who provided input, rather than the whole sample, as some organisations did not provide answers for every question.

 Key Findings 

While cyberattacks became less widespread in 2018, more organisations experienced over 1,000 attacks than in the previous year.

  • While the overall percentage of public sector respondents who experienced a cyberattack in 2018 compared to 2017 went down (38 percent experienced no cyberattacks in 2018, while 30 percent experienced none in 2017), there were also more organisations that experienced over 1,000 cyberattacks—18 percent in 2018 compared to 14 percent in 2017.
  • Most healthcare organisations (74 percent) who provided an answer to how many cyberattacks they experienced in 2017 and 2018 experienced less than 50 cyberattacks in 2018, slightly less than experienced less than 50 in 2017 (75 percent)—this seems somewhat at odds with the fact that the WannaCry outbreak was in 2017, which cost £92m and caused 19,000 appointments to be cancelled, but suggests that the attack may have been a one-off for many.
  • 83 percent of government organisations who responded on the subject of cyberattacks in 2018 had experienced in excess of 1,000 attacks in the year. This was up from 67 percent in 2017.

The majority of attacks experienced echoed consumer trends focused on phishing and malware, and protection predominantly consisted of firewalls, antivirus, and malware protection.

  • Attacks were predominantly phishing or malware—95 percent of organisations that shared the types of attack they had experienced cited phishing, and 86 percent had experienced malware.
  • The least common types of detected attacks or threats according to respondents were from malicious insider threats (three percent) or foreign governments (three percent).
  • In terms of defences, firewalls (98 percent), antivirus (98 percent), and malware protection (96 percent) were the three most common solutions deployed. 94 percent also had patch management.
    • The least common tools were log management (73 percent) and network traffic analysis (74 percent).
    • Nine percent of organisations had not invested in employee training for the whole organisation around cybersecurity, and 15 percent had not invested in additional employee training for the IT team.
  • Where respondents knew how much was allocated to cybersecurity defence budgets, most public sector organisations allocated between £100,001 – £500,000 for their cybersecurity budget, with the mean spend being over £350,000.

Limiting factors for cybersecurity maintenance and improvement were centred around resources and meeting competing priorities.

  • The main challenge experienced by public sector organisations was competing priorities (71 percent), followed by budget constraints (67 percent). Lack of manpower was third at 59 percent, followed by complexity of the internal environment at 48 percent.
  • Budget concerns were more of a problem for healthcare organisations than for central government—68 percent of NHS trusts and CCGs reported budget constraints as an issue, compared to 50 percent of central government respondents.


The Secret Lives of a Secret Agent: The Mysterious Life and Times of Alexander Wilson

The Second World War Chief of MI6 said Alexander Wilson had ‘remarkable gifts as a writer of fiction, and no sense of responsibility in using them!’ Wilson’s three year career in the Secret Intelligence Service ended when the country’s spy chiefs decided his creativity got the better of his grasp of reality. His ‘secret lives’ extended to his private life. Four wives and four families; not necessarily one after the other. In this second Edition Tim Crook unravels more of the mysteries of this extraordinary story. The first edition of his biography is the foundation of the BBC drama series ‘Mrs Wilson’ produced by and starring his award-winning granddaughter Ruth Wilson. It is eight years since Tim first told the story of the life and times of the father of his friend Mike Shannon. In the spring of 1941 Mike was only 7 years old when he said goodbye to his father, Alexander Wilson, dressed as a lieutenant colonel in the Indian Army. As the steam train pulled away from the Yorkshire railway station platform that would be the last time he ever saw him. More than six decades later Tim Crook would help unlock the secrets of his father’s life. The biography was published in October 2010 shortly before Mike passed away. Not only had he learned that his father had worked for MI6 during the Second World War, but that he had been one of the leading spy, crime and romance authors of the 1920s and 30s. At first he seemed to be a man with no beginning and no end. There was no record of his death in action in the North African desert, and there was no record of his birth in the identity his father had put on his son’s birth certificate. Mike would have to come to terms with the fact that his father had faked his own death, had lived double, triple and quadruple lives. He would be revealed as a multiple bigamist, but at the same time also a celebrated and successful author. Details of crimes and imprisonment would be mixed with the discovery of relatives and a new family he had no idea existed. The second edition includes more revelations about Wilson’s work in MI6, where his talent for invention is said to have done more harm than good, his role as a university chief in British India where he enjoyed great success despite getting the job with a fake CV, and more spy novels under a pseudonym that indicates that he must have loved the son he abandoned. Fabulist and multiple bigamist, or patriotic author whose imagination blurred the lines between truth and fantasy? The new edition gives focus to the four remarkable women in his life. Wilson created a chief of a fictional British Secret Service, Sir Leonard Wallace, who appears substantially based on the first real ‘C’ of MI6, Captain Mansfield Smith-Cumming. The story involves the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, the Security Service, MI5, and two World Wars. It is a story of love, betrayal, broken hearts, terrorism, patriotism, and a triumph of human dignity on the part of the women and children in his life.

