News in brief

Short takes from this week's news.

Short takes from this week's news.

N Ireland Water Service awards £70m contract

Northern Ireland Water Service has awarded a seven-year, £70m contract to the Xansa-led Crystal Alliance to provide a customer billing and contacts system. The Xansa-led Crystal Alliance will deliver front-office-to-back-office customer billing and CRM services to the utility's 760,000 customers.

Standard Chartered Bank signs C&W deal

Standard Chartered Bank has signed a five-year IP managed services contract with Cable & Wireless to consolidate its four existing networks that support data, voice, and video services into a single integrated global IP platform. The IP virtual private network uses multi-protocol label switching as the underlying transmission technology.

eBay joins 02's mobile i-mode service

eBay is the latest firm to optimise its website for UK users of O2's mobile i-mode service. The agreement between the firms means eBay users will be able to access their My eBay page to watch auction items and make bids using an O2 phone, just like they would on a PC. eBay has followed the likes of Egg, Universal and Interflora in optimising its website for i-mode users.

Security attacks affect 90% of US firms

Almost 90% of US firms experienced some kind of computer security attack in 2005, according to the FBI, with attacks costing firms an average of £14,200. In a study of 2,000 different-sized businesses, the FBI said 87% of companies had experienced an attack on their systems, with 20% being attacked 20 or more times. Virus or spyware infections were the most common occurrences. A smaller number reported network port scans to gain access to systems, or data sabotage.

Portal to aid lower-value government purchasing

The government's Small Business Service has appointed BIP Solutions to develop and manage a new opportunities portal for lower-value (under £100,000) public sector contracts. Barry Gardiner, DTI minister for competitiveness, said, "With more supplier choice available in the one place, the portal will save buyers time and effort in sourcing new suppliers, and help them provide public services more cost effectively."

Tokyo exchange forced to increase capacity

The Tokyo Stock Exchange is increasing it trading capacity to five million transactions from 4.5 million, after being forced to cut short its trading day several times as the number of trades executed neared the exchange system's capacity. Meanwhile, in New York a computer error on the Nasdaq stock exchange led to the posting of incorrect stock price quotes on financial websites for much of last Thursday.

Alliance & Leicester pilots smarter ATMs

Alliance & Leicester is rolling out self-service Personas automatic teller machines from NCR at eight branches as part of a pilot programme to move routine transactions away from the branch counter. The lobby ATMs let customers deposit cash and cheques without completing a paying-in slip or deposit envelope. UK cheques may also be fed directly into the ATM - the receipt generated includes an image of the deposited cheque, plus cash details.

Waterstone's turns to space planning software

Book retailer Waterstone's is trialling space planning software in five stores to increase shop space for its fastest-selling titles. Waterstone's held a live trial of Galleria's space-planning application in December. It plans to roll out the software in 50 to 70 stores this year.

Mid-Counties Co-op delays biometric launch

Mid-Counties Co-op has delayed the launch of the UK's first retail biometric payment system until the spring. Mid-Counties, which is the third largest co-operative society in the UK, had planned to install fingerprint scanners in its stores last December. Customers will have to register their identity and banking details with the supplier of the biometric system, Pay by Touch, before they can make purchases.

Spam still with us, despite Gates prediction

Two years ago today Microsoft chairman Bill Gates addressed the World Economic Forum and predicted the death of spam within two years. Network provider Cable & Wireless said Gates' prediction had proved true only to the extent that spam is no longer issued from central mailboxes, but now relies on viruses to hijack computers to send e-mails on the spammers' behalf.

DSG signs co-sourcing contract with HCL

DSG International, which runs Dixons, Currys, PC World and The Link, has signed a multi-million pound co-sourcing contract with IT services provider HCL Technologies. HCL will provide system development, application delivery, infrastructure support and maintenance services.

Oracle buys point of sale software supplier

Oracle has bought point of sale application supplier 360Commerce as part of its continuing strategy to broaden its retail software portfolio through company acquisitions. This latest acquisition follows the Retek, ProfitLogic, G-Log and Temposoft purchases in 2005.

Upgrade for Marketmax merchandising system

Business intelligence tools provider SAS has launched a new version of its Marketmax software. Marketmax 6 is an integrated merchandising system that provides statistical forecasting, business process design, integrated business intelligence and data integration.

NCR suite integrates supply chain data

NCR Corporation has developed a software suite to integrate and manage data from different devices throughout the supply chain. The Velocity Portal aims to reduce the time needed to develop systems for collecting, interpreting and moving data from multiple sources.

Sun launches Retail Integration Architecture

Sun has unveiled its Retail Integration Architecture, a set of technologies to enable retailers to build composite applications using SOA. Based on its Java Enterprise System and the Java Integration Suite, the architecture is designed to reduce operating costs by tackling typical integration problems seen with application platforms, Sun said.

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