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Company data faces huge challenge

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The vast majority of organisations in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) report that their current data protection solutions will not meet  their future business needs. A massive 81% of respondents reported this view in the Dell Technologies Global Data Protection Index 2020 Snapshot.

These organisations, on average, are managing almost 73% more data than they were a year ago and, with this surge in data comes inherent challenges.

The Snapshot, a follow-on to the biennial Global Data Protection Index, surveyed 1,000 IT decision makers across 15 countries at public and private organisations with 250+ employees about the impact these challenges and advanced technologies have on data protection readiness. The findings also show positive progress as an increasing number of organisations – 79% in 2019, up from 70% in 2018 – see their data as valuable and are currently extracting value or plan to in the future.

“The data era is changing how organisations think about, monetize and protect data as the speed of innovation has opened the world to new opportunities but has also increased risks,” said Michel Nader, Sr. Director, Data Protection Solutions – MERAT at Dell Technologies, “Defining the right strategies is therefore critical to protect an organisation’s most critical assets and it’s therefore important to remember that whatever threat trends proliferate, business leaders cannot overlook the role security and risk management play in their overall strategy.”

Costly disruptions rise at alarming rates

According to the study, organisations are now managing 16.40 petabytes (PB) of data, a 73% increase since the average 9.47PB in 2018, and a 975% increase since organisations were managing 1.53PB in 2016. The largest threat to all this data seems to be the growing number of disruptive events, from cyber-attacks to data loss to systems downtime. The majority of organisations (80% in 2019 compared to 77% in 2018) suffered a disruptive event in the last 12 months. And, an additional 60% fear their organisation will experience a disruptive event in the next 12 months.

Even more concerning is the finding that organisations using more than one data protection vendor are approximately two times more vulnerable to a cyber incident that prevents access to their data (35% of those using two or more vendors versus 20% of those using only one vendor). But the use of multiple data protection vendors is on the rise with 78% of organisations choosing to deploy data protection solutions from two or more providers, up 20 percentage points since 2016.

The cost of disruption is also increasing at an alarming rate. The average cost of downtime surged by 93% from 2018 to 2019, resulting in an estimated total cost of $1,000,390 in 2019, up from $517,872 in 2018. The estimated cost of data loss however decreased from $999,338 in 2018 to $915, 994 in 2019. The costs of disruption are significantly higher for those organisations using more than one data protection vendor – nearly two times higher downtime-related costs and almost five times higher data loss costs, on average.

Emerging technologies challenge data protection solutions

As emerging technologies continue to advance and shape the digital landscape, organisations are learning how to use these technologies for better business outcomes. The study reports that almost all regional organisations are making some level of investment in newer or emerging technologies. Yet, nearly three-quarters (69%) of respondents believe these emerging technologies create more data protection complexity while (56%) state that emerging technologies pose a risk to data protection. More than half of those using newer or emerging technologies are struggling to find adequate data protection solutions for these technologies, including:

  • 5G and cloud edge infrastructure (61%)
  • AI and ML platforms (51%)
  • Cloud-native applications (52%)
  • IoT and end point (56%)
  • Robotic process automation (47%)

The study also found that 81% of respondents believe their organisations’ existing data protection solutions will not be able to meet all future business challenges. Respondents shared a lack of confidence in the following areas:

  • Recovering data from cyber-attacks (73%)
  • Recovering data from a data loss incident (69%)
  • Meeting compliance with regional data governance regulations (66%)
  • Meeting backup and recovery service level objectives (67%)

Data protection joins forces with cloud

Businesses are taking a combination of cloud approaches when deploying new business applications and protecting workloads such as containers and cloud-native and SaaS applications. The findings show that organisations prefer public cloud/SaaS (36%), hybrid cloud (39%) and private cloud (39%) as deployment environments for newer applications such as these. Also, 86% of organisations surveyed say it is mandatory or extremely important for data protection providers to protect cloud-native applications.

“These findings prove that data protection needs to be central to a company’s business strategy,” said Nader. “As the data landscape grows more complex, organisations need nimble, sustainable data protection strategies that can scale in a multi-platform, multi-cloud world.”

