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Mobile employees the biggest threat to business?

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There is a global threat to the finance sector, and it’s not one that has to do with the stock market, bust cycles or a sudden drop of ten points. It is the Generation X employee who wants to use a personal device at work. MATTHEW BARKER at Aruba Networks offers some advice on how to eliminate any threats posed by these employees.

The finance sector is in agreement: there’s a major global threat to the success of the banking and finance industry, one that ignores boom and bust cycles, doesn’t care about stock market fluctuations and wouldn’t bat an eyelid if interest rates suddenly jumped ten points.

But this threat is also an essential and highly successful ingredient in the revival of the finance industry’s fortunes.

What is this unwitting, non-malicious threat? It’s your mobile-tech carrying employees themselves.

Which ones?

You’ve heard of Generation X (you might be one yourself), Generation Y (you probably employ a few of these) and Generation Z (the Internet’s digital natives); but there’s another category to add to the list: #GenMobile.

Brought up in a world where mobile devices are an integral part of everyday life, #GenMobile is defined by a productivity-focused attitude that finds it as easy to share a status update as it does a password or mobile device with a colleague. And this is why your #GenMobile workforce is both an asset and a threat to your business.

To identify the true nature of this new type of employee, Aruba Networks surveyed 11,500 workers in 23 countries, asking them detailed questions about their work, their approach to data and their take on corporate and personal security in a technological landscape dominated by mobile devices.

Who are they?

#GenMobile are generally young (18-35), highly effective and mostly indifferent to computer security. Given the finance sector’s risk-averse take on data security, you’d be forgiven for dismissing the idea of a ‘threat’ from your own highly trained staff. But with an alarming four out of every ten finance organisations admitting to having lost data through the misuse of a mobile device (25% higher than other industries), you might want to read on.

Ok, so what are they doing?

#GenMobile, as the name suggests, are 100% comfortable with mobility, flexible working and using multiple mobile devices to get the job done. #GenMobile will stop at nothing to get their work tasks completed, and 51% say that mobile technologies enable them to be more productive and engaged at work.

This fervent need to get things done means 57% of South African #GenMobile’rs will disobey their managers to get complete a task — while more than three-quarters are happy to take IT issues into their own hands without getting in touch with their IT department.

Sharing is also a risk factor, as 32% of South African respondents reported being happy to let others use their work mobile devices at least once a month, while just under a fifth don’t have passwords on their mobile devices at all, in part to make sharing easier. You won’t be surprised that security only limps into the top five of office tech concerns for #GenMobile.

Five tips to turn a threat into a safe bet

So what do you do? Lockdown all mobile devices? Implement a highly restrictive password policy? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet — this new generation is already contributing to the overall health of the finance sector. They bring big-thinking creativity, better collaboration and new ways of doing things; priceless in an era when consumer behaviour is changing at an incredible speed. Yet the impact of a security breach is both seismic and often irreparable.

Here’s five ways to make sure your organisation is prepared for #GenMobile:

1)      Over a third of businesses don’t have a basic mobile security policy in place. Make sure you have a policy covering roles, devices, locations and other contextual attributes.

2)      Create enforcement rules that extend from applications to devices to the network.

3)      Make sure your security measures and policies map back to your organisation’s business objectives.

4)      Training is vital: all staff should have needs-assessed training to help them understand why policies are in place and how they can help.

5)      Take heed of feedback — it may improve your IT workflows and performance.

* Matthew Barker, regional manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Aruba Networks

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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