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In particular, the four-legged machines seen trying to open doors in their laboratory this week reminded people of pet dogs.

Watching a robot dog “figure out” how to open a door is an eerie experience, and people can be forgiven for thinking these actions are being taken with no outside help. The truth is that human guidance is still essential. While the machines do support onboard computing, remote control is what makes these “pets” do what they do. That doesn’t detract from the progress Boston Dynamics are making. Their remarkable product range includes the SandFlea, which drives along flat surfaces like a remote-controlled car and can make vertical jumps of 30 feet, and the Cheetah, a four-footed creation that can run at 28 miles per hour. That’s approximately the same speed as an in-form Usain Bolt.

The debate continues about whether this level of engineering innovation will be good or bad news for the human workforce. How threatened should we feel?

There’s no substitute for the real thing, and while automation in the workplace can take plenty of tasks out of human hands, nuanced human intelligence is still needed to make good use of technology.

Jane Systems has spent two decades maintaining the delicate balance between automation and ingenuity, and the success of that balance is perfectly illustrated in the Workflow module. Jane Workflow transforms your HR system from simple record keeping into a fully automated system which does the work for you. Many business processes can be repetitive and subject to error. If you map these processes onto workflows, though, you can automate and monitor them. Productivity rises, the potential for error falls and consistent quality becomes a way of life.

Increasing automation in the workplace doesn’t necessarily […]

Take Care of Yourself – That’s an Order

Today’s news that the British Army is launching a £1.6m advertising campaign to demonstrate it can offer emotional support to recruits from all backgrounds has attracted scorn from some quarters on social media, but for those of us who understand the value of a positive working environment it represents very good news indeed.

This modernising step follows a positive trend which has also seen the army embrace language learning to improve communication. From 2018 on, no British officer will be promoted above the rank of Captain without being able to demonstrate proficiency in a suitable language. In prioritising cultural awareness and communication skills, the armed forces are acknowledging that, whatever the situation, the isolation of “Little Britain” has no value in a complex and dangerous modern world.

The isolation of individuals clearly has no value either, and the video central to the advertising campaign underlines that point. The voiceover tells us of a soldier’s fears that “it feels like, as a man, you can never express your emotions”. Joining the armed forces, though, is portrayed as a far more positive, inclusive experience:

“Once you’re in, you realise no one is a machine”

“There’s always someone there to talk to, or even just make you laugh”

How many of our workplace problems could be minimised or even solved altogether by better communication?

The Jane Workflow module transforms cumbersome, labour intensive HR record keeping into a fully automated system. It sets triggers for action and notification according to your needs, and it ensures that managers and their teams are kept 100% informed. By automating “calls to action” we deliver an increased employee response rate to important corporate messages.

Jane Self Service software increases communication between managers and staff, enabling decision makers to […]

Happy Tax Day

Plenty of Americans left things to the last minute; as of last Friday, the Internal Revenue Service was still waiting for approximately 40 million people to make their submissions. As well as being tax deadline day, April 17th was also the last opportunity to make a contribution to an individual retirement account for it to count against 2017 income. All in all, American taxpayers had plenty to think about yesterday.

British taxpayers have records to keep and deadlines to meet, of course, but for the majority of them the week to week and month to month responsibility of payroll administration lies in the hands of their employers. The task of accurately remunerating employees and correctly enrolling them in pension schemes may not be glamorous but it’s absolutely business-critical. Workplace Pension reform compels employers to enrol their people into a suitable scheme, and failure to comply can land you in hot water with HMRC, not to mention testing the patience and loyalty of the people working for you.

Over the past two decades we’ve worked hard to earn the trust of leading names in education, housing, charities, regulatory bodies and a range of commercial sectors. There’s no magic formula for what we do. It’s just a matter of listening to our customers and applying a combination of creativity and technical skill to deliver what you ask for.