Publisher: Kultura Press
ISBN: 9781908842060
Number of pages: 248
Dimensions: 234 x 150 mm
Edition: 2nd Revised edition

Imprivata publishes new white paper on Digital Transformation in the NHS

Doctor on computer

Practical paper gives NHS Trusts insight into making Digital Transformation a reality from the Frontline to Leadership.

England – Imprivata®, the healthcare digital Identity and access management company, has published a new white paper entitled: Digitally transforming Health and Care in the NHS – A practical guide. The white paper outlines the benefits of Digital Transformation (DX) and gives practical demonstrations of how DX has helped Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the role of Global Digital Exemplars (GDEs), and closes with recommendations for planning, implementation and evaluation of DX in health care.

Author of the white paper, Daniel Johnston MRes, RN, Clinical Workflow Specialist & Clinical Safety Officer at Imprivata said; “The NHS has arguably reached a crossroads where it is embarking on a paradigm shift in culture in order to deliver 21st century care to the population as described in the Topol Report and deemed necessary in Dr Watchner’s report. Empowering clinicians and care-givers with technology is a major component in achieving this.  When it comes to DX we have seen time and again that the most successful projects are those that are led by the clinicians and care-givers, working in partnership with the technology vendors to ensure that the solutions delivered work for the NHS Trust, the workforce and, perhaps most importantly, for the patients.”

Imprivata recently partnered with the GDE Nursing & Midwifery Learning Network and the Chief Nursing Information Officer (CNIO) Network which held its inaugural meeting in Cambridge on 20 March.  The CNIO Network is a new initiative designed to provide a platform for the Nursing community to share experiences and learn from each other, particularly around the practical aspects of digital transformation. 

Johnson added; “The Nursing workforce is a huge and influential group within the NHS.  If DX is to be fully realised and the merits of technology are to directly benefit patients, their families and frontline care providers, then nursing leadership require significant opportunities to invest in staff development and deployment of new technologies to successfully deliver innovation in the clinical setting.”

For a copy of the Imprivata white paper – visit the Imprivata website: Digitally transforming Health and Care in the NHS – A practical guide

Eighty Nine Percent of Organisations have Experienced a Data Breach, with Almost Two Thirds a Direct Result of Human Error Almost half of organisation’s remote workers have knowingly put corporate data at risk of a breach

Reporter: Allan Roach

Apricorn, the leading manufacturer of software-free, 256-bit AES XTS hardware-encrypted USB drives, today released new research highlighting the growing threats posed by mobile and remote workers. The research found that eighty nine percent of surveyed organisations have experienced a data breach, and human error is still the prevailing cause.

Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents noted that human error was the main cause of a data breach within their organisation – be it mobile workers, unintentional error, or employees with malicious intent.  A lack of encryption and phishing emails also ranked in the top five main causes. This parallels earlier findings from a Twitter poll of 12,500 users carried out by Apricorn in February which found that humans, whether through malicious intent or unintentional error, were almost twice the threat to personal data than technology itself. This demonstrates that businesses need to be investing more time and resources into educating and supporting their employees, especially those working remotely, rather than continually financing new technologies to solve their security challenges.

Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn

Almost half of organisations’ (47%) remote workers have knowingly put corporate data at risk of a breach, and over a third (34%) of respondents stated that their organisation’s mobile/remote workers don’t care about security – a staggering sixteen percent increase compared with findings from the previous year.

“It’s unfathomable to think that even with GDPR now in full swing, employees, and remote workers in particular, have such disregard for the security of corporate data they are responsible for and the risk they pose.  To see the numbers increasing year on year, demonstrates the dire state of organisations’ data security. Be it ignorance, defiance, or just simply a lack of care, employees are failing to engage even the most basic security measures, with no consideration for the consequences of their actions, or inaction in most circumstances”, commented Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn.

