Total Business Magazine

This Week’s 5 Must-Read Stories You May Have Missed

Huawei accused of spying on us, the fallout from last year’s TSB computer chaos and low-skilled workers receiving less training than their professional counterparts despite the threats of automation.

We caught up with our columnist, business transformation expert, author of The Interim Revolution and founder and CEO of Sullivan and Stanley, Pat Lynes, to discuss the biggest news stories you wouldn’t have wanted to miss last week.

1. Huawei suspected of spying

There’s a pretty good chance you heard this one doing the rounds last week. The short of it is that Chinese phone maker Huawei (pronounced “wah-way”) have been accused of spying on people. The US and UK are leading that charge and more countries including Australia and New Zealand have got on board, barring them from joining their future 5G network.

It’s a big deal and a pretty big allegation considering Huawei sell more phones globally then Apple. The cynicism as to whether they are above board is fueled by the fact that their founder Ren Zhengfei was an engineer in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the early 1980s.

It is important to note that while they are currently in the US courts suspected of pinching ideas from T-Mobile, they haven’t actually been found guilty of anything. Let’s see how this unfolds.

2. Ocado and M&S in secret talks about delivery deal

So despite the longstanding relationship between Ocado and Waitrose, Ocado have their eyes on a new partnership with M&S. With their current deal set to run out in September 2020, they are looking to move on from their regularly rocky relationship with Waitrose.

For M&S, this is a vital partnership as they haven’t yet gone ‘all in’ on a delivery service like some of it’s rivals.  It is also not clear whether it would be possible for Ocado to work with both Waitrose and M&S on the same basis, at the same time.

I’ve spoken about it in past articles, but delivery is absolutely going to be a battleground, as consumer demand for on-demand delivery goes through the roof. The online grocery market, which was worth £11.4bn in 2018, is expected to grow by 52% to reach £17.3bn in 2023, according to analysis by the food and grocery research organisation IGD.

3. TSB suffers £105m loss after computer chaos

The fallout from TSB’s upgrade debacle has been announced with a £105m loss in 2018. This is in contrast to a £162 million profit the year before.

Roughly 80,000 customers changed banks from TSB and unsurprisingly no bonuses will be handed out to executives for the year.

The IT crisis occurred last April that left up to 1.9 million users of its digital and mobile banking locked out of their accounts. It stemmed from the movement of customer data from former owner Lloyds’ IT system to a new one managed by Sabadell (TSB’s owner).

This was a pretty expensive system integration and data migration exercise and I wonder where it all went wrong? There is an enquiry currently going on, but I would be interested to see who’s to blame and how it could have been avoided.

4. Low-skilled UK workers stuck in ‘vicious cycle’ watchdog says

Many low-skilled British workers aren’t getting leveled up by their employers according to The Social Mobility Commission’s report, the Adult Skills Gap.

The study uncovered that 30% of those employed in managerial or professional jobs received training from their employers compared to 18% in routine and manual occupations.

“Both employers and the government need to act to address this problem,” said the study’s Commissioner Dame Martina.

“They should start by increasing their investment in training, to bring it closer to that of international competitors, and prioritise this to those with low or no skills.”

What comes to mind immediately for me is what the future of work will look like. With Artificial Intelligence and automation baring down (when that comes to a head, who knows), we must prioritize the up-skilling of employees to be more vital than functional. Investing in training shouldn’t just be for high-skilled workers and professionals.

As Branson once said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.

5. Selfridges open Bug Bar as insect foods hit the shelves

Initially, you wouldn’t think Selfridges setting up a ‘Bug Bar’ would be newsworthy.

But when the global edible insect market is forecast to exceed $520m (£395m) by 2023, that’s certainly worth taking notice of.

There is a growing demand for alternative proteins that have a smaller impact on the environment and products like pasta, protein bars and granola bars made from insect flour are making it into food baskets.

This is another example of a brand new market opening up. Much like the budding cannabis industry (pun intended) in the US (worth $146 billion by 2025) new trends will continue to emerge. I’m fascinated to see what the next thing will be.

Side note: I won’t be eating the bugs.

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