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Podcast: The Computer Weekly Downtime Upload – Episode 40

In this week’s episode of the Computer Weekly Downtime Upload podcast, Clare McDonald and Brian McKenna range over the Waltham Forest Tech Camp, the opening of the Ohana floor at Salesforce’s London HQ, the UK & Ireland SAP User Group Conference in Birmingham, and the General Election

With Caroline Donnelly absent in the wake of her trip to Las Vegas with AWS for the cloud supplier’s Re:Invent conference, Clare and Brian talk about events they have been to in recent weeks – the Waltham Forest Tech Camp, the grand opening of the Salesforce Ohana floor by London mayor Sadiq Khan, and the SAP user group conference in Birmingham. They also touch on the General Election, as they highlight Sebastian Klovig Skelton’s bumper analysis of all the main UK parties’ manifestos.

  • As a preface to the podcast, Brian flags a couple of Caroline’s stories from Re:Invent: AWS CEO Andy Jassy blames “significant political interference” for Amazon losing $10bn JEDI deal; and AWS VP of engineering on the cloud giant’s first major quantum computing push.
  • Clare then gives her account of the Waltham Forest Tech Camp, where she was a judge. The purpose of the event was to upskill and support school students and jobseekers to find work, followed up by a careers fair. The starting point of the event was a survey which found that 45% of secondary school-age pupils in the London borough feel unsafe on the streets. Mentored by participating companies, the pupils and job seekers worked in teams to pitch digital business ideas to meet the brief of improving public safety. All were accredited, and Clare highlights two ideas – one about stamping out crime and the other about alleviating the worry generated by stalking.
  • A pupil from School21, a state school in Stratford, east London, impressed the audience at an event Clare and Brian both attended – the opening of the Ohana floor at Salesforce’s London HQ. Marika Rydel upstaged London mayor Sadiq Khan, who cut the ribbon at the facility – which is available to non-profits and local education groups in the evenings at weekends at no cost. Although Clare is partial to Salesforce character mascot Astro, she confesses her habitual disquiet when faced with people inside costumes or on stilts.
  • Brian then recounts some of his experience at the UK & Ireland SAP User conference, Connect, in Birmingham last week. Once again, SAP’s latest thing emerged from the user group’s annual member survey as commanding scant regard. This time around, it was the supplier’s $8bn acquisition of online survey company Qualtrics that has failed to make much of an impression on the customers who fill its coffers. S/4 Hana adoption also seems static, with 13% intending to implement within the next year, and 20% seeing the supplier’s latest ERP system having no part in their future.
  • Brian does, however, make mention of companies that are making the move to S/4, or are seriously thinking about it – respectively, Jazz Pharmaceuticals and QD Stores. He also pronounces himself impressed by the project at Jazz, as described by John Mahon, executive director, IT technical operations and finance, Jazz Pharmaceuticals. “No casualties” was the project mantra – a project that featured mindfulness sessions, physical fitness and attention to diet.
  • The duo finally turn to the General Election, with Brian drawing attention to Sebastian Klovig Skelton’s analysis of the technology components of the main UK parties’ manifestos. Seb’s piece is well worth a read, both as a handy guide to what he main parties are saying, and as an indicator to what they are all failing to say. He finds them wanting in failing to address the sustainability of electric vehicle production, which is dependent on lithium as a resource. He also points out a disturbing hole in all the manifestos – the failure to articulate any need to suspend the sale of surveillance technologies.
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