When questioned on the biggest problems associated with implementing a cyber security plan for remote/mobile working, thirty percent of respondents stated that managing all of the technology employees require for mobile working is too complex. Just under a quarter of respondents (21%) stated that they cannot be certain that their data is adequately secured for remote/mobile working, with fourteen percent highlighting that they have no control over where company data goes and where it is stored.  However, this a massive improvement on previous years as this percentage continues to decrease, where in 2018 it was twenty seven percent, and in 2017 thirty eight percent admitted to having no control over where company data goes and is stored.

Additionally, half of the organisations surveyed expect that mobile and remote workers will expose their business to a breach, showing a huge mistrust in their employees’ ability to keep data secure. Organisations should identify corporately approved, hardware encrypted devices that are provided to staff with a justified business case, and whitelisted on the IT infrastructure, blocking access to any non-approved media.

“Organisations need to build a security-first culture to protect data on the move and limit the risks posed by human error. Employees need to be aware of the risks facing them and the serious implications of data loss for their employer”, Fielding added.

Worse still, IT decision makers trust third parties to look after business-critical data more than they trust their own colleagues, with over fifty percent saying they trusted third parties with their critical business data, but they are only provided with access to the data they require or, all the data they share with them is encrypted.

“The fact that organisations have more trust in third parties than their own employees is alarming. If businesses invested more time in educating employees and enforcing the necessary security policies to ensure compliance with data protection regulations, they would find that securing corporate data would be a much less taxing and worrisome process”, Fielding concluded.

SolarWinds: Public Sector Tech Pros Need to Develop Skills to Confidently Manage Environments by 2024

Reporter: Selena Darke

SolarWinds Finds 71 Percent of U.K. Public Sector Tech Pros Need to Develop Skills to Confidently Manage Environments by 2024; Nearly 80 Percent Lack Time or Budget to Train.

  • SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow examines confidence, current and future skillsets, career development, and barriers to career success
  • Tech pros still prioritise hybrid IT and security and look to develop deeper understanding in areas like AI and data science
  • According to nearly 80 percent of tech pros, more training, time, and budget is needed to develop skills to manage environments in the next three to five years

SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI), a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software, today released the findings of the SolarWinds®IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow.This year’s annual report studies the state of skills and career development for technology professionals—meaning anyone who manages on-premises or public/private cloud infrastructures, hybrid IT environments, or SaaS-based applications, as well as managed service/managed security service providers (MSP/MSSP)—revealing they have one foot grounded in today’s hybrid IT realities while also setting their sights on emerging technology.

Specifically, U.K. public sector tech pros have prioritised systems and infrastructure, security management, and hybrid IT skills development in the past 12 months. When it comes to the next three to five years, they are looking to develop skills in areas like security management and data science and analytics, while understanding that keeping up with technology innovation and garnering management, leadership and strategic planning skills will be key to their career path. However, without improvement in time and budget constraints, the majority of tech pros (71 percent) say they will be unable to confidently manage future innovations. This reality ultimately puts public sector organisations performance and ability to serve constituents at risk, making the prioritisation of skills and career development for tech pros paramount.

“Recent history has proven that there is a direct correlation between technology and how the public sector serves and protects its constituents,” said Joe Kim, executive vice president and global chief technology officer, SolarWinds. “The results of this year’s IT Trends Report highlight that organisations need to focus even more on developing these professionals charged with running and pioneering technologies. By removing day-to-day barriers, arming technology pros with the right technology and management tools, and prioritising skills and career development in the IT budget, tech pros can be better equipped for the future and help ensure the stability of the institutions we depend on.”

“The findings are also in line with our view that the most critical problem we need to help tech pros solve today is the reality of the hybrid IT landscape—this applies to all tech pros whether on-premises, managing hybrid infrastructures, SaaS-based, or MSPs,” added Kim. “The way SolarWinds has always addressed and will continue to address these realities is through our deep connection to tech pros across the IT infrastructure. We are committed to understanding the needs of our customers and making their jobs easier as technology continues to evolve.”