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How retailers must respond to life under lockdown

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As businesses settle into lockdown, South Africa’s largest second-hand retailer, Cash Crusaders offer other retail businesses – that have also been forced to close, some advice and recommendations on preparing for, and managing through the lockdown. The group that have been operating for over 20 years with over 220 stores nationwide, also offer advice on considerations retail store owners – and other businesses, should make as the country makes their COVID-19 economic recovery.

Follow the rules

Ensure that you follow the rules set out by our President for the lockdown. As bitter as this pill may be to swallow, the longer-term benefits for our country and our businesses far outweigh the frustration and anxiety you may be feeling now. This is not a time to break the rules. #StayAtHome. It is a time to practice human responsibility, not complain about Human Rights being compromised. Countries who initially implemented loosely managed lockdowns, have had to extend to get the pandemic under control, so strict rules from the get-go will prevail in the fight against the virus. 

Secure your stores

By now you should’ve secured your valuable goods and should have ensured all your security systems are in good working order. If you haven’t already, make sure your security companies have your correct contact information. Make sure your necessary insurance cover is up to date.

Keep your staff informed

They are and continue to be your most important asset!

By now, you may have needed to investigate UIF benefits to compensate for your employees loss of income. The Minister of Employment and Labour, T.W Nxesi has recently announced measures that the Department will put in place under the current special circumstance relating to the Corona virus (COVID-19) and its impact on UIF contributors.

The Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) has been set up under the auspices of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). Employers apply for the TERS on behalf of its employees. 

The TERS has two distinct advantages over UIF 

  • All employees qualify for up to 3 months of benefits, irrespective of how long they have contributed to the UIF and 
  • TERS will not pay any employee less than the minimum wage.

You can benefit from the TERS by sending an email to covid19ters@labour.gov.za. Applicants will then receive an automated response which outlines the steps you will need to take, as well as the details surrounding them – including the requirements to claim benefits. During the lockdown period, the Department of Labour will not accept manual applications (to reduce physical contact and risk of the virus spreading), this is to reduce contact between people to curtail the spread of the pandemic. A hotline number has been created by the UIF (012-337 1997) for Covid–19 TERS Benefit enquiries during the lockdown period. 

Be sure to be calm when addressing any concerns with your team – they are anxious and nervous of what the eventuality of this outbreak may be.

Communicate with your bank

Make sure you’ve been in touch with your bank (as they are still operational) and discuss any loan repayment relief or postponement over the lockdown period (the banks have termed this a “payment holiday”). Work with them on a cash flow plan as once the lockdown has lifted, trading businesses will need liquid cash.

Contact your landlord

Ensure you’ve connected with your landlord to discuss and agree on any possible repayment or rent relief/payment holiday they may be able to offer you. Keep the channels of communications open with your landlord and bank – rather over-communicate than not communicate enough.

Keep communication open with your customers

The country may be on shutdown, but the internet isn’t. Communicate with your teams and customers by whatever necessary and relevant communication channels you have available to you – website, social media, PR/Marketing teams, newsletter dissemination etc.

Use this time wisely

Amidst all the chaos this time brings, there is also a silver lining. We all have time at this stage, but how many of us make valuable use of that time? Particularly when it comes to family.  Business is demanding most times so with a forced shutdown of business it give you the time to spend with your family, catch up on outdated maintenance around the house and a period of rest. This lockdown period will also afford you uninterrupted strategy time. Take the time to reflect on areas of your business you can improve or evolve. Strategise ways to do things better or differently. Use the resource available via your own business network as well as the countless online content that is available, to work on a plan for the way forward. Consider your financial, loan and other business administration processes you have in place and look at new ways to optimise the channels and areas you’re working with or within. A host of online learning facilities offer short courses – perhaps consider upskilling yourself or members of your team by signing up for one of these too.

“These are some of the steps we’ve taken within our own organisation,” says Sean Stegmann, CEO of Cash Crusaders. “Having been in this business for as long as we have has afforded us the wealth of experience we’re able to share with our franchisees and other retail business owners to help navigate the next few weeks and recovery period,” he says. “Take it one day at a time and know that the decisions we’re being forced to make today will mean a future for us tomorrow, both in business and in health!,” he concludes

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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