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The impact of SD-WAN adoption on digital transformation and corporate strategy

IT Portal from UK - 2 hours 6 min ago

Since the advent of the Internet, IT teams have used many different network management techniques in search of a way to achieve optimal use of their bandwidth and efficient data traffic routing. Truly dynamic approaches have proved elusive. The latest generation wide area networking (WAN) technology, SD-WAN, which is software-based, revolutionises the WAN just as virtualisation has revolutionised the server. The stars seem well aligned to accelerate the enterprise adoption of SD-WAN. Organisations are motivated by the need for digital transformation, the explosion of application traffic to the cloud and the need for homogeneous network performance at all sites.

SD-WAN has already been in use by the early adopters for several years, and it is swiftly moving to become a mainstream solution. Deployment rates are growing and accelerating. In a recent study by Frost & Sullivan,1 61 per cent of the companies surveyed said they plan to replace their routers within one to two years with SD-WAN. The annual growth of the SD-WAN market is estimated at 40 per cent, according to IDC.2 Though it is still in the maturation phase, SD-WAN offerings have already evolved well in adapting to new market expectations. So, is 2019 the year of SD-WAN?

Beyond simply reducing costs

SD-WAN’s explosive growth is in part due to its ability to enable the use of a combination of different access types at a site to deliver greater uptime and more available bandwidth for less money than legacy network services such as MPLS.

SD-WAN can potentially generate triple-digit ROI on accelerated payback intervals, contributing cost savings in the form of reduced network downtime, optimised network access costs and resource savings from a managed service. It’s worth taking a closer look at SD-WAN’s advantages beyond cost reductions and the implications for enterprise IT teams. The deployment of SD-WAN technology should also be considered for the benefits it can bring for applications that are sensitive to speed, latency and responsiveness.

The revolution SD-WAN brings can be summed up in its ability to identify the nature of the data flows, to prioritise them and to deliver them on any site of the company with the same homogeneity of performance — all orchestrated with a unique management interface. The IT department can use SD-WAN to arbitrate much more seamlessly between the decentralisation and/or globalisation of its enterprise footprint and its desire to have traffic managed through a central monitoring setup.

Legacy WANs had the advantage of being simple to administer and orchestrate. The SD-WAN layer, while providing agility, efficiency and better performance, also brings some complexity, requiring new skills for the teams responsible for operating the network.

Take, for instance, the security of data streams and direct access to services in the cloud from remote sites, which require a change in network architecture, mesh and route selection. Security must be thought about from the outset of the decision to adopt SD-WAN, and it must be integrated into deployments, cloud access, virtual instances, container services and beyond.

With network virtualisation, network monitoring has also become increasingly difficult, requiring IT teams to go beyond equipment and connections, and study applications and network topologies in different layers. This is where global network operators have an advantage over their non-operator competitors, as they can easily provide end-to-end monitoring from their supervisory portal.

Multiple actors from different horizons

This change is driving IT teams to abandon a do-it-yourself approach and to rely instead on outsourcing SD-WAN services. According to Frost & Sullivan, 80 per cent of enterprises are choosing managed SD-WAN services, compared to 20 per cent doing it themselves.3 

Several types of providers offer SD-WAN, responding to the same problem with different approaches. Four general categories for SD-WAN service provider approaches are:

  • Pure Players, in which the SD-WAN solution and cloud-based management infrastructure are delivered by the SD-WAN vendors, and the network sourcing and other service requirements are the responsibility of the enterprise client or their representative.
  • Network Operators, in which the SD-WAN service, management, network infrastructure and any additional services are delivered by the network service provider as a comprehensive package.
  • Integrators, implementing pure player solutions, typically in combination with network and security services procured from network operators.
  • In-House Solutions, in which an enterprise IT team brings together all the components, including SD-WAN rollout, network sourcing and security implementation.

Each approach corresponds to different needs depending on the level of expertise of the enterprise’s IT teams.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure of October 2018 lists 20 SD-WAN vendors. While this list is a good start, we can add at least as many other companies that offer SD-WAN integrated with other services — for instance, Unified Communications as a Service. Factoring in the emergence of new kinds of IT outsourcing and security companies, we are currently in a highly atomised SD-WAN market.

To choose the best service, a decision-maker has to pay attention to requirements for cloud connectivity, path performance, geographic reach and the service provider’s experience. Does the SD-WAN solution have direct connections to the cloud applications that the business uses? How exactly does the traffic get from point to point? Does the provider’s reach match the business’s footprint? Do the service providers have experience managing complex hybrid networks?

Strategy evolution

From a macro perspective, SD-WAN is well positioned to become a strategic enabler for companies.

CIOs are now part of the core executive decision-making hierarchy of a company, driven by digital transformation projects. According to Deloitte, 46 per cent of large companies’ CIOs report directly to their CEOs.4 With the explosion of mobile tools and applications, companies need to reorganise. They must deploy the same application performance to all employees to enable them to work on any site using real-time, seamless collaboration tools. To do this, SD-WAN provides an agile solution.

Indeed, thanks to the centralised orchestration of the SD-WAN performance at all sites, it is possible to adjust the level of performance of the connectivity according to the workload, and to aggregate the different types of access (fiber, copper, Wi-Fi, 4G and beyond) site by site.

Thus, this new technology not only impacts IT, but also impacts corporate strategy at the executive committee level. For example, SD-WAN could enable a new organisational structure and geographical team distribution, resulting in real estate savings. SD-WAN can allow easier M&A,5 faster rollout of new offices and branches, more reliable broadband in shops to facilitate more digitally enabled and immersive shopping experiences, and so on.

While enterprise networks are a complex ecosystem, made up of disparate connections (Internet, Ethernet, etc.), operators have the necessary information to support companies in their digital transformation with SD-WAN solutions. Expertise with edge applications like 5G and IoT can also offer them competitive and technical advantages.

Looking ahead

The virtualisation of network technology that SD-WAN represents promises further upheaval to come. It used to be the norm for router equipment manufacturers to propose proprietary solutions. Over time, the telecommunications industry has evolved toward interoperability of equipment, in the hunt for increasingly meshed networks, reduced costs and increased capacity.

SD-WAN has so far enjoyed great success being delivered from proprietary vendor hardware. However, the next delivery model for SD-WAN, known as Universal Customer Premises Equipment (uCPE), breaks the link between hardware and software in an SD-WAN context. As these solutions become more capable and widespread, enterprises will be able to enjoy exceptional value and additional cost savings, thanks to increased flexibility for adding WAN optimisation, firewalls and more routing capabilities on a single hardware device.

We are only on the cusp of the SD-WAN revolution as the driver of network transformation for the cloud IT model underpinning the enterprise of the future.

Todd Kiehn, VP of Product Management, GTT

Five myths you have been told about industrial AI

IT Portal from UK - 2 hours 36 min ago

Ok, I’m going to say something unpopular now.  This is a message for the industrial companies, the ones who build, operate, maintain, and rely on large, complex assets, processes, capital equipment, systems, and machinery. Some of these assets have been used by companies for 20+ years.

If you have been reading the popular press, you have been fed a line and a vision of a bright, beautiful, and imminent future.  You’ve been told about the coming of Industry 4.0. You've been sold a vision of automation--robotics, IoT, 3D printing, 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI). It's been conveyed, that where AI is present, autonomous and magic decisions take place.

Yes, it’s true that AI is making great inroads in certain areas like chatbots, image recognition and loan fault prediction.

Yet, in the instance of AI for industrial use, you have been mainly fed a pack of lies. Instead, let me debunk a few common myths about AI.

Five myths you have been told about industrial artificial intelligence

Myth 1: Plug in your data; out pops intelligence.

Recently, so-called “cognitive AI” was applied to a series of predictive maintenance problems in the hopes that by simply ingesting large heaps of machine data, the AI could predict which component part of the equipment would fail next. The AI would then predict the best order in which to maintain the equipment. The result was an utter failure to make intelligent predictions. The AI could predict events that were obviously bound to happen but was unable to provide context for the prediction or an explanation as to why. That’s because to work, predictive science must rely on a cognitive or ontological model of the world it’s trying to predict. In the business use context, the AI would utilise data like the equipment type, location, the components of the equipment and how the equipment has been used in its previous life cycle to determine the relevant information. However, without great effort, these data points are typically not available to the data scientist trying to build the AI, unless the company has established its data foundation, or digital thread.