2019 Key Findings 

The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow explores confidence, current and future skillsets, career development, and barriers to career success to provide a clear understanding of how public sector tech pros and the organisations they serve can improve to better manage future technology realities. Key findings show that:

The majority of technology professionals are not fully confident they have all the skills needed to manage their environments into the near future, especially when it comes to emerging tech.

  • 71 percent of all tech pros surveyed are not “completely confident” in having all the necessary skills to successfully manage their IT environments over the next three to five years—even though 95 percent of tech pros have worked to develop a skill over the past 12 months.
  • When it comes to the idea of implementing or managing specific technologies, emerging tech is a pain point (despite how much mind share these buzzworthy technologies get in headlines). The top three technologies tech pros feel unequipped to manage with their current skillsets are:
    • 1. Blockchain (56 percent)
    • 2. AI (51 percent)
    • 3. Quantum computing (49 percent)
      • According to the Gartner® list of strategic technology trends that have the potential to disrupt and are on the verge of becoming more widely used in the next five years, AI, blockchain and quantum computing rank in the top 10.
    • There is a great opportunity for tech pros to increase their knowledge of these technologies and to have productive conversations with organisations on the reality of implementation in the near future.

Tech pros will continue building skills in daily operations with an eye toward areas like data science.

  • In the past 12 months, tech pros have prioritised skills in systems and infrastructure management (51 percent), security management (SIEM, policies, compliance, 48 percent), and hybrid IT deployment/management (46 percent).
  • In the next three to five years, the top two skills tech pros plan to develop are security management (57 percent) and data science and analytics (39 percent).
    • This is in line with what tech pros say will be most important to their organisations’ transformation over the next three to five years (by weighted rank): SIEM and threat intelligence.
    • Tech pros’ instincts are correct when it comes to their top skillset areas as they are expected to see continued growth, according to Gartner:
      • Gartner research analysts estimate that global revenue for the information security market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8 percent between 2017 and 2022, reaching US $143 billion in constant currency terms.
  • Hybrid IT deployment monitoring and management rounds out the top three skillsets tech pros plan to develop in the next three to five years.

Tech pros say cloud and/or hybrid IT, automation and/or orchestration, and AI are the key technologies for career development, which will help achieve higher goals like innovation.

  • Tech pros say the most important technologies for their career development are (by weighted rank) aligned with the top three technologies for organisations’ transformation over the next three to five years):
    • 1. Cloud and/or hybrid IT (66 percent)
    • 2. SIEM and/or threat intelligence (56 percent)
    • 3. Automation and/or orchestration (52 percent)
  • When it comes to career development goals over the next three to five years, tech pros will look to prioritise (by weighted rank):
    • 1. Technology innovation (59 percent)
    • 2. Management/leadership skills (people management) (43 percent)
    • 3. Strategic planning (39 percent)
    • IT security protocol and/or processes and improving end-user experience round out the top five career development goals for the next three to five years.

Tech pros have an appetite to prioritise career development on a weekly basis but are hindered by factors like time and cost.

  • Nearly eight in 10 tech pros (77 percent) say their day-to-day IT tasks extend into time earmarked for career development, with 31 percent saying this always happens.
  • This is alarming, considering tech pros enjoy technology skills training, with 49 percent finding it informative, 44 percent saying it’s engaging and interactive, and 20 percent reporting it’s not long enough.
  • Currently, tech pros engage in IT skills training and/or career development programs ranging from a few times a year (29 percent) to monthly (29 percent) and quarterly (13 percent); however, if there were no schedule or workload restrictions, most (35 percent) would prefer weekly training.
  • Tech pros cite time and availability (45 percent) and cost (29 percent) as the biggest barriers affecting their current ability to participate in IT skills training and career development programs at the frequency they would like.
  • When it comes to their primary sources for training, tech pros turn to:
    • 1. Industry events/tradeshows (21 percent)
    • 2. Vendor training sessions (20 percent)
    • 3. My organisation and/or coworkers (13 percent); industry publications (13 percent); online communities/forums (13 percent)
  • However, the ideal delivery format for IT skills training according to tech pros is (by weighted rank):
    • 1. Self-guided online course
    • 2. In-person workshop/user conference (full-day)
    • 3. Webinar

To explore and interact with all of the 2019 findings, please visit the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, a dynamic web experience that presents the study’s findings by region and additional insights into the data, as well as charts, graphs, and socially shareable elements.

