Whether you'd like to read Living IT in printed form or via our Email digests, subscriptions are free. Sign up now, and we can send you regular copies of Living IT magazine by post or electronically.
News Desk
How To
In Depth
Case Studies
Expert Opinion

Mobile Computing

Advertisers Info

Building A Culture Of Collaboration

Natalie Butler, Enterprise Sales Manager, EMEA for collaborative applications specialist, WebEx, explains how businesses can benefit by bringing remotely-located teams of workers together over the Internet.

Keeping A Watch Over Your Business

With Power over Ethernet going mainstream and plenty of new solutions on the market, IP-based surveillance is becoming a more viable option for the smaller business, reports Gareth Kershaw.

How To... Go Virtual

Could you transform your business into one that has no fixed office or location but runs purely as a collection of individuals who work in remote locations? Falk Bleyl, Head of Business Development at specialist communications and hosted applications syst

Looking To The Future

We are always hearing about new technologies and how they will make our business and personal lives better – but what does the future really hold? Living IT took time out to talk to one of the IT industry’s leading technology gurus to find out.

Women Increasingly Attracted To Self Employment

Women are actively leaving their jobs and moving into self employment, according to the latest research from the UK enterprise support body Prowess. Since 1990, the number of women moving from employment to self-employment increased from 22.2 per cent to

UK Still A Good Place To Start Your Own Business

A worldwide survey conducted by Harris Research for the Financial Times, says that the UK is still seen as a good place to start up a new business, in spite of a perception that bureaucracy and red tape still make life difficult for entrepreneurs.

Small Firms Lead Mobile Revolution

Small businesses are leading the revolution in mobile working and driving both the demand and the supply of innovative technology that is transforming the traditional workplace, according to a report into the UK mobile technology market from software prov

Entrepreneurs Struggle To Cope With Realities Of Running A Business

YouGov survey of over 700 UK SME owner-managers has revealed a gaping chasm between the perception and realities of what it is like to set up and run a small business.

IT skills and why they matter

Is it worth investing in training your staff to get the best out of your investment in systems and software? Steve Philp, UK Marketing Director of IT training specialist, Global Knowledge, explains why he believes education is always a good investment.

Why does your business needa large-format flat screen plasma or LCD display?

It might seem like an outrageous extravagance to the old school but buying a large format screen for your business could be a smart idea.

The shape of software to come

Now that broadband is just about everywhere, Microsoft and other software companies have started to talk more about the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) and within a few years, we could all be ‘renting’ rather than buying the applications we need t

Go green to motivate staff

Employees are increasingly aware of environmental issues and showing that you are doing something positive about the issue can have a positive effect on motivation, according to a piece of research by recruitment consultancy Badenoch and Clark.

Time to take a closer look at factoring?

Small businesses are being urged to consider turning to factoring as a way of solving the worsening problem of late payments by online credit checking and financial management service providers e-bcm.

Do you take payphones?

The UK’s major mobile phone providers have all switched on a system that will enable customers to use their mobile to pay for small purchases of a value up to £10.

Men think they know all about IT

Research from HP suggests that whilst over one in three men considers themselves to be a techie the opposite seems to be true, with over half the respondents admitting their last tech-related task took over an hour to complete if at all.

Exercise could be good for business

Encouraging employees to take more exercise on a regular basis could be good for business according to research into the fitness habits of office workers in the UK. Almost two thirds of business people admit to not doing enough exercise and put the blame

Social sites may pose threat to productivity

Social networking sites such as Facebook are becoming so popular that they are now posing a threat to the productivity of workers and could be costing UK businesses as much as £132 million a day in lost time.

Shop around for best deal from banks

Small firms are being urged to be more choosy when it comes to selecting their bank and to shop around for the best deal, following the Competition Commission’s decision to lift price controls that established a minimum quality of service from the big fou

Manufacturing is going strong

UK manufacturing firms are maintaining a healthy pace of growth and are becoming more optimistic about the future than they have been for some time, according to research published by manufacturers’ organisation, the EEF, and financial advisers Grant Thor

Future of desktops is virtual says HP

The death of the desktop PC has been much exaggerated according to the world’s leading PC manufacturer, HP, which is predicting a renaissance for fixed-location personal systems. The company says that, although sales of mobiles are now exceeding those of

Small businesses keep Britain running

The changing face of the UK’s SME community and the UK economy’s dependency on small firms has been highlighted by the most recent statistics to be published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

Safely and legally dispose of unwanted PCs

The ROHS and WEEE directives mean that these days you can’t just throw old computers on the scrap heap? So how can you safely and legally dispose of your old unwanted PCs?

