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Race for trust and time

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Technology has changed all aspects of our lives, including the way we transact. In our digital economy, money is not the only currency consumers place value in as they also see trust, time and treasure as important drivers, writes Intel’s TREVOR COETZEE.

In the conventional economy, money is the only currency. But we are increasingly inhabiting a world comprised of the cloud, mobility, the Internet of Things and an infinite number of goods and services that are exchanged online.

In this so-called Second Economy, money isn’t the only currency. In this technological and social realm, trust, time and treasure are the new currencies – and one of them is worth a lot more to cybercriminals than money.

Trust

The Second Economy is built on the psychological currency of trust. When we transact online, we trust that the company we’re dealing with will protect our information.

But trust is under relentless attack and is the prime casualty of cyber conflict. Hacktivists aren’t after money. Rather, they want to embarrass their targets and reduce their brand value by sowing mistrust. Each attack serves to erode the trust of customers in a company’s ability to withstand future breaches and protect their interests. And when trust is lost, it can do as much damage as lost funds, if not more.

A cyber defence focused primarily on protecting financial assets is therefore insufficient. The problem, however, is that public concern about personal data loss is falling despite a rise in data thefts. Also, breach victims are not typically penalised, even when their own negligence contributes, which suggests that breach costs should be evaluated in the Second Economy.

Time

In the Second Economy, time matters more than money.

On the one hand, cybercriminals, or black hats, have time on their side. They design their attacks at leisure, crafting carefully thought out and executed strategies that can sometimes go undetected within a network for months, even years.

They also use time to their advantage in ransomware attacks by attaching deadlines to ransom pay-outs for the safe return of data. Under such immense time pressures, victims are more likely to respond impulsively and pay the ransom.

On the other hand, victims, or white hats, are in a constant race against time and are always reacting under pressure. When a breach occurs, time is the ultimate weapon – detecting and remediating threats as quickly as possible becomes the goal in a race where every second counts and time most certainly is money.

The time it takes an organisation to respond to breaches depends on the tools, policies and political structures that are in place before the notion of a threat is even recognised.

But the status quo in most organisations is that separate divisions have separate security policies, which slows down their response times. An IT strategy that allows for new technology to be rapidly onboarded will ensure that new software releases will not hinder productivity and that software updates are not time-consuming.

Treasure

In the Second Economy, money – or profit – is not the only treasure that black hats are after. When it comes to sowing mistrust, cybercriminals could be motivated by principle – as it often seen in attacks by ‘hacktivist’ group, Anonymous – while nation-states identify targets to expand their province.

Whatever their treasure, black hats have clear incentives motivating their next move, and with each attack, the trust economy is ultimately corroded. These fast-moving, fast-adapting black hats govern the terms of cyber conflict and control the pace of innovation and the nature and timing of assaults. Organisations play a perpetual game of catch-up, yet they consistently ignore or rationalise the risk.

This must change.

Gaining the upper hand

Individual users cannot shirk responsibility for helping safeguard the Second Economy and, at the strategic level, today’s siloed, reactive, barely collaborative defence posture must yield to a new white hat paradigm that is adaptive, aggressive, proactive, newly generous on information-sharing and unpredictable.

If we are to secure the now indispensable, Interned-based Second Economy, we have to reject conventional defence paradigms in favour of radical new thinking. Where we have relied on old playbooks, we must be newly unpredictable; where we have hoarded information, we must become collaborative; where we have undervalued cyber defence, we must prioritise it.

A good start is at the organisational IT level through adopting technology platforms that accept new security software quickly and result in a better-aligned ecosystem. We need to develop a whole spectrum of response plays and not simply plan for an unlikely worst-case scenario.

No single solution can eradicate all threats. We need a superior platform that allows for swift on-boarding of new technologies, over an architecture backed by common tools and workflows, along with automation and orchestration capabilities – one that doesn’t multiply operational complexity for already overburdened staff. An integrated platform also offers the benefit of tapping into aggregate innovative capabilities of hundreds of potential players, all connected over the same infrastructure. This gives white hats a fighting chance at making time their ally.

Cyber security professionals with a more simplified back office infrastructure, as provided by fewer vendors in their environment, report experiencing fewer threats, better detection times and more confidence in their security posture than those with a more fragmented, multi-vendor approach.