The findings of this year’s report are based on a survey fielded in December 2018, which yielded responses from 61 technology practitioners, managers, and directors in the United Kingdom from public sector small, mid-size, and enterprise organisations. All regions studied in 2019, as reported on the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, were North America, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, with 966 respondents across all geographies combined.

Additional Resources

Past SolarWinds IT Trends Reports

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JCRA advice on optimal strategies to achieve best outcome in hedging

Jackie Bowie, Group CEO, JCRA

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

Following the recent news that Croydon Council is considering hedging the currency risk in its pension fund, Jackie Bowie, chief executive officer at independent hedging advisory JCRA offers her view on optimal strategies to achieve the best outcome.

Jackie told GPSJ: “All councils owning foreign assets in their pension funds are exposed to foreign currency risk. Given the demise of Sterling over the past three years, these assets are now worth more in Sterling terms. Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016 the US dollar and Euro are approximately 12% stronger. So, should councils now be locking in gains with currency hedges if they haven’t done so already?

“Overall, funds should not make a currency hedging decision based solely around a single event, such as Brexit, and the decision should definitely not be driven by a market view. Macroeconomic events will always crop up in different guises. Some, like Brexit, will be known events while others will take the market by surprise. Therefore, funds need to ask themselves whether they are willing to tolerate currency risks that can significantly impact the performance of the fund, or whether they will evaluate the full extent of the exposure and design a hedging strategy to manage it.

“When deciding whether to hedge your exposure, it is crucial to evaluate the cost of hedging against the risk, especially if the foreign assets are expected to be held for a long time. This is when interest rate differentials come into play. Currently, hedging Euro assets back into Sterling benefits the value of the portfolio by approximately 1.3% per annum. Euro interest rates are in negative territory while UK rates are positive. However, if a council owns US dollar denominated assets, then hedging the FX risk of these investments will come at a cost as US interest rates are higher than those in the UK. Currently that cost is around 1.75% per annum.

“There are lots of stories about hedging programmes ‘gone wrong’, but currency hedging reduces risk back to the currency denomination of the pension fund, which allows the success of the fund to be dictated by the performance of the assets that you have invested in, rather than unwanted risks.

“Hedging the FX risk of foreign-held assets requires considerable expertise. Independent and impartial advice is available to help you navigate all the options and to ensure that the right strategy is in place for your pension fund. After a thorough evaluation, the trustees of a council’s pension fund may decide not to hedge; however, this will be an informed decision and ensure that the currency exposure to any future events will not come as a surprise.”


Reporter: Allan Roach

UK market innovator Gemserv has launched proposals to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). A new industry-wide EV Governance Framework (EVGF) will help boost consumer confidence in EVs, address market failures and provide a forum to engage market actors, helping ensure the UK realises the full benefits of the EV revolution.

The consultation comes as pressure mounts on the UK to meet air quality and climate change targets.  Much of the UK has illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide mostly from diesel vehicles and last year the High Court ruled for the third time that the government has failed to produce a lawful plan to tackle air pollution.  Carbon emissions from transport must also be brought under control if the UK is to meet its climate change targets to reduce emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.

EVs have huge potential to help address these challenges, and the government has pledged that all new cars and vans must be zero emission by 2040. Yet only 2.2% of new registrations last year were ultra-low emission vehicles.

Trevor Hutchings, Director of Strategy and Communications at Gemserv, commented:

“The uptake of EVs needs to accelerate significantly for the UK to meet air quality and climate change targets. The challenges facing those in the market are complex and significant, and require sustained action in order to achieve a swift and viable transition to EVs.

Rather than relying on government intervention, this is an opportunity for industry to step-up and grip the issues holding back the EV market, and to reap the economic benefits from a world-leading transition to low carbon transport.  We are calling on all organisations across the EV market to respond to our ideas and determine the best approach.”

The EVGF comprises common rules and standards – such as on smart charging and data sharing – to help the market operate more efficiently, championing innovation, and ensuring consumer protections and redress. It includes a digital platform powering a new marketplace, a compliance tool, and will be overseen by an industry-led forum, replacing the need for government to introduce prescriptive regulation.

To take part in the consultation, go to

SWARCO teams up with SRL Traffic Systems


SWARCO and SRL Traffic Systems have agreed a significant new collaboration in the Variable Message Sign (VMS) industry.

