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How to shop for ERP

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Companies are always under pressure to keep up with changing markets. In order to do this, they need the right ERP system. THABO NDLELA, non-executive Director at IFS provides a checklist for businesses to consider when looking for an ERP vendor.

No matter if you develop business software, cars or washing machines, companies face relentless pressure to enable new business opportunities and user experiences. But as important as it is to keep pace with the demands of a changing market, companies need to follow a safe and cost efficient path to innovation.

The right enterprise application suite can provide a robust platform for innovation, so that companies can benefit from new technologies, business models and user experiences over time with a low and competitive total cost of ownership (TCO). For most companies, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the most important technology they will implement to run their business.

The trick is, knowing how to choose the right one and what will help you succeed.

Questions you should ask a vendor

When considering which ERP solution to choose, asking your prospective vendor these 10 questions as a helpful starting point:

1.    Does the software appeal to today’s workers? You need a user experience that is attractive, intuitive and efficient for any type of user within your company.

2.    Is the software easy and efficient to modify and maintain? Can you to tailor it to fit your specific needs over time in a way that doesn’t impede upgrading to the latest release to benefit from new features?

3.    Does the software enable modular implementation? Choose software built on components that allow you to choose only the ones you need, and add new ones as you need them.

4.    Can the software be implemented as a global, single-instance application? This will let you reduce complexity and cost while providing insights and analysis at a much faster speed.

5.    Is there a non-disruptive upgrade capability available? An ERP system shouldn’t be seen as a one-off software implementation, but as a platform – a technology strategy – for business innovation over time.

6.    Can the software be extended as business demands change? A modern ERP system should offer a layered application architecture that facilitates the development and management of different types of code changes such as localisations, customisations and configurations.

7.    Does the software provide different deployment options? Consider your need for a software solution that enables full-suite deployment or deployment as either the backbone or point-solution for key processes in a two-tier application strategy that embraces the cloud and on-premises solutions.

8.    Can you, as the customer, influence product development? Your preferred vendor should have an agile development approach where product requirements are collected and prioritised in close collaboration with industry specialists in the customer base.

9.    Does the vendor’s R&D organisation include a workspace to drive disruptive innovation? Conceptual products and prototypes will not always result in a launched product for various reasons, and that’s the purpose of prototyping. Ask the software vendor how they work with the innovation selection and development process.

10. Are you offered references to customers using the evaluated software package? Ask for customer reference calls and site visits to learn from other customers’ experiences of implementing and using the software, including their experiences of collaborating with the vendor’s implementation staff, product development department and partners.

Selecting and deploying the right business software is an important and strategic decision for any company. A starting approach such as the one I’ve outlined works very well for our customers. It can work well for you, too.

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Bring your network with you

At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.

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In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.

Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.

“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.

The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.

Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.

“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.

He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”

By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.

The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.

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Kaspersky moves to Switzerland

As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.

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This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.

Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world

The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.

The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.

Relocation of customer data storage and processing

By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.

Relocation of software assembly

Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.

Establishment of the first Transparency Center

The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.

Independent supervision and review

Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.

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