Cybersecurity worries boost IT spending globally

Cybersecurity is a huge issue for companies. IT budgets are finally catching up with the new reality.


cybersecurityIn the early internet days IT departments had to fight for budget until companies realised how vital IT services were for existence, let alone operation.

In recent years the emphasis has moved to digital transformation and IT budgets have relatively stagnated. This, however, will change in 2017 and has probably already changed. The cybersecurity threat means that the enterprise sector has finally had to wake up to its responsibilities.

The accompanying infographic from Computer Nerds underscores how cybersecurity concerns are well-founded. According to the company, 26% of hard drives fail within the first four years and even three years ago, 90% of companies were reporting security breaches of their websites.

That threat has magnified in the ensuring three years. According to WordPress specialists Pragmatic Web, as soon as a NEW web site goes live, it will be attacked within SIX MINUTES of launch. If that sounds bad enough, think of older web sites and those that weren’t set up with cybersecurity as a focus.

Moreover, Computer Nerds says that 78% of companies in the private sector are worried about data security. When that figure reaches 100%, cybersecurity defences will be rooted in business consciousness and there may finally be strong defences to withstand constant breaches.

I attended a cybersecurity dinner at the House of Lords last year where after a few bottles of decent wine, the UK’s leading experts laid out their hands. The world has a global cybersecurity skills shortage of more than one million people and it will take at least half a generation to fix the mess of a vulnerable infrastructure.

That the internet is infected is no longer a question. It is beginning to resemble a festering sore that is not responding to the medieval leeches currently being used to treat it.

Hopefully, increased IT budgets will mean that forthcoming treatment will be more sophisticated than these leeches or the optimistic maggots that are currently being used.

70% of freelancers were asked to work for free in 2016

The nature of money or currency may be changing, but attitudes from budget-holders seem to be hardening.


freelancersMore despair from the freelance world, where ‘free’ appears to be somewhat different than the freedom such an existence is supposed to provide.

According to Approve.io, a ‘rapid approval tool that helps freelancers collaborate with their clients’, 70% of the UK’s creative freelancers were asked to work for free last year, and 9% of those did exactly that.

Those 9% are traitors to the freelance world, either really desperate or more likely useless. Why people do this is beyond this writer. Why not just mug yourself, pistol-whip yourself and let yourself steal your own money? These are humans acting like AI machines, ‘the architects of their own gravedigging’, as Czech author Milan Kundera once wrote.

According to the survey, the majority of UK freelancers who did work for free (80%) said they did it for the experience, while under-25s were almost twice as likely to work for free as over-25s. That 25, by the way, relates to their age, not their IQ.

“I think this is a serious problem. Working on-spec is tempting when the client dangles the carrot of future commissions. It rarely works out that way and can lead to a lowering of demand for experienced, but comparatively expensive, professionals”, said Sir Cary Cooper CBE, Professor of organisational psychology health at Manchester Business School.

Rightly so, Sir Cary, granted.

Apparently photographers, of which a whopping 16% worked for free last year, are the worst culprits, along with graphic designers, illustrators video producers and, gulp, journalists.

Cities with a large concentration of tech, media and creative industries appear to have a lower percentage of freelancers willing to work for free, the best being London, Manchester and Brighton.

“Aside from the ethics of requesting free labour, businesses are doing themselves no favours by attempting to get work done on-spec. You wouldn’t walk into a hairdressers and ask for a free haircut on the promise that you’ll tell all your mates where you got your hair done,” said Charlotte Whelan, project manager at Approve.io.

Indeed. There again, maybe we should all become hairdressers, that appears to be the only business where nobody is expected to train for years, refine their craft for more years and then give it away to any idiot who asks for it.

Nearly 90% of newspaper reading is still in print

Print may be back. An exhaustive study on newspapers has surprisingly revealed that we still like to read one in our hands.


printRecently I took part in a survey about my newspaper-reading habits. As a man who never leaves the house without a newspaper under his arm, my replies were very print-friendly.

Somewhat against the odds, final findings of the report reveal that many people are (still) like me. Almost 90% of respondents feel the same. It says that time spent with 11 UK national newspapers by UK audiences, 88.5% comes via print editions, 7.49% from mobiles and only 4% from PCs.

There research shows that while print newspapers are read for an average of 40 minutes per day, online visitors to the websites and apps of those same newspapers spend an average of just 30 SECONDS per day… thot doesn’t even qualify as an attention span.

The findings combined data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the British National Readership Survey and comScore to calculate how much audience attention newspapers’ print, PC/lapto, and mobile platforms attract.

Rather more depressingly and less surprisingly, the Daily Mail has almost 30% market share, a bewildering fact of modern-day life where so-called intelligent people not only click online to read this dirge, but also pick up issues from supermarkets and newsagents.

For brands obsessed with ‘transformation’ and advertisers who seem convinced the analogue newspaper really is a dead-tree business, this research may halt them in their digital tracks. However, it may also convince others that the whole business of traditional true-though-biased-news is a corpse.

The confluence of plummeting circulation of print editions, but at the same time 90% of people preferring to read print editions rather than digital ones, means things are even worse than predicted. Will there be such a thing as digital journalism in the future? Will it ever be a business?

Newsprint appears to be much more engaging than online journalism and unless there is an unlikely reading resurgence, the consequences are demoralising. The future of newsagents may be like that of record shops, the odd specialist emporium where fans and obsessives will go.

I will be one of them, but I wonder how many others will be joining me.

One in ten UK households do not possess a single book

A new and depressing report from Aviva says that UK households have an average of 8.2 electronic devices, but 10% do not own a single book. No wonder the world’s going to pot.

bookTo say that the UK family home has changed over the past decade would be the understatement of, well, the last decade.