SRL have purchased 100 mobile VMS from SWARCO in a deal valued in excess of £2.25 million, representing a significant development for the UK market.

The solar-powered signs are equipped with energy efficient LEDs capable of displaying full colour text and images with no restrictions. SRL will be managing the signs via SWARCO’s intelligent Zephyr solution that enables messages to be set from anywhere and at any time, remotely.

Scheduled messages can be programmed or emergency messages displayed with ease. Zephyr also enables each of the mobile units to be located and tracked via GPS, as well as monitoring power consumption and supply levels and other essential operating data.  The solution also allows information from external data sources, such as journey time through roadworks and flood warnings, to be displayed.

Alison Spooner, Commercial Director at SRL Traffic Systems, says ensuring quality for its customers is vital: “It’s our priority to provide our customers with the best products and technology available. SWARCO’s systems deliver reliability, flexibility and ease of use.”

The VMS are assembled at SWARCO Traffic’s production facility in Richmond, North Yorkshire and are delivered to SRL’s two dedicated VMS hub depots from where they are distributed to one of their 24 hire division depots.

“We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality VMS in the industry, as well as developing innovative and new technologies,” says Andrew Walker, Business Development Manager at SWARCO Traffic. “SRL is a highly valued customer, with a unique nationwide route to market, and we are delighted to be their chosen VMS supplier and will support them in delivering the highest-quality solutions. We see this is as the beginning of a long-term collaboration between two best-in-class organisations.”

SRL Traffic Systems is the UK’s leading manufacturer of portable and temporary traffic equipment to the traffic management industry, it owns and operates Europe’s largest traffic light hire fleet, and this initial investment by SRL is expected to be followed by additional investment in the near future.

“SRL’s aim is to grow this VMS division to 500 signs as quickly as we can through our well-known pricing and support structure and providing our customers with increased opportunities in the industry. For both SRL and SWARCO it is exciting times,” Alison concludes.

The Security Event: The Must-Visit Commercial & Residential Security Exhibition for 2019 and Beyond

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

The Security Event is a major new exhibition taking place from 9-11 April at the NEC Birmingham, created for the commercial and residential security market.  The event brings together a world-class education programme, market leaders and industry experts, to make it the most hotly anticipated exhibition for UK security professionals in 2019.

Hosted by Western Business Exhibitions (WBE), part of Nineteen Group and powered by Security Essen, The Security Event offers the opportunity to bring together the best and brightest the industry has to offer.  Take advantage of free entrance, free parking and free networking drinks at the show.

An event designed by the industry, for the industry

The Security Event has been developed with support from a key group of the industry’s major players, to deliver a world-class exhibition dedicated to UK security professionals, installers and integrators.  It is proud to have support of its ten founding partners – Anixter, ASSA ABLOY, Avigilon, Comelit, Dahua, Honeywell, TDSi, Texecom, Tyco and Videcon. This level of involvement ensures the exhibition covers the latest trends and innovations whilst addressing the evolving challenges facing the industry today.

The event has already created a buzz within the industry. Gareth Ellams, Group Sales Director at ASSA ABLOY told GPSJ: “We believe The Security Event is exactly what the UK security industry needs and are excited to come on board as a founding partner. At ASSA ABLOY, we are looking forward to the opportunity to engage directly with security professionals as well as end users, to present our industry-leading solutions.”

Francesca Boeris, Managing Director of Comelit commented: “Comelit are extremely excited to become a founding partner of The Security Event 2019. The events concept and UK focus aligns perfectly with Comelit’s aims moving forwards. We look forward to showcasing Comelit’s constant innovation and friendly technology to the UK Security Market at the NEC in 2019.”

Mick Goodfellow, GM Honeywell Security EMEA added: “Honeywell Security is delighted to be joining The Security Event as a founding partner. This event provides an excellent opportunity to showcase our leading-edge security portfolio and in a location that allows us to enhance our relationships with our installer base.”

Leading global security companies already confirmed

Visitors to The Security Event will have the opportunity to meet with many of the world’s leading security providers.  Big-name providers already confirmed include: 2N, Advancis, ASSA ABLOY, Avigilon, Anixter, Bold Communications, Brivo, BT Redcare, CDVI, Comelit, ComNet, Controlsoft, Cop Security, CQR Security, Credit Card Keys, Dahua, Deister, Eagle Eye Networks, eLocker, ESP, Fastlane Turnstiles, Fujifilm, GJD, Gallagher, Genie Access, Honeywell, ICS Security, Luminite, IDIS, Insafe, MaxxOne, Morse Watchmans, RISCO, Selectamark, SKS, Suprema, TDSi, Texecom, Traders Warehouse, Tyco, Winsted, Videcon, Visual Management Systems, Zitko and more.

