2010 turned out to be a huge year for IT news, with improvements finally being recorded in the jobs market, even if public sector IT projects were carved down.
Open source supporters delighted in the news that the London Stock Exchange had smashed the world trade speed record with its new system, until the network was knocked offline by either a technical problem or possible sabotage. Details of what happened remain under wraps.
Here are our picks of the top stories for IT managers this year.
Broadcaster BSkyB won at the end of a lengthy fraud court case with EDS (now HP) over a failed CRM system that it said had been missold. After months of legal wrangling, following the judgement, HP agreed a full and final settlement of £318 million.
Elsewhere, the London Stock Exchange burst through the speed barrier with its new Linux system, setting a world record average latency of 126 microseconds. But the news was swiftly dampened as the LSE had to delay the full switch on after the network was knocked over. It said that “suspicious” circumstances surrounded the incident.
Oil giant BP had ignored the advice of safety critical software in an attempt to save time before the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, according to a presentation slide prepared by US investigators. The news brought to light the issues over complex systems running on oil rigs, and questioned attitudes towards key monitoring data. Not long after, the US government launched a £14 billion lawsuit against BP, which branded some of the systems in place as a failure.
Tesco IT investment helps achieve £550m savings
Supermarket Tesco achieved a huge savings target last year in the UK under its Step Change efficiency programme, which involves IT improvements as well as general process efficiencies. The company, long seen as an innovator with IT among retailers, is targeting even higher savings next year as part of its goal of saving £800 million in 2010/2011.
Government pulls plug on heart of NHS IT national programme
2010 saw the government slam the brakes on a range of IT programmes. The NHS National Programme for IT, the country’s largest at £13 billion, was apparently knocked back when the government decided to scrap compulsory centralised systems for hospitals. But changes were swiftly questioned after it appeared that the government may be somewhat tied into contracts with its existing suppliers
Spending Review: IT in firing line as chancellor takes axe to public spending
The new coalition government launched a Spending Review, in which it slashed departmental spending and vowed to carve down more IT programmes. It offered little positive news for the IT industry.
Gatwick Airport takes major step in breaking away from BAA IT
In a year that airports were in the headlines for failing to clear up huge amounts of snow that were preventing flights, in their IT departments staff worked fast to update technology to meet cost challenges. Gatwick Airport, which was sold off by operator BAA, signed a multi-million pound deal with SAP and Siemens IT Solutions and Services to overhaul its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The new SAP ERP system replaces the existing Oracle-based solution that Gatwick inherited.
Jobs market reaches 'turning point'
Meanwhile, the IT jobs market finally showed signs of life. Employers in nearly all sectors showed signs of confidence and recruiting more people, according a key jobs report by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. Earlier in the year, as the job market hit rock bottom, there were serious threats of strikes at HP and BT. Some companies, however, took aggressive steps to continue cutting jobs, most notably Lloyds Banking Group, which announced 4,500 job cuts.
Citi: How we cut £900m from technology costs
Throughout the year, companies across the board moved to cut costs, with IT taking much of the hit in many instances. One of the largest examples was Citibank, which eliminated £904 million from technology and communications costs over eighteen months, through dramatic changes to servers and storage, better system integration and processes, and the elimination of legacy software.
Unilever SAP system 'cutting complexity'
Companies also drew on their ERP systems as they attempted to improve efficiency and run better processes. Household goods giant Unilever said it significantly improved “operational execution” and efficiency, as well as dramatically cutting complexity, after completing the global rollout of a single SAP system.
HSBC reaps benefit of IT standardisation plan
HSBC Bank, meanwhile, continued work to standardise IT and processes globally, switching off legacy systems. The move was so important to the company that its chief executive made a point of updating investors on how much the changes were helping the bank.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange released from Wandsworth Prison
And finally, who could forget the secret government cables released to newspapers and all over the internet by UK-based Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks? But Assange was also in the headlines for other reasons, as allegations in his personal life led to a UK arrest. He was released from Wandsworth prison this month, but the case continues. Assange says the charges were politically motivated.