Delivering staff from temptation

Making sure that your staff are using the internet for business purposes and not inadvertently downloading viruses and other types of malware is becoming vitally important for small firms says senior security consultant at Sophos, Carole Theriault.

Going digital with documents

While all small firms have computers, few are anywhere near the nirvana of the paperless office – Living IT takes a realistic look at what you can and what you can’t automate with electronic systems and processes.

Culture barrier for remote working and green computing

Many of the UK’s small businesses are still holding back from adopting remote working and more environmentally-friendly policies because they are stuck in their ways.

Big businesses stretch out payment terms

Asurvey conducted by one of the country’s leading credit reference agencies has indicated that small firms need to be more stringent on payment terms they receive from large customers.

HP garage declared historic landmark

The small garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard began what would later become tech giant HP has been added to the US National Register of Historic Places.

Accountancy services add up for small firms

Small companies depend on their accountants for more than just advice about their bookkeeping according to a survey by Venture Finance with many also turning to them for advice about other financial matters.

Half of UK adults want to start their own business

There seems to be no danger of the steady stream of business start-ups abating in the near future, according to research by the UK branch of the Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO London) which shows that half of all adults in the UK have considered starting

Email overdose can damage your business relationships

Email users should be more discerning about the amount of time they spend reading and sending messages, according to a study which found that almost one third of all messages are irrelevant.

Go mobile to cut down on ‘deadtime’ and boost productivity

Not being able to access information during periods of ‘deadtime’, combined with rising customer expectations that are forcing a 'want it now' culture, is costing businesses an average of £60,000 per year.

Small firms can call on local support to cope with IT problems

Many UK businesses are wasting more than 20 hours a month on frustrating IT issues and are spending up to £5,000 a year trying to solve them, according to a survey sponsored by BT Business.

Call for changes to Regional IT support from Microsoft and BCC

Microsoft and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has delivered a set of recommendations outlining how they believe the Information Technology needs of small and growing businesses could be better supported by the current Business Link advisor system.

Document Management and Compliance

The growing array of compliancy and corporate governance regulations must be frightening if you are the person responsible for making sure that a large organisation can meet its obligations in the eyes of the lawmakers. But it would be dangerous to assume

IT security needs to be a higher priority

Research conducted by specialist IT research company IDC for McAfee and MessageLabs, has found that while some 80% of small firms fear a security threat, only 8% have made improvements to IT security one of their business priorities.

Government must drive green agenda

Small companies need stronger government incentives if they are to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices says the entrepreneur think tank, Tenon Forum.

Strong growth rates sustained

The robust performance of SMEs in the third quarter of 2006 was almost replicated in the final quarter of the year and the expectation is that this will continue throughout 2007 helping to boost the country’s overall economic growth. The IMF recently revi

SMEs yet to fulfil their IT potential

Small business owners in the UK have made fundamental shifts in the way they use computers, yet many are still missing out on the full potential of IT, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the British Chambers of Commerce and Microsoft.

The high price of not securing your laptop

Businesses should ensure they secure information stored on laptops if they do not want to fall foul of the increasing regulation governing the management and confidentiality of data.

Hire It Out On-Line

A web site that enables you to rent out equipment, property or other resources that you are not using has been launched by Bath-based computer services company Systanet.

Marketing Gets Results

An increased focus on marketing is starting to pay off for small businesses but it seems that many still don’t understand the value it can deliver.

Half of UK Firms Hit by Fraud

More than half of UK businesses have lost money because of fraud, yet nearly a third of firms admit they have no mechanisms in place to spot when they are being swindled. In fact, one in 20 companies say they have lost over £1 million a year due to

Banks Must be More Understanding to Small Firms

High street banks must take a more understanding approach to small firms if they want to maintain the healthy profits they currently enjoy according to the on-line credit checking firm, e-bcm.

HP iPAQ devices deliver productivity on the road

Converged mobile devices, with the functionality of both telephony and wireless computing, have made productive mobile working a reality for many businesses. With the use of bespoke applications running on micro-sized pocket PCs, you can take your specifi

Brand presence – How can I make my customers remember me?

You’d be hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t know who the maker of the iPod is, or who hasn’t heard of Adidas, Shell or Tesco. Why? Because each company can be readily identified by people across the globe and, as soon as you mention the company’s name

RoHS and WEEE - Cleaning up our act

How will new EC rules affect you when you buy computers and other hi-tech equipment?

Punching above your weight

Bernadette Wightman, head of SMB at networking company Cisco Systems, says that small firms are starting to use technology to communicate and compete more effectively with larger companies.

