Friday Five: Cyber-attack behind NHS 111 outage

Zone’s Ricky Wallace handpicks and shares the five best news stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Cyber-attack behind NHS 111 outage

Advanced, the company that provides digital services for NHS 111, has confirmed that the software outage affecting the service was caused by a cyber-attack. The attack was spotted last Thursday and targeted the system used to refer patients for care, including out-of-hours appointment bookings and emergency prescriptions, and crucially, ambulances being dispatched.

The NHS said disruption was minimal, although Advanced has indicated the issue might not be fully resolved until next week with family doctors in London told they could see an increased number of patients sent to them by NHS 111, and the Welsh Ambulance Service warning it may take longer for calls to be answered over the weekend.

“NHS 111 services are still available for patients who are unwell, but as ever if it is an emergency please call 999,” says NHS England.

2. Parents can now take control over kids’ Snapchat

Snapchat has launched a Family Centre, its first ever parental controls which builds on child safety measures by allowing parents to have more oversight of their child’s experience on the app.

Family Centre tools include letting parents see who their child is friends with and chatting to. Notably though, the content of conversations won’t be visible to parents or guardians and they will need to make a Snapchat account and be able to navigate the app to implement the controls.

Jacqueline Beauchere, global head of platform safety at Snapchat, said: “For parents, we know understanding how their teens are interacting online is important. We hope these tools will empower both parents and teens, and boost online safety and wellbeing.

3. EX = CX²: The links between employee and customer experience revealed

In partnership with Marketing Week, Zone has published its latest research report which finds a strategic approach to employee experience (EX) is fundamental to brands excelling at customer experience (CX).

The research, conducted with 200 senior executives with direct responsibility for CX, sees an overwhelming majority agree that EX positively impacts CX, but less than a third agree they have an EX-focused culture.

Zone’s CEO, Roy Capon, says: “Typically, initiatives related to employees are considered cost centres which get low investment. With the relentless pressure on share price and the focus on the customer, employees have been left behind.” The research suggests this needs to change as EX contributes strongly to a company’s ability to innovate, as well as their capacity for digital transformation.

4. WhatsApp updates privacy features

If you’ve got too many WhatsApp group messages blowing up your mobile phone and you’re desperate to bow out of some without causing upset, you’re in luck — WhatsApp has unveiled its updated privacy features which now allow users to leave group chats silently.

It’s a welcome change as the popular messaging app currently alerts all members of a group chat to someone leaving or being removed by default, but now with the recent changes users will be able to leave without notifying the other group chat users, only alerting group administrators.

WhatsApp is owned by Meta and their CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the changes will help keep WhatsApp messaging “as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.” The new features also mean users can control who sees their online status and block screenshots on View Once messages.

5. Why Heineken is designing for sustainability

Brands risk being sidelined by retailers if they don’t keep up with sustainability expectations, says Heineken UK’s marketing director Michael Gillane: “[Retailers are] advocating strongly on behalf of consumers. There are defensive reasons why you should evolve, because the retailer will stop you accessing the customer.”

Sustainability in product design must go much further than just packaging, he says. When it comes to Heineken developing new products, sustainability is always front of mind. For example, their brand-new product, Inch’s Cider, which launched last year was not only designed with recyclable packaging but was also made with apples that had been grown less than 40 miles from the mill.

Gillane says the company’s marketing team also thinks about “commercially driving” products that have a better impact on the environment in its work, and is working to get to net zero in its advertising and media, as well as focusing on the impact of its product.

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We write about customer experience, employee experience, design, content & technology to share our knowledge with the wider community.