Mealtimes that were once the cornerstone and the hearth of conversation now resemble railway carriages where various family members, adults as well as kids and teenagers, have to be pried from using their devices to have a conversation.

This is bad enought, but a new study from Aviva says that one in 10 people say they have no hard copy books in their homes. This rises to one in five households where inhabitants are aged 18-24. The shared flat is now merely a hub for shared bandwidth.

Not a single hard copy. 10% or 20%. Nobody needs to burn books, technology has done that for us. We are sleepwalking to a future of fake news, where hard-to-manufacture analogue books are replaced by digital versions that can easily be changed.

Fake news? How about fake books? Nobody will be able to tell the difference, cultural hacking will be the new norm, every book can be discoloured, every page torn out and nobody will care.

Even other family-bonding pursuits such as board games and cards are leeching away. The average number of board games, packs of playing cards and packs of dominoes per home has plummetted, while the number of households who do not even OWN these items has risen.

On the digital dark side, the number of internet-enabled devices is steadily growing. Aviva data suggests that this figure now stands at 8.2 items across all households, rising to 10.9 in homes with children. This includes tablets, phones, smart TVs and other connected IoT devices in the so-called Smart Home.

It should be remembered that his report was commissioned by an insurance company. Books and board games are not worth insuring, thieves are unlikely to steal them unless they have a screen on them. Interest is vested in terrifying book-readers.

However, if anybody knows current home trends it’s an insurance company. Ownership is money and who knows, maybe books will return like vinyl has done before it and a iibrary will be valuable again, not dispensable.

For now, it’s just more terrible data in a world that as it transitions from analogue to digital is losing the essence of its humanity. To spite the fuckers, I’m off to my favourite bookshop, Hatchards on Piccadilly to buy a load of those beautiful books. You should do the same, and not just the 90%.

EXCLUSIVE Q&A: David Lockie, CEO Pragmatic

WordPress powers 27% of the internet and is a billion dollar market. Pragmatic Founder and CEO David Lockie explains why it will be one of the biggest tech growth areas of 2017.

pragmaticSo, tell our readers more about WordPress

WordPress is on the frontline of the war for privacy and ownership of our content and data. There’s no other platform out there that contributes anywhere near the amount of the self-owned content to the web.

News Corp just migrated all of its sites to WordPress and the platform is starting to win more business in the enterprise CMS space.

Sounds interesting, but what does that actually mean?

WordPress is the common language of the CMS world. It has grown through grassroots popularity and over the past five years has waged a guerilla war on the enterprise software space as people familiar with it migrate into larger organisations.

You’re based in Brighton, right?

Yes, there’s a lot of talent down here and the lifestyle is much better than London, as more people are beginning to realise.

Apart from recent and temporary events with the Southern Rail network to London, living and working in Brighton makes a lot of sense, not only to our employees, but also to us as a business.

Why do you think Brighton is a great place to found a tech business?

Brighton’s an awesome place to have a tech business. Even with the cursed Southern Rail franchise, there are two other operators that run the route and we can be door to door in the same time as many commuters within London.

Most key though is the tech community. Local businesses such as Brandwatch, iCrossing, Unity, SiteVisibility, PropellerNet and Brilliant Noise mean that there’s no shortage of expertise, partnership opportunities and peer support available.

Wired Sussex plays a key role in supporting and growing the industry and taking our voice to government. But key to a small business like us, we can create a stable and brilliant team, less fearful than London agencies that Google or other aggressive recruiters will poach our best talent.

So why is Pragmatic different from its competitors?

We bring proven processes, tools and systems to the table and have the results to show for it. WordPress + Pragmatic = enterprise-ready WordPress. We are one of the few WordPress agencies in the world that have the experience, capacity and capability to execute projects at that level.

Opex spends on licence fees offer a crap product with no portability and a locked-down and opaque road map. Capex, however, builds out the IP that creates a system of differentiation that’s an asset for their business going forward.

What are your plans for 2017?

2017 looks like an exciting year. Last year we grew 300% so this year we’re looking forward to a year of consolidation, structure, efficiency and effectiveness. We’ll grow, but more in profitability than headcount.

We’ve just started a very exciting programme of work that will put WordPress on steroids for our clients, bringing tools to the CMS that will give their journalists and editors a tangible competitive advantage when it comes to writing rich, engaging and on-point news/editorial.

We think our combination of vision and experience with WordPress as part of five-ten year corporate digital stacks along with value-creating delivery will give us opportunities to grow our roster of six- and seven- figure client programmes through the year.

Who are your major competitors?

In three words… Human Made, 10up and Web Dev Studios.

You are currently targeting enterprise clients, but who else do you work with?

We are bound by confidentiality clauses in some cases, but I’ll try to be specific where we can. Our largest programme of work last year was with one of the world’s largest drinks conglomerates.

We also delivered an incredible project for ITV, The National Lottery and the British Olympic Association to support the Rio Olympics. We also have key clients in financial, publishing and ecommerce sectors.

How did you get started in the WordPress business?

It started out with me freelancing, building websites from scratch for friends and family and looking for a better way to do it. I’ve made a video here about ‘becoming a successful WordPress freelancer, that kind of sums it up for me.

I actually began life as a zoologist, so it’s been a pretty whack journey from there to Pragmatic.

Give us some websites you built when you weren’t so, er, experienced

I ate beans on toast trying to build web marketplaces such as:
http://www.fuelcellmarkets.com/fuel_cell_markets/1,1,1.html
http://www.lowcarboneconomy.com/home

(Oh God, just looked at these again – wow!)