- 17 May 2013
In simpler terms, let us point out two things:
Since the end of the 20th century, we have seen changes in the way work is done, such as telework, business incubators, business centres and, urged on by the recession, experiences based on making profitable free spaces in which all the professionals present share the expense.
More recently, a new approach has arrived from the United States, one that goes even farther and that is based on the ‘co’ philosophy: sharing knowledge, collaborating and setting up synergies, creating partnerships with which to do business and cooperating to compete. This is coworking, a form of working through which professionals find new opportunities for growth, both on a personal and professional level.
This formula allows the self-employed or entrepreneurs to share in the fixed costs of an establishment (rent, etc.), keep from being isolated and avoid the distractions that go along with working from home (telework), and broaden and enjoy a network of professional and, most importantly, direct contacts, all the while maintaining the material conditions necessary to serve their clients.
Coworking is still a new and little-known activity in Catalonia, although its future prospects are more than encouraging. Over the last 4 or 5 years, various spaces have been started, made more or less dynamic by their promoters, some specialising in professional sectors (mostly architecture, audiovisual production, plastic arts, and so forth), where a mostly foreign population carries out their business activity while enjoying the city’s good climate and tourist and cultural sites.
Coworking has not just appeared out of the blue, completely disassociated from the current economic situation and job market; instead it can be seen as the evolution of other consolidated forerunners such as telework, business hotels and business incubators.
The growth and consolidation of this new type of work, understood as the evolution of a reality we know full well, must not go unnoticed. What’s more, it must be used as yet another element with which to reactivate the economy, which goes hand in hand with technological development and evolution. That is why we venture to say technology and economic crisis are the progenitors of coworking here in Catalonia.
Here you can see a report from a programme of the Local Television Network (XTVL), which will give you a better idea of what this new of way of working means.
A total of 12 managers, organisations and projects from the Catalan ICT Point Network (XPT) are entering the 1st Global Telecentre Awards, organised by the Telecentre.org Foundation. This prize, recognising the work of Internet access and ICT centres throughout the world, will particularly value aspects such as public participation, social innovation and sustainability.
Telecentre.org is a foundation that promotes the creation and sustainability of telecentres at international level as places for promoting public access to the Internet and to information and communication technologies (ICT). For this year’s awards, the organisation has received a total of 261 proposals, which can be seen at the following link and which the public can vote for online during April. The three winning projects in each section will then be assessed by a committee of specialists, who will choose the winners. During the SPARK 2013 Global Forum on Telecentres, which will take place in Granada on 28 and 29 May, Telecentre.org will announce the 6 winners and will present the corresponding prizes.
Representatives of the ICT Point Network will have a chance of winning four of the six different categories into which the awards are organised.
These are the entrants, by category:
o Teb Youth Association Òmnia Point, Barcelona
• Telecentre manager:
o Jèss Zomeño, La Font dels Capellans Residents’ Association Òmnia Point, Manresa
o Mercè Fort, Santa Bàrbara ICT Point Infocentre
o Alexandra Bozonet, Sant Pau-Santa Creu Library ICT Point, Barcelona
o David Picó, Grupo Unión Òmnia Point, Sant Adrià de Besòs
o Pascal Cousseran, Sant Roc Community Centre Òmnia Point, Badalona
o Marc Pascual, Casal dels Infants Òmnia Point, Barcelona
• Telecentre network:
o Lleida Telecentre Network
o ICT Point Network
• Telecentre innovation:
o Social innovation ICTs in using and improving electronic administration, from the Ribera d’Ebre ICT Point
o Platform for social uses of NICTs, from the Sant Roc Community Centre Òmnia Point, Badalona
o Enterprise and digital social innovation centres, from the La Torre del Roser ICT Point, Sant Feliu de Llobregat
Although it is not presenting any entries in the categories recognising the best initiative and best information access centre, the participation of the Catalan ICT Point Network in this competition is very considerable, with entries that have real chances of winning the various awards. The presence of a manager from the Catalan Government’s Directorate-General for Telecommunications and the Information Society, Sergi Marcén, as a member of the jury is also an important feature. A win for any of the entries presented would involve new recognition of the work done at Catalan telecentres, which was already highlighted in 2012 with the presentation of the award for the best European manager to Esther Collado, of the Òmnia-ICT Point at the L’Escorxador Community Centre, La Seu d’Urgell.
Begun in 2002 as a joint project between the Ministry of Enterprise and Labour and the Ministry of Social Welfare and Family of the Government of Catalonia, the network brings together different initiatives—the Òmnia project, teleworking telecentres, libraries and other associations or municipal centres—offering all members of the public and groups the opportunity to access the knowledge society. There are now more than 700 ICT Points working in two basic core areas: promoting technology among the public and the socioeconomic fabric of Catalonia and improving the quality of life and autonomy of people.
Success in achieving these aims depends largely on the role of the manager: the agent who detects the area’s needs, supports members of the public in their first steps in the digital world and turns the points into centres for information, training, community work, employability, participation and innovation, as well as economic driving forces.