Leasing is best for veterinary practice

When veterinary surgeons Walker and Wikeley was set up in a converted tyre and exhaust garage, in March 2006, it needed some computer equipment. It also needed some financial flexibility so, when kitting itself out with three PCs and four work stations, a

Making your money work harder

Rather than explore all the different options, many small businesses simply get their cheque books out when it comes to buying computer systems – but it may not always be the best option. Tracey Caldwell looks at the many different ways in which you can f

Save the planet

Caring about the environment is high on everyone’s agenda now, so being green is good for staff morale and can also save you money. Living IT looks at how you can be greener about your IT use.

Vista – What can it do for your business?

Microsoft Windows Vista has arrived but what benefits will it bring to small businesses if they decide to take the plunge and upgrade? Simon Vail explains.

Why being ‘married’ to your job can be unhealthy

Relationships in the workplace are often characterised by poor communication, trust issues, people taken for granted and general dissatisfaction, leaving staff feeling like ‘neglected spouses’, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Develop

On-line credit checking service aims to reduce risk

A new company, e-Business Credit Manager Limited (e-bcm), has been launched to help the UK’s small businesses reduce bad debt by giving them easy and affordable on-line access to credit checking facilities and professional debt management services.

Small firms want more government backing

More than 60% of small businesses have given the thumbs-down to the level of support provided for start-ups and initial trading periods by the government and fewer than 16% believe they get enough support to get up and running.

Sales and optimism on the up

Small businesses across the UK confounded many economic predictions with almost 40% reporting increased sales in the third quarter of 2006 and taking an optimistic view of the months ahead.

Out of sight out of mind䶀

The prevention of data theft is not ‘even on the radar’ in half of the UK’s small firms and six out of ten staff who leave a company consider taking data with them, according to research conducted by an IT security specialist.

Hi-tech way to cut down on absenteeism

A new company claims to have hit on an innovative way to help businesses cut the enormous costs of back pain, repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and other musculoskeletal disorders amongst staff who use computers.

Networking opens new opportunities

Many of Britain's small firms could be losing out to their competitors because they are not making the most of networking opportunities, such as business clubs, exhibitions, conferences and seminars.

£16 billion overdue to small firms

An ever increasing number of SMEs in the UK are experiencing problems with late payments according to automated payments company, BACS Payment Schemes. The organisation says that the number of small firms that experienced problems with delayed customer or

London firms lead the way in IT investment

Investment in IT is increasing in London’s small businesses faster than in any other area of spending, according to a survey by the London Development Agency and Business Link for London.

Alliance wants heavy fines for unlicensed software use

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry lobby group that campaigns against illegal use and pirating of software, has called on the UK government to impose stiff financial penalties on companies that break licensing rules.

Set up a blog for your business

Could having a web area where you keep customers, suppliers and partners updated with your latest news and information help your business? Living IT’s guide to the basics and benefits of Blogs should help you decide.

Why email marketing can be good for you

Andrew Robinson, managing director of specialist software provider, Lyris, explains how you can use email marketing to get your messages across to customers.

On-line obstacles

In this age of e-commerce the web site is the most visible part of any business. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is sent into people’s homes and places of work. To make sure this marketing tool is as effective as possible you need to make

Going Underground

RAD Data Communications helped Samara City, one of western Russia’s regional capitals, build an IP based security platform for its subway system. Providing voice and data over IP, Ethernet, and MPLS backbones, it is used to collect audio information from

ntl: Telewest takes IP CCTV north of the border

North Lanarkshire County Council has agreed a £1.3m deal with ntl:Telewest Business, for the largest deployment of IP CCTV in Europe, a move crucial to the council’s security strategy according to Councillor Tom Maginnis, Convener of the Economic Regenera

Catch It On Camera

For many small businesses, CCTV and other advanced physical security have always been too complex and too expensive. But now, a new generation of IP-based cameras and other devices and software, is putting advanced physical security within the reach of al

Choose the right printer for your business

Just about every ink-jet and laser printer these days is colour and those that are not are usually designed for specific needs, such as multiple form impact printing and even these are increasingly rare.

Working At It

Most relationships are built on trust and by working with your supplier, being pragmatic and taking their advice, rather than simply focusing on price, you can get the most out of your IT reseller, says Simon Vail.

Push me, pull me

You have probably heard the phrase ‘push email; but what is it and how exactly does it work? Steve Clayton, head of midmarket technology at Microsoft UK, explains.

Get Geared

On-line motorcycle equipment retailer Get Geared is a great example of the potential benefits of ecommerce for small businesses.