Myth 2: AI allows you to skip a bunch of steps.

Nope. AI actually needs more steps. You still have to do all the data processes to create an up-to-date data foundation—what I described as creating your digital thread. But let’s say you already have conquered those challenges. AI may enable you to skip some of the feature engineering done by humans, but it will do many more iterations of that engineering, requiring huge amounts of computational power. Layers and layers of computational power is required, which is why, incidentally, it’s called “deep learning.” This brings us to the real problem here: the AI is highly dependent on the very manual process of labelling the data to allow the AI to learn to predict or perceive, or distinguish accurately. Acquiring a labelled dataset still requires vast quantities of manually labelled input data in order to feed the AI. In fact, whole new businesses have emerged, describing themselves as a “TaskRabbit for data” including Gengo and CloudFactory.  These new entrants to the “gig economy” are serving the need for manual labour to build these datasets.  For industrial applications, labelling is a very simple word for the hard work involved in that process. Labelling often involves things like tearing down an electronic device to determine where the failure occurred, examining a machine in a failure analysis lab, and x-raying a high-pressure hose to determine if there were defects that lead to its failure. These so-called “labels” are very, very expensive in the industrial world.

Myth 3: AI will replace your workers because it mimics human intelligence.

AI will only replace workers that are performing very simple and narrow tasks--jobs that will be automated very shortly in the future anyway. AI in today’s world is good for tasks that a child could do, these tasks are often those that could be completed in a 15 second timeframe, like differentiating one object from another, detecting sentiment, or recognising a pattern within a shape. What can AI do better than humans?  It can sort through a seemly vast number of details and bring organisation to the data.

Myth 4: AI can explain why something happened.

Up until recently, AI was very black box, which means it couldn’t explain how it came to its conclusion or what led to a certain prediction. Now, some types of AI models and techniques provide a pathway to its reasoning, but this doesn’t replace the scientific method for determining causal links. In industrial settings, it’s critical for us to know why something is breaking, that way we can fix the reason. If we don’t find the contributing factors, and make the appropriate adjustments, the issue is going to happen again.


Myth 5: AI can predict the future.

No, AI cannot predict the future and it certainly cannot make the types of predictions industrial use requires. AI can’t make predictions it can only verify a fact. In industrial use cases, we need more meaningful predictions, like “Which characteristics of a fan blade indicate that it may jam in the future?”  In order for the AI to make an educated guess you’ll need to utilise a lot of different data points. This data would include fan blade sensor readings, as well as associated motor failures. You also need to assemble your digital thread or “model of the world” to make sense of all that sensor data. The problem is, once you’ve compiled all of the necessary factors, you have probably assembled enough real human intelligence to make the determination without the help of AI.  However, if we want AI to make these kinds of predictions in lieu of humans, this will take place in the future and certainly not today.

The truth about AI

Don’t get me wrong, AI stills bears huge promise with the prospect of automating so many tedious, or physically different tasks.  But just as we’ve seen the promise of autonomous driving technology, which is one of the most popular of all industrial AI use cases in existence, many barriers loom large.  It’s easy for us to buy into the fantasy of a simpler, more automated world, but it’s most important to remember the work and process required to produce the right outcomes.

Cheryl Wiebe, industry consultant and subject matter expert, Teradata

[SECURITY] [DSA 4471-1] thunderbird security update

Security Updates from SECLISTS - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 09:47

Posted by Moritz Muehlenhoff on Jun 25

Debian Security Advisory DSA-4471-1 security () debian org
https://www.debian.org/security/ Moritz Muehlenhoff
June 24, 2019 https://www.debian.org/security/faq

Package : thunderbird
CVE ID : CVE-2019-11707 CVE-2019-11708...

Global telcos under attack, state-sponsored groups in the limelight

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 08:00

A bunch of global telecommunications companies have been breached, and their data stolen, according to fresh media reports. Even though we still don't know who the culprits are, fingers are already being pointed, and they're being pointed to the Chinese.

According to Cybereason (an US-Israeli cybersecurity firm), the group known as APT10 (also known as Stone Panda, among other names it uses) is behind the attack. APT10 is a known cyberwarfare group that many researchers believe is state-backed or state-sponsored.

It stole personal and corporate data from telecommunications companies in western Europe, allegedly.

“For this level of sophistication it’s not a criminal group. It is a government that has capabilities that can do this kind of attack,” said Lior Div, chief executive of Cybereason.

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said he was not aware of the report, but added “we would never allow anyone to engage in such activities on Chinese soil or using Chinese infrastructure.”

The attack, which was apparently uncovered some nine months ago, compromised internal IT networks of its victims, allowing attackers customisation of the infrastructure.

They even managed to compromise the target’s entire active directory, giving themselves access to all login credentials in existence. Billing information, call records, these were all taken.

“They built a perfect espionage environment,” said Div, a former commander in Israel’s military intelligence unit 8200. “They could grab information as they please on the targets that they are interested in.”

Cybereason said: “This time as opposed to in the past we are sure enough to say that the attack originated in China. We managed to find not just one piece of software, we managed to find more than five different tools that this specific group used,” Div said.


AWS Security Hub now available

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 07:30

Amazon Web Services (AWS) users now have a central hub where they can handle all security and compliance issues, the company announced. Among other things, the new AWS Security Hub tool can aggregate and prioritise security alerts from different AWS services, as well as from the AWS Partner Network solutions.

AWS believes this hub will simplify compliance checks.

In terms of pricing, it seems as businesses will only pay for services they use – when they use it. There are no upfront fees, and customers will pay for compliance checks performed and security findings ingested – only.

Moreover, the first 10,000 security finding events each month are free of charge.

“AWS Security Hub is the glue that connects what AWS and our security partners do to help customers manage and reduce risk,” said Dan Plastina, Vice President for External Security Services at AWS.

“By combining automated compliance checks, the aggregation of findings from more than 30 different AWS and partner sources, and partner-enabled response and remediation workflows, AWS Security Hub gives customers a simple way to unify management of their security and compliance.”

With the introduction of GDPR, but also with the overall increase in data security awareness among businesses and consumers, staying secure and compliant with regulations has become a major challenge for all businesses.

Those that fail to keep up with this trend not only risk fines from their local communications watchdog, but also risk losing customers, decreased revenues, they risk a tarnished brand and extra expenses.

Cyber security skills gap: An industry in crisis or something even worse?

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 07:00

In an interview with IT Pro Portal, Darren Thomson, Chief Technology Officer for cybersecurity firm Symantec, discusses the skills gap. He addresses if organisations should be fearful of it, and to what extent. He gives actionable insights on what businesses can do to make immediate change in the recruitment of more skilled workers, as well as future steps. And finally, he tackles the idea of artificial intelligence (AI), and this new technology's role in helping businesses across the world bridge the ever increasing skills gap.

How real is the skills gap? How worried should businesses be?

The cyber security skills gap is having serious and undeniable consequences. Unsurprisingly, nearly 100 per cent of European enterprises agree there’s a security skills shortage, according to IDC. Symantec’s new report, High Alert: Skills Crisis, found nearly half of European cyber security leaders believe their teams are falling behind in the skills race against their criminal counterparts.

However, it’s not that organisations should be worried, they are worried. They know that this critical gap translates into an increasingly strained workforce whose skills development is hampered by work overload and burnout and, ultimately, an increased threat to enterprise security.

Across Europe over a third of cyber security leaders report their teams are unable to manage the sheer scale of current workloads. Here in the UK, 55 per cent of cyber security professionals report feeling responsible for an incident that could have been avoided. It’s worrying enough knowing that the enemies are at the gate, let alone knowing the people defending you are outgunned and burned out.

The shortage of appropriately skilled people is forcing some individuals to leave their roles, indeed the industry, when they simply cannot cope with the workload any longer. The recruitment challenge pushes up salaries and encourages ‘job hopping,’ which causes further disruption in an area of the business you’d want to be very stable. It also necessitates extensive use of contractors, who are often expensive, and not necessarily fully aligned with the organisation.