There also needs to be organisational change. CEOs must advocate for more strategic, proactive defence while end-users must develop better security consciousness.

Finally, we need bold information sharing. By hoarding information, we make the Second Economy more vulnerable. Better defence depends on better sharing impulses. Bold, perhaps altruistic information sharing gestures by cyber defence organisations can change the culture.

Our economy is no longer a physical one but one of connected networks and systems where cybercriminals have put us on the defensive. We now live in a world where more than money is at stake and where we’re fighting against time and working to justify trust.

If we’re going to win the race, we need to abandon old security playbooks to become more unpredictable and collaborative and make cyber defence a priority.

* Trevor Coetzee, regional director, South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, Intel Security

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It’s printing, Jim, but not as we know it

Selling printing services is not only about the hardware anymore, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The seminal science fiction series Star Trek generated many catch-lines, like “The Prime Directive” and “Live long and prosper”. One of its most parodied lines, however, is Doctor Bones McCoy’s words to Captain Kirk on encountering an alien species: “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.”

That’s exactly the way one could describe the printer industry today. Every time an HP, Epson or Konica Minolta releases a new machine for this sector, one can sense the puzzled frowns of people taken by surprise that it still exists.

The difference is that it has evolved from a focus on paper to an emphasis on document management.

One of the first companies to spot that shift in the market, Japanese-headquartered Konica-Minolta, pioneered the concept of a dedicated printer company introducing its own software development division.

“We’ve always believed our role is solving problems for the customer, and not just to provide print, copy and scan solutions,” says Marc Pillay, CEO of the company’s South African division. “Our primary focus is multi-functional devices, but we always look at adding value to clients. Our real job is to assist in achieving a better return on investment.”

The proof of the pudding is that the local division is one of the biggest Konica-Minolta distributors in the world. The reason is simple: unlike most other countries, the South African operation has both a direct and indirect channel. That means it is able to supply companies through its reseller network, while also having a presence on the ground in the form of a dealer network across the country. That, in turn, has given it access to municipalities and other organs of state.

“Our value proposition is based on quality products, service and an unparalleled supply chain,” says Pillay. “When everyone was afraid to do business with government, we thrived on it. It comes from being located in areas where it’s easy to do business with us.”

One could call that the secret of success for existing demand. The coming era, however, will require an appreciation of the next big shifts in printing, says Pillay.

“We’ve seen the big shifts from analog to digital, from monochrome to colour, and from decentralisation to centralisation of printing. The next shift is unbundling printing into a hybrid approach, using both cloud and managed solutions. It’s all going to become subscription-based, and it will be print-on-demand. The high-end customers go into that very quickly, but we still have to cater for people who just do copying.”

Pillay believes that the opening of Microsoft’s Azure data centres in South Africa in March has already made a difference.

“Now you can scan from a device into Microsoft’s SharePoint online or Google Drive. It’s not about screen size anymore, but what you can do to make an impact.”

Where people don’t print, says Pillay, they’re absorbing documents digitally.

“We have to make sure that, where we lose the print, we are gaining the management of the scan, digitisation of the document or management of the workflow. Our income will come out of the workflow.

“Clearly, we’re not just focused on selling a piece of hardware anymore.”

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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SA chooses most loved local businesses

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A new World Wide Worx research report identifies and names South Africa’s 12 Most Loved Local businesses, and places the spotlight on the vital role commercial businesses play in the South African economy. The country’s favourite local businesses include the Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Bay – famed for its calamari, celebrity chef David Higgs’ Rosebank eatery Marble as well as Rouge Day Spa with branches in Kenilworth and Constantia in Cape Town run by a dynamic mother and daughter duo.

The aim of the Most Loved Local report was to celebrate those businesses South Africans love the most and to investigate exactly what makes consumers big fans of these entities. It further offers these enterprises insights into what it takes to succeed in business, highlights the qualities that convert clients into fans and encourages more South Africans to ‘shop’ local.