The Return of ECommerce

A few years ago we were told that if you did not have a web site you’d soon be out of business but many small businesses that invested in on-line systems found their customers just weren’t ready. But now that the debris from the bursting of the dot-com bu

Retail buoyant but on-line sales grow faster

The UK’s retail outlets saw the strongest rise in sales in 18 months during August but on-line sales look to be growing even faster and are threatening to stymie further retail sales growth in the future.

‘Rented’ business software now available

A range of tools that small businesses can ‘rent’ to take care of functions like business planning, human resource management and financial forecasting has been launched.

Firms offered advice for new age laws

Leading financial and business advisor Grant Thornton has warned small businesses that they will need to do as much as large firms to stay on the right side of new age discrimination laws that came into force at the beginning of October.

Advertising screen tailors ads to its audience

A smart advertising display that monitors Bluetooth gadgets in its vicinity and then sends only the most appropriate adverts to the handset and minimises repeats to prevent recipients being put off.

Branson seen as best boss

Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson is the person most people would like to have as their manager according to a British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) survey of UK workers.

Simpler process eases rate relief pains

Plans to make the small business rate relief system easier to understand and implement are due to come into force shortly, enabling firms whose circumstances remain unchanged year to year to apply only once over a five year period.

Gold-plated regulations holding back business

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) have joined forces to warn the government that the current burden on small firms from red tape and gold plating is holding back small business growth.

Gender still seen as a problem for women

Most female employees still feel that their employers favour their male colleagues according to a survey of 2,000 female workers by law firm Peninsula.

Manufacturers return to success abroad

SME manufacturers have seen their export orders grow for the first time in over a decade, and are expected to continue rising, according to projections from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

SMEs need better support from banks

Firms with fewer than 10 employees are seven times less likely than larger SMEs to receive an adequate level of financial support from their banks and subsequently have problems in financing their debts according to information from the Small Business Res

Talk to us and win an iPod Nano

We want to make LIVING IT as useful as it possibly can be for you and to find out more about what you’d like to see in the magazine, and understand your needs better, we’re planning to host a series of round table events with a cross section of our reader

Going digital

Switching from manual to digital bookkeeping can have benefits even for very small operations.

Accounting for business

Assess your needs and make sure that you choose the right accounting or stock control system for your business.

Government Grants

What are you entitled to? Charting a course through the minefield of government grants.

How to dispose of old computer equipment

The arrival of Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) initiatives and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) mean that you can’t just throw old computer, printers and other devices away now - you have to do it properly. Here are a few pieces o

How to choose and set up a projector

If you have never bought or used a projector before, how do you know what to look for in terms of features and value? Our short guide to the mysteries of choosing and using a projector should help you see the light.

X marks the spot for SharePoint at Premera Blue Cross

Premera Blue Cross handles the post-hospitalisation needs of patients with complex medical conditions, but until recently, opening a new case sometimes took as much as three hours and required the use of two different case management systems, and on-going

Lotus QuickPlace makes the right Noises in Tech PR

A Lotus QuickPlace based extranet has helped free up time and improve customer service at Noiseworks, a specialist IT public relations company based in Maidenhead.

Collaborate to accumulate

The idea of intuitive, ‘collaborative’ working is becoming more and more de rigueur, writes Gareth Kershaw, but what exactly is it? Does it really work? And if so, can it work for you?

Making the most of your web presence

How you can use on-line resources to attract more customers

Can IT help you boost your sales?

Most small businesses see computers simply as tools, but if they are used in the right way, they can also be used to help you to market your business to a wider audience and drive up your sales, writes Tracey Caldwell.

Confidence grows in manufacturing

The manufacturing sector is making a tentative recovery with exports up and confidence at the highest level for a year, the CBI’s industrial trends survey for June suggests.

Scheme aims to cut red tape for small firms

The government has launched a consultation to cut three pieces of competition law it deems outdated, in the latest attempt to scale back the amount of red tape faced by small businesses.

Smallest businesses yet to put their books on the PC

Half of businesses with 10 or fewer staff prefer the old methods of paper and pen to computers when keeping their books, according to research from software company Kashflow.

Feel good factor returns to UK business

Research undertaken for the Tenon Forum shows that UK businesses are more confident about the future than they have been for some time, with the company’s index showing a 5% increase in confidence in the first six months of 2006.

Portal for public sector contracts now open

More than 10,000 suppliers have signed up to a new government-sponsored service aimed at making lower-value public sector contracts more open to small businesses.

SMEs still shy of IT

Many small companies are failing to get the most out of technology and find it hard to keep pace with the latest developments in IT, a survey by Lloyds TSB and the Open University has revealed.

