Can avatars substitute for colleagues in video-conferencing?

‘Location liberation’ Not Microsoft-speak but all part of the video-conferencing, telepresence, webinar technological revolution. The latest development – out of Japan – is a somewhat creepy tele-operated android, which apparently helps you to actually ‘feel’ the presence of another person. This must-read BBC story says, “Professor Ishiguro’s system uses a motion-tracking webcam to transmit your voice,…


SMEs and the General Election

 Microsoft hosted the latest quarterly SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) Advisory Panel a couple of weeks ago, and the topic was – not unnaturally – the possible implications of the election on small businesses. Panellists included: Robert Epstein, Head of Small Business, Microsoft SMB UK Stephen Pegge, Communications Director, Lloyds TSB Commercial Stephen Alambritis, Head…


FSB Annual Conference online resources

If you missed the FSB’s annual conference you might want to browse the website  for news and resources stemming from the two-day event last week. You’ll find videos of keynote speakers’ speeches, including Lord Mandelson, Rt Hon Alex Salmond and George Osbourne. Plus policy issues, publications and the FSB’s General Election Manifesto.  


Manufacturing & production moving back to UK?

I caught an interesting item on BBC breakfast news this morning, on a Nottinghamshire-based manufacturer of children’s safety harnesses which has moved production back to the UK from China. With inflation and labour costs increasing – and forecast to rise significantly over the coming year – production costs in China are no longer attractive and…


Reminder! Tax Return online deadline Sunday 31 January

If you haven’t sent your Tax Return to HM Revenue & Customs yet (editor’s note: yes, that includes me!), you’ll need to be quick, or you may get a £100 penalty. Make sure you visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa and file your 2008/09 Self Assessment Tax Return online by 31 January.   Why not do it today and get…


New Year bugs and snow – are you prepared?

How many of you remember the millennium bug crisis? When no-one in IT was entirely sure whether or not computers would seamlessly roll over into 2000 or just sit darkly on the desk, refusing to turn on? I was organising IT events in London at the time and Y2K was big business. 2010 has arrived without any…


BBC small business recession tracker October update

The October update on tracking small businesses through the recession is up on the BBC website today. “A solid month” seems to be the overall feeling, with all the retail firms reporting a rise in sales. Here are a few snippets from the report – there are some very positive indicators. David Groocock from the…


2009 National Enterprise Awards winners

Best Website, Combating Worklessness, Customer Focus, Innovation and Unsung Hero were among the awards announced by the NFEA (National Enterprise Network) earlier this week. Winners were chosen by an external judging panel, including Ann Carter Gray, Strategic Partnerships, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Alex McWhirter, Assistant Director, Business at Yorkshire Forward….


Microsoft UK launches 'Britain Works'

Recognising that business needs to do all it can to help people during this recession, Microsoft UK has launched a campaign to help 500,000 people into work by 2012.  Through a combination of a new national apprenticeship scheme, targeted skills and employability training and a new job matching service, Microsoft will work with its partners, NGOs and…


Swine flu warning to businesses

Without wishing to be in any way alarmist, swine flu is creeping its way across the country and, according to a story on the BBC website, the Federation of Small Businesses is warning that too few companies are making contingency plans against its spread. Any potential or real swine flu victim – plus their relatives –…