Report results

Commissioned by Santam, results were compiled using a combination of digital listening tools and traditional research. Social media listening using organic search analysis looked into which business categories were being searched for most. This was followed up with a trend analysis to assess whether a business category was growing in popularity, keyword volume analysis to refine the categories and finally social listening within the categories which businesses were being spoken about in the most positive terms. Thereafter, a poll was conducted among 2 489 respondents to find out what made them love a local business – or not. The sample was nationally representative and aligned to the economically active population per province. A respected independent research house World Wide Worx conducted the research.

The full list of businesses that came top across 12 categories are:

  1. Place to Stay: Chapmans Peak Hotel (Cape Town) – the one with the perfect calamari
  2. Eatery: Marble (Johannesburg) – the one with the celebrity chef in the kitchen
  3. Butcher: The Butcher Man (Cape Town) – the one that people cross town for
  4. Bakery: Fournos (Johannesburg) – the one that is way more than a bakery
  5. Spa: Rouge Day Spa (Cape Town) – the one run by a dynamic mother-daughter team
  6. Entertainment Spot: Gold Reef City (Johannesburg)  – the one with the heart of gold
  7. Gym: Dream Body Fitness (Johannesburg) – the one that is completely unintimidating to work out at
  8. Interior Designer: By Dezign Interiors (Johannesburg) – the one that really, really gets its clients’ style
  9. Market: Bryanston Organic & Natural Market (Johannesburg) – the one that was an organic market before it was trendy to be an organic market
  10. Laundromat: Exclusive Dry Cleaners (Johannesburg) – the one that treats every single client like family
  11. Car Wash: Tubbs’s Car Wash (Johannesburg) – the one that cleans your car while you have a haircut
  12. Construction company: Radon Projects (Pretoria) – the one that is ready all day and all night

Delving into what makes a consumer go from ‘client to fan’, the key factor standing out above all others was service. Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx, says it seems South Africans will forgive a multitude of ‘sins’ if they are treated well. “Good service was the number one factor that makes 40% of those surveyed support a local business. This was followed by quality products at 18%. Third place went to value for money at 10%, proving the old adage that competing on price alone is not a sound business strategy,” said Goldstuck.

When asked what makes them loyal to a local business, some interesting views across age groups emerged. “Younger clients are more swayed by quality, while older ones are impressed by service. This seems to fit with younger people wanting the status of nice things, and older people wanting to feel valued and respected,” said Goldstuck.

Unsurprisingly, all 12 Most Loved Locals called out service as one of their guiding lights and core pillars when interviewed. Theo and George Parpottas, owners of Exclusive Dry Cleaners, the selected company in the laundromat category, believe when someone walks into their shop, they should be greeted with smiling faces and courteous people. “We don’t care if it’s the president or a beggar, from the moment they walk in, they are a client. We greet them, we are courteous, and we treat them with respect. It doesn’t matter what they bring.”

For Gary Karycou, who co-owns Marble in Rosebank with celebrity chef David Higgs, it is all about attitude. “You can teach someone anything if they want to do it, but we employ on attitude. You get the basic skills but if someone really wants to learn, you can transform them.” He continues, “Giving the best service to our clients, is our motto. It’s something that’s lacking in South Africa and even globally. Businesses just become a bit complacent.”

Famed Green Point butchery and restaurant, The Butcher Man, is owned by Arie Fabiani. He says people will drive past other butcheries and come all the way to the Butcher Man because “we deliver a great service. Good service is critical, and our team knows it.”

Another key finding was that people are more likely to recommend a business if there is a good deal or excellent value for money. Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, Chief Marketing Officer at Santam, says this is an interesting finding. “Perhaps we are more likely to share a good deal with others and keen to help others find great nuggets of the positive trade-off between value and price. So, it is worth ensuring that, in addition to service and quality, your clients feel like they are getting value for the money they spend with you. That way, they are more likely to tell family and friends the good news!”

Dilotsotlhe added that the report’s release has been well-timed as the need to stimulate sectors of the economy which can create jobs has never been more vital. Commercial enterprises are responsible for a significant percentage of the labour-force in South Africa, and the impact thereof is significant. Due to the fact that these enterprises remain a largely underinsured sector, the campaign also seeks to highlight the need for insurance as a vital aspect of business continuity. When they thrive, it benefits the whole nation, and from a Santam perspective, this translates into sustainable growth for our business.

To download the full report, click here.

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