Small firms suffer as banks cut interest

Small companies with up to £10,000 in their business bank accounts are being hit by banks slashing interest rates, a survey by Business Money-facts magazine has suggested.

Wise Owl offers free test of your Microsoft knowledge

Fun to use and free, but with a serious purpose in mind, the new ms-iq.com website from leading training organisation Wise Owl provides an independent assessment of a user's knowledge of Microsoft applications.

Making sense of security

We hear a lot about viruses, hackers and other types of threats to our computers, but how much of it do you understand and how worried should you really be about protecting your IT systems. Tracy Caldwell looks at security from a small business perspectiv

If I had a hammer

To most small businesses, computers are simply another tool to be used when something needs to be fixed – but by taking a more involved and strategic approach to IT, even the smallest business may be able to get ahead of its rivals. Simon Vail explains ho

Keeping it legal

You may hear a lot about legal issues with regards to email, data retention and compliance but what are the rules and do they really matter to small businesses? We asked Tamzin Matthew of solicitors Morgan Cole, an expert in IT-related law issues, to expl

The long and winding road

There are many different sources of IT advice and, as Jane Dudman reports, finding the right guidance for your particular business can be quite a journey.

Planning for and coping with IT disasters

In the event that disaster befalls your computer system how will you cope?

Keeping systems and data secure

Simple anti-virus and firewall solutions can provide most of the protection many small businesses need.

Strategic approach keeps costs down

By treading carefully and taking advice, one building firm has been able to streamline its systems and cut costs.

Good advice makes all the difference

Getting sound expert guidance and also taking a long-term approach and planning ahead is crucial when you are looking for a company that can meet your business needs.

How to write usage policies for the Internet and email

Having clear written policies for your business with regard to the Internet and email will help you to protect your business and your own staff. Here are some guidelines on what to include and the form of words to use.

How to choose the right accounting package for your business

Selecting the right accounting package for your business is something you need to do with care if you are going to get the right software – and the right type of service.

How to monitor and control use of the Internet and email

The Internet and email have become indispensable tools for most businesses but it is all too easy for staff to misuse on-line resources – and as well as wasting time, they could potentially land your business in trouble. Living IT looks at how you can mon

The price is not always right

IT can bring significant benefits to the small business. But to get the most from IT, a business needs to trust its systems – and that means having confidence in the company that supplies, manages and maintains them.So where’s the best place to buy your e

Bringing documents to life

According to estimates, colour can improve comprehension and accelerates learning of printed material by as much as 75% - is it time that you made more use of colour in your business?

The true cost of computing

You may well be tempted by all those cut price offers that you see from computer companies but, as

Simon Vail explains, there is a great deal more to the cost of running a PC or network than the initial price tag.

Going back to nature

Recent directives from Europe have put companies under an obligation to ensure that as much material as possible from old PCs is recycled and that any dangerous substances are disposed of with care. But what will all this mean to the ordinary small busine

Branded Vs Unbranded PCs

Does it matter to you what label is on the front of your PC? Tracy Caldwell looks at the differences are between the brand-name producers and the plain white-boxes

Making IT pay

Training staff how to use computers is not something many small businesses consider but, as Jane Dudman writes, it could be something well worth doing if you want to make the most of your investments in technology

How to avoid health and safety issues problems with IT systems

Keeping your staff fit and productive is important but unless you are aware of the dangers, IT can cause you some issues with health and safety regulations so it’s a wise to pay attention to the details and know how to avoid any problems

How to set up a CCTV system over the Internet

Low cost –but very capable - web cameras and the ability to transmit and store video footage on computer networks and across the Internet are bringing CCTV systems within the reach of much smaller businesses. But where do you start?

How to protect your on-line identitiy and bank details

We all know that identity theft and phishing (trying to get you to put your confidential details into a false web site) are big problems. But how can you avoid being deceived by the fraudsters?

How to use instant messaging for business

The use of Instant Messaging (IM) has grown massively over the past two years and what started as a craze in the home, has now moved into the business world. And while IM can be really useful, it can also expose you to a number of threats. Our list of do’

The virtual IT manager

Based in Leicester Square, at the heart of London’s theatre-land, Encore Tickets is a small but fast-growing ticketing wholesaler but the company’s success and speedly growth has presented some challenges.

Putting broadband at the heart of the business

Even in this age where PCs and notebooks are ubiquitous, many companies still have a need for rapid, accurate transcriptions of dictation or meetings.

How to set up a wireless network

To the uninitiated, setting up a wireless LAN sounds daunting but in practice, it can be fairly simple.