Friday March 22 was held in Barcelona the presentation of the new BlackBerry operating system, BlackBerry 10. With it, the Canadian multinational RIM aims to offer the market the most complete technological software platform for mobile phones in order to snatch part of the market Apple and Android seem to have been winning over the last few months. This is one of the most fascinating technological rivalries for anyone who knows about the development of mobile application software, solutions and systems, and even more so considering that the first BlackBerry device incorporating it is the Z10, which has aroused a great deal of expectation in the global smartphone market.
This blog is not the right place to take an in-depth look at the technical details of this device and its operating system, which we are hearing a lot about these days, both on the Net and in articles in the biggest specialised magazines in the digital technology world. However, we do need to mention a small detail here which has to do with us, the inhabitants of the Catalan-speaking area, and our identity. And, as we have mentioned before, this detail—which fits quite easily into a tweet like one of those that would go unnoticed in the TL of any Twitter user in a sovereign country that has no particular reason to protect or promote its culture, as it is not threatened in any way—still matters to us. BlackBerry incorporates Catalan as a standard language in its new operating system, the BlackBerry 10, a feature completed with automatic detection of Catalan as an additional linguistic tool.
Despite this new feature, it is business as usual at this BlackBerry launch. Like the big multinational it is, RIM, just like most technology giants, understands perfectly that obviously a product to be sold in our country should have the features its people demand—in the linguistic area too, of course. The market view, together with respect for different cultures, is increasingly irresistible and begins to merge into everyday life, to the point that it becomes invisible to our people. So now all that remains is to enjoy this new system and hope it will be an operating and technological success. Further proof that, from the corporate point of view, there is only one way of giving the best service to users of a cultural and territorial area: with the most absolute normality.
The competitive dialogue phase for a new Government of Catalonia ICT contracting model closes this week with the termination of the third and final round of dialogues with the participating companies. With the conclusion of this round table, during which participants had to discuss the cost model, the contracting model, resources and assets that they proposed as the best solution for each of the four dialogues, the dialogue phase comes to an end and a period of bidding for the new model opens, which will close at the end of June with the final awarding of the contracts.
Over many weeks, each and every one of the companies participating in the process gave the best of themselves, providing the best solutions and the best professionals.
As the Government of Catalonia, we are extremely satisfied with the involvement of the participants in the dialogues; the debates were enriching and the proposals, brilliant. As an administration, we have the obligation to preserve the work accomplished through this process: all this knowledge, all this talent, is of the highest level. It is truly worthy of publication as the White Paper on Telecommunications and Information Technologies of Catalonia, but, regrettably, this cannot be.
We are aware that the efforts made by the companies in this process sought a twofold objective. The main one and most evident: to attain one or more contracts through this tender. However, no less important was that of moving Catalonia forward, experimenting with new formulas for public-private collaboration and providing the government with what it needed: savings and modernisation. We are sure that the companies share in the Government’s feeling that ICTs are a gear shift and that, based on this affirmation, our Catalan nature has brought out the best in us all and has allowed us to speak of a successful process that has exceeded all expectations. We are to be congratulated.
The dialogue is over and soon the bidding will commence. The next few weeks will be paramount for the companies participating in this process, and we trust that the nerves and pressures of the moment will not distract us from seeking any other objective than presenting the best bids, the winning bids.
These bids must propose improving the ICT services of the Government of Catalonia in terms of price, and this can only be achieved by doing things differently. We are living in complicated times in which the government must do more with less, this we already know. Would that it were otherwise, a situation in which the sector was also driven by public contracting based on the quantity of investment, and not just qualitatively, as it is now.
We are aware that the sector’s satisfaction with the contracts awarded will be lower than the expectations generated. The reason is simple: less will be spent on ICT services than before. One thing is certain; we will have a new ICT sector ecosystem.
In this new ecosystem to be created based on the award, it is obvious that companies in the sector will outsource among themselves. The Government does not want to be a stranger to these processes, since the industrial policy of a government is to be informed of such processes. Therefore, we are moving towards finding the appropriate tools so that the CTTI and the Directorate General for Telecommunications and the Information Society can monitor the way in which this outsourcing is done. Let us not forget that we are talking about public funds, provided by the citizens, which we are ‘returning’ to the system. However, this cannot be done just any way.
The dialogues now come to a close and the awarding will start before summer. And if someone were to ask: And now what? Well, once this work is finished, we carry on.
The ICT sector, with or without public contracting, must continue to transform the economy and society. The Government of Catalonia is aware of this and therefore we will promote it. Internally, we will go ahead with new projects which we will explain in the coming months and for which we will need the sector. Externally, the idigital Plan, the Government’s new strategy to make Catalonia a hub of innovation and the digital society, will place emphasis on the use of ICTs by businesses and citizens. We will continue to build, to build while innovating, and we will continue to support the sector which, without a doubt, will get us out of the crisis.