18 Jun 2013
I admit it.
This is a shameless attempt to get sponsorship money out of as many of you generous people as I can.
Because I am the only channel journalist in a large group of tech journos doing the Acer Three Peaks challenge next month.
And I don't want the channel to look tight!
Thanks to the generosity of some lovely people (thank you to you all) I'm already on £170, but ideally I'd like to raise more than £500. And I've only got three weeks to do it.
We are raising money for a very worthy cause - the UK Mountain Rescue team - made up entirely of volunteers who really do help to save lives. It is a charity that is often ignored, but one that does a very worthy job.
Being fiercely competitive is something I cannot help, and I really don't want any of the other tech journos to raise more than me.
If you relish the idea of me red-faced and struggling (I didn't really write that story did I?) as I schlep my way up three of the UK's highest mountains in three days, please dig deep and help me smash my target. I'll be ever so grateful :o)
For anyone willing to part with a few pounds, the place to visit and sponsor me is right here.
Thanks in advance!
12 Jun 2013
I've been hunting around for something new to write this week and a conversation we were having on the newsdesk about various people being called 'Sir' or 'Lord' struck a nerve.
What gives anyone the right to expect someone else to bow or scrape to them because they have a fancy title bestowed on them?
Frankly it doesn't impress me if someone is a Lord or a Sir, or in fact both. Lordsir? Sirlord? The latter sounds like a mispronounced steak dish. "I'll have the sirlord, please."
Half of the peerages awarded are hereditary (something I don't agree with) and the others such as "knighthood for services to entertainment" or "football management" - why exactly should that make someone a sir?
In this world of celebrity obsession - where more often than not, highly paid individuals are knighted for just doing their overpaid job - Sirs are two a penny.
It is the same in business with fancy/schmanzy titles - I have certainly come across some long-winded titles in my looooong career on CRN (13 years in August!) - some of them can barely fit on a business card.
But at the end of the day it boils down to what you can actually do. If you don't have any discernable skills, but a very long title - I personally don't think it stands you in good stead.
Give me a Ronseal title anyday - allowing you to do exactly what it says on the tin, and do it well.
So I'd love to hear from you my valued reader(s) - what is the most ridiculous business title you have heard of recently. Without naming names of course!
03 Jun 2013
Now as someone who prides myself on not taking many sick days in my career, an email I recieved today made me quite annoyed.
Although as a disclaimer, the research - carried out by hronline - questioned 826 people - so hardly a huge proportion of the working populce!
However 69 per cent of those questioned admitted to 'pulling a sickie' in the last year, and 87 per cent of those would have no hesitation in doing so again. And 62 per cent of the original figure don't feel guilty about faking illness.
I've recently had to spend a few days at home because I've not been well and I'm still recovering as I write this. I've managed to work for the majority of the time apart from one day when I literally could not think straight - and I can say it is not something that I would choose to do.
I have found it frustrating and annoying because I haven't been able to do what I want to do. Especially over the weekend.
I've also seen people close to me struck down with serious illness and their main goal was to get back to work as soon as possible.
Why you would fake an illness when you are perfectly healthy, is beyond me.
Some of the excuses used are pathetic as well - "I get vertigo every time I get off the toilet", "I caught a cold from my cat" (what?!!), "someone on the bus coming into work had chickenpox so I returned home".....the list goes on.
God help these people when they are really ill, that is all I can say.
In the words of Alan Price - managing director of hronline: "If people don’t like the job then find something you like to do - life is too short."
I'm sure there are plenty of people who would love a chance to have a job.
However on the otherhand and because I can't be serious for too long - I'd love to hear from any reader(s) if their staff have used some strange excuses for not coming into work.
29 May 2013
Now I'm not one to get political normally - but I, like millions of others, am just mystified by what is going on with the economy.
I want to know why nobody in government is looking at the issues that will actually help millions of people who are struggling to get by on a daily basis.
I've managed my own finances since I was 15 and have managed to stay out of heavy debt because I live within my means - if I can't afford something, I don't have it.
But the price of things these days means it is becoming increasingly difficult to do just that - my biggest single expense, that dwarfs other outgoings, is my rail ticket.
Now I know it is my choice to live where I do and commute, but I don't understand how our useless, badly-run and creaking rail system, justifies ripping commuters off to such an extent.
Oh yes I do. It is the shareholders and the wonders of privatisation. The worrying thing is that they are just allowed to get on with it and continue increasing prices every year to an eye watering level. It makes me want to scream.
Then of course you are taxed to the hilt on everything and subjected to soaring utility bills and food bills.
I am becoming more convinced that something drastic needs to happen to kickstart the economy again.
What that is I don't know. The growing tide of support for UKIP is an interesting move, but our poll this week shows the majority of the channel want things to stay as they are.
A good starting point would be to tackle the growing bugbear of corporate tax avoidance - (see my last blog post).
Osborne is about to embark on another round of cuts, and it is worrying where the axe is going to fall. Inevitably it is never in the right place.
But I'm glad politicians are getting a 20 per cent pay rise. So well deserved for the sterling work they have done so far. (Sarcastic? Me?)
2013 has been the hardest year I can remember so far - it beats 2004 and 2008 hands down. While a lot of people I speak to are seeing positive results and growth, every single one of them admits it is a lot harder work that it was in the past.
Nobody in our industry is afraid of hard work - but it really would be nice to see some positive economic news for a change.
I'll keep crossing my fingers.
21 May 2013
Several large corporates have been making news headlines this year as it emerges they are getting away with paying just a miniscule amount of tax in the countries they operate in.
