Tag: company

Source: TGS

“It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute” (Will Rogers)

Whilst many employees enjoy working from home, this is a time of uncertainty for them. They read of people being retrenched or furloughed and wonder if they are next. The isolation of working from home can fuel this uncertainty.

Yet it is these employees who daily interact with customers and other stakeholders. If staff have negative feelings about the company, this can be quickly picked up by customers. Social media can spread this quickly and suddenly management have to start undertaking damage control. Recently, an English business decided to not pay staff until the government’s wage subsidy kicked in. Following an outcry, management swiftly reversed this and paid the staff.

Contrast this with Quickbooks who kept their cleaning staff on full pay despite empty offices. L’Oreal have made a point of paying small suppliers quicker than usual.

Don’t think short term

The decisions you make send out signals to your staff and they are much more likely to view you favourably if you are showing fairness to your stakeholders.

Think also of your investors – they tend to support businesses where carefully considered long-term decisions are made by management. Don’t forget having a holistic outlook and making the environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria part of your strategies.

Communicate effectively

In a recent case, staff supported management putting them on furlough after they were persuaded by management that this was the best long-term strategy to preserve jobs in the business.

Staff are more motivated if they know they have commitment and active support from their bosses.

IBM have started a program of supporting employees who need to take out time to educate their children or look after family members. They have also encouraged their staff to raise any individual difficulties they have with their managers. Introducing this type of flexibility makes managers’ jobs harder to do and IBM have created separate online chat channels for managers to network with their peers and find solutions to employees’ problems.

Other companies with diversity in the workplace have openly supported Black Lives Matter and have made sure that when there are pay cuts or retrenchments, there is no discrimination against minorities.

The world has changed and become more uncertain and more flexible. You need to plan carefully and act to ensure you stay on top of the situation and keep the support of your staff.

 

By Warwick Ashford for Computer Weekly

The cost of a data breach has risen 12% over the past five years to £3.2m on average globally, with a 10.56% increase in the UK in the past year alone to £2.99m on average, a study reveals.

In the UK, the average size of a data breach has increased 3.6% and the per capita cost per lost or stolen record is £119, which represents an increase of 9.69% from 2018 and has nearly doubled in the past ten years, according to the annual Cost of a data breach report conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Security.

The rising costs are representative of the multiyear financial impact of breaches, increased regulation and the complex process of resolving criminal attacks, the report said.

The report based on in-depth interviews with more than 500 companies around the world who suffered a breach over the past year, including 45 in the UK, and takes into account hundreds of cost factors including legal, regulatory and technical activities to loss of brand equity, customers, and employee productivity.

The study found that data breaches in the US are the most expensive, costing $8.19m (£6.6m), or more than double the average for worldwide companies in the study, and that the cost for data breaches in the US has increased by 130% over the past 14 years from $3.54m (£2.8m) in the 2006 study.

The financial consequences of a data breach, the report said, can be particularly acute for small and midsize businesses. Globally, companies with fewer than 500 employees suffered losses of more than £2m on average, which is a potentially crippling amount for small businesses, which typically earn £40.1m or less in annual revenue.

The report also examined the longtail financial impact of a data breach, finding that the effects of a data breach are felt for years. While an average of 67% of data breach costs were realised within the first year after a breach, 22% accrued in the second year and another 11% accumulated more than two years after a breach.

A co-ordinated global cyber attack could have an economic impact of up to $193bn, an insurance industry-backed report claims.

Most businesses are not applying common encryption tools effectively to contain the fallout and costs of data breaches, research shows.

Despite the danger posed by cyber attacks to mid-sized companies, boards are not prepared to manage the risk and firms are over-confident in their cyber capabilities, report finds.

The longtail costs were higher in the second and third years for organisations in highly regulated environments, such as healthcare, financial services, energy and pharmaceuticals.

“Cyber crime represents big money for cyber criminals, and unfortunately that equates to significant losses for businesses,” said Wendi Whitmore, global lead for IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services.

“With organisations facing the loss or theft of over 11.7 billion records in the past three years alone, companies need to be aware of the full financial impact that a data breach can have on their bottom line –and focus on how they can reduce these costs,” she said.

The report found that malicious breaches are the most common and most expensive, with 51% of data breaches in the study in the UK and globally resulting from malicious cyber attacks (up from 42% globally in the past six years) and costing companies £805,000 ($1m) more on average than those originating from accidental causes.