A tailored seminar programme

The Security Event will welcome high-profile speakers such as Martin Gill, Professor of Criminology and Philip Ingram MBE former Senior Intelligence and Security Officer. Martin Gill will be chairing a Keynote Panel offering insights direct from research on the trends impacting security installers and integrators, conducted on behalf of The Security Event. The session aims to explore the ongoing challenges within the security sector, how these are perceived, their impacts and in what ways might this determine who thrives and who does not.

Addressing the ever-growing cyber threats organisations now face, Philip Ingram will chair a panel entitled – ‘Convergence: The challenges for installers and integrators in the increasingly cyber enabled age’ covering important restrictions, threats and ultimately considerations which virtual platforms present to the security industry.

Throughout the three-day event, The Security Event’s Innovation Theatre will feature presentations from some of the innovative manufacturers on the cutting edge of their field, covering topics such as CCTV, access control, integration platforms, automation, intelligent locking systems. In addition to their exhibition presence, all ten founding partners will be welcomed into the Innovation Theatre, hosting seminars on a broad range of current, relevant topics to industry.

Seminar highlights from our founding partners include:

  • The door was open…: a look at the cyber gaps in your building systems – Tyco
  • Using digital services to add value to intruder alarms – Texecom
  • Deliver Business Efficiencies by deploying innovative integrated security systems – TDSi
  • The revolution created by Cloud based security management – Honeywell Security & Fire
  • Using technology and AI innovations to improve local public services – Dahua

A range of sessions covering vital industry updates, standards, regulations and business advice from leading bodies including ASIS, The Security Institute, SSAIB and the FSA will also be presented in the Security in Practice Theatre, available for all visitors as part of their free admission.

The Security Event is also pleased to confirm that Linx International Group will be sponsoring the on-site Technical Seminar Theatre, offering practical training tips and guidance for security installers and integrators. Linx and PerpetuityArc provide courses and training primarily aimed at our end-user community, such as security & risk management training programmes whilst Tavcom Training are an award-winning training provider of security systems. The Group has also launched The Register of Certified Technical Security Professionals (CTSP) designed to raise professional standards in the security and fire industry.

Even more value from your visit with co-located events

The Security Event is co-located alongside three other highly successful and established exhibitions from the WBE portfolio: The Fire Safety Event, The Health & Safety Event and The Facilities Event.

One Industry. Two Unique Audiences. The best of both worlds.

The acquisition of WBE by Nineteen Group at the end of November 2018 creates an unrivalled exhibition portfolio for the UK security market, with two complementary security events focused on two unique audiences. With International Security Expo focused on serving Government and End Users, The Security Event is ideally placed to deliver the UK’s number one channel focused event for the UK commercial and residential security market.

Following this announcement, Andy Croston, Owner/Director at Videcon Ltd voices his support for The Security Event, “As one of the first Founding Partners to come on board we saw the huge potential of this exhibition from the very beginning. Now with the support and resources of Nineteen behind them, we’re certain The Security Event will deliver exactly what the commercial security market has been waiting for”.

Tristan Norman, Event Director of The Security Event sums up to GPSJ why the security industry should be excited, “It is not often that the security sector gets to experience a brand-new event of this type and size. There has clearly been demand for a fresh event and we are enjoying tremendous support from the security community since announcing it. We believe this is a ‘must see’ event for anyone and everyone in the UK security industry and are excited to welcome visitors and exhibitors to Birmingham in the Spring.”

To find out more about The Security Event, please visit:


An innovative approach to facilitating a long-term solution to people’s need for care support has been launched by Closomat.

The Palma Life offering enables local authorities to achieve best value. It combines, in a one-off payment, supply and commissioning of a Closomat Palma Vita wash dry toilet, plus a total 10 years’ service & maintenance.