Google, Starbucks, Amazon and now Apple have all had their turn in the firing line recently - but it is happening everywhere in big business. Nowhere is immune.
And quite frankly it P****S me off.
Those of us stuck in PAYE schemes have no chance of saving a little bit of tax at all - we are bearing the brunt, yet these corporations - and I'm aiming this at all of them, not just the named above - get away with paying peanuts.
For example I would love to be able to offset my extortionate rail fare from my net salary - but sadly I cannot. It comes out of taxed income - which makes me want to cry. But I have to suck it up.
It is not as if these companies are paying their staff any higher amounts either, it is just a way of saving those at the top money, and funnelling funds into their shareholders' and directors' accounts.
These companies are quite happy to operate in lucrative countries, and take money off the citizens of that country, but when it comes to putting something back, and paying tax on the revenue earned through those citizens, they all seem to miraculously have some off-shore avoidance scheme on the go.
If loophole finding were an Olympic sport, these companies would all win a joint gold medal.
Finally the issue is getting political traction and instead of villifying benefit cheats all the time (and don't get me wrong, they make me sick too), attention is rightly turning to the serial corporate tax avoiders/shirkers.
They must pay their way and be punished for their actions. No excuses, no wriggle room and no more loopholes.
All I need now is someone to tackle the issue of ridiculous rail fares, and introduce a cap on how much a commuter has to pay, and life would be good.
17 May 2013
There are times when I feel pretty frustrated with people and situations. I'm pretty sure everyone feels the same.
We all know certain people that are crying out for help, but when it is offered to them they stubbornly refuse to take it and carry on with what they are doing.
Sometimes, for example, the answer to their problems is staring them in the face, but they just cannot see it.
Others know they need to do something, but they won't be advised by anyone else, instead preferring to make their own decisions, often embarking on a course that they know nothing about and heading for disaster.
And others are given help and advice on a plate, but instead choose to carry on regardless.
I'm probably not making much sense, but I'm trying to make a subtle point which a few people may well understand.
Sooner or later, those offering the help and advice will get fed up with being ignored and will not offer that help again.
Biting the hand that feeds you is not always the wisest idea.
Anyway - enough of being cryptic - CRN's recent Partner Connect was an interesting day out the office and I'd like to thank everyone that supported it, either by speaking, exhibiting or attending as delegates.
I'm hoping everyone there got something positive out of the day, there certainly seemed to be a lot of business and meetings taking place throughout the day and our speed networking feature went down a storm.
It was great to see that the art of networking and face-to-face interaction hasn't died a death in our industry and is in fact thriving. Without it, the business world would be a much sadder and uninteresting world.
16 May 2013
The whole CRN team is hitting Coventry today to mingle with the visitors and exhibitors at Partner Connect.
So just in case you are wondering why we are not answering our phones - that is where we are!
Hopefully lots of you will be coming along as well - after all we have some of the top vendors in the industry revealing their mobility strategies and how the channel fits in - not something seen that often under one roof.
As well as keynotes from Microsoft, HP, Samsung, BlackBerry and McAfee, there are a whole range of other exhibitors keen to do business and build new relationships, including Fujitsu and Acer.
If you cannot make it, do not fear - we will be keeping you up to date with all the goings on with our 'cover-it-live' story on Channelweb, which will amalgamate all the day's news, pictures and tweets in one handy place.
Either way, you cannot escape Partner Connect!
10 May 2013
CRN's website was down earlier today. And we were basically tearing our hair out because our website is at the heart of what we do.
Without it we cannot get on with our core job, which is to provide interesting and relevant industry content on a daily basis.
We have spent days analysing our website in the past and it is constantly evolving to provide the best user experience possible. Of course there is always room for improvement- as there is with almost every product out in the market today.
But after the CRN Sales and Marketing Awards judging yesterday the judges had a very interesting conversation about the state of many channel companies' websites.
A lot of people have invested serious poundage in their sites and while many of them will look fancy with lots of bells and whistles - how many of them have been designed with the customer in mind rather than to satisfy company vanity?
How many of you can honestly say that a potential customer will visit your website and know instantly that you are the provider they are looking for?
With our site, www.channelweb.co.uk, we have our simple strapline that explains what we do.
Do you even have a strapline?
A lot of sites just assume the visitor already knows all about the company they are visiting, when quite often, a simple description of what the company actually does would be a welcome addition to any homepage and it would cut out a lot of customer frustration when they are trying to find the best supplier for their IT needs.
Also the 'less is more' approach is often quite welcome - throwing too much information on one page and confusing visitors with where they should look first, really isn't the way to impress them.
Instead having a site that is easily navigable should be a priority.
If someone is looking for an infrastructure refresh or a particular cloud-based solution - and you are more than capable of delivering that - can they actually find that out by visiting your website? Some of the sites we checked out yesterday proved that definitely wasn't the case.
Of course I'm not professing to be a marketing or website expert, but as a potential customer I know what I wanted to see in many of these sites, and more often than not I certainly didn't get it.
We always ask for feedback on CRN - we don't always get it and sometimes we get too much on the wrong things - but at least we ask.
Maybe it is time for some channel firms out there to ask what their customers think of their website and what it says about their company?
After all, if someone is window shopping on the web for a new supplier, and the only thing they see is your homepage - how confident are you that they will take the next step and actually get in touch?
Views - both channel related and everyday life observations - from CRN Editor Sara Yirrell. If you have any gossip that you would like to share with me please do get in touch and also we would love to see your comments at the end of the blog.