However, the report said inadvertent breaches from human error and system glitches were still the cause for nearly half (49%) of the data breaches in the report, costing companies £2.8m ($3.5m) and £2.6m ($3.24m) respectively.

These breaches from human and machine error represent an opportunity for improvement, the report said, which can be addressed through security awareness training for staff, technology investments, and testing services to identify accidental breaches early on.

One particular area of concern is the misconfiguration of cloud servers, which contributed to the exposure of 990 million records in 2018, representing 43% of all lost records for the year, according to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index.

“Mega breaches” the report said, typically lead to “mega losses”. While less common, breaches of more than one million records cost companies a projected £33.8m ($42m) in losses, and those of 50 million records are projected to cost companies £312m ($388m).

For the 9th year in a row, the study found that healthcare organisations had the highest cost of a breach of nearly £5.2m ($6.5m) on average, which is more than 60% greater than other industries in the study.

The report notes that the past 14 have shown that the speed and efficiency with which a company responds to a breach has a significant impact on the overall cost.

This year’s report found that the average lifecycle of a breach was 279 days, with companies taking 206 days to first identify a breach after it occurs, and an additional 73 days to contain the breach.

Incident response
The study shows that companies with an incident response team that also extensively tested their incident response plan experienced £990,000 ($1.23m) less in data breach costs on average than those that had neither measure in place. While companies that were able to detect and contain a breach in less than 200 days spent £965,000 ($1.2m) less on the total cost of a breach.

This appears to be an area that needs some attention in the UK, where the mean time to identify the data breach increased from 163 to 171 days from 2018 and the mean time to contain the data breach increased from 64 to 72 days.

Globally, the study found that companies that had fully deployed security automation technologies experienced around half the cost of a breach (£2.1m on average) compared with those that did not have these technologies deployed (£4.15m on average).

Extensive use of encryption was also a top cost saving factor, reducing the total cost of a breach by £289,000, the study shows.

Breaches originating from a third party – such as a partner or supplier – cost companies £297,000 more than average, the report said, emphasising the need for companies to closely vet the security of the companies they do business with, align security standards, and actively monitor third-party access.

Company culture trumps technology

There is no arguing the fact that technology has made our lives easier. It has also resulted in organisations being able to deliver more innovative solutions in the workplace to provide for a more compelling environment.

Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, cautions that this should not happen to the detriment of the company culture.

“Technology in the workplace can create many temptations among employees. Social media is a perfect example where employees spend most of their time on their favourite networking platforms instead of working. Even more concerning is how prevalent viewing pornographic material has become in the workplace,” he says.

Myburgh believes there is a growing trend among companies to focus on technology innovation and neglect the human element.

“This is happening more today than ever before and can be partly ascribed to an increasingly intensive and regulated labour environment. Employers want to move away from staff and acquire tech-driven solutions to replace people, all in a move to alleviate having to deal with issues created by unions, employee complaints, and poor performance.”
Local examples are plentiful, but it is especially in the banking sector where this becomes apparent as leading banks look to close branches in favour of investments in digital banking solutions. It all comes down to the bottom-line – technology is cheaper to maintain than the people driving it.

Return to culture
So, how can companies still reinforce their culture without relying on technology, tools and mobile apps?
“It must always be remembered that the company culture is the personality of a company and is determined by the people who work there,” says Myburgh.

“Without it, a business cannot be expected to have employee engagement and growth potential. Moreover, management needs to be aware of how technological innovation has impacted on changes taking place in the company culture. Much of this revolves around the way people do things. For example, the office hours of a traditional business used to be from 08:00 to 17:00 but embracing a mobile workforce has resulted in more people working off site, thereby fundamentally changing the culture of the organisation.”

Technology does provide benefits and opportunities, but it should always be driven by putting the people first. Staff events and team-building activities are excellent ways to promote interaction and reinforce the company culture.

Maintaining focus
Technology and applications are just tools – a means to an end. Organisations can do more to ensure their focus remains people-centric.

“This is where company culture comes in. It revolves around making the environment a pleasant place in which to work. The technological tools merely facilitate companies being geared towards their people. Some individuals want to interact with their colleagues face-to-face, while others prefer to use an app. It all depends on the person’s perception of what it means to be people-focused. Technology can therefore be used to give voice to the individual needs of employees instead of simply being a one-size-fits-all approach,” Myburgh concludes.