It means the cost of the equipment, and its lifetime servicing and maintenance is addressed in one, single cost, often as part of a Disabled Facilities Grant. This eliminates all the associated issues with funding and co-ordinating of future service and maintenance, with all the associated liaison with client, and administrative time and paperwork. It gives clients peace of mind that their equipment is appropriately covered. It gives a full ‘fit and forget’ solution for dignified, independent toileting, reducing or even eliminating the need for care intervention- for less than £1/day.

“This is the first time that the concept of purchasing a piece of equipment, often as part of a Disabled Facilities Grant, with service & maintenance included in one price, has been available for a shower/wash dry toilet,” says Mark Sadler, Closomat Sales Manager.

“Initial reaction from social housing providers and local authorities is wholly positive. They appreciate that such equipment is life changing, but also essential to daily life, so needs to be serviced & maintained. An offering such as Palma Life means the whole cost can be incorporated into the initial DFG. It gives peace of mind to provider and client, for years to come, especially as the service & maintenance is carried out by our own engineers, not contracted out to a third party.”

Closomat’s Palma Vita is already the most popular wash dry toilet to be installed to enable clients to go to the toilet on their own, with dignity. It is proven to offer the best wash and dry performance available.

Closomat WCs are also proven to be durable: there are many still in daily use 30 years’ after being installed.

Closomat was the first company to introduce shower toilets into the UK, almost 60 years ago. Uniquely, it is the only shower toilet company based in Britain, with British manufacture and full customer support before, during and after sales. Its uniqueness extends further: it is the only company in the sector to have its own, dedicated, nationwide team of service engineers, to commission every unit and deliver timely rectification of any issues (subject to the appropriate service agreement).

For further information see: Closomat, tel: 0161 969 1199;;;; twitter: @closomatuk

WPS Launches Ticketless Parking and Validation Technology at Traffex

WPS, one of the UK’s leading Parking Equipment Manufacturers, is to launch two major technologies that will further its ability to offer the best solution for all parking environments.

Its new ticketless parking solution uses state-of-the-art ANPR technology that incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver extremely reliable and highly-accurate reading rates. The AI ‘learns’ the more it reads, therefore becoming even more reliable once installed.

As a part of WPS’ proven ParkID™ software and utilising ParkAdvance™ hardware, the ticketless solution provides all of the features that users have come to expect. These include: a fully IP-based operating architecture ensuring the system is future proof and able to integrate with all technologies both now and in the future; renowned system reliability; and comprehensive reporting capabilities informing on revenue and parking usage data. The equipment also benefits from the support and expertise of WPS’ profssional and highly-skilled engineering and installation team.

Simon Jarvis, Managing Director of WPS in the UK, says there is a place for both ticketless and ticketed parking solutions: “Our choice of ticketed and ticketless parking from one core system enables us to tailor a solution that suits its environment,” he explains, “and because all of our solutions exploit the same technology at their heart, our customers can trial a ticketless approach with limited risk; a modular switch to ticketed operation is painless if they find ticket free operation is not completely optimal for their needs.”

WPS will also announce details of a new validation platform, ValID™ that meets the need for an intelligent and genuinely flexible large-scale parking validation solution to satisfy the needs of both the retail community and local authorities alike. It enables any retailer or leisure provider to offer and fund controlled, discounted parking in town centres, while also supporting the local authority in bringing value trade and spend to retailers, restaurants, cafes, hotels and other leisure providers.

Developed in-house by WPS engineers and Cheshire West and Chester Council (the Council trialling the system), retailers can quickly and easily enrol online as a participating validator, pay online in advance for validation ‘credit’ and manage their pre-paid accounts; the system also provides a management backend for the Council to control clients, build reports and provide insights into usage.

Simon says that it provides a solution not met by any other validation technology and strikes the necessary balance between retailers’ desire to offer free parking to attract custom and local authorities concern that free parking is difficult to control and easy to abuse:

“Rather than offering blanket discounted or free parking to everyone regardless of what custom they bring, the ValID system means that discounting can be selectively targeted at those who are spending in our towns. It also provides a simple, low admin system for councils to pre-collect validation revenue” he explains.

“We are extremely excited to showcase how this technology can provide a highly-efficient way for large numbers of retailers and leisure providers to offer parking validation, and not just the larger and more well-established brands.”

WPS will exhibit on parent company Dynniq’s stand, where a wide range of dynamic, high-tech and innovative integrated mobility and energy solutions and services will be showcased.

Traffex 2019 – Birmingham NEC, 2-4 April