The issue is exacerbated when we look beyond large metropolitan areas. We know this from speaking with members of our CISO Forum who tell us that recruiting outside of metropolitan areas is an even harder challenge, along with recruiting for what might seem ‘less desirable’ brands.

How can businesses make immediate changes in the recruitment of more skilled workers?

At the Symantec CISO Forum, in February 2019, delegates agreed that six months was the absolute minimum amount of time it takes to hire a security specialist, with nine to twelve months not being unusual. For those with even the briefest of experience, salary expectations were sky high. Organisations need to hire more quickly, and in a more diverse and inclusive way to ensure the largest possible pool of candidates. There is also growing acknowledgement of the need to allow new recruits to be trained up from scratch (even with the risk they then leave for one of those big salaries offered elsewhere).

The ongoing lack of female participation in the industry is a continued concern, and the biggest area of opportunity. The 2018 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study reports that only 24 per cent of the workforce is female; which shows immediate scope to consciously recruit from a larger pool of candidates. Businesses must think about their work environment and create flexible ways for people to work that match their requirements. Above all, they must reach out to everyone, provide access to opportunity and excellent support from mentorship to formal development schemes.

As we look beyond the existing pool of cyber security recruits, there’s a wealth of untapped talent. There’s a huge opportunity for the industry to recruit and train underserved populations including under-resourced young adults, ex-police and military veterans. These groups have real potential to fill in-demand cyber security jobs.

We must also look beyond technical skills to bridge this gap.  Identifying and addressing the key factors facing an organisation’s security can help inform how best to support the wider security team. Recent 451 research shows that 37 per cent of security workloads are driven by user behaviour. By tackling internal security challenges, security professionals can massively cut down workload, and time.

For example, a Symantec CISO Forum delegate recently shared her experience hiring a psychologist to tackle challenges with end-user behaviour within her organisation. Following a number of initiatives – such as praising those who raised a potential threat, to test phishing emails and ‘external email’ warnings – the firm’s phishing simulation click rate dropped from 27 per cent to 8 per cent in just twelve months. This savvy initiative both improved the firm’s security posture and saved the security function considerable time and workload.

You say we "cannot recruit our way out of this crisis" - so what are the next steps?

Organisations need to find alternatives that can help free up time for skills development and ease the recruitment burden. Yet, it’s essential that these tools don’t become part of the problem. They must work only to reduce the complexity of cyber security and lessen the burden on the workforce. By taking a considered and logical approach, leaders can bolster their teams and free up time to tackle new aspects of the job that add value and drive engagement through:

  • Rationalisation: rationalise by consolidating the security estate or implementing a cyber security platform to improve security and reduce manual management time
  • Embedding security within the main control points web, email, network and endpoints can give greater control that goes completely unnoticed by end-users, moving parts of the organisation towards a ‘in the sinew’ security infrastructure
  • Automation through an integrated platform reduces the volume of alerts analysts have to contend with and supports workflow to automate tech admin tasks, reporting and compliance, giving the workforce time to embrace new skills
  • Externalisation: externalise technically demanding elements, such as threat intelligence, security monitoring, endpoint detection and response, to address challenges such as complex analysis of high volumes of network data and resource monitoring the global threat landscape

Lowering the overall workload and removing the more mundane, repetitive and low-value tasks from security teams’ workloads allows staff to focus on the more rewarding, higher value work – which can only help firms in the fierce competition to attract, and keep, top talent.

What about the role of AI? Can this help with some of the heavy lifting?

Machine learning and AI can elevate defence levels, without triggering huge amounts of additional manual resource. Take Symantec’s Targeted Attack Analytics (TAA) for example: TAA enables vast telemetry data lakes and exposes attack patterns to give a holistic view of an organisation and their industry to determine the source, scope and impact of an attack in just a matter of hours. If we compare this technology to a manual equivalent, we’d be looking at months of labour, let alone the immense cost involved that, for many organisations, would be simply unfeasible. While it can enable some redeployment of the workforce, the real point of machine learning and AI is that it brings a whole new level of defence. It’s automation of workflows, reporting and maintenance (such as updates) will free up cyber security professionals in a far quicker timeframe, and cut out the drudgery that can lead to a less engaged workforce and subsequent mistakes.

How is Symantec working with educational institutions to boost cyber skills training?

The whole industry has had a poor track record in making cyber security a serious consideration for those entering (or re-entering) the workforce. Even within computing and STEM initiatives, cyber security has failed to make its case, with the focus usually on coding.

At Symantec we’re now involved with numerous initiatives, all around the world. In the UK, we’re particularly excited about Symantec’s involvement with TechTeen and our work with iQ4 and its Cybersecurity Workforce Alliance (CWA). The CWA gives our employees the opportunity to act as virtual mentors to university students to guide and deliver the essential soft skills, workplace experience and readiness employers need for roles in cyber security. So not only does it increase the pool of candidates, it means that their new employer benefits from a far faster on-boarding period. As part of our work with CWA, we’ve just launched a pilot scheme with Greenwich University to support thirty-two students develop valuable workplace experience by leveraging the NIST Framework to learn best practice in protecting, defending, responding and recovering from incidents.

Darren Thomson, CTO & Vice President, EMEA Region, Symantec

Security firms are losing out when it comes to top tech talent

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 07:00

Half of cybersecurity leaders in the UK, Germany and France think their teams are falling behind in the skills race against “would-be cybercriminals”, according to a new report by Symantec Corporation.

The report claims this way of thinking puts extra pressure on an already heavily burdened profession, in which two thirds of pros want to quit or leave the industry altogether.

Cybersecurity pros believe they lack the skills needed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their adversaries, while some can’t handle the load they’re facing.

As these teams struggle to keep pace with ‘would-be attackers’, as well as the speed in which things change in the industry, the skills gap keeps on growing. Cybersecurity teams are too busy handling everyday things to learn new skills, while new tech and new solutions are popping up virtually every day. The respondents claim hackers have ‘unprecedented’ resources and support from organised crime groups and state-sponsored attackers.

“Cyber security professionals are first responders, locked into a constant arms race with attackers – where talent and skill are the most important weapons,” comments Dr. Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation, Goldsmiths, University of London.

“The vast majority find this battle of wits an exciting and deeply intellectual challenge. But, this demanding work comes with high stakes and is fought at a frenetic pace with little support. Add to this the relentless volume of alerts and more mundane tasks, and the job can quickly turn toxic. Highly stressed workers are far more likely to be disengaged and ultimately quit. In an industry already plagued by a skills shortage, this is a significant risk to businesses.”

And when cybersecurity pros are suffering – their organisations are suffering as well. Most of the respondents underestimate the requirements they need to properly address an incident, and they often find themselves rushing when addressing a threat.

Moreover, they feel responsible for a cybersecurity incident, especially if it could have been avoided.

To learn more what’s in store for 2019 in terms of cybersecurity, read this.

The unexpected entrepreneurial lessons I learned from the Israeli army

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 06:30

The Israeli Army’s intelligence divisions are known throughout the world for incubating some of the Start-up Nation’s most successful high-tech ventures. During my 22 years in the army, I served in and commanded the R&D division of an elite army intelligence unit, an experience that offered me the privilege of seeing first-hand the unit’s ground-breaking innovations in cybersecurity and other fields. But serving in the unit also taught me some key – and often unexpected – lessons, not just about creating leading-edge technology, but also what it means to lead like an entrepreneur.

With its rigid hierarchy, the military may seem an unlikely place to learn about entrepreneurship, given the flexibility and almost constant pivoting necessary to thrive in the start-up world. But these six lessons have served me well in both my army service and in the tech ecosystem – and they can be useful for any entrepreneur working to build a dynamic and market-leading company.

1. Forget disruption – it’s all about construction.

The unit I served in develops vital projects that contribute to Israel’s security, winning the prestigious Israel Defence Prize on multiple occasions. How did the unit reach these crucial milestones? At its heart, it was about its remarkable blend of the best of both worlds – leveraging years of experience in defending the country while tailoring that experience to new and evolving needs.