If you frequent the conferences and launches held by technology companies, you would surely have come across statements similar to the following: “Up to forty percent of today’s Fortune 500 companies will not be around in a decade’s time. They will have disappeared into mergers, acquisitions or extinction.”

This is not a new trend. According to the American Enterprise Institute, nearly ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1955 are no longer with us. Modern emphasis resides on the speed at which companies change and disappear. This has increased the Corporate Burn Rate which is indeed running at high levels.

Yet even here we are not in uncharted territory. A company from the first half of the Twentieth century could expect a lifespan of at least fifty years. By the Seventies, that had dropped to roughly thirty years. We can look to the Seventies as the first definable major milestone in this trend. The rise of business machines, automation and other technologies were creating a new breed of company.

Those were the years that saw the rise of Microsoft, Intel and other technology game-changers. The mainframe computer had graduated from high-end hardware used by militaries and governments to a mainstream business tool. Consumers were starting to enhance their lifestyles with cheap televisions, ATMs, microwaves, economical cars and a bevy of other innovations.

The world was changing rapidly, and with it, companies rose and fell on their ability to respond.

The eighties and nineties became the eras of rapid productivity. Based on US figures from the Heritage Foundation, productivity has doubled while the average hourly rate has declined from 1970 to 2010. This is both good and bad, but it illustrates with certainty, the impact of productivity technologies during the last decades of the Twentieth century. From spreadsheets to email to switchboards to fax machines to ERP suites: these were productivity’s catalysts.

Eventually though, every pendulum has to reverse course. Those innovations started attracting complexity. In the early nineties you were lucky to get an email a day. Today you are lucky if you can read a hundred emails and get through your daily workload. The same systems that have granted us more space to accomplish, have also grown bloated. This is not new either: the reason why technologies in the Seventies boosted productivity, is because they were replacing overwhelming complexity. The mainframe was so popular since it was a lot simpler to use than the boxes of punch cards demanded by older systems. Then it became cumbersome, eventually challenged by leaner desktop and server PCs.

Today we are at that stage again. The standalone server is being replaced by the cloud. Email is being joined by collaboration suites and messenger apps. The spreadsheet is making way for dashboards and analytical machine learning. Why? Because complexity is at a saturation point and the world is demanding simplicity to drive new levels of productivity.

It is important that we appreciate the nature and inevitability of the sea-change that companies are currently experiencing. Now to my point: your business processes have been born and honed through those productivity technologies. Your fax machine sits idle – all that has shifted to email. If your email ceases to function, several of your processes will grind to a halt.

Thus, it is paramount that you take stock of your processes, consider what powers them, and see if there is a better way. Let’s consider the highly impactful example of data. Your company generates a lot of data, which until now, has likely languished in storage or was sent to the afterlife of deletion. But today data is a differentiator. Your ability to understand your data is crucial to your success, while the speed at which you access those insights defines your productivity. So it’s a simple question: are you making use of your data?

There are many more examples: can the cloud improve the speed and expansion of your products? Can machine learning automate manual processes, freeing up your staff and time? How are you using mobile devices to empower your workforce and yourself? Do you understand the benefits of in-memory computing? Is there a role which technologies such as Blockchain can play in your organisation?

What you are looking for is Corporate Cholesterol: the fatty bits that have started to narrow your company’s arteries. What are those processes and technologies that once made the enterprise’s heart beat, but now threaten to choke it off?

As a guideline, I can recommend three areas to consider. Firstly, look at how your customer experience drives your strategy. Customers are often familiar with innovations that make life easier. If you aren’t appealing to them, your processes are lagging. Secondly, don’t view your decision and the resulting transaction as separate entities. They feed from each other, so rather ponder on how you can enhance that relationship and learn from it. Thirdly, remember that data is the new centre of gravity, and speed matters. If your organisation is not responding as fast as your market expects it to, you need to address that.

No such transition is easy. There are challenges in terms of security, regulation uncertainty, skill-sets, creating new mega-processes, disruption and more. But the only people who experience smooth sailing all the time are those who never leave the harbour. The storms of change cannot be avoided. However, they are key to ensuring business longevity. Cast a critical eye on your processes and contemplate on how new technology can help cut the bad fat.

By Brett Parker, MD of SAP Africa at SAP

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