News in brief

Short takes on this week's news

Short takes on this week's news

UK faces IT skills crisis, warns BCS president

The UK faces a new IT skills crisis following a sharp decline in the number of graduates taking computer science, the president of the British Computer Society warned last week. Nigel Shadbolt, who took up the post this month, said that employers faced a crisis and would have no choice but to outsource work overseas if the trend was not reversed.

Birmingham joins with BT to offer wireless access

Birmingham City Council is to offer wireless access across the city through a joint initiative with BT. The Wireless Birmingham Wi-Fi network will cover a square mile of the city centre. BT will fund the network, with the council providing access to its lampposts, which will house the transmitters for the wireless infrastructure.

www.digitalbirmingham.co.uk

EC deadline looms for Microsoft to release code

Microsoft has until 23 November to deliver satisfactory code for its workgroup server protocols to rivals, or face a daily fine of up to £2m from the European Commission. The requirement to deliver the protocols is part of the EC's 2004 antitrust judgement against the company, which included a £331m fine.

Sales of handhelds soar as phones get smarter

Businesses are buying more handheld computer devices than ever before, with shipments increasing by 31.9% in the third quarter, according to Gartner. The growth has been fueled by the widespread availability of mobile phones with built-in personal digital assistant functionality, said the analyst firm.

Europe to ease restriction on IT services companies

The European parliament has approved a directive designed to allow IT outsourcing suppliers and other services companies to operate more freely across Europe. The Services Directive seeks to reduce red tape and create legal certainties for services firms operating across borders. Ministers are expected to rubber stamp the directive next month. It will then come into force by 2010.

www.dti.gov.uk/europeandtrade/europe/services-directive/page9583.html

Black & Decker drills sales data to cut inventory

Black & Decker aims to cut its inventory levels by up to 16% following the implementation of a promotion planning application from JDA Software. The power tool manufacturer will use the Market Manager tool to share sales data and forecasts with retailers across Europe.

Financial services IT spend grows by 8%

IT spending by financial services companies increased by 8% this year, but spending growth is set to be curtailed over the next two years. Analyst firm Celent said global IT spending by financial services companies increased to £169bn during 2006 - an 8% jump from 2005 - but growth in IT spending was expected to slow from 2007.

Compliance drives data protection investment

Businesses are only just waking up to the need to invest in data protection and privacy, according to a survey by Ernst & Young of 1,200 organisations worldwide. The research shows that organisations are identifying privacy and data protection as significant issues for the first time in the survey's nine-year history. The survey found that compliance is the main driving force for companies implementing information security.

West Yorks Police saves £8.8m with mobile e-mail

West Yorkshire Police has saved an estimated £8.8m by using O2's Blackberry mobile e-mail service to help officers to access data while on the beat. Following a trial in 2004, 2,300 officers are using the Blackberry device for remote access to the Police National Computer and the force's main computerised intelligence system.


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