What holds true in the Israeli military also holds true in the business world: To perform your best, you need the insights, resources and history of legacy institutions, as well as the commitment to innovation and forward-thinking that enables great leaps of progress.

But it’s all too easy for start-ups to lose sight of this basic lesson. For many tech entrepreneurs, the “move fast and break things” mentality prevails. But working in the army and cybersecurity, I’ve come to learn how essential it is to strike a balance between old and new. In both my service and in my entrepreneurial career, I’ve found much greater success when my teams have been able to bridge experience and possibilities. Like countries, industries rarely need disruption; instead, they need construction – drawing on decades of built-upon intelligence and battle-tested experience.

Rather than “breaking things,” try breaking things down to their fundamental elements and see how they can be reimagined and reengineered to create something entirely new. And for those elements of change which ultimately do require “disruption,” do so with enormous care and surgical precision, lest you risk doing more damage than good.

2. Synchronisation is key.

Whether you’re building something entirely new, working within a deep-rooted institution, or some combination of the two, your team will consist of many moving parts. It’s vital that those moving parts are synchronised and aligned on all your organisation’s goals.

The Israel Defence Forces, for instance, has made it a priority to improve the flow of information from the Air Force to ground forces. Teams working for high-tech start-ups must also synchronise and promote effective communication between different parts of the organisation and throughout different stages of a project – from inception, through planning and testing, to deployment.

During my army service, my unit was working on a major project that encountered a last-minute obstacle, yet despite the odds, we managed to complete it on schedule. How? We doubled the team’s size, which could have just as easily slowed us down as speed things up – but because we built in the structures of growth and flexibility from the get-go, the new recruits were able to integrate into the team and workflow seamlessly.

Now that I’m leading a company focused on railway cybersecurity – an area that involves highly complex systems and sophisticated technology – I work to apply that same level of synchronisation and communication across the company. Indeed, the train is the perfect metaphor for the importance of synchronisation: All rail cars need to be on track. If one goes off the rails, they all do.

Completely siloing your company’s squads may seem to add swiftness to your organisation, but in the end, this approach slows down the company as a whole. Transparency and communication, by contrast, ensure that all stakeholders are in sync and prepared to pick up the slack at a moment’s notice when a setback strikes or when confronted with a jarring mission-change.

3. Hire for personality.

In putting together a cohesive team, my army unit emphasised not only technological but also social know-how. In short, personality matters.

Once you’ve established the high skill level required, it’s crucial to consider whether a prospective employee has the personality traits necessary to thrive in any given company, given the industry, environment, and culture.

At Cylus, our extraordinary engineers understand the importance of bringing their personalities into their work. A team of whizzes is a great thing for any business to have – but a team of whizzes who collaborate, show persistence, make one another better, and demonstrate a commitment to the company’s vision is the holy grail.

4. Stay humble.

Whether you’re on the frontlines of defence or building a game-changing new product, great power and great responsibility can all too readily breed overconfidence. It’s critical, then, to remain humble in your work – particularly when you’re working to tackle challenges no one else has solved before.

For militaries, excessive confidence can lead to carelessness, with potentially lethal consequences. It also comes with serious risk for start-ups. In cybersecurity, for instance, companies must confront the fact that hackers are often one step ahead, and managing cyber risks is a matter of playing catch-up. The minute you believe you’ve won is actually the moment you’ve lost. In short, your enemies love your ego.

5. Nevertheless, be confident.

Of course, being humble isn’t the same as being timid. While bringing a proper dose of humility to the job, it’s also important to infuse your work with a sense of confidence in your company’s ability to solve the biggest challenges you’re confronting.

When you think big, you can make it big. In the army, we constantly strove to make possible what others long said was impossible – and our persistence consistently paid off. It’s no wonder that so many of my fellow alumni have gone on to build some of the Israeli tech ecosystem’s boldest and most influential start-ups.

6. Show openness.

This may sound counterintuitive for the military, but in any successful organisation, people shouldn’t be afraid to say what they think. By promoting a company culture in which team members can share their thoughts and inject new ideas into the conversation, you’ll promote innovation and communication – and you’ll be the kind of start-up people want to work for.

To be sure, it’s one thing for a colleague to constructively push back on another’s proposal… it’s entirely another matter for a 19-year-old recruit to say “no” to his or her commanding officer – right? Truth is, if the “no” comes with solid reasons that serve the unit’s interests, that kind of chutzpah can actually be quite productive. As the seminal book Start-Up Nation, The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle points out, Israel’s military values improvisation and flattens hierarchies. Far from being rigid and inflexible, I found my army unit to be a hub of forward-thinking ingenuity, which may not be all that surprising for our tiny country, where innovation and survival have so often gone hand in hand.

Are these lessons unique to my unit or to the Israel Defence Forces? Certainly not. In fact, as many have suggested, military veterans the world over are far underutilised in the world of start-ups and innovation. Perhaps more incubators dedicated to soldier-entrepreneurs are in order?

Amir Levintal, CEO and co-founder, Cylus

Brexit is the biggest concern for UK tech workforce

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 06:30

UK-based IT pros are still worried about the potential effects of Brexit on their industry, despite the overall “encouraging optimism”. This is according to a new report by CWJobs.

The Confidence Index report states that most IT pros (89 per cent) have a positive outlook, yet more than a third are worried about the current political landscape. This seems to be a bigger issue to them than, say, the state of the economy, or losing talent abroad.

A fifth doesn’t look kindly at the years ahead, saying the political unrest will cause problems for the older generation.

Yet, the respondents feel the UK is in a ‘strong position’ because of the skill set the industry has to offer, the technology that’s being built and the country’s leadership status. Their biggest strengths, in terms of the skills set, include cybersecurity, general IT and cloud skills, while AI is poised to take over in the near future. All of this makes them believe there is a pay raise right around the corner.

“The UK’s tech workforce is clearly in a good place, with confidence high in the skills it has at its disposal and the technology it’s producing,” says Dominic Harvey, Director at CWJobs.

“However, that confidence is at risk from external factors, be that political or economic. While some things are out of the industry’s control, losing talent isn’t. This should act as a wake-up call for businesses to make themselves an attractive proposition that retains talent and keeps them competitive in the future.”

What is the cloud and how will it affect my business?

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 06:00

New technologies are continuing to empower businesses of all sizes to create and elevate new customer experiences. With the introduction of real-time messaging, customer self service, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), many industries - including hospitality - are delivering improved customer engagement and service. But at what cost?

Innovation and technology in recent years has drastically changed our shopping habits, including the way we purchase products and order food. As technology continues to evolve, consumers’ expectations of customer service, and their demand for new experiences continues to grow rapidly. In a world where technology is drastically altering customer engagement, traditional restaurant and take-away businesses are struggling to evolve. In 2019, 84 per cent of UK hospitality food businesses are still using little to no technology to support their business operations, and as a result, are fighting to compete with industry leaders.

With this fast progression in technology, especially in artificial intelligence, more and more people are concerned about the impact it will have on their jobs. The primary goal of most tech developers is to create efficiencies and elevate service, ultimately reducing the workload for those in customer facing roles. In return, more positive customer interactions are created, helping to improve customer service as a whole.

The Cloud and Cloud based software is beginning to revolutionise how we buy, access and use commercial applications in every industry.  The prospect of The Cloud may still sound a bit obscure to some, but it is already having a positive impact on many businesses'.

So what exactly is Cloud-based software? This radical piece of technology is often referred to as Software as a Service or “SaaS”. The Cloud allows users to manage and save files, share documents, and run software applications - all through simply having an internet connection. How clever is that? Traditionally, when you bought new software for your computer, whether it be for photo editing, writing documents or playing games, you’d have to pay a large, upfront cost, install it directly onto your personal computer, making sure it was compatible and fast enough to run that specific program. When software is Cloud-based, it means it’s accessed via the internet; so all the processing, storage and heavy lifting is carried out by remote servers, usually in secure data centres.

Software as a service has particular benefits for small and medium-size businesses or those who don't have the cash flow to invest in powerful or bespoke systems. SaaS businesses provide customers the ability to use powerful, fully functioning applications, usually on a low yearly or monthly subscription, eliminating the need for any substantial upfront costs.

