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Risk gets a new face in the age of social

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A reputational crisis can wipe out tens of millions of Rands from a company’s value. writes CHRISTELLE MARAIS, practice leader of enterprise risk management at Marsh Africa 

According to a study by the World Economic Forum, an average of more than 25 percent of a company’s market value is directly attributable to its reputation. This means that a reputational crisis can wipe out tens of millions of Rands from a company’s value. This risk has increased because the rise of online and social media means crises are now less predictable, can occur faster and with a more drastic impact. 

Companies are aware of the potential dangers that could negatively affect their reputations, but never have those dangers been as pervasive and immediate as they are right now.

As organisations strive to upskill their workforces and encourage responsible decision-making at all levels, the risk of immediate publication, financial flows and business impact increase with the use of technology, even if such activities are executed in good faith. This is why business leaders need to understand the importance of their companies’ reputations. From an employment perspective, organisations with strong positive reputations attract and retain better skills and are therefore perceived as providing more value, which allows them to charge a premium for their products and services. They also attract a more loyal customer base that is open to a wider variety of products and services from the firm.

Enabled by transformation and growth in the internet and mobile communications systems, global economic activity has grown exponentially over the last few decades. However, companies, and in turn brands, are constantly vulnerable to reputational risks that can arise from virtually anywhere, be it factors as diverse as product quality, social media, environmental impact, employee malpractice and outsourcing. Reputational risk has now become a potential threat on par with new competition, technology failures, talent issues and changing regulations.

Yet, there are still organisations that do not consider reputation management until disaster strikes. The job of managing reputations in general is mostly done when the company’s reputation has been affected negatively. Dealing with threats to your organisation’s reputation once it has already surfaced is crisis management, a reactive approach aimed at limiting damage, not risk management in terms of reputation.

Perhaps the greatest risk worth noting is the reputational risk in the age of social media. Before the advent of social media, the focus remained on risk avoidance or minimising asset or financial losses. Today, with over half of the world’s population connected to the Internet, companies need to relate enterprise reputation matters to strategic outcomes. In a world increasingly influenced by social media and instant global communications, managing customer expectations and perceptions is critical to success.

The use of social media by organisations to communicate its goods and services is augmented by the need for modern society to connect with the organisations they purchase from. At Marsh we offer risk management maturity and risk management culture surveys and implementation plans, informed by an organisation’s life-cycle position and its future aspirations. With effective support from organisations, these programmes align employee behaviour with strategy, organisational performance and risk management objectives, thereby empowering employees to make the right decisions when it comes to executing operational and financial activities as well as to communicate responsibly about their organisations.

Warren Buffett famously said that “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”. It’s no wonder that reputation is commonly referred to as a company’s most valuable asset. Reputation is not simply about a balance sheet, service offerings, social responsibility, or even corporate communications, marketing, and public relations – reputation is all of these and more.

Well embedded risk management and continuity management processes will prepare organisations to respond effectively in the limited time available to respond.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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