One thing you frequently ask for is flexibility, and Jane Payroll software certainly ticks that box. It’s configurable to match your business needs, however frequently they may change, and as your organisation grows you can be sure that Jane will continue to give you the support you need, when you need it. Cumbersome and labour-intensive payroll processes can be seamlessly replaced […]

No Fairy Tale

Like many leaders in retail and distribution, Amazon rely on temporary, seasonal staff. People taken on to cover the busy Christmas period know very well that their employment comes with an expiry date. The disputes we’ve seen this week centred on how much human consideration, if any, is given when that date comes up.

Reports in national newspapers gave unpleasant examples of temp staff at Amazon distribution centres being sacked part of the way through night shifts and ordered off the premises at midnight. In addition to being given zero notice and no opportunity to line up alternative employment, some have told of being left to wait outside warehouses in the biting cold for up to six hours until public transport services were available again.

At the time of these people’s sackings their seasonal employment contracts, via an intermediary recruitment agency, still had a month still to run. The agency has attracted as much criticism as Amazon, who stated in their defence that when staff are let go outside public transport hours, they are prepared to offer bus and taxi transport to get them home.

When a major employer sets up shop at a new site, optimism and expectation among the local workforce is often very high. Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain those levels of positivity, but there are steps we can all take to maintain goodwill. Firstly and obviously, we can communicate.

If contracts are about to come to an end a month early, then surely employers and agencies can communicate with each other and with staff in a way that gives notice and softens the blow. If transport is available to get people safely home instead of literally leaving them out in the cold, then surely […]

Jane Systems – Data Migration Made Easy

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Black and Gold

Every high street and shopping mall seems to have anecdotes of customers being trampled underfoot as retailers keep their doors open until midnight. But online shoppers are just as busy.

In recent years we’ve seen the websites of UK retailers such as Argos, Currys, Tesco Direct and John Lewis almost grind to a halt on the day after Thanksgiving, with buyers stuck in endless virtual queues. But the biggest lesson of November 24th won’t be how long people have to wait in virtual queues but how many of them are lining up to do it. Retail analysts are forecasting that year on year online trade will increase by as much as 500%. We’re not just showing our appreciation of technology in the way we shop; this appreciation extends to what we’re actually buying. Giants such as Amazon have begun cutting prices of flagship products early, whipping up consumer excitement for the big day. Anyone waiting for the right moment to buy a Fire Stick or Kindle may be tempted by what’s on offer, and the Amazon Echo line looks like being a huge Autumn seller.

Does your current HR software

• Enable creation of employee records from any source?
• Allow you to design user-defined fields to suit your needs?
• Show you the big picture with performance monitoring, absence monitoring, holiday allowance calculation and pension contribution analysis?
• Interface with existing payroll systems efficiently and securely?
• HR query tool selects and filters your data and delivers the report you want
• Deliver advanced data filtering to generate exactly the reports you want?

We believe the surest way to stay ahead of the curve is to seek out reliable partners whose values […]

One Giant Leap

And we did. The 2017 Azzure IT Customer Day used technology as a starting point for a day of discussion that gave attendees an insight not only into advances in key Microsoft products but into the innovative thinking that moves industries and economies forward.

Craig Such set the tone for the day with a reminder that technology and box-checking for their own sake benefit no one.

The select group of partners and customers in attendance were updated on Microsoft Dynamics 365, with a big-picture view of the ways these smart applications will add value. Game-changing GDPR legislation was discussed not as a threat to business but as an opportunity to build trust with employees and customers by respecting their right to data privacy. Every seminar followed the same theme.

How can we add value to your business?

The setting for this event, the National Space Centre in Leicester, was an appropriate one. If we want, we can coldly break down space travel into a series of technical developments. In July 1969 an aerodynamically efficient object was launched from a site in Texas and eight and a half days later it landed in the North Pacific Ocean. But that’s not quite as inspiring as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is it?

Thank you to everyone involved with the organisation of this excellent event. If you want to know more about Azzure’s thriving partnership with Microsoft and their commitment to making this technology work for your benefit, contact them today.

Azzure IT is the leading Microsoft Dynamics 365 Support Partner


Tel: 0345 467 9950
Email: sales@azzure-it.com

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Actual Reality

Three years ago, during a trip to Beijing, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously reached out to potential customers in China by conducting a public question and answer session entirely in Mandarin. Zuckerberg is by any standard a capable person, and having a Chinese speaking wife gave him a useful head start in learning this complex language, but his error-strewn effort was met with scorn. Unfair perhaps, but it was no surprise to see a public figure get a roasting for attempting something difficult and falling short.

This week Zuckerberg put his head above the parapet again, and once more he found himself under fire. His response to the damage caused to Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria was to create a cartoon version of himself and take a virtual reality tour of the devastated island.

There’s ample evidence of Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, but for many people this latest incident showed a disconnect from the reality of how people live their lives and cope with problems. Zuckerberg himself has expressed a preference for virtual reality over the real world problems we all have to face. Again, that certainly doesn’t make him a bad person but for most employers, even those at the cutting edge of technical development, dealing with these everyday problems is part of the routine. For employers who go out of their way to help their people resolve issues it’s not a chore but something to be proud of. Actual reality – working hard every day to create a positive, supportive environment where people can thrive – is actually pretty terrific.

At Jane Systems we’re proud to work hand in glove with public and private sector leaders who take every opportunity to make […]

Britain’s Got Talent

How can we compete as an economy?

How can you compete as an employer?

These questions are of course closely intertwined. And while the answers may not always be simple, one fact holds true. For all the external factors that influence our fate, in the end we need to make the best use of the talent available to us. Recent surveys indicate pessimism in the business community. Not because we lack innovation or entrepreneurial spark, but because we may lack enough suitably skilled and qualified people to convert that spark into profit.

This week saw the publication of a revealing CBI report. Three quarters of employers expect their need for high level skills to increase notably in the coming years, but a majority doubt that job applicants will meet that need. In addition, 42% were dissatisfied with the business acumen of their graduate recruits, while 33% were unhappy with the attitudes, behaviours and character displayed in the workplace.

The rise of artificial intelligence is forecast to make a wide variety of roles obsolete, but the need for game-changing human talent will only intensify.

No service partner can wave a magic wand and change the nature of the job market, but the best service partners can give you a serious competitive edge. When there’s a shortage of talent, your recruitment and onboarding procedures need to be pin-sharp. That’s where Jane Systems comes in.

Jane recruitment software delivers your best chance of securing the best available talent. It enables the widest possible sourcing of applicant details, the most precise skill-matching and a tailored suitability analysis of internal and external candidates.

With legal compliance an ongoing priority, Jane recruitment software sets your mind at rest with equal opportunity reporting built in as […]

The Clock Is Ticking

There are some things the great British public has come to rely on.

– Our football teams will lose penalty shoot-outs
– Our favourite TV soap characters will end up being played by at least two different actors
– Every fifteen minutes, the chimes of Big Ben will remind us of the time

Not any more.

Next Monday, August 21st, Big Ben will fall silent. London’s most famous monument is in need of renovation. It’s a big job, and Monday’s noon chimes will be the last we hear until 2021. It’ll be by far the longest silence since its opening 158 summers ago, and it’s a reminder of how much our lives have changed during that time. On July 11th 1859 Big Ben’s first chimes rang out to a world that had just seen Oregon admitted as the 33rd US State, and Charles Darwin was still four months away from publishing his Origin of Species. So when Big Ben first sounded, we knew nothing of the theory of evolution. Today we see examples of evolution in all areas of our lives.

The rights of individuals have certainly evolved over the past century and a half, and advances in technology raise issues that would have been unimaginable until recently.

GDPR requires companies to gain specific, informed consent for use of employee data, and it gives individuals the right to withdraw that consent at any time. Jane software gives your people responsibility for maintaining their own employee records and keeps you 100% informed of any changes they make. What does that add up to?

Evolution can be a bumpy ride, and companies that don’t adapt to this new law will fall by the wayside. At Jane Systems we believe in being […]