Furthermore, Cloud based software can be updated and upgraded with new functionality instantaneously and normally free of charge, meaning your platform will never become antiquated and will never need replacing; so you can rest assured that you can effortlessly remain competitive with the latest technology.

As the hospitality industry is driven by customer experience, Cloud technology such as ePOS smart systems can effectively help businesses reduce costs, improve customer service and help them to stand out from their competitors. ePOS platforms, such as ePOS Hybrid, are created and designed to automate a business’s operations, controlling everything from menu management and stock control, to HR and business reporting from one central platform. 

Why a cloud based POS system?

With features designed specifically to make your business more efficient, you can focus on the more important aspects of your business. The purpose of the system is to make your life and your employees lives, simpler. From customer service, menu design and advertising, a cloud based POS system helps food businesses to achieve their desired growth.

ePOS Hybrid’s new innovative cloud based software is suitable for all businesses within the hospitality industry. With the opportunity to create a personalised package with the features your business needs, you’re not paying for functionality you’re not using.

Below is a detailed outline of why ePOS Hybrid should feature in your digital transformation project in 2019:

Why ePOS smart systems?

Food allergen information

Information about food allergens has been thrown into the spotlight recently due to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) putting pressure on the government. The FSA are urging government ministers to adopt strict new rules regarding food allergens, following the death of 15 year old Natasha Ednan-Laperous.

The easy to use allergen information feature that ePOS Hybrid created can help businesses and takeaways cope with the onerous task of tracking and labelling dishes and ingredients for allergy sufferers. The information is always available to employees making it easier to ensure the safety of all customers.

Stock management helps you save money while protecting the environment.

Another reason your business needs ePOS Hybrid is to improve your stock management. New research from Zero Waste Scotland has claimed that food waste is a bigger cause of climate change than plastics, with the government body urging people to reduce the amount of food they put in the bin. Through comprehensive stock control and management functionality, our system automatically tracks stock usage and generates an extensive report for managers. This highlights wastage patterns and allows managers to take appropriate action, in turn saving them money and protecting the environment.

Bhas Kalangi (CEO and Founder of ePOS Hybrid) said “It’s clear that Scotland’s food waste is a major problem for society and has a terrible impact on the environment. Helping to reduce food waste was one of my major considerations when developing our software as the difficulty in easily monitoring this was something that came up time and again from managers during my research. It’s simply too hard to track food wastage for many businesses so they end up bulk buying products so they don’t run out during service. However, our software enables them to measure the amount of food they’re using in fine detail and therefore tweak their orders accordingly and manage their business more efficiently.”

Menu, Promotion and Advertising management

It’s often difficult for restaurants to update their menu, pricing or promotional offers quickly due to till and technology restrictions. Our menu management feature allows you to add or take away a menu item, create special occasion menus and instantly access dynamic pricing, which can be set up to change depending on the day of the week or time of day. This empowers food businesses to run promotional pricing during quiet periods and automatically switch back to their full price a la carte menu at peak trading times, driving revenue while reducing administration.

With many more exciting features, visit our website ePOS Hybrid for further information about how our products and features can have a positive impact on your business.

Rebecca Gordon, ePOS Hybrid

CIOs and IT directors missing out on valuable insights from voice data

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 05:30

Today, voice is a critical data set for the digital transformation of both private and public sector businesses. It holds much more value than any other means of communication because it conveys context, sentiment, intent, emotion and actions, providing real and actionable intelligence.

Recent research* shows that more than three quarters (76 per cent) of CIOs and tech specialists believe that a ‘Voice First’ strategy will be in place within less than five years, showing a clear shift towards recognising the value of the spoken word. Despite this, fewer than half (49 per cent) of organisation-wide conversations are being captured, suggesting limitations with current call recording solutions and set up. Furthermore, the majority of that data is inaccessible, with more than half (51 per cent) of captured data being locked away.

IT leaders within the enterprise are clearly missing a trick with regards to what they could be getting from their voice data. Businesses who collect voice data but do not tap into these insights are missing out on information that can provide real organisational intelligence and drive valuable business outcomes.

Additionally, only 8 per cent of CIOs and IT Decision Makers claim the voice data their organisations capture is easily accessible for use in AI engines and for analytics. This is another unfortunate oversight as transcription is now sophisticated enough to allow voice data to be accessed without having to listen to each captured conversation individually - a laborious task that for some has thankfully been assigned to the history books. An organisation’s ability to harness analytics is intrinsically linked to the data that fuels it and with 92 per cent of organisations capturing voice data and doing little to make use of it, data centres are holding silos of valuable information that may never be acted upon. This is a significant missed opportunity, as many businesses work to analyse organisational efficiencies, yet overlook this minefield of voice data that is sitting, untapped, in their data centres.

Properly utilising data

Why are so many businesses not fully analysing voice data? Oftentimes, that voice data is inaccessible because it is not collected in one place. It is tangled in a mix of on-premise and in-cloud systems which are often disconnected from the stakeholders that can properly utilise that data. Moreover, most organisations are not making a conscious effort to collect conversations from across the entire business; our research has shown that only half of those surveyed say their organisations are capturing all conversations. 

How can enterprises ensure that all of the voice data they house is being properly utilised? First, they should consider investing in vendors with an open API approach that gives enterprises flexibility when accessing their data. That way, enterprises can feed voice data into the tools and applications of their choice without tying them to one provider. This could include a wide range of tools - including CRM, compliance, business intelligence, AI and analytics, or even custom-built applications.

The IT infrastructure of any organisation should be looked at critically to ensure it is working as efficiently as possible. For data-driven organisations, it is imperative they take a close look at how they are storing, using, and not using voice data. With such a large proportion of surveyed organisations failing to take full advantage of the voice data they capture, this is a task that nearly all enterprises should undertake.

Data is a valuable resource for any forward-thinking organisation, as anyone who’s read about big data in the last few years knows. Proper data management should include more than just storing it securely, but also accessing and analysing that data to gain deeper insights that can affect real business change. For example, wealth managers are required by law to write up a report of each interaction with a customer. If your system automatically provides an accurate transcript of the call, the productivity gains are vast. In addition, the content is richer than if you’d written the report yourself, providing greater insight and more accurate information. Fewer errors leads to great customer satisfaction.

Gaining competitive advantages

Additional analysis on these conversations can also pinpoint optimal lead conversion points, provide insights around objection handling and identify what offers or promotions are working best to help guide staff training and coaching.

As our data shows, this is a race to see who can make the most of their voice data and obtain true competitive advantage. For example, when it comes to customer service, voice data is critical. For those unaware of the potential benefit, or currently unwilling or unable to capture and analyse this data set, there is a significant opportunity being missed.

One particularly difficult data point to discern when analysing information is sentiment. As technology advances, sentiment analysis is now something that can be accurately analysed from voice data, without taking an unreasonable amount of time. Sarcasm, skepticism, and other emotions are difficult to obtain by simply reading transcriptions. However, if the recording of the conversation is available and not just a transcription, it is significantly easier to understand the subjective context of what is being said. This allows for a more accurate analysis, and benefits the bottom line of any organisation looking to improve processes.

Improving the quality and cost-efficiency of the customer service department should be a priority for any forward-thinking organisation. As technology advances to allow for more capabilities around analysing the data from the customer service department, organisations should make sure they are collecting and storing this data properly to take full advantage of the presented opportunity - with information that is already there, untapped.

As the recent survey exemplifies, organisations that make the most of their voice data for the departments that need it the most are poised to gain a significant competitive advantage. By understanding the AI tools customers want to leverage, the data required to feed them, and the platform to connect them together, we will unlock additional revenue streams, increase customer satisfaction, and fully maximise the untapped potential of voice.

*Survey conducted by Sapio Research for Red Box, asking 588 IT Directors or C-level executives responsible for IT across UK, US and Singapore

Richard Stevenson, CEO, Red Box

Can disaggregation help businesses avoid the next IT outsourcing disaster?

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 05:00

The increasing complexity in modern business is transforming the supply chain as we know it, with organisations adopting strategies that focus on rationalising and consolidating their supplier base. It makes sense but the collapse of Carillion and problems seen at Capita brings this into question. Should organisations adopt a multi or single source model for example, and which model is more manageable and effective at mitigating risk? The answers are as unique as the organisations asking them.  

Outsourcing elements of a business that are critical to operations has always been an important decision for most organisations – especially when those elements do not fall into their areas of expertise. After all, why invest in internal specialisms that could potentially remove time and resources otherwise spent on core functions? It’s no wonder that outsourcing IT services in particular has seen Cloud technology lead its growth, with a 27 per cent increase between 2017 and 2018 according to Information Services Group (ISG).

With the UK IT outsourcing market maturing, the multi or single source dilemma now plays a leading role in decision making. Procurement teams need to decide whether to outsource services to a small number of specialists or just one. Another consideration, driven by the UK government’s former National Technology Adviser Liam Maxwell, would be to outsource to numerous providers and disaggregate service consumption. It means moving away from monolithic contracts and realigning technology products and services more closely to the individual organisation’s needs – a model known as Service Integrators and Management (SIAM). Arguably, this model is supported by the effects of the collapse of Carillion and the impact of Capita’s errors on patients of the NHS.

Tens of thousands of organisations, including the UK government, outsourced elements of their operations to Carillion. However, when Carillion entered 2018 with almost simultaneous news of liquidation, organisations across all British industries plunged into uncertainty.

Similarly, fully outsourcing IT services also has its tales of disaster. The British Medical Association (BMA) expressed its concern to the NHS over its contract with IT specialist Capita, which holds the contract for providing GP back-office services. However, in 2018, the technology provided by Capita failed to send 48,500 pieces of follow-up correspondence to those who had cervical cancer screenings. The BMA complained the error was the latest in a series of failings from Capita. As with Carillion’s customers, a large element of functioning was outsourced to Capita and many people were let down.

Business decisions

While these are not isolated examples, they clearly demonstrate one thing: the more you aggregate the services you outsource, the more reliant you are on a single provider to consistently maintain that service. If the provider fails, the function of your business that they were supporting will also be at risk.

So how can businesses avoid becoming the next victim of an aggregated outsourcing failure? Liam Maxwell got it right when he said it can only be disaggregation. However, it isn’t that simple.

Arguably, for larger enterprises, disaggregation works best. The vast operations undertaken by such companies require a level of scalability and expertise that is best delivered by a smaller, specialist company. These specialists can target specific needs and support mission-critical operations directly. What’s more, the environment in large businesses is likely to be more complex than that of a smaller organisation, so again, working with specialists is often the most effective solution. The investment in a procurement team that can manage a range of specialist partnerships can be cost effective, ensuring value for the business. This leads to the development of, and investment into in-house teams that can provide this management and support the organisation moving forward.

On the other hand, for mid-sized organisations, disaggregation can actually increase costs. Adopting the SIAM model demands a lot of internal investment. They would need the in-house expertise to manage multiple suppliers and successfully integrate the services. Otherwise they will struggle with providers shifting blame between each other, and potentially introducing charges between them. It can become a huge drain on resources. Therefore, the most cost-effective option for mid-sized organisations is seemingly to aggregate the services they outsource. Completely outsourcing IT for example, gives another company that headache. Except, for that company, it isn’t a headache. The right partner will specialise in IT, demonstrate sector expertise and have teams made up of highly trained individuals and services that meet the stringent regulations and requirements of any market, from financial services to the NHS.

Recognising that the aggregation of services shouldn’t be avoided by all, the UK government has introduced ‘living wills’ to outsourcing contracts in the public sector – a move led by Capita among others – should the worse happen. This means there will be a formal structure for sub-contractors to step in should a main contractor cease trading or is unable to reasonably evidence financial sustainability, including being able to pay its own suppliers.

The wills remove the current lack of visibility and understanding around what providers are buying for customers. This knowledge will reduce the cost of change and introduce a fluidity to the process for government organisations. It is a positive step in appreciation of the fact that outsourcing requirements are always going to differ across organisations, but being able to outsource a function outside of their expertise to a specialist company is allowed. 

The bottom line is that technology is not a one-size-fits-all asset, and it shouldn’t be. With every organisation under pressure to digitally transform, IT-based decisions are more important than ever. However, digital transformation needs to happen in accordance with where an organisation is on its journey and where it wants to be in the future. It’s up to that organisation to decide what digital transformation actually looks like because, for most businesses, it means different things.

Whether digital transformation requires aggregating or disaggregating services is ultimately the organisation’s decision. A business that aggregates the services it outsources cannot outsource its transformation. There must be a cultural change and cross-organisation buy-in that can only be truly driven internally. But it doesn’t mean organisations have to go it alone in the decision-making process. The key is finding an experienced software company with known, valued and trusted solutions in markets – and a team of experts who can support the development of a tailored digital transformation strategy.

Jon Wrennall, CTO, Advanced

DDoS for hire attacks on the rise

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 04:51

DDoS attacks as a service have kicked off 2019 stronger than ever, according to a new report by Nexusguard, claiming the booter-originated attacks more than doubled their amounts compared to the fourth quarter of last year.

The Nexusguard’s Q1 2019 Threat Report says the attacks are growing despite FBI’s best efforts to curb them. DNS amplification types of DDoS attacks are still the favorite ones among DDoS-for-hire websites. These rose more than 40 times, quarter-on-quarter.

Telecommunications companies and communications service providers seem to be the number one victims, with those originating from Brazil being the most common target.

According to the report, communications service providers should be careful with these evolved attacks, tackling them with scalable, cloud-based DDoS detection and mitigation. Those that choose a different path risk being targeted with ‘bit-and-piece’ attacks.

The bit-and-piece DDoS attack differs from your traditional DDoS attack, as it takes advantage of the large attack surface and spreads tiny attack traffic across hundreds of IP addresses. That way, the attack can successfully evade being detected using a diversion.

“Due to the increasing demand for DDoS attack services and the boom in connected devices, hackers for hire have doubled and DDoS campaigns are not going away for organizations,” said Juniman Kasman, chief technology officer for Nexusguard. “Businesses will need to ensure their attack protections can seamlessly evolve with new vectors and tactics that attackers seek out, which ensures service uptime, avoids legal or reputational damages, and preserves customer satisfaction.”

How to mine automotive data to achieve your own success in the digital revolution

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 04:30

What do the GPS, the Apple iPod and the Sony Walkman have in common? All of them were completely new to the world when they were first introduced, and made a difference to people’s lives. But it didn’t stop there - they were challenged by even more disruptive inventions from competing brands, as consumer desires constantly shift and became more demanding.

Inventions don’t just happen overnight. Businesses left, right and centre are using data to uncover hidden patterns, insights and find new solutions which can enable them to unleash new technologies into people’s lives and be the next new thing.

The automotive industry is and has been in the process of significant change thanks to advances in data and technology. In mainstream media, the wheels are in motion for the release of driverless cars, and the momentum has been huge. But it’s not just the manufacturers that can utilise data - it’s the auto parts sellers, the garages, the breakdown specialists and more. They can all use data to achieve new levels of success.

Andy Allan, Owner at CAT Autokeys explains how:

Know your trends

Before you gather and analyse data, you need to know what’s going on in the industry to work out how you can use the data to your own benefit. First things first: no business is immune to the effects of the digital transformation, no matter how loyal your customer base is right now. Technology makes their lives easier, so if you can’t offer them what they want, or aren’t using technology in the right way to boost efficiency, you can be sure that they will be able to find one of your close competitors that do. It’s a saturated market, so if you fail to learn in advance, you will be slow to react.

An industry trend might not directly affect you in 2019, but by 2022 it almost definitely will have. You need to be able to analyse and handle data and the benefits that come with it. Update your news feed with relevant topics, have monthly learning sessions with your employees, subscribe to trade journals, go to a digital course, and remember to network in your industry. There is little point having access to data if you do not know what to do with it. Once you’re clued up, it’s time to work out how to use the data that you have...

Driver behaviour

According to a recent report by Mckinsey, a connected vehicle today generates 25 GB of data per hour. There is a treasure trove of consumer data available out there for you to use, but you can also look at your own business data to make decisions. Driver behaviour, for instance, can allow you to look at geographical movements, route patterns and safety statistics such as speeding and harsh braking. This data is important as you can see if there are correlations between driver behaviour and speed, insurance services can offer tailored prices to different drivers as opposed to grouping people into large boxes, and you can even give the drivers insight into their behaviour to see if there is a way that they could save costs.

Make decisions with vehicle performance

Vehicle performance data can unlock a treasure trove of opportunities for those in the auto parts and service industries. With predictive-based analytics, the vehicle can flag up when it is due maintenance to avoid failure, and extra fixing. Data can also enable the servicer to accurately identify parts that need repairing easily, improving the efficiency of the process and bettering the customer experience while also reducing the handling cost and repair time. This data can enable the business to make better decisions, estimate accurately with the comprehensive data and ultimately prevent failure.

On-board diagnostics (OBD)

Data is so powerful because it offers all parties benefits - customers, partners and the business itself. Almost all cars have some sort of on-board diagnostics, and when a sensor detects a problem with the car, the dashboard pops up alerting the driver to said issue with a code, which they often have a complicated task of understanding and getting fixed. But now the OBD can be used to provide a better breakdown service, or rather, prevent the break down entirely.

Software such as the AA’s Car Genie plugs into the OBD port, reads the vehicles OBD in real time, broadcasts the information to the app which the user has on their phone or smart device, and immediately notifies them of issues so they can download the information. Not only does this help to prevent problems before they get worse, but the AA can also use this to gather data on faults and any correlations.

Combine data

As mentioned earlier, you can use data to find correlations between vehicles, items, behaviour and even traffic. You can compare the vehicle mileage for different makes and models, which will allow you to predict service intervals. You can also use maintenance data in combination with parts failure to find correlations. For example, in the race to build smart cities, some government associations are combining driver data analysis or traffic insights with urban planning initiatives, to understand where the most traffic-congested places appear, and when you combine this data with other sources from mobile phones and satellites, you get a holistic vision into traffic management.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

Making it much easier to gain visibility of your business operations, ERP can help automotive parts manufacturers to trace their products throughout the entire life cycle. In turn, this minimises delays, makes it easier to meet regulatory requirements and helps with tracking costs, eliminating waste in terms of money and time.

One of the biggest culprits of time wastage is poorly organised inventories. ERP opens up better visibility into your inventory levels, so worries over running out of stock are a thing of the past. You have a clear, data-led view of stock and its sell-rate, so you don’t have to risk disappointing customers by running out, without having to overbuy. For extra peace of mind, ERP software automates tasks such as purchasing, which saves even more time, minimises human error and frees up time for humans to do more creative, bespoke jobs.

From safety statistics to location logistics, the insights available to the automotive sector through data are endless. It doesn’t just benefit the customer, but it helps you to change and develop your offering and ultimately optimise your business operations.

The automotive sector needs to embrace the digital revolution, and it’s not just the car manufacturers, but the entire supply chain. Data is no longer a minefield to use and understand with recent advances in technology, but you must have a strategy and work out what is best for your work and your audience. Data is vital in today’s world and it’s economy, and it’s up to you to take advantage of it.

Andy Allan, Owner , CAT Autokeys

Compliance beyond the fines: Why it’s time to rethink your strategy

IT Portal from UK - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 04:00

Compliance, is it like brussels sprouts or cupcakes? (This quote was originally coined by Heather Bussing of HR Examiner). Many people (aside from the few that actually enjoy them) eat brussels sprouts because they’re good for you whereas we eat cupcakes because we like them and enjoy them, and the same goes for compliance. Many organisations feel that compliance sits on the brussels sprouts end of the spectrum, but what we all must understand is that compliance is not just something you have to do because it’s good for you. Compliance is good in and of itself.

Compliance can and does impact every element of an organisation. It can be preventative and lower risks; it can become embedded in your culture and impact employee engagement, and it can set you apart from your competitors. Yet when most of us think of compliance, we fear the heavy fines or heat from regulators. However, although fines are a concern for many businesses, non-compliance can cause far more issues than simply being fined. Product delays, drops in productivity and workforce disruption are all results of non-compliance.

It’s clear that non-compliance can have a serious impact on your organisation and that heavy fines aren’t the only concern. So, how else can compliance affect your organisation positively and be more cupcakes than brussels sprouts?

Prevent discrimination and harassment

Every workplace should provide equal opportunities and be free from discrimination and harassment. Discrimination and harassment harm employees and impact their health and career, they harm employers as they are liable for the damage and it harms the business overall and can often result in absences, high turnover of employees and low productivity.

Compliance needs to work with HR to not only fix any issues with discrimination and harassment but create a diverse environment where employees can thrive. Changing the way, you attract and hire a more diverse workforce is a great first step, but you’ve also got to retain them. Review your company’s culture and hiring practices to avoid creating an echo chamber and start moving away behaviours that stifle diversity.

It’s all about pay

Payroll is most organisation’s biggest cost and needs to be constantly monitored. Getting payroll right is fundamental to every aspect of the organisation and the company has liability for getting it wrong. If your organisation has repeated payroll problems, this can reflect a bigger culture problem and financial issues and once you have a problem with payroll, the errors tend to snowball fast. To ensure your payroll initiatives are correct and secure, check and audit data, review your payroll systems and processes and check the payroll across every location — the rules are different depending on geography!

This in turn, demonstrates respect to your employees. The way HR processes, like payroll, are managed, reveals how the organisation operates and can reflect well on your employer branding. Showing concern and attention regarding employee data, particularly with GDPR now in effect, will foster a culture of trust and ultimately, contribute to business success.

Safety is key

Protecting your employee’s safety and health should be a fundamental priority regardless of legal requirements. If you don’t prioritise their safety, accidents, injuries, lawsuits, fines and potentially the end of your business are all possibilities. Regardless of industry, all organisations should look for possible safety concerns whether that’s with the equipment you use or the environment that you work in – how organisations treat safety reflects their attitude toward the value of human life and wellbeing of employees.

Communicate to your employees that your organisation take safety seriously and that all aspects of safety and wellbeing are a priority. Go out and talk to your employees and see if they flag any problems with the work environment. Similarly, do your research on what can and can’t be changed in your workplace and try to make any adjustments where you can.

For businesses in industrial services, or for organisations that work with contractors, health and safety is of the upmost importance. Due to the nature of these organisations, hiring and rehiring skilled people is essential and monitoring their training records is paramount to ensure safety standards. By tracking employee records, organisations have visibility over any health and safety training and can assign the relevant training as and when needed.

And then the fines…

Without doubt, whenever anybody thinks of compliance the words, ‘heavy fines’, probably spring to mind. With GDPR now in Europe and CA and state data privacy laws in the US, protecting employee data from hacking or misuse is a top priority for businesses and should be part of every compliance strategy.

For most companies, data is their primary asset and protecting it to stay ahead of the competition is imperative. Compliance must keep on top of all data privacy concerns whether that’s by reviewing the security of the organisation’s IT systems or reviewing training processes to ensure employees understand how to protect their own privacy and data. If you don’t have the resources to evaluate your data security, consider getting an external expert to help.

Implementing fun ways to approach data privacy can help with training your employees on the topic. Think of competitions or fun tests to help them learn and communicate the importance of data privacy. Humans are your biggest security risk, so by helping your employees to understand why data privacy and security are so important, you will be minimising the risk of any data breach.

All organisations should see compliance as an opportunity for learning and development, rather than seeing it as a tick box exercise. If your compliance strategy could use some sprucing up, look at the reasons behind the regulations and consider why they are important. An effective compliance strategy not only protects the organisation, but it can affect employee engagement, attract new talent and impact your employer branding. So, rather than comparing compliance to brussels sprouts, compare it to cupcakes and establish a comprehensive compliance strategy that you like, enjoy, and that will impact every element of the organisation.

Mike Bollinger, VP Global Thought Leadership & Advisory Services, Cornerstone

In the Platform Economy, Uplift Searches for Better Matches in the Cloud

Harvard Business School Working Knowledge - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 00:00
Stephane Kasriel, the CEO of Upwork, the leading platform for freelance labor, considers different pricing solutions and ways to improve the matching process as part of a business model redesign.Re: David B. Yoffie9251David B. Yoffie6577Cold Call Podcast

The Powerful Strategy Tool Companies Should Not Try to Control

Harvard Business School Working Knowledge - Tue, 06/25/2019 - 00:00
3QUESTIONS More executives are tapping user communities for strategic guidance, but productive relationships with fan groups require a nuanced approach, Frank Nagle says.by Danielle Kost9252Frank Nagle566431Research & Ideas

What is steering the ship when it comes to IT trends for financial services providers – AI, Captain!

IT Portal from UK - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 09:29

There are some who expect that legacy IT systems created from scratch by banks and insurance companies will soon be a thing of the past. With so much new technology being utilised in the financial services space, there are of course questions about what is next for established banks and well-known insurance companies. To do this they need to utilise the tools and technology available to them and understand, through analysing the vast datasets which banks and insurers hold, what it is that their customers want to see.

The way in which consumers live their lives is changing, thanks to apps and easy access to the internet wherever they go. Yet, the current IT systems do not reflect the needs of the customer, which is leading to fresh competitors gaining an edge. This is one factor leading to customer dissatisfaction towards established banks and companies in other industries who use archaic systems.

What has left legacy systems marooned?

With the banking and insurance industries operating a system which processes waves of data operating through many branches, there is no doubt that speed is not its great strength. As mentioned, consumers are changing, and one major trend is self-managing their lives online. For example, if you want your shopping delivered, need a taxi, want to transfer money, apply for a mortgage, speak to friends, etc. apps are the desired tool. Ultimately, people rely on quick and simple interfaces which give them the least hassle possible. This is why young competitors have put pressure on legacy organisations to evolve, and clearly, a lot has changed for established banks and insurance companies.

Now, most have set sail on the pursuit of more customer friendly tech, as almost all have their own app and a social media presence to deal with customer queries and a dedication to creating new tech. For example, JPMorgan has allotted $11.4 billion on technology for the year ahead, signifying a serious prioritisation on tech within the company.

The future looks exciting for banking and insurance companies, especially for those that are putting an emphasis on ensuring their technologies fit seamlessly into the lives of consumers. We’re already seeing this in the form of smartphones and of digitalisation, which are making banks and insurance companies increasingly accessible to customers - even outside business hours.

The way in which many organisations have began to combat lethargic IT systems has been to use automation tools such as Robotic Process Authentication (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is ideal because many system requests are repetitive and require no or little individual response. Also, according a recent NetApp survey, decision-makers in both industries see this as the ideal starting point for integrating AI solutions in their companies.

Flying the flag for RPA

The analyst firm, Gartner, currently values global spending on RPA software at $680 million dollars. And by 2022, it’s expected to reach $2.4 billion. Banks and insurance companies are, in fact, the leading advocates and adopters of RPA technology.  Our study, launched to uncover the impact of AI developments on the finance industry revealed the following: 

  • Almost half (46.7%) of organisations within the industry already work with AI – unsurprising given that AI is being implemented to carry out repetitive tasks with less errors.
  • Increasingly intelligent solutions are gaining traction in more complex areas such as portfolio management (26.7%), customer service (46.7%), and fraud prevention (40%).
  • Many organisations expect AI and RPA tools to solve many issues in the future. This is especially true as it relates to employee workload and the improvement of  individual customer care. 
Cloud as a starting point

In the modern financial world, there are certain norms which are taking shape, such as the adoption of the cloud. In the same survey, 86.7% of participants revealed that they rely on AI services that draw their computing power from the cloud. So, with this figure we can see that the infrastructure is in place to build around and strengthen IT systems. The cloud provides financial institutions with great flexibility, not to mention the necessary performance to process large quantities and varieties of data. 

In the end, the key to a modern, reliable IT system is speed. And as it stands today, without the boost of the cloud, financial institutions would struggle to operate on the scale they do now. It also benefits IT security as it helps to identify and flag fraudulent transactions – which are a growing issue within the financial services industry. AI also supports chatbots, using Natural Language Processing, which works by translating any incoming message automatically, regardless of the language spoken by the customer. With this feature, all customers can be helped at any time of the day, improving  customer relations in real time.

Prepare well, improve quickly

One area that the financial sector is learning to do very quickly is implementing practical uses of AI solutions. So much so that it is a growing aspiration for financial companies to make their own software and solutions to integrate into their IT systems - 56% of participants had been developing their own strategy for several years and had installed one or more solutions into daily operations. When the survey came out, over 56% of participants had already been developing their own strategy for several years and had even go as far as to  install one or more solutions into daily operations. Looking forward, 30% of respondents declared that they had planned to introduce a whole department focused on AI into their business.

Understandably, there has been some apprehension from companies to adopt AI, mainly due to the fact that they have a limited knowledge and have been exposed to some misconceptions around the technology. The biggest concern, however, is privacy. As banks and insurance firms hold highly sensitive data, it is a legitimate issue to worry about, as they’re both regulated frequently by local and global regulators. The good news is that expert consultancy is available and can reassure businesses that they are going in the right direction with AI. 

Adding AI to the fleet of technologies within the finance and insurance industries will significantly enhance the services they can provide to consumers. Luckily, there’s already demand as we’ve seen through the increasing implementation rates of AI within both industries. But in order to thrive and show success with AI, financial institutions must have access to the data locked in technical and organisational silos. Therefore, building a clear data strategy, maintaining an open mind and recognising the potential of AI is the key to avoiding choppy waters in the future. 

Grant Caley, CTO NetApp UK & Ireland

UK businesses losing money and customers due to inaccurate data

IT Portal from UK - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 07:30

Businesses don’t need GDPR fines to feel the sting of poor data practices. According to a new report from Dun & Bradstreet, organisations are losing customers and missing revenue opportunities because of the way they handle customer data.

A fifth of businesses polled for the report have lost a customer because they didn’t have complete, correct information on them. Another 15 per cent failed to onboard a new customer for the same reason.

More than a fifth (22 per cent) said they had inaccurate financial forecasts, and roughly the same amount (17 per cent) offered too much credit to a customer because of it, consequently losing money.

For most organisations, the biggest issue seems to be the way data is structured – it’s often difficult to access and outdated. Nearly half of business leaders say data is too siloed to be of any use. Main challenges include protecting data privacy, having accurate data, as well as analysing and processing that data. In many cases, business leaders don’t even know who’s responsible to manage the data their organisation harvests. This ‘absence of ownership’ could be why most business leaders don’t have the budget to implement data management practices, the report argues.

“Businesses must make data governance and stewardship a priority,” said Monica Richter, Chief Data Officer, Dun & Bradstreet. “Whether leaders are exploring AI or predictive analytics, clean, defined data is key to the success of any program and essential for mitigating risk and growing the business.”

 Image Credit: Flickr / janneke staaks

US looking at making 5G gear outside of China

IT Portal from UK - Mon, 06/24/2019 - 07:00

If Donald Trump has things his way, any and every 5G tech used in the States will have to have been built outside China. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the POTUS is considering such a move, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the country’s 150-day review now considers if it’s possible or not to have all US-bound 5G tech, which includes cellular tower electronics, routers and switches, as well as software – built outside China.

Nothing was agreed just yet, but we’re expecting to see some executive orders after the 150-day review ends, which should be in October. Still, such a huge change could take years to implement.

This is the latest in a string of moves that the US has made, as its trade war with China rages on. The previous move has seen American companies banned from doing business with Huawei, one of the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturers.

Huawei was deemed a threat to national security, given that the company builds 5G infrastructure. The US feared Huawei’s 5G gear could potentially mean a backdoor which would allow the Chinese government to spy on US communications.

Huawei has denied the accusations on every given occasion, saying that it’s tech is probably safer than anyone else’s, given how much scrutiny the company has faced in the past couple of months.

The US has also urged its allies to do the same thing and ban Huawei from building their 5G infrastructure